Let's go back a year. Ducati had just pulled wraps off its new 1098, much-needed follow-on to the ill-fated New Coke of Italian repli-racers, the 999. Instant hit, stylistically evocative of the old 916 series while being its own machine. Priced right, too. The base 1098 stickered for $14,995, close enough to the Japanese liter bikes so that if you really wanted to ride rosso, you could make the rationalization.