I was very fortunate to be able to take the Ducati 899 for a test ride while at ProItalia. It looks small next to the 1199. Really small.
In sitting on the bike you know you are on a sport bike. It feels like a long reach to the bars and I could feel a lot of pressure on my wrists (my inside arm measurement is 18”). The seat is very narrow and firm ala 1199 and the knee placement in the frame/fairing nook was just about right with the ball of my foot on the pegs. It seems that 30-32” inseams will fit this part of the bike perfectly with this foot position. I found the tank VERY awkward indeed because of all the curves in the lower section above the frame – there’s no consistent flat area available so you are trying to lock in to the peak of a curve…… Not ideal…..
The rest of the ergo’s worked for me with lever angle and lever reach along with bar placement.
The foot pegs rounding off on the leading edge caused me to feel very unsure of shoe grip. That’s not the best feeling in the world when you need to be reassured during transitions and bouts of peg weighting. As the rear set position works for me, I wonder if there is a manufacturer that makes replacement pegs only? If there is, owners of these bikes need to know where they can source such things from! For me that would be upgrade # 1 and it would be immediate.
I went through the bike in showroom floor settings. Softer front fork feel that the shock, no free sag in the rear shock, fork and shock rebound out of balance. I too out some shock and fork preload and left the damping alone and rode it.
I don’t need to go far to figure things out on a bike and by 200 yards down the road I turned around and came back. Several settings needed to be revised with damping and fork preload, so those changes were made. On the next ride, the bike felt much better with chassis balance and with larger bumps. However, the smaller sharper bumps were not absorbed at all simply lifting the wheel up so the valve stack does need attention. As these are BPF forks, that’s a relatively quick job.
Time was not on my side and I didn’t have the opportunity to get up on “The Crest” (never have ridden that stretch of road yet) but I think under duress the bike would need the chassis to have a little more compression damping to sustain loads from centrifugal force during cornering.
Fork height: stock
preload: 6 clicks in
rebound 6 turns out
compression 6 turns out
Shock length stock
Preload – 2 turns
Rebound 10 clicks out
Compression 1.5 turns out
May 27th, Laguna Seca, Keigwins at The Track.
I was and am grateful to Bob and Bill at Pro Italia for the opportunity to help them set up some of their demo bikes. I actually only rode one of those – the 899 – up and down the road twice for 400 yards each time. Enough for me to feel what was going on with the bike and suspension but clearly not enough to evaluate the chassis on the LA Crest Highway as time was too short.
Fast forward to an email request if they would bring the 899 to the Keigwin’s Laguna event May 26/27 so I could actually ride it?
“Of course! We would love your input on the bike!”
Due to schedule manipulation I wangled 15 minutes on the bike. It was the same demonstration bike, same settings – nothing different. Not being a Ducatisti there was something that my eye did not catch and boy did that surprise me right away. I didn’t really notice until Turn 3 of the first lap and I couldn’t get comfortable on the seat. Yes the seat is miniscule and oddly shaped BUT…… really, I couldn’t get comfortable. I spent the rest of the lap figuring out where to put the top of my hamstring and bottom of my gluts and then magically, the spot was found before Turn 11 onto the front straight. It felt right so I had to very quickly embed that position as I had maybe 5 laps at pace to ride the bike
Lap 2 was quicker, lap 3 quicker again and I felt very at ease with the chassis, seat and suspension settings. As the pace increased I noticed that I needed more and more brakes longer in the corner to get the bike turned. Fine for me but for Bill or Bob to get the bike through the corner they would need to lean on the bar.
Note to self, lower the front end 5mm for B/C group riders.
At the end of lap 4 the Pirelli Rosso’s were toasty but not slipping, so I felt I could push to 80-85% and let the bike fly down the front straight. The previous laps had shown me that the bike wouldn’t wake up until 7,500 or 8,000rpm and then it was a finger nail dig into the grips “hold on” experience once the power hit. Not only did the power hit hard, so did the rev limiter! Thankfully with those lessons learned I fired it down the front straight and saw Bill’s bright large white hat in the hot pit.
At over 130 the bike flew through Turn 1 and then stayed solid as a rock on the brakes downhill into Turn 2. A lot of trail braking lined me up for the exit of Turn 2 (remember, change fork position) and the 899 fired itself off to Turn 3. This was FUN!! The 1199 was a real handful but this like out fleet of GSXR 450 triples was a blast to ride. The lap flew by, the chassis flicked from side to side and corkscrew disappeared in a blur. Once more down the front straight and I was done.
“The bike is fine, just the fork position change and leave the settings alone!”
At that moment in time at that track, the 899 was a lot more fun than my newly acquired RSV4R Factory. That being said, that isn’t apples to apples at all and it’s just one of those heart moment thoughts. I’ll get the RSV4R right in short order but this took me 5 minutes to get sorted.
Get the sibling over the 1199. It will rock your world starting with a lot of smiles. Yes, Pro Italia has all the settings written down for every 899 that is sold, so you will get the DMT approved suspension and chassis set up as the new owner!