Shame about the 1098, it seems to be doing very well in the on track comparisons, not sure how it would do on a street comparison? Pete, have you ridden them both? What sayeth you?
Having ridden the 1098 (and1098S and 1098R), I can sayeth that if we had a 1098 during this comparo, it would have created some serious grief for the Big Four. It is an incredible motorcycle(s), and in my very humble opinion, possibly the best sportbike --at least big bore-- of the last 10 years, maybe? Though a similar argument could be made for the 675 Trumpet.
Factor out MSRPs and the 1098 may have been numero uno, though the CBR could give it a good run. The 1098, for as performance-driven as it is, is surprisingly comy, and like the CBR, would only require one or two aftermarket mods to make it even more comfortable.
I prefer the linear power of a Twin and the tractable-ness that most offer. Of the Big Four, the '08 CBR1000RR is closest to that quality and has what is roughly a 10-15 hp advantage depending on who, what, where, when, etc does dyno testing. Conversely, the Duc probably only makes 4 or 5 ft-lbs more than the CBR, but the Duc reaches peak torque much earlier in its L-Twin powerband. To me, that is a far more meaningful factor if we allow that all of these bikes will be ridden on the track and
Some deride the maintenance costs and intervals of a Ducati despite the Italian bike maker's leaps of improvement in that area. But pondering this very issue the other day while riding, I concluded two things: Anyone who can pony up 16 large for a 1098 can probably afford the service; or if you'll burn through the miles so fast that service intervals surface quickly, learn how to do the work yourself. Or at least most of it to defray as much cost as possible. Even though it was only ever on used UJMs, it only took me one $600 service bill to figure out that I was doing all future work myself --save for tire changes. And that's just what I did for hundreds of thousands of miles. What once seemed like going where no man had gone before, became an annoying routine after only a year or so.
Plug MSRP back into the equation and the 1098 would take a serious hit in that category. But even losing a lot of ground in that respect, and being down on peak hp, I don't think that those particular scores would have dragged the Duc down far enough to knock it out of what I imagine would be first place.
Still, at almost $4,300 more than the most expensive bike in this test, the 1098's retail is a weighty issue.
Again, playing the pro/con game, looking at everything else like cool factor, grin factor, suspension, brakes, handling, tranny, fit/finish, etc and all that those categories take into account, I still say the 1098 would've topped the charts.
But, in case you haven't noticed, I haven't spoken for anyone else involved in this crazy comparo; it is simply my speculation and opinion. And, really, it means nil since, well, we never had the Ducati anyway.