THE DUCATI FOR OLD BLOKES
Fraser Motorcycles had made its entire test-fleet available for the day. In the morning it had been the Monster 1100S. In the afternoon … hmm, what to ride? The Ducati 1198 was available; that was very tempting! But the Monster had been very lean-forward sporty in its riding-position, and of course, the 1198 was going to be a lot more so. I did sit on it. Stomach lying on the tank, head sticking out somewhere over the front wheel. Err, maybe not; well, not after a milder form of that sort of position earlier in the day anyway! So, something a little more “old-bloke-friendly” might be the go for the afternoon ride. What to choose? Maybe I’ll re-acquaint myself with the Ducati GT1000. I’d ridden the re-invented classic Duke before, in 2007. (Click here to go to the original test-report; and yes, you should read that first!). Nothing had changed, but it’d be good to have a ride on it again. And it’s interesting how you can ride the same bike – or different examples of the same bike – and come away with slightly different impressions. Oh, there were a couple of differences. Firstly, the instruments had changed from white letters on a black background, to black letters on a white background. Only a small thing, but looks better I reckon. Another difference to the previous one I rode was that this one was the “Touring” version, which comes with a screen and a carry-rack. Quite a big screen it is, too.
IN THE DRIVEWAY
As soon as I sat on it, I felt more comfortable, more “at-home” and confident than I did on the Monster 1100S. I described the Monster as feeling a bit like I was crouching down and peering over the edge of a cliff. On the GT1000 it’s an up-right riding-position that feels very natural and makes it easy to ride. In the first report I described the seat as being “big and comfortable”; well this time it didn’t seem so good. It’s okay, but not overly comfortable. And not as good as the Monster.
OUT ON THE ROAD
Around town is not the happiest place for it to be. The clutch is quite heavy (another rider also commented on this), although I didn’t notice it as much this time. (Maybe I’m just more used to heavy clutches now!). The gear-change is a bit clunky, as I mentioned last time. Perhaps the worst thing though, is that it’s very snatchy at low revs. I said last time that it wasn’t happy at low revs, but I don’t recall it being this snatchy. A senior sales guy said that this could be largely eliminated by lowering the gearing. He suggested dropping the front sprocket from a 15-tooth to a 14. Interestingly, he claimed that Ducatis are geared high so they will pass the drive-by noise-pollution requirements. Maybe, but I think the fuel-injection needs a bit of tweaking. Once you get a few revs up it evens itself out and goes well. Last time I said something about cracking open the throttle and changing post-code; well it isn’t quite that quick, but it’s still pretty good. With the lower gearing the Ducati man suggested, it’d be even better! If you are going to change post-code, especially to one that involves some open-road cruising to get there, the big screen does a good job of keeping the wind off. A very worthwhile investment. On the subject of traveling, one thing I didn’t mention last time was fuel capacity, which, at 15 litres, is a bit small. It means that on any half-decent day-ride (even an old bloke’s day-ride!) you’d be needing to fill up somewhere during the day. Last time I rode it, I commented on the violent shaking if you tried pulling away at low revs. It still did that – as did the Monster 1100S – but it didn’t seem as bad as it was last time. And while I’m talking comparisons with the 1100S, one criticism that didn’t change was of the ride. Again I found the ride a bit harsh. It was particularly noticeable as the 1100S rode remarkably well; especially for a more sports-focused bike. True, I didn’t really get a chance to try either of them on any rough road, but the GT1000 was bouncing me around on bumps that I was hardly even aware of on the Monster. The handling I thought was pretty good. Of course, the Monster would be better, but for me, I was more confident on this due to the more natural riding-position. There was probably a bit of that “top-heavy” feeling I mentioned last time, but it was okay. I reckon it handles pretty well. I talked about the “retro-cool” factor last time, and of course that’s a big part of what this bike is all about. But it is, as Ducati say, a practical and modern motorcycle too. A true “modern-retro”. It might be a bit lacking in some areas (like suspension), and need tweaking in others (gearing and – on the test bike at least – low-speed fueling), but this is a bike that lets you enjoy the classic-Ducati cool, while at the same time giving you modern engineering and design. Yep, as I suggested last time, this is a Ducati for old blokes!
"Retro-cool" meets Italian style and character. It probably is "the Ducati for old blokes" that I titled it, but it ain't for all old blokes. It's got a good riding-position, but comfort is let down by the ride. Performance is good, but like most Ducatis, it needs to be worked, and it doesn't like going slow. If you like Ducatis, you'll like this one. If you're used to bikes that aren't quite as focused, then you probably won't.
Engine: L-Twin cylinder, 992cc. Power: 67.78kW at 8,000rpm. Torque: 91Nm at 6,000rpm.
Fuel capacity: 15litres.
Weight: 185kg (dry)
Seat height: 810mm.
Wheels / Tyres: Front: 120 X 17, Rear:180 X 17
Brakes: Front: 2 320mm discs. Rear: Single 245mm disc.
Price: $20,690 (Incl. ORC).
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