Performance Bikes (UK) - - Contents -

Du­cati 959 Pani­gale vs 1098, Kawasaki ZX-10R ready for win­ter, Tri­umph Speed Triple S power boost, plus Yamaha YZF-R1

AS MY TIME with the Du­cati 959 Pani­gale comes to an end, there is one as­pect I have wanted to re­visit since my very early days with it. When it was first strapped to the dyno, it served up 142bhp, which is vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal peak power to the Du­cati 1098, a bike that 10 years ago was at the fore­front of V-twin tech, but now makes the same power as Du­cati’s en­try-level su­per­bike. So is the head­line power fig­ure a red her­ring, or does to­day’s smaller Pani­gale ac­tu­ally stand up to the 1098?

With a loan of PB reader Matt Brown’s 1098S for a day, Chris and I set off for an un­sci­en­tific blast round lo­cal roads to see how they feel. It is a per­fect au­tumn day, the trees have turned golden, but the air is still warm so the tar­mac is dry and grippy.

I take the 1098 first and be­fore we leave PB’s of­fice car park it’s im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous it is from a dif­fer­ent era – it feels more cramped, with higher foot­pegs, a longer reach to the nar­rower han­dle­bars and use­less mir­rors. It takes some adapt­ing to af­ter the spa­cious lay­out of the Pani­gale, which is a small bike with a big rid­ing po­si­tion. It re­ally lets you grab hold of it and take charge, while the 1098 feels like step­ping back in time. Be­cause it is. You have to dial into the 1098’s rid­ing po­si­tion and ac­cess its han­dling on its own terms.

The 1098S’s en­gine is stun­ning. It’s been a long time Chris has to work for his speed on the 959 since I rode one, and I had for­got­ten just how punchy the mo­tor is, lift­ing the front off the throt­tle and in places where the 959 sim­ply doesn’t.

The Pani­gale feels tight, fresh, fit and modern, easy to use, and above all else sharp and su­per-re­spon­sive, where the 1098 feels much less com­pro­mis­ing if you’re not up for do­ing things its way. You need more revs with the 959 and need to hold on to the power longer than its big­ger-ca­pac­ity brother – at 8000rpm the big­ger bike is mak­ing 30% more power.

The 1098 has much more low and mid-range power and torque than the 959, but Chris hits the nail on the head dur­ing a cof­fee stop: “Be­cause of the power de­liv­ery on the 1098, you can get a short, sharp hit of naugh­ti­ness on it, whereas you need to work for it on the 959, revving it much harder.” Gen­er­ally, Chris was less en­thu­si­as­tic about the 959 than me, pre­fer­ring the 1098’s au­then­tic­ity. He de­scribes the 959 as a half­way house to the real deal, while also ac­knowl­edg­ing that ul­ti­mately the 959 would be a faster bike due to its over­all pack­age and use of modern tech­nol­ogy rather than just the might of its en­gine.

The 959 cer­tainly de­stroys the 1098 when it comes to nim­ble­ness and chas­sis feed­back, de­spite hav­ing com­pa­ra­ble ge­om­e­try. The 1098 uses a steel trel­lis frame that sup­ports the front end, en­gine, sub­frame and swingarm. In many ways it is a very con­ven­tional lay­out. Whereas the 959 uses its air­box as the frame. By cast­ing the air­box from alu­minium al­loy, it dou­bles

up as a mono­coque chas­sis on to which the front end, en­gine and sub­frame are fixed, with the swingarm be­ing bolted to the en­gine.

I have been one of the big­gest crit­ics of mid­dleweight Du­cati sports­bikes in the past. I have to ad­mit, they tend to un­der­whelm me, but not once in the last six months have I found my­self want­ing for more on the 959. It’s a very de­cent im­prove­ment upon the old 899 as a road­bike, but a world away from the 1098 in terms of its tech­nol­ogy, feel and power de­liv­ery. What this au­tumn blast has proven above all else is that the 959 is ac­tu­ally a per­fect re­minder of how big a jump Du­cati made when they moved to the Pani­gale con­cept. No other man­u­fac­turer has made that kind of step-change and it gives the bike a to­tally dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter. I’ll miss it.

Johny and Chris head out two Du­catis of very dif­fer­ent ca­pac­ity but very sim­i­lar power

Stealth-mode 1098S de­liv­ers con­sid­er­able shunt, but on its own terms

Johnny and Chris as­sess the pair over a pas­try

1098’s un­mis­tak­able face still gives Johnny wood 10 years later

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.