First Ride: 2009 Ducati 1198S

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2009 Ducati 1198S - First Ride

2009 Ducati 1198S - First Ride

A chance to ride the new Ducati 1198S at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, a brand spankin' new race circuit located in the southernmost region of Portugal? My bags were packed! Too bad Delta Airlines misplaced my checked luggage in route, leaving me without a change of clothes, toiletries or, most importantly, my riding gear when I arrived in Portimão for the bike's single-day track-only press intro.

As you can see from the action shots, I ended up looking like a brochure photo model decked out in D-branded leather, boots, helmet and gloves thanks to Ducati's helpful accessory people. Hey, if Ducati offered underwear in its apparel line, I'd have worn that as well!

While sharing identical bore/stroke dimensions as the $50,000 limited-production 1098R has upped Ducati's mass-market superbike to 1198cc, the more intriguing of R-model features—traction control—has been implemented on the S-version of the 1198. This was my first time riding a sportbike equipped with such a feature, so the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) commanded my attention throughout the day. While the bike is stationary, the rider can select one of 8 levels of DTC assistance. I tried a range of settings and tempted fate with more aggressive application of throttle exiting corners than I would have ever believed possible.

Even so, I returned my borrowed riding gear unscathed at day's end. In fact, not a single bike had been crashed throughout the entire multi-wave press launch that saw 85 journalists each getting 70 minutes of track time aboard the 1198S. Now that is impressive! You might say Ducati appears to have a firm grip on the situation.

Complete riding impression in the next issue of Cycle World.

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S

2009 Ducati 1198S