DUCATI 999 (2003-2006) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic 916/996/998 series"

Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding

"Never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic 916/996/998 series"

  • At a glance
  • 998cc  -  124 bhp
  • 40 mpg  -  130 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

Although arguably a better bike, the Ducati 999 has never really stepped out of the shadows of the preceding, iconic Ducati 916 series of motorcycles. It lacks the grunty, fluid finesse of its V-twin rival motorcycles, the comfort of Japanese superbikes and has typical Ducati failings; of poor riding position, useless mirrors and quirky electrics. On the right racetrack, the Ducati 999 feels sublime, but stuck in traffic on a wet M5, it can be a different story.

 

Watch the Ducati 999 take on Ducati's 1098S

 

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

If you spend time and money setting up the Ducati 999 to suit your weight, riding style, the track etc. it can make you feel like you've just qualified on the front row for Misano World Superbikes. But on ordinary, ill maintained UK roads the Ducati 999 can sometimes feel harsh, a bit raw and unforgiving. Occasionally, all that power can simply overhwhelm the old school trellis chassis.

Engine 3 out of 5

There's an addictive lunge about the Ducati 999 motor, which sounds awesome with Termignoni pipes. In many ways the booming 90 degree V-twin defines the motorcycle brand, but it’s no match for a Suzuki GSX-R1000 or Yamaha R1 on track, especially coming out of tighter corners, where the sheer grunt of the Ducati 999 can make it harder to get on the gas whilst keeping traction.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

The 2005 onwards Ducati 999 is not only faster, but likely to be more reliable, with a tweak to aid cam belt cooling on the engine, plus the deep sump motor standard across the range. Servicing is crucial on the Ducati 999 - every two years it requires a 14 hour workshop check and replacement of cambelts, fork oil, fluids etc. Neglected Ducati 999 models will break down - sooner rather than later. The overall build quality on the post 2005 motorcycles is a tad higher somehow, as if Ducati were really trying to make people fall in love with the Ducati 999 model.

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

At £20K on the road, the Ducati 999R isn't good value. You could build your own Ducati 916 special for half that and make people openly drool in the street. Best value in the range has to be the Ducati 999S from 2005 onwards, with plenty of poke, good chassis kit and Termis as standard. The Ducati 999 Biposto tends to go for the least money secondhand, so an early 2002 motorcycle is the cheapest entry ticket to the world of Ducati 999 motorcycles. Find a Ducati 999 for sale.

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

Equipment 2 out of 5

The dashboard has a race motorcycle-like simplicity, but has been known to light up like a Vegas slot machine if water gets into its electronic brains. There's a lap timer, oil/temp warnings, air temp monitor and a fuel consumption display. An immobiliser is standard on the Ducati 999 range too. Seat comfort is minimal and the pillion pad on the Ducati 999 Biposto is basically for a short trip back to pitlane.

Owners' Reviews

7 owners have reviewed their DUCATI 999 (2003-2006) 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 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.9 out of 5
Engine 4.4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.9 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Commuter & Winter hack...?

11 October 2012 by gavinfdavies

My early 999 Bip (Oct '02) arrived August bank holiday, with 18k on the clocks and a full history. That's less than 2k per year. In the 6 weeks since then it has covered 4k, and will carry on at about 2k per month for the foreseable future. So,... Read more what's it like riding a Duke for nearly 4 hours a day? Ride is very good, with compliant suspension (probably due to age though!) and smooth and stable steering. Can't fault it really. Equipment is excellent for a bike of this vintage, the only missing feature is a fuel gauge, yet you get a mpg monitor and a lap timer! Quality? Well, the overall feeling is one of excellent build quality and refinement, but there have been some niggles. These were traced to a corroded earth for the ecu, but considering this bike spent 10 years in Bangor by the sea, I'm amazed it not worse off. Since two trips to duke dealer to sort this, it has been fine, so I think it was more a case of fixing old issues, rather than new ones arising. It has now done 2 years worth of typical duke mileage in a few weeks, so you can't consider it that bad! Value? £3,700 for a dealer bike with one owner? Brilliant! Engine? Excellent, but not faultless. There is low down torque in abundance, and it maintains it while it revs to 10k. But there is alot of vibe below 4k, which is where I spend alot of time on my commute, where wing mirrors bounce alarmingly! But that said, it average 45mpg with a 90ish crusing speed cross country, so I can't really complain! Oh, and it really REALLY needs a new pipe, this one is so quiet, I get embarassed by mopeds! So, overall? Comfort isn't brilliant at low speeds - i'm short, with short arms, so I'm nearly laid flat to reach the bars (a long way off!), and the seat is quite high, but no worse than most. Once moving at speed the comfort is excellent - it makes a surprisingly good grand tourer it seems - if you ignore the 140 mile tank range! (still, the same as a vfr1200!) In conclusion, buy a duke once, while you're flexible enough to manage it (I'm 25, and on a classic policy with Footman James I have two sorned '96 kwaks and this fully comp for a total cost of... £200! the duke cost just £15 to add on!) Any questions about long term heavy use of a duke, just pm me! Gavin

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 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

Road tester needs to stop being a idiot

21 August 2012 by bassraymond

Hi I have been a biker for 48 years now and I have tested more bikes than this amature MCN road tester. I have had Japanese motorcycles most of my life and they are great but the 2006 Ducati 999S is a different ball game way way better, for your... Read more tester to rate it so low confirms to me that he is a Ducati hater or useless at his job, My 999S is fantastic at road holding and the L motor has great useable power, as to his comments on cramped rideing posistion I have five way ajustments on my foot controls as standard and also about 4 inchs seat adjustment ether way did he not see this? I suggest that he ether finds a different job or just let him test small bikes and scooters. Raymond

Overall Rating 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

Love It - 999s

16 March 2012 by snapple

Had an 04 R1 before this, (review on here) which I really enjoyed, however this is a different animal altogether. Handling is in a different league, the R1 was excellent but this just somehow feels better, I'm faster everywhere on this and it is... Read more deceptively quick (be careful) thankfully the brakes are also top drawer. Its looks are often debated but it's been my dream since I started riding and it really does look stunning in the flesh! put together beautifully and is easy to work on.... Oh and it sounds fcking ace with aftermarket pipes :-) Downsides being.... it doesn't like the cold, she gets very irritable in traffic as she heats up rather quickly (as do your inner thighs) and slow riding around town is a little wristy and is lumpy ands a jerky below 3k... (but maybe that's just me or mine!). Had it w months and very pleased.. can't stop admiring it in the garage and have even been doing my 160 mile commute on it a few times in low single fgured temps and never felt a buzz like it :-) I know it's an older (2004) Ducati and things will go wrong (and already have) but it is just a brilliant bike and more than makes up its non starts and leaking forks!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 3 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 999 biposto

21 March 2008 by midnight999

I just traded my hayabusa for a 999 bip, I do a lot of 2 up riding with my wife, we both find the bike more comfortable than the busa, the habdling is fantastic, as is the engine the sound etc etc, could go on forever,needless to say I love the... Read more duke,it attracts alot of attention and is amazing to ride, a true classic in its own rite

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 5 out of 5
3 out of 5

Ducati 999s

11 March 2008 by Doug45

I had an "s" model when they came out, part-exing my ST4s. To ride, these are simply superb (drop the gearing by one tooth at the front though) with good handling, and fast for a twin. Although I didn't suffer any break-downs, the finish was... Read more terrible! Thin paint, rotten fasteners, seizing brakes... all rubbish on a £13,500 bike. Would I have another one? No, not at that price.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 2 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Yellow peril

26 September 2006 by notsospeedy

Bought new in 2004, worried about reliability and proved right. Just out of warranty & electrics give up the ghost. But what a bike and can forgive the grief, superb handling and brakes. Just love the way it fires out of corners. Only way is up... Read more so I've bought a new 999R. Strengths: Looks, handling, brakes and engine. Weaknesses:
Electrics and cost of servicing.

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

Love it!

12 May 2006 by gilmil

Bought new, in Jan 05 it was sent in for its first service, where it was found that the oil pump had failed, which Ducati knew about, apparently there was a bad batch. After waiting an age for new parts (new barrels rings pistons etc.), it was fixed... Read more under warranty. Since then I have put on 3000 miles and it has been very reliable, an awsome ride even at standard. Everyone drools over it from women and kids to OAP's and hardened bikers! Strengths: Superb fuelling and handling, beautiful yes! BEAUTIFUL looks. Weaknesses: Just done a five hour ride my wrists are sore.

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
Read all 7 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2003
Year discontinued 2006
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 124 bhp
Max torque 66 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11 secs
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 15.5 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 199kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 320mm disc
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17 in

History & Versions

Model history

2003: Ducati 999 Biposto launched, alongside Ducati 999S and Ducati 999R variants.
2004: Limited edition Monstermob Ducati 999 BSB replica available, basically Ducati 999S with race paint/graphics.
2007: 999 replaced by new 1098.

Other versions

Ducati 999S: Has another claimed 10bhp, Ohlins suspension and steering damper.
Ducati 999R: Claimed 150bhp from 2005 onwards, classy Ohlins kit, radial brakes, Termis etc. About as close as a pukka World Superbike race motorcycle as you can get.

Photo Gallery

  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Ducati 999 motorcycle review - Riding
All related bikes for sale