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Show-stopper from Ducati.

Byline: By Harriet Ridley

At last, the bike show the Italians had been waiting for. And Ducati stole it in style with the presentation of its new 1098 superbike.

But while it certainly looks stunning, the 1098's design is surprisingly conventional.

After a dismal few years, Ducati is in dire need of selling more bikes ( so it's taken the safe route and built a flagship with generic sports bike looks. It's like a cross between a Kawasaki ZX10R and a Triumph 675.

The 1098 retains Ducati's traditional upswept exhausts, as well as the slick single-sided swingarm of the 916 ( although the unit is completely different. The tank has a shapely Ducati style, with a distinctive tail unit ( although the headlamps could be off any Japanese bike.

Meanwhile, the awesome 90A V-twin Testastretta Evoluzione engine uses technology developed from the Desmosedici MotoGP bike, including the oval-throttle bodies and the fact that it's massively oversquare ( the superior Desmodromic valve operation allows this.

However, the 1098 denomination is misleading, as capacity is actually 1,099cc! Some say it's to keep the link with the 998, the last of the 916 series, alive ( although a 1099 is also a loathed American tax form.

Whatever the reason, the beast punts out 90lb/ft of torque while power hits a mighty 158bhp. This makes the 1098 the world's most powerful production V-twin and ( with a claimed dry weight of just 173kg ( gives it the highest torque-to-weight ratio of any production sports bike. Well, according to Ducati anyway, but we believe them.

The state-of-the-art brakes are monobloc Brembo radial calipers with steel lines and 330mm discs. Other very trick details include a USB key that you can plug into your laptop and download all the data ( throttle position, braking, fuel usage, speed (( from up to three hours' riding. Just make sure the police don't get hold of it!

Like most Ducatis, the 1098 also comes in a more extreme S version draped in carbon fibre and up-rated parts. Then there's a special Tricolore edition in red, white and green ( the colours of the Italian flag ( to celebrate its origins. The base model should cost around pounds 12,000, the S pounds 14,000.

Ducati also unveiled its stunning Hypomotard 1100, the big boy's supermotard with the Multistrada's 1100 V-twin engine and looks to die for.

The bike was introduced as a concept at last year's Milan Show, where it went down a storm. This gave Ducati the green light for production.

One of the Hypomotard's most distinctive features is the smart all-in-one mirror, indicator and handguard. You can easily fold the mirrors in to avoid clipping cars as you filter, or for riding on track.

The Hypermotard also comes in two versions ( the base version, and the all-singing, all-dancing S. The former is a 'biposto' ( Italian for two-seater ( that weighs a mere 180kg dry and puts out a very decent 95bhp.

The S is a "monoposto" ( single-seater ( and gets forged aluminium wheels, higher-quality suspension ( Marzocchi forks and Ohlins rear ( lashings of carbon fibre and monobloc Brembo radial calipers. The designer of the controversial 999, Pierre Terblanche, was heavily involved in the project. But unlike the 999 that sullied his name, the Hypomotard is definitely a winner!

Elsewhere at the show, I couldn't help but gawp at the beautiful machines on display at the Bimota stand. New for 2007 is the DB5 Biposto, which also gets Ducati's Multistrada air-cooled 1100 engine instead of the DB5's 900SS engine. So it can only be a matter of time before the rest of the pack gets the upgrade too.

The latest incarnation of Bimota's famous hub-steered Tesi, the Tesi Concept 3D, was there too. And the beautiful DB6 Delirio looked more stunning than ever in its new black and silver colour scheme.

Bimota's designer, Sergio Robbiano, is a former apprentice of the great Massimo Tamburini, who penned the legendary Ducati 916, and more recently of MV Agusta, fame. And it shows.

Speaking of the devil, MV Augusta had new models to introduce too. I'll bring you all the details next week, along with stunning new bikes from Aprilia, among other Piaggio Group brands. Until then, ciao!
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2006
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