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BRIDGES

A COMMENTARY BY DOUG MEYER

Monday September 24th, 2007
I sold my 1098.... And here's why
Simply put, it's just too good to leave sitting in the garage most of the time and it's too much of a pain to ride the rest of the time. Everything I said about this bike when I first got it is true in spades. It is an amazing ride. At 8/10's, 9/10's or 10/10's I've never ridden anything so thrilling, so composed, so competent. It is truly the state of the art in sport bike handling, response, excitement and visual satisfaction. But to just get on and ride, even to ride to the place where I can really ride, it was a frustrating, painful experience. I found myself walking right past the 1098, and jumping on my ZZR or ZX-12 when I just needed to go somewhere or just have a relaxing ride. If I lived in a place where I could easily do track days to justify a once a month or so visit to the edge, I would have kept it. But this isn't available to me. I am stuck with some (admittedly nice) roads to ride on and I knew every time I rode the bike that I was flirting with disaster either physical, criminal, or both. It's not that old "I'm a speed freak maniac and I just can't control myself" bullshit (I hate that-I know the throttle works both ways), It's that the 1098 begs to be ridden at 9/10's, it WORKS at 9/10's, it feels PERFECT at 9/10's. But I know that riding at 9/10's on the street can only have one eventual very expensive outcome, so I removed the temptation from my grasp.

The speed at which my arms no longer need to support my weight is about 85 mph, clearly too fast for a casual ride and impossible to sustain for more than a couple minutes at a time. Given that the mirrors are non functional, a serious ticket is an eventual given. I needed to see my acupuncturist after my first 200 mi. ride, the nerves in my right shoulder were so irritated. At 170 mph, which on the ZX-12 is an exciting brief sprint, over before you know it, just a waypoint on the way to 200mph and almost too simple, the Ducati is a screaming adrenalin producing experience that requires careful inputs, a torso squeezing tuck and a fight against the slipstream.

When riding below 5000 rpm it is a bit of a snatchy, twitchy, frustrating experience that produces the occasional stalled engine when you least expect it. The stock ECU and mufflers required a level of (de)tuning that left me constantly wanting to just scream. A FI system like the one on the 1098 has the ability to deliver flawless part throttle performance, smooth tip-in and instant response. But these characteristics are clearly NOT available to the rider who wishes to retain the stock ECU and mufflers. It took repeated attempts to tune the engine, an updated ECU, and some trickyness with the 02 sensor to bring the engine to what I believe is an acceptable state of low speed smoothness. I know that by replacing the ECU with the "race" unit and adding the Termi's it would have been all good, but I did not believe that I should have to spend the additional $1200 to get it right. I don't blame Ducati, or the dealer, or his able technician for this. It is what it is, given that the physics and chemistry of internal combustion do not necessarily adhere to man's laws regarding low speed emissions. I would not be surprised if the always patient guys at Bend Euro Moto want me to never buy a Ducati again. There may be a bit of an attitude that runs something along the lines of "Hey it's a Ducati, it's perfect, it's mechanical artwork, who are you to say it should run better?" Well, I know how much better it can be, and it frustrated me.

Sorry guys.

Dan Kyle (Dan Kyle Racing in Seaside CA) has sussed out a method of fixing the horribly and consistently loose throttle cables which stem from a poor fitting throttle tube. He adds needle bearings that fit the bar to the throttle tube (a standard deal on AMA Superbikes). He also has figured out a way to adapt a 916 (I think) Power Commander to the O2 sensor-less Ducati race ECU to provide adequate tune-ability.

As I delivered it to the new owner yesterday, at the foot of the craggy mountains just east of Seattle where I suspect the riding will be all that could be desired, I was satisfied that it was almost perfect, and since he intends to install the aforementioned race ECU and Termi's, it soon will be about as perfect as a sport motorcycle can get.

I wish it could have worked out between us, the Ducati and me, but she was just too much of a pain in the ass when we weren't in the groove.



Posted by Doug @ 15:17  -  Permalink  -  1 Comments  -  0 Trackbacks

Comments

great info, thanks
From stevewfl on 2007-09-24 16:44  -  Permalink


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THE AUTHOR


Doug Meyer has been working with race engines professionally and as a hobby for the past 45 years. He has built engines for everything from dragbikes and cars to outboard race boats, from the famous Can-Am sports cars and an F-1 car to motorcycle streamliners. He spent many years as a professional race team member and engine builder. Everything from nitrous to nitro, Doug's had his hands in it. He has set 16 Bonneville speed records...
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