Super Café: Badass Factory’s 160-hp Café Racer…
In 2007, Ducati introduced the 1098, also known as the “Ten-Nine-Eight” — a 1099cc liquid-cooled V-twin superbike that boasted 160 horsepower and a top speed of 174 mph. Designed by Giandrea Fabbro, it was a return to the style of the beloved 998, and a testament to V-twin performance.
“The Ducati 1098 was the motorcycle we’d been waiting for since the 916. It’s a Ducati in the truest form. Blood red, stunning to look at and absolutely pure in its purpose. It was a long time coming but Ducati had finally built a sports bike that could run with the best — pure unadulterated sports bike heaven.” —MCN
The 1098S shared the same engine as the regular 1098, but featured Öhlins suspension, lighter wheels, and more carbon fiber. On the strip, the 1098S managed to beat every single 1000cc Four in Cycle World‘s Open-class shootout in both 0-60 time (2.58 seconds) and quarter-mile — 9.845 seconds at 145.64 mph! It was even better on the street:
“On the road the 1098S isn’t just an improvement, it’s a revelation. Power is phenomenal, lofting the front tire through first and second gears like a 1000cc Four. On mountain roads you can choose between a couple of different gears for a given corner; there really isn’t a need to downshift unless you want to be catapulted out in anger.” —Cycle World
Recently we heard from our friend Thomas Jean-François of France’s Badass Factory — a man who began modifying bikes after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, defying his physicians:
“Three or four years ago, to contradict the doctors, I decided to work with my hands.”
In 2019, we featured his “Triple Green” Triumph 1050 café racer, which was clad in carbon fiber and aluminum bodywork that Thomas shaped himself. Now he’s back with this Ducati 1098S, to which he’s given a similar homemade treatment:
“It’s a variation of the Triumph 1050 that I already made.”
The front and side fairings are handmade in carbon and aluminum, respectively, and Thomas handled the paintwork himself. He says all modifications are reversible, so he can return the 1098 to stock in less than an hour.
Though he’s been frustrated with the Italian bike’s reliability — eight breakdowns in 6 months / 6000 kilometers — he’s happy with work he put into the machine:
“Its vintage design attracts the people’s attention, even those who are not bikers…even its infernal noise is tolerated!!!”
To us, it’s an incredible take on a modern Italian café racer, with blood-red Bologna panache and enough performance that would tickle the hell out of the Ace Café boys of the 1950s. Below, we talk to Thomas for a few more details on the build.
Ducati 1098 Café Racer
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Ducati 1098S, 2007.
• Why was this bike built?
For my personal pleasure.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
It’s a variation of the Triumph 1050 that I already made.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Front fairing and rear seat support homemade in carbon
- Side aluminium fairings, homemade
- Paint and varnish, homemade
- Seat by Ncdesign
- All the modifications are reversible, so the 1098 can be returned to stock in one hour
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Fucking Italian piece of shit…6 month/6000KM/8 breakdowns!
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
This motorcycle is made for the race track, so it’s impossible on the road. But now, its vintage design attracts the people’s attention, even those who are not bikers…even its infernal noise is tolerated!!!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Proud, I can’t say, but always surprised that my bikes are of interest to professionals like you who have seen hundreds of them from the most famous master builders!