Church of MO: The Better of the Greatest 1998, Half three

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Final Sunday, we travelled again in time 20 years to shaketh down the Superbikes of the period. Right now, brothers and sisters, we wondereth what occurred to Half 2? The interwebs giveth and the interwebs taketh away. At the very least there remaineth Half three, reminiscent of it’s. Not a lot a conclusion and a declaration of who could be King, however extra a wandering off into Chuck Graves’ modified racing R1 in comparison with the stocker and the mighty Ducati 916 SPS. The MO works in mysterious methods…

The Greatest Of The Greatest: Half III

The Tremendous Bowl

LOS ANGELES, September, 1998 –Right here we’re with the final word showdown of yin versus yang, good versus evil, canine versus cats, two-cylinder versus multi-cylinder sportbikes. The contenders on this moto-madness, hack-and-slash duel for supremacy: None apart from Ducati’s already legendary 916SPS (the complete race model, which measures in at 996cc) and Yamaha’s ground-breaking YZF-R1.

Simply because the NFC held sway over the AFC for over a decade, profitable each Superbowl for 14 years in a row, Japanese inline fours had been uncontested for many years till Ducati launched the unique 851.

Whereas different bikes produced extra energy, Ducati has since dominated all comers with its extremely exact dealing with in any respect speeds. Gentle weight, constructed for velocity, replete with Ohlins shock (for the “race” model solely) and stellar Brembo brakes, Ducati was so assured they’d whup ass once more this 12 months, they really shipped us one from Italy in August, 1998. So we felt, effectively, not so nerdy for some time.

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Whereas it didn’t take lengthy for the Japanese to fulfill this problem with their very own twins, they in the end got here up quick. In-line fours, in any case, are their bread-and-butter, and whereas Honda and Suzuki labored on twins, Yamaha correctly developed the YZF-R1.

Lighter and torquier than different open-classers, but secure and comfy as effectively, the R1 was a watershed bike that declared to the motorbike universe that inline fours weren’t prepared for the mud bin simply but.

“Just like the Ducati, the R1 is a looker. Whereas it isn’t fairly the style assertion that the Ducati is, it’s not the slab-sided, no-frills yawner we’ve come to anticipate from Japan.”

It’s refreshing to see Japanese engineers take a break from squeezing each final ounce of energy potential and put some styling into a motorcycle. Ducati, alternatively, has made nice wanting bikes for years, they usually lastly acquired the engine proper in ’94. Since then, the race SPS has grown from 916cc to 955cc, finally topping out at a racing-limited 996cc titanium-rodded, dual-injected sizzling rod. It could solely make 113 horsepower, however it spins. Arduous.

As the final word expressions for his or her respective configurations, the R1 and SPS won’t make V-twin followers love an inline 4 or vice versa. They’re simply right here for the pure spectacle, for these of you who can recognize the charms of each. In the long run, we had been all torn between the 2 and the selection got here right down to which had the least niggles. The Ducati was grasp of observe and canyon, turning lap occasions a few second quicker for racers and journalists, however it stalled at idle and slow-roasted your ass at any velocity.

The R1 was the hooligan’s alternative, simple to journey and journey quick, with untold energy from the basement to redline, and few niggles of which to talk. In the long run it was lack of quirks and a very excessive worry-free fun-factor that made Yamaha’s YZF-R1 triumphant.

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What’s that we mentioned? You learn it appropriately — the R1 is the king of kings, at the least for 1998. On The Observe We ran BotB3 along with Half Two and we fitted Michelin Race three tires to the bikes for excessive stick

“The Ducati 916SPS has the sting on the observe.”

The SPS circled the observe a median of zero.eight seconds quicker with the racers aboard. Whomever was on the Duck would pull forward and keep there. There have been some notable exceptions: Small-bore two-stroke racer Aaron “Elmo” Hammel didn’t click on with the 916.

He discovered it took an excessive amount of effort to journey, with one massive downside being the narrowness of the handlebars, which require a whole lot of muscle to flick. AMA 250 Grand Prix Champion Roland Sands additionally discovered the bike tough to journey, however extraordinarily rewarding: “I acquired to confess, I by no means acquired a great lap on this bike,” mentioned Sands, “I at all times felt as if I had been f$%#ing up and it didn’t have something to do with the bike.”

We had a vigorous debate over the Ducati. Some dubbed it the final word observe weapon, whereas others bemoaned the tightness of the bundle. The detractors discovered themselves beat up and drained from using the aggressive and exact SPS — to not point out the psychological fatigue from worrying about spilling a $26,000 bike — whereas the proponents loved its absolute precision and unshakable dealing with.

Liked by all, although not as quick on the observe, the Yamaha YZF-R1 was a pleasure to journey however not as tight a bundle because the SPS; e.g., the entrance finish shimmied whereas aggressively powering out of corners.

Whereas superb, this bike didn’t hit its marks as constantly because the SPS. The large benefits loved by the R1 had been its easy steering and superior motor.

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