Twin Touring Sportbikes

Buell's S3T Thunderbolt v. Ducati's ST2 Sport Turismo

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3. Chuck Graves, Contributing Editor & Racer
The Ducati was fine. The steering was a little slow and it could use a little more top-end in the twisties. Sure, it's stable, but it's a Ducati. Where's the rush?

I took the Buell up to Malibu with Clint, my mechanic, and tooled around. He could barely keep up on his CBR600F3. The S3T steers quickly, is very comfortable, and has a killer 90hp motor. The Buell rules.


Point the S3T at a twisty road: The twistier the better.

The bags are spacious, but not well-designed. They stick out too far (the Duc's were recessed, caught less bugs and pushed less wind), the latch broke, and the latching mechanism is quirky, to say the least.

However, the removable bag liner is sweet.

Buell added an analog clock to the minimalist dash.

Monster torque and the quick turn-ins made the Buell scream in the tight stuff. The only problem were the comfortable, but low footpegs.

A nice touch: Fairing bags tucked beside the instrument panel.

The negative battery bolt (shown here) fell out during a trip through downtown LA at 1:00 a.m. Fortunately, a friend with insomnia and a ready-to-be-cannibalized Magna in his back yard came to the rescue.

In fast sweepers the Buell experienced slight headshakes in corner exits.

Some complained about the strong bite of the new Nissin calipers, while others thought it cool as hell. Altogether, braking on the Buell was far better than on the Ducati.

The lower fairing doesn't do a great job of blocking the wind, and it looks god-awful as well. The lower right-side fairing cracked from vibration.

The Buell throws a striking profile, but the lack of attention to small details, in particular the crooked, sloped windscreen, landed it in second place.

Buell S3T Thunderbolt


Manufacturer:   Buell American Motorcycle Co.
Model:   S3T Thunderbolt Sport Touring
Price:    $12,799.00 USD
Engine:   Air-cooled, four-stroke, 45 degree V-Twin
Bore and Stroke:  3.5 x 3.8 in
Displacement:   1203 cc
Carburetion:   40 mm Keihin CV
Transmission:   Five-speed, wet clutch 
Wheelbase:  55.0 in/1379 mm
Seat Height:  29.5 in/749 mm
Fuel Capacity:  5.5 gal (.6 gal reserve)/20.8 L (2.3 L reserve)
Claimed Dry Weight: 465 lbs/193 kg
Measured Wet Weight:  520 lbs/236 kg
Peak Measured Torque: 75.9 ft-lbs @ 5500 rpm
Peak Measured HP: 87.2 hp @ 6250 rpm

The ST2's not-quite-attractive saddlebag mounts are a snap to use. Check out the empty hole just above the muffler. For even more ground clearance raise the exhaust when the bags are off.

A good view of the very-progressive shock and the back half of the trellis frame. Look closer for a cool view of the ocean from the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu.

The ST2 was slower steering than the Buell, but rock-solid stability made it a joy to toss around the curves.

A view of the Sport Turismo's toolkit (the Buell doesn't have one), rebound adjuster, and fuel-injection brain.

A picture of a Duc pilot happily tearing up some backroads...

...and another. The adjustable pipe was there to use, but we never hit bottom on the ST2.

An attractive dash with digital readouts greets the ST2's pilot.

Besides cash, the arrvial of Texas Pacific brought a new logo.

A hacked-together view of the Ducati's ride-height adjustment system.Ducati ST2 Sport TurismoSpecifications:

Manufacturer:    Ducati
Model:    1998 ST2 Sport Turismo
Price:   $12,495.00 USD
Engine:   4 stroke 90 degree V-Twin
Bore and Stroke: 94 mm x 68 mm
Displacement:  944 cc 
Carburetion:  Weber-Marelli electronic indirect injection
Transmission:  Six-speed, dry, multi-plate clutch
Wheelbase:  56.3 in/1430 mm 
Seat Height:  32.3 in/820 mm
Fuel Capacity:  6 gal (1 gal reserve)/23 L (4 L reserve)
Claimed Dry Weight: 466 lbs/212 kg 
Measured Wet Weight:  540 lbs/245 kg
Peak Measured Torque: 57.3 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm
Peak Measured HP: 76.0 hp @ 8250 rpm


The Brembo brakes didn't have the authority of the Nissin units on the Buell.

Something about the cool, super-bright headlight and the helmet stuck on top a post to mark your territory.

Another beautiful view of Malibu.

A centerstand allows you to park this Ducati just about anywhere...

... but the sidestand is a joke. Ducati's spring-loaded, auto-retracting kickstand system sucks.

The throw on the shifter lever was a bit shorter than we would have liked, but we hear an M900 lever will bolt right on.

No matter what the angle, the ST2 strikes a gorgeous profile.

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