Bologna Introduces Their Sport-Touring DesmoBy Tom Fortune, Managing Editor
Ducati's long-awaited entry into one of the
fastest-growing segments in motorcycling was finally introduced to the
U.S. market this month with the formal unveiling of their 1998 ST2
sport-tourer in Santa Barbara, California.
Ducati's ST2 is intended to take the best of the Italian firm's
traditional high-performance heritage, along with their distinctive
styling elements, and turn them into an ultimate, yet comfortable
sport-touring machine. Housing one of Ducati's latest 90-degree desmo
V-twins, the ST2 comes equipped with the usual assortment of touring
creature comforts: Raised handlebars, softer springing and damping rates,
and a larger, better padded dual saddle.
|The ST2's chassis is one of Ducati's familiar tubular trestle frames
that is similar to the 916's in torsional rigidity and lightness. Anchored
the steering head is a pair of
43mm Showa inverted forks that feature full adjustability, while the rear
is held up by a single shock borrowed from the 916 and reworked for the
ST2's status as a two-up touring machine.
ST2 cockpit features higher bars and combination analog and LCD
Front brakes feature twin 320mm floating Brembo discs and four-piston
calipers, offering excellent feel and power. At the rear you'll find a
single 245mm disc with a twin-piston caliper that we found gives poor
feedback. The ST2 wears Metzeler's latest MEZ4 sport radials in 120/70
ZR17 front and 170/60 ZR17 sizes.
Nestled in that steel spider web frame is
Ducati's newest version of its 90-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin engine,
enlarged to 944cc for duty in the ST2. SOHC, 2-valve desmo heads, similar
to the set-up found on Ducati's early Paso models, are employed on the ST2
mill. Combined with 10.2:1 compression and Marelli electronic fuel
injection, Ducati claims an output of 83 hp at 8500 rpm.
Besides the strong V-twin powerplant, ergonomics are another strong
point for the ST2. Its slightly forward seating position, lower footpeg
placement and taller handlebars seem to strike a nice balance between
full-on sport riding and touring comfort. The dual saddle is quite large,
and we found it provided enough room for two-up travel. The lockable hard
bags appeared to offer enough luggage
space for a weekend trip for two, but we could not fit a full-face helmet
in either bag, as Ducati claims you can.
Hard luggage attachment system. Note exhaust relocation
The color-matched bags are attached with a system similar to BMW's
touring luggage, and can be removed from the bike with ease. Ducati
incorporated a trick design feature with the bags that allows you to raise
the exhaust cans for more ground clearance when the bags are removed. Nice
touch. Ducati said the ST2 should be priced around $12,000 and be
available in the U.S. by October 1st (except in California, where expected
availability won't be till December).
Our brief ride aboard the ST2
around Santa Barbara's tight, twisty city streets revealed a quick
steering bike that could be flicked over with ease, despite the added
weight of its touring gear. Of course there was that unmistakable feel and
torque of a Duc desmo V-twin, with an extremely comfortable two-up riding
position that should lend itself well to sport touring. We didn't have an
opportunity to exploit the larger engine's power, but we plan on nabbing
an ST2 test bike soon to put through its paces and face it off against a
couple other twin-cylindered sport-tourers. Stay tuned.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 2-valve, 90-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 94mm x 68mm
Carburetion: Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection
Wheelbase: 56.3 in.
Seat height: 32.8 in.
Fuel capacity: 6.0 gallons (including 1.0 gallon reserve)
Claimed dry weight: 466 lbs.