So, I went on the 1098 test ride today. I was expecting a quick blast around the back of Homebush and back to work about an hour or so later…
Before I go on, I need to say a couple of things. First, this is MY opinion on the bikes I am about to talk about. It’s not a debate, my opinion is a dictatorship not a democracy, and as such, feel free to agree, disagree or grumble, but don’t argue.
Now, for my benchmark…
As some of you know, I ride a 2003 CBR954RR Fireblade, it has about 140 – 150 rear wheel ponies depending on where it’s tested and how big my ego is at the time of asking. I have a top of the line Ohlins shock with hydraulic preload adjustment, sprung to my weight, my forks have been re-valved and sprung to my liking, I have an Ohlins steering damper, ful Ti Arata exhaust system and a PC3R mapped by Mr Ron. On paper – it is pretty much an identical match for the 1098S…
So we begin, I turn up to Frasers, and apparently 3 of the 10 lucky winners for today’s ride don’t show up (I understand 2 were women) Silly people…. After a short briefing, we each got a chance to rev the thing up through the gears on the Dyno, the theory being that if you have already revved it out to red line in 6th, you wont be so tempted on the road. (There is video of my run attached.) Let me just say – this was fun – in the same way as running your fingernails along a blackboard is fun to annoy your classmates. You know it’s pointless, but the grin on your face when you finish…
So, the ride. We are taken to the front of Frasers and a few bikes are picked out. There were 2 1098S’s, one stock, one equipped with a Termi full system. We would be having turns on the 1098’s, and riding the other bikes in between. The fleet included:
1098S with Termis
2 x1100 Multistrada
2x Monster 800 S2R
The route started at Homebush, out past the Olympic stadium to Silverwater road, up to Pennant hills road and then on to the Old Road, with a right turn just after Pie in the sky for lunch on the Hawkesbury. We line up, and off we go, following the very beautifully designed (Italian, I’m sure) green flouro yellow safety vests of our guides. The 1098’s were ridden by the Frasers boys first, and I started off on the S4R. I also ended the day on the S4R – this, apart form the 1098, was my pick of the bikes. I LOVED the brakes, loved the feel, and it was the only bike capable of keeping up with the 1098S in a straight.
The S4R just felt natural, even though I’m used to the sports bike seating position, and it initially feels awkward, I find I adjust very quickly, and get the feel for the bike within seconds. It’s comfy, handles well, brakes like it has hit a brick wall and the only thing I don’t like is that it runs out of fuel in about as much distance as I can spit.
Next – the ST3. Probably the bike I enjoyed least (least being relative) it’s very comfy, and a great tourer, but it’s too slow turning for my taste, and a bit soft. Having said that, it still takes off nicely, and is pretty comfy. But it’s not my thing.
1100 Multistrada – the most surprising bike. I don’t like the look of it, but this thing can corner (just ask the guy on the 1098S I went around because he was going too slow). I really didn’t want to like this bike, because I don’t like it’s looks, but it’s FUN! It felt strange being so high up, not really very comfy either – but when I turned the bars, just railed around the corner.I did the first part of the Old road on this bike, from just after the Berwora Mobil up to the next straight 60 zone after the short stretch of twisties. Needless to say, I enjoyed it.
1098S – with TERMIS!!! Ducati have hired a group of deity thugs to kidnap Thor and lock him in the engine. I can hear him pounding, trying to get through the engine casing as I start the bike. Animals run for cover, fearing that Katrina has crossed the pacific and is about to make landfall, and reverse baseball cap wearing hoons in WRX’s realize they have just become prey. As I ease out the clutch and apply a touch of throttle, I notice that power is supplied by God himself spanking your butt.
With both hands.
To add to this miracle of Ducati harnessing the power of 2 Gods (of different faiths, no less) I realize that they must have hired Monica Bellucci to distract the guards at the Skunkworks while they stole the US Air Force’s latest telepathic control system, and integrated it into the 1098 – because no sooner had I seen and processed the first approaching corner than I had already negotiated the next 5.
And the brakes! The stopping distance is measured in quarks. That is all I can say. All too soon, my ride was over, and my impression is.. I REALLY like this bike.
Next… the 1000 Sport. This is the bike my soul wants to own. It was stiff, I didn’t really like the way it handled (though I’m willing to bet the tyres had a lot to do with this – a set of Pilot Powers oughta fix it), it tenderized my testicles every time I came within sight of a pebble near the road, but it was the bike I LOVED being seen on, the bike I felt like a superstar on. This bike literally alters your DNA when you sit on it and makes you cool.– in the kind of way that stepping out of your igloo naked in Lapland makes you cool. Every person who sat on it looked like they belonged on it. The engine had this amazing sound that pulsed through your skin and deep into your bones. Sitting on this bike, riding it, it sounds better, the engine feels better than any other bike on the test – including the 1098. this is old school at it’s best. I couldn’t live with this bike every day, but I would love to own one to cruise the streets.
1000GT – Wasn’t sure what to think of this bike. It’s like someone mated an ST3 with a 1000sport, and then gave it plastic surgery to look like a monster. Nice bike, easy to punt along fast, but it turned slow (for me) and it really didn’t do anything for me.
Monster 800S2R – I like this bike. I like it’s balance, blend of power, handling, weight, it’s a great bike. Except for one thing, the 695. I really can’t see why I’d buy it over a 695. I really couldn’t feel the extra power – I’m sure it’s there, but I couldn’t feel it. I’d rather spend the premium of the S2R on pipes and suspension mods. The other thing I don’t like – and this applies to the S4R as well, is that the pipes behind my right foot actually get in the way. I like to ride with the balls of my feet on the pegs – but my heels kept hitting the pipes/heel guard, and it was kind of annoying. I’m sure I’d get used to it… Don’t get me wrong, I really like it, but I just couldn’t justify the price over the 695.
Anyway, I had a great day, Frasers supplied a great lunch (and some great bikes) and I am now trying to figure out how to get the most for the 'blade and the bling...