Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The New Ducati

So the 1098 images and write ups have been out there for a little bit; what does everyone think? I like the 999 better myself. Of course i said the same about the 998 until i saw the 999 in person, so who knows what may happen when i actually get a chance to touch one.

My main beef with the 1098 is that it looks just like everything else. If it had tuning forks on the gas tank, I'd assume it had just rolled off Yamaha's production line in Japan. I really do think it looks a lot like an R1. This is not a good thing in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, R1s are beautiful. Yamaha has been producing the best looking Japanese bikes ever, and i think they're closing the gap between Japan and the European manufacturers in terms of style. Traditionally, Japanese bikes have worked wonderfully--often better than the European bikes--but have been lacking in soul, style and lust-factor. Honda epitomizes this for me. There is nothing you can fault in the performance of their bikes. The CBR series has always been the best thing for any rider to jump onto and immediately feel comfortable and in control--and actually turn good lap times. However (and I've owned a CBR and ridden several others), they are not exciting. Of course they're exciting compared to your mom's station wagon; but we're speaking relatively here, as compared to other sport bikes.

Sterile is a word i like to use to describe the Hondas. They almost work too well. Nothing stands out. Nothing adds character. There is no beastly streak that the rider must overcome. There is no odd habit that one must become accustomed to in order to master the machine. Where's the challenge? Where's the excitement? And traditionally, Honda has been fairly conservative in styling, so there's not as much lust factor.

Whether they do it intentionally or not though (usually not), the Japanese designers don't seem to be able to make cars that scream for your soul, that demand you sacrifice all in order to obtain them, that you feel like you will never be complete without. That is what the Europeans--and particularly the Italians--do.

Ducatis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, MV Augusta, Bimota, Maserati, Alfa Romeo--these brands are pure sex. They create machines with so much soul, that a person can lust after them. These machines are hand crafted and contain imperfections both in function and in character, but are all the more endearing because of them. They are wild animals placed under your control, and controlling them can be a challenge. That is where the excitement is.

Anyway, as usual, I'm wandering off-topic. The point of all this is that the new Ducati looks Japanese (partly because Japanese bikes are looking more Italian, and partly because this bike looks more Japanese) and that I think that's a bad thing for Ducati.

The 999 was unique. It doesn't look like anything else. Any non-motorcycle person could pick it out of a line of Japanese bikes and tell you that clearly that is the hottest, most expensive and most desirable bike of the bunch. I'm much less confident that one could conduct that experiment successfully with the 1098.


Burl said...


Anonymous said...

This guy is off his rocker. The 999 was the biggest let down of late. The R1 is not the bench mark of exotic beautiful motorcycles, but much the copy of the all-mighty 916. The 1098 is not a copy it is merly a 916 and then some.

Troy said...

Anonymous: I was very let down when i saw the 999 in print. However, once i saw it in person (and especially now that i've ridden it) I thought it was beautiful and the most unique motorcycle i've seen in some time.

I couldn't agree more that Yamaha is taking styling queues from Ducati, every manufacturer with any sense did so. If my story suggests that i think otherwise, then i must have phrased it poorly.

And you are exactly right that the 1098 is a 916 and then some. And that's the problem. I don't want a modified 916, i want something entirely different and new, and that's what the 999 was.

Jeromy said...

Perhaps I'm a bit late on this blog, but came across it searching images. I own an R1 and a 1098; while it's true the headlights hold a resemblence, they look nothing alike. The Duc is as sexy, sleek, and graphic free as it ever was (with the single swingarm config). The 999...BLAH, totally lost faith in Ducati with that design; to me the front end resembled Suzuki in the over/under light configuration...ugly in my opinion (though never a fan of Suzuki). Just my two cents...and for the record, both my bikes get equal love.