2011 Ducati 1198 SP | First Ride

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2011 Ducati Superbike

I’m just back from Imola after a very long day, and I have ridden on sacred ground. The new 2011 Ducati 1198 SP is Italian motorcycle makers top-of-the-range Superbike as the 1098R is no longer in serious production. So Ducati now offers the 848 EVO, 1198 and 1198 SP.

The new SP superbike features the same 170 horsepower L-twin from the current 1198. The big news is the Ducati Quick Shifter and sublime suspension. The quick shifter worked very well at Imola and is a very welcome addition on such a technical circuit.

On the way towards the famous Aqua Minerale corners, I quickly work my way up to third gear, never letting go of full throttle, as this superbike filled me with adrenaline.

Things happen very fast on this motorcycle, and in terms of real world ‘drag racing’, the quick shifter will quickly give you more acceleration than an extra 10 or so horsepower will. It is very handy indeed.

The slipper clutch also impressed, especially next to the 848 EVO, which doesn’t have such a high spec deceleration helper. The Brembo monoblocks are powerful, so any help as you work your way down the box to first gear, especially if get it a little bit wrong, is appreciated.

The Ohlins fully adjustable suspension is sublime, and the rear TTX unit gives an abundance of feel particularly mid-corner and exiting them while aboard this motorcycle.

With full traction control, quick shifter, top suspension, and a price that doesn’t scare us as much as the R, the 1198 SP is a super dream bike bargain.