2011 Ducati 1198SP first ride

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MCN Senior Road Tester, Michael Neeves, is currently at Imola in Italy testing the new Ducati 1198SP. Here’s his first impressions:

“This is the replacement for the Ducati 1198S, costing an estimated £17,495. Like the Ducati 1198S it has traction control, datalogging, Ohlins forks, Brembo monoblock brakes, an Ohlins adjustable steering damper and carbon fibre front mudguard.

“But this new model also has a larger and lighter 18-litre fuel tank (which reduces all up weight by 1kg to 168kg), a quick-shifter, a slipper clutch and the latest generation Ohlins TTX rear shock.

“Riding the SP around Imola the most obvious improvement is the quick-shifter, which lets you change gear faster and with less effort, this in turn lets you concentrate on going faster round the track.

“The slipper clutch keeps the large capacity engine from making the bike unstable on downshifts into corners and the larger fuel tank will be a relief to road riders who have had to put up with a 15 litre tank up until now.

“Ducati has only given us one session to try the bike, the rest of the time we have been riding the Ducati 848 Evo (which MCN has already tested) so we have had no time to adjust the suspension or the traction control.

“Our test bike is also on standard suspension settings which are far too soft for the track – with the Pirelli race tyres fitted the bike is tying itself in knots on the straights and through the corners.

“There is undoubtedly the range of adjustment in the Ohlins forks and new shock to dial this out but unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity.”

See Michael’s full test in next week’s MCN – out October 27.