With recent Italian sport bikes such as the 1098 leveling the playing field a bit in terms of performance and price I've found myself giving Italian bikes a second look. I still can't seem to pull the trigger as Japan Inc. has so many wonderful machines to choose from at a much more appealing price with more features (like slipper clutches as standard issue).
My first bike was an 2003 Yamaha R6 that took me through every imaginable bike related social event including bike nights and weekend rides into the local canyons. I graduated to the much more track oriented 2006 Yamaha R6 and started up with weekend canyon rides and track days.
I began pouring money into the R6 as my track usage increased and I've since left the streets. I added new Galfer 1003 brake pads, brake lines, Scotts steering damper and a full exhaust system to my bike. It's a very, very capable machine. Naturally, I began to ask myself if I could find a better package in another bike to take around the track.
I couldn't bring myself to pay more for the 848 as it didn't even come with a stock slipper clutch and maintenance was a bit pricey on the Ducati. There seems to be a lot more aftermarket support for the Japanese bikes. I decided to stay Japanese for the track, at least for the time being. Performance just seemed to come at a lower cost. It doesn't keep me from drooling over the Aprilia's new RSV4. Maybe one day I can toss a leg over an Italian beauty I can call my own.
In the meantime the 2009 Yamaha R1 is catching my attention as the power curve is pretty close to that of the RSV4 from what I hear.