DUCATI 998 (1994-2005) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Always makes the rider feel special - whether out on a blast or just staring at it in the garage"

Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding

"Always makes the rider feel special - whether out on a blast or just staring at it in the garage"

  • At a glance
  • 998cc  -  123 bhp
  • 37 mpg  -  145 miles range
  • Medium seat height (790mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Evolution of the legendary Ducati 916 has an even punchier engine and a refined chassis. It’s still an uncompromising motorcycle designed to lap tracks fast which means it’s not such fun on a wet back road but it always makes the rider feel very special - whether they’re out on a blast or just staring at the Ducati 916, 996 or 998s gorgeous curves in the garage.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Divine on a race track, a Ducati 916, 996 or 998 can be frustrating on the road. Fast steering but incredibly stable. The motorcycle's small size helps riders feel in total control. But these are motorcycles that work best when grabbed by the scruff of the neck and ridden hard – it’ll sense if you’re not confident and the ride’ll be jerky and awkward. Brembo brakes are excellent – as you’d expect.

Engine 4 out of 5

Midrange torque that feels lazy and relaxed but launches the motorcycle forward like a Roman catapult. Twins always seem to find the most traction and the Ducati 916, Ducati 996 and Ducati 998 engines in these Dukes are no exception. Top end power’s strong – nearly a match for the Japanese four-cylinder motorcycles of the day. Clutch is heavy for town use.

Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5

The Ducati 916, 996 or 998 is not a motorcycle to buy or run on a shoestring. Electrical problems are not uncommon, especially if the battery’s gone flat at some point. Ignoring oil changes would be insane. Cambelts need changing every two years – go for the best available when getting this done. Servicing is expensive if done properly – and keep a few bob in reserve just in case.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Find a cherished motorcycle for reasonable money and you’ll actually get a bargain. Go for a Ducati dealer with a good warranty or buy privately from someone who’s obviously loved their motorcycle. Don’t be too obsessed with low mileage – sitting can cause more problems than using these motorcycles. The Ducati 916, 996 or 998 is certainly a future classic but don’t think they’ll stop depreciating for a few years yet.

Find a Ducati 916 for sale, Find a Ducati 996 for sale, Find a Ducati 998 for sale.

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

These are race motorcycle – what’s not needed is not present. But what is there is beautifully crafted. The Ducati 916, 996 and 998's fast idle button is a treasure. Fairing panels that remove easily in under a minute make Japanese sports motorcycles owners jealous. Comfort’s pretty poor – even motorcycle racers used to fit double-bubble screens for improved wind protection. 2000 onwards Ducati 996s had lightweight Marchesini wheels.

Owners' Reviews

4 owners have reviewed their DUCATI 998 (1994-2005) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Ducati 998

02 June 2008 by ducati1098

Excellent bike and top second hand purchase due to impending financial doom (ie baby on way)I had to sell my 1098 and purchased the 998 VERY happy useable power excellent ride quality and yes I feel top value again dealer service second to none... Read more (italia Moto Lincoln)I like the old school rev counter/clock set up and with Ohlins suspecsion hence the 4 for equipment. bike is 2003 model with just under 9k on clock paint is still deep and bright and looks nr mint not bad for 5yrs old. Engine pulls very strongly but no 1098 but is that needed for the road? Top bike

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Ducati 916 SPS - Rare bike - Mine is unmolested and near standard - which is also rare for a Ducat.

31 May 2006 by eifion

Fantastic bike. It is my third Ducati and the one I would never expected to be able to buy. I have had lots of Japanese bikes but they did not have the character. It's got to be viewed as a Ferrari and therefore not an everyday bike. I always savour... Read more every ride - you can't say that for all bikes. It is highly strung but that's what I appreciate. My cars are reliable tools. Would love to let anyone ride it for the experience (+/-). All bikes are good.... Strengths: Character. Incredible performance. Race pedigree. Rare. Sound. Handling. Beauty. Simlicity. Weaknesses: Not for everyday use. No new equivalent...

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Not to be miised. Everybody should experience the Ducati experience at least once in their life.

03 January 2006 by garyjwright

Having previously owned a 916 I knew what the handling was like. Despite already being good, it's a must to at least raise the rear end. The bike turns much faster and wont sit up under braking. I also have a 180 rear tyre fitted which sharpens it up... Read more even more. There's plenty of info around on how to adjust the suspension too. Makes even the worst rider feel like a race god. Power delivery is sublime with no glitches. I've added 54mm Termis and corresponding CPU, slipper clutch, larger air tubes, a carbon fibre air box and performance filter amongst others. Every ride I come home with a massive smile. Even on longer runs it's not uncomfortable, apart from stiff knee joints. But don't buy one to pose around town - it's dreadful there. All comes into it's own above 70 mph. Strengths: The power delivery is fantastic (whatever gear you're in) and handling unmatched. A true track bike - absolutely focussed. Still the best looking sports bike ever. Weaknesses: Cost of servicing and uncomfortable around town. Poor rear visibility (but who's looking behind?).

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Lived up fully to its reputation: beautiful looks, great engine & handling, poor reliability

01 September 2004 by boardt

I fitted a few extras that I'd recommend - termi pipes (improves responsiveness and of course the lovely sound, but be warned it is VERY loud), progressive rear shock (for better ride below 80/90 on the road), brembo front brake master cylinder... Read more (immense power and feel, this is a MUST have). On the track this bike is incredible. The fantastic level of feel and grip inspires real confidence, once you are familiar with the bike's handling and engine characteristics - it is a bit aggricultural/unrefined at low speeds, and at any speed needs positive rider input. Lean angles are amazing - with a 190 section rear I never got to the edge of the tyre (and I have a fair bit of race school/track experience). On my dealer's advice I put a 180 section rear - a good move, it speeds up the steering, and you can chew up the edges of the tyre for that essential street cred. I love the looks. BUT... I had a problem with recurring mysterious oil leaks and eventually I sold it out of frustration. Strengths:
Easy to use all the power to the full - great traction and grip at all lean angles. Amazing handling. Amazing breaks with the Brembo MC. Makes you feel special every time you ride it. Weaknesses: Reliability was awful. Off the road for 4 out of the 9 months I owned it, as the dealer couldn't fix the oil leaks. Then the clutch went in town. That was the final straw. But I miss the bike even despite all this...

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 1 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 4 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1994
Year discontinued 2005
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 123 bhp
Max torque 72 ft-lb
Top speed 170 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.9 secs
Average fuel consumption 37 mpg
Tank range 145 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 790mm
Bike weight 195kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 320mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1998: Ducati 996 Biposto launched.
2000: Marchesini five spoke wheels and new side stand. Single or dual seat.
2001: Ducati998 Biposto launched.
2002: Ducati 998R launched.
2003: Limited edition Ducati 998 Matrix launched.
2004: Ducati 998FE (Final Edition) launched.
2005: Range replaced by Ducati 999 series.

Other versions

Ducati 916 Strada: Original version. Later SPS, Senna and Foggy Rep were limited edition versionsof that motorcycle.
Ducati 996SPS: Uprated version of Ducati 996 with superior suspension including Ohlins rear shock.
Ducatio 996S: Similar to Ducati 996 Biposto but with cams and gearbox from the 2000 Ducati 996 SPS.
Ducati 996R: Exclusive limited edition model with many mods including 998cc engine and much more.
Ducati 998S: Slightly uprated version of the Ducati 998 Biposto with Testastretta engine (134bhp) and modified bodywork.
Ducati 998R: Exclusive limited edition motorcycle for racing. Different bore / stroke, many changes, basis for WSB race motorcycles.
Ducati 998 Matrix: Limited edition to commemorate film of same name with special green paint.
Ducati 998FE: 300 machine limited edition with uprated Ohlins suspension, special numbered placque on top yoke and single seat.

Photo Gallery

  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 916/996/998 motorcycle review - Side view