The Ducati 998 is the final iteration of what is arguably the most iconic sport bike design ever.
Originating with Ducati's mid 90's "916" model, the styling changed little right up until the "Final Edition" 998 in 2004, and has probably raised a tent in more trousers than any other motorcycle.
They're not just gorgeous though. Their 4 valve desmodromic motors and race-bred chassis have made this generation of Ducati one of the winning-est superbike platforms inhistory.
On this page:
Plus some details of my 2002...
Bought mid 2010 this bike was minty fresh with only 2500 miles on it. It came equipped with some nice performance and cosmetic enhancements too:
- Ohlins forks, shock and steering damper (only the Ohlins shock is stock)
- Termignoni slip ons with Ducati Performance ECU
- 748R monoposto tail (on original biposto subframe)
- A few carbon fiber and other cosmetic bits'n bobs
- And lets not forget to mention the LH side panel signed by some "Bostrom" guy?
In just about any color these bikes are stunners, and yellow really pops. I reckon about the only way to make one look a whole lot better is to put a hot chick on 'em, but wifey wouldn't oblige so here's my 10yr old Sidney posing it up:
First thing I did was score a biposto tail & passenger pegs so I can ride wifey and my kids around occasionally. However, this bike was bought to be a street legal track-whore, so things had to change further.
The next step was to track-ify it with some less rare/expensive bodywork, and a headlight delete kit (front fairing stay...).and ideally some 4 pad brake calipers...
You see I bought this bike largely because the thought of binning my fairly "special" Sport 1100 during a track day mishap horrified me, and while I really like these superbikes dropping one (with track skins on it) won't bother me as much.
Some cheap bodywork, headlight delete, chassis setup, fresh brakes and tires... is all I've deemed necessary to make just about any Ducati superbike track day ready. A 4-pad brake upgrade would be nice on this 998 - as soon as I find the right deal...
The performance of these bikes is easily up to the task in all respects. The few changes I've targeted for track use are to simply adjust things to sharpen the handling and minimize losse$ in the case of a spill. Track days can be fairly high risk, and OEM bodywork and headlights are vulnerable and far from cheap.
The Xerox skins I've used look reeeally nice but they're just cheap Chinese knock offs (from ebay). They're OK for track duty but a poor; color match (to the tank), fitment, finish and durability would make them a bad choice for a 'nice' street bike.
Not all chinese bodywork is created equal I'm told, but from what I see in this set they are faaaaar inferior to OEM in all respects. They are much much cheaper and much more lightweight tho so...
Race skins or cheap/damaged used bodywork (repaired...) are viable options too. They're possibly a more expensive/higher effort option (need painting...), and won't look as nice (as easilly) but they would arguably be more durable.
Note: if you use 996 style bodywork like me then you must rig up a way to relocate the coils slightly, because they are otherwise in the way of the side panel's large vents. Not hard to do.
Remove the headlight bucket, front fairing supports, lens-lamp unit, front wiring harness and gauges as one complete assembly. Replace with a cheap race fairing stay to hold the cockpit up (ebay... maybe a couple hundred bucks worth), and a used tach / temp gauge and harness. And...
You can get race and even Chinese bodywork sets that don't have headlight and taillight holes, but even if yours have holes, like mine, they can easily cheaply and nicely be filled in. Buy some lens protectors ($40) and epoxy or silicone them in place for a permanent or temporary solution. Rattle can them any color you want first.
Or if you're real organized like me and your first track day arrives before your lens protectors, then you can thermo-form some old vinyl albums (remember those? Thrift stores have them ) to match the headlight shape. Just heat the album in the oven at 250deg for about 10mins, then drop the resulting floppy black pancakes of plastic onto each headlight, form them with gloved fingers for a few minutes until they harden.... then epoxy or silicone them into place.
Taillight holes are easier - a flat piece of black/painted plastic glued in place works.
Gauges; buy a used tach and temp gauge to permanently fix to your race fairing stay, and a front wiring harness, and this will make removing the headlights... a very simple plug'n-play swap.
Rear turn signal / tag assembly removes via 3 bolts - easy.
Suspension / Chassis set up
Make the bike quicker steering. These bikes are super stable (slow/heavy steering), which is OK for street use but on the track you'll likely want something lower effort/more nimble. Tipping the bike on it's nose some (raising the rear/lowering the front) is pretty commonly recognized as good advice. This helps the bike turn much easier. Makes the bike quite a bit more uncomfortable too, but it's well worth it for track work.
This is the basic suspension set up I’ve used. It’s simply a slightly softer variation of the "Section 8" and other "race" set ups I’ve found for the 748-998 bikes. It’s far from ‘proven’ to do anything other than make me happy on the one track day I’ve done so far, so it’s probably wise for you to research the details yourself… and arrive at your own conclusions:
- Front Ride Height: 3 Lines showing above the upper clamp (between the 2 fork legs)
- Rear Ride Height: Maximum recommended extension of the adjuster rod (261mm eye to eye)
- Front Rider Sag: 40mm
- Rear Rider Sag: 35mm
- Adjustable clip-ons: set to their lowest/steepest setting (pretty much as per stock clip ons)
- Tire pressures (Front / Rear): 30 / 26 psi (on Dunlop Qualifier II's). I started at 30/28 but the back end slid around a bit so…
By comparison, the street settings I run are simply to make the riding position more comfortable, i.e. lift the front so that only 2 lines are showing, then adjust my “comfort bar” clip-ons back to the higher and flatter position I like (see "comfort bar" section below) , and then soften the rear a bit to get about 40mm sag there. This slows the steering but it's sooooo much more comfortable that it makes sense for street riding.
With the track skins on and ditching the headlights... I guess you lose about 8-12lbs off the bike, and you end up with a fairly proper looking track-whore, which should (if you did the suspension close to right) be much more nimble than a stocker.
This is the first superbike I've ever run on a track, but even this relatively heavy and underpowered old relic is a roaring, asphalt gobbling riot to ride at track pace. It's abilities are totally wasted on the street (unless you're looking to rapidly die or go to jail...) but on the track they make complete sense. Unlike all the two valve Ducatis I've tracked , this 998 was easily able to run down and pass a bunch of modern Japanese 600's, as well as at least one straight-hogging 1000cc Japanese monster (a 2005-ish? ZX10).
Tracking this thing is sooooooo much fun, I just can't wait for the next track day !!!
For a bunch of 998 track day pictures check out this album here.
The riding position of this generation superbike is considered pretty extreme by many. Personally I like an aggressive stance but with this bike, and like my Sport 1000 before it, it was too hard core.
Being a cheap b@stard I figured out a way to do make it comfy without spending $300 on aftermarket bars. Total $ cost was nil because I had the parts needed laying around, but even if you had to buy them $70 or less would do it.
The main culprit with these bikes is the steep downward angle of the bars. The solution I used allows you to flatten the angle and change the bar height and reach, all significantly. The end result can be quickly and easily changed to almost any setting you prefer, from race-ready like the stock setup to anywhere up to the much more comfortable setting shown below.
In this picture note the steep downward angle of the throttle side bar (stock bar angle) and the much flatter angle on the modified clutch-side bar:
Here's another picture comparing these extreme angles:
Here's the end result I liked - an increase of about 1.5" in the height of the bars (measured to the center of your palm), a road-comfortable 11 degree bar angle (vs approx. 21 degrees stock) with no change to the pullback angle of the bars, or the distance required to reach to them. Brilliant!
How to do it
As with my Sport 1000 I found that a "standard" regular 1 piece handlebar can be cut and used to replace the bar part of the clip-ons. The bars you are replacing are dead straight, whereas the cut handlebar pieces will have a bend on their inside ends, and this is what provides you the ability to make adjustments.
See picture at right, but what handlebar should you use?
I think any fairly standard bar will work. I used a 2006 Triumph Speed Triple bar for this mod on my Sport 1000. On my 998 the bars were some conservatively bent aftermarket item of unknown application. I doubt it matters much as you are only using one angle/bend on the bar, and rotating it until you get what you like.
This relief is to allow room for the clip-ons inner pinch bolt to pass through. See pics at right.
You need to grind this out slightly bigger than is needed for the bolt, so that the bar can be rotated in the clip on even with the bolt screwed home.
This rotation provides the adjustment of the bar angle (see image adjacent) and you will need to experiment with bar rotation /angle before grinding, to determine where the relief needs to be.
You don't have to be super-precise with this relief because you will be settling on a rotation / angle that suits you, and you don't know exactly where that will be just yet.
Just fit the bar so it is angled slightly downwards, mark it through the pinch bolt hole then remove the bar and grind in an oversize relief.3. Fit bars and controls, set angle/height...
Unfortunately this will probably not be anywhere near as easy as it sounds. It's not necessarily real difficult but depending on the range of bar heights and angles you are trying to achieve you might have brake/clutch fluid reservoirs... fouling your cockpit fairing, etc.
The bottom line here is that you'll need to experiment with the routing of cables and the rotation of the controls and maybe even have to make new brackets for reservoirs, to avoid fouling anything when turning the bars stop to stop.
Persevere with the knowledge that a huuuuge comfort improvement is achievable without cable lengthening or fairing fouling... problems. It might be time consuming but it's not rocket science.
In the end I had to make a simple new bracket for my brake reservoir and slightly re-route my throttle cable to get it all right. The clip-ons had to be lowered down the forks (and yet the bars still ended up higher) so that they could be rotated inwards enough to get the desired pull-back angle of the bars. The pictures show it all and the ones below compare measurements to stock.
There is a lot of patchy and incorrect information floating around about the differences between the various 998 models. The following should clear up a lot of that:
998 Strada (base model) 998S 998R
Note: not all information in the chart above has been 100% verified so if you have corrections or any notable detail to add please contact me.References
Other interesting 998 stuff (pictures, race footage...)
998S Bayliss: http://raresportbikesforsale.com/2002-ducati-998-bayliss-replica-on-ebay/
998S Bostrom: http://raresportbikesforsale.com/2002-ducati-998s-ben-bostrom-le-25-of-155/
998S Bostrom: http://raresportbikesforsale.com/2002-ducati-998s-ben-bostrom-edition-108/