DUCATI 900SS (1990 - 2002) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Real retro sports motorcycle that was outdated when new. If you’re after all-out speed, practicality or reliability look elsewhere. If you want old school charm, a great twin cylinder sound track, stunning looks and handling to surprise the odd modern motorcycle the Ducati 900SS is worth a look.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Matches the looks and engine – old school but kind of effective. Hard suspension, a committed riding position and taught frame means the Ducati 900SS can roll in and out of bends surprisingly well. It’s not as nimble as modern motorcycles but the Ducati 900SS is a delight to ride.
EngineNext up: Reliability
On paper it’s the Ducati 900SS is a loser. In the real world the low down torque is pretty effective and modern motorcycles only pull away when revved hard. This makes the Ducati 900SS a deceptively quick motorcycle in experienced hands. Old technology with just two valves per cylinder and air cooling. V-twin like most Ducatis.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Older Ducati 900SS were notorious for snapping their cylinder head studs and bending chain adjusting bolts. Clutch can be grabby and fail. Later motorcycles were better but don’t count on low cost trouble free motoring with a Ducati 900SS.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Like all 'SS' model Dukes, the Ducati 900SS is expensive for the level of performance but quite cheap for an exotic motorcycle with real road presence. Whatever model you go for, buying from a reputable dealer with a decent warranty is a good idea. Cherished owners club member’s bikes will be sorted but rarely cheap. Find a Ducati 900SS for sale
Basic – but that’s par for the course on a motorcycle like this. Early Ducati 900SS's had a rubbish spring-up side stand, comfort’s not good (there’s lots of weight on the wrists) and the seat and screen are on the small side. Mirrors are pretty poor too but a motorcycle like the Ducati 900SS is about a raw, exciting riding experience not electronics and creature comforts.
|Engine type||4v V-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||16 litres|
|Front suspension||Preload, rebound|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound|
|Front brake||Twin 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||245mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||170/60 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||39 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||£170|
14 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||80 bhp|
|Max torque||59 ft-lb|
|Top speed||140 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12.1 secs|
|Tank range||135 miles|
Model history & versions
1990: Ducati 900SS launched (alhough previous Ducatis had used the same name).
1991: New Showa up-side down forks.
1998: Major update with new bodywork, tank and uprated suspension.
2000: New side stand, higher bars, grey frame and wheels.
2001: New swing arm and Ohlins rear suspension.
2002: Ducati 900SS discontinued.
Ducati 900 Super Light: High spec version of the Ducati 900SS with Marvic wheels, tuned engine, higher exhausts carbon mudguard and #1 graphics. Sold from 1992-1996.
Ducati 900SS FE: Final Edition version of the pre-updated 900SS. Numbered engraved tag, carbon mudguard and clock surround, single seat, silver only.
Ducati 900S: Budget version of the 900SS. Sold from November 2001-2002.
Ducati 900SSie: Updated model with new fairing, tank, headlight and suspension.
Owners' reviews for the DUCATI 900SS (1990 - 2002)
23 owners have reviewed their DUCATI 900SS (1990 - 2002) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Version: IE Senna colour edition
Annual servicing cost: £100
Underrated road bike that belies its performance figures. The motor is full of torque precisely where its needed in road riding and not screeming at a tiresome gazillion rpm. The Pierre Terblanche design is coming of age. Features like the Ohlins rear suspension, Marchesini five-spoke wheels, the alloy swingarm and Brembo brakes all go to make a very special bike, particularly as there were only around twenty of them sent to the UK in both half and fully- faired guises.
The riding position is quite comfortable and better than most sportsbikes, especially the Ducati sportsbikes. Its probably on a par with something like a K5 to K8 Suzuki GSXR 1000, which is renowned as being one of the most comfy sportsbikes. The seat is quite comfortable and the pillion section is of a reasonable size. Legs aren't tucked up as extremely as on most sportsbikes.
Very responsive power with torque available much lower in the rev range, but can fly when it needs to.
The 900ss IE is well built and has a great specification. The Senna colours have a deep lustre to them. Nothing has failed, just general replacements through wear and tear.
I carry out the servicing myself. Belt changes, oil changes and valve checks are all reasonably easy to do and most parts are relatively easy to get hold of.
My bike came with aftermarket GPR slip-ons. Sounds fantastic when you are in the mood, but perhaps best to stick with the OEM for the sake of originality, or Termi's if you must.
Annual servicing cost: £100
I still like it after 24 years of ownership, service it myself, great handling and sound, still makes me grin which is what it's all about!
Comfy for long distances once did 700 miles in a day with not too much drama. Nice balanced riding position, not too radical, good seat bar peg ratio. Good on motorways good on alpine passes.
I'm biased, i love the air cooled two valve Ducati motors. Prefer them to the four valves. Lots of low down grunt, great induction roar when wound up. Perfect engine for A road scratching whilst lazy and long legged for long trips. Not too buzy either.
Oddly the least reliable part is the Mikuni BDST38 carbs'. Same fitment to a host of 90's Japanese bikes too. The needles and emulsion tubes wear considerably. Worth shelling out for much better aftermarket components that last longer than the OE fitment.
Very easy to service, oil, filters, belts i can do all of it in two hours max. Access to these is easy and straightforward. Change brake fluids and check valves every two years bit more fiddly but if you can count and understand gravity then easy to do.
It has all the equipment i ever need on a motorcycle.
Buying experience: Bought 24 years ago and it's still makes me grin when i go for a blast on it. I cant really remember the buying experience. Amused that it's now worth pretty much what i paid for it so good value for 24 years of motorcycling.
Annual servicing cost: £150
I genuinely look forward to any opportunity to go for a ride. It's been my everyday commuter for 5 years. Serviced and looked after by an independent garage in Yorkshire and apart from wear and tear I've never had any issues at all. I'm shocked about the reliability rating as mine has been rock solid. The only thing I'd change is increase the handlebar height to reduce back of neck agony when distance touring. I use givi saddlebags when I go camping or touring and it really is brilliantly versatile.
I love the engine and exhaust sound.... and it has all the power I need for my abilities 😁
I've selected 5 out of 5 even though it has nothing extra because I didn't need anything else.
Buying experience: Bought from Alf's down south somewhere and they were lovely folk.
Version: Aryton senna replica
Annual servicing cost: £100
I've been told I bought the Mona Lisa of Ducati so that makes mine rarer than yours 🤣 only 200 made 🥳 best bike I have ever owned I would highly recommend the 900 supersport it has everything power performance looks respect from all bikers truly a package deal
Like all street bikes not a very comfortable ride but as far as performance and brakes it's amazing
That's straight-up V-Twin roar
Runs super strong at 17 years old... my senna replica is the best bike I have ever owned
Buying experience: I bought this beauty from formula 1 Motorsports from a Ducati collector that goes by the name of whitey... He told me I was buying the Mona Lisa of Ducati I didn't realize how true that statement really was
Annual servicing cost: £70
Looks, handles and sounds absolutely brilliant - none better
After riding the bike a few years and thinking the handling was great, I finally set the suspension up to suit my weight (85kg) and style. Absolutely transformed the bike from a great handler to an absolutely on-the-money running-on-rails masterpiece.
Exactly the power and delivery I want. I bought a TL 1000 R thinking it might be a 900 SS on steroids, but despite greater power, etc. etc. it just can't quite match the sheer satisfaction of my Ducati. My Ducati 900 SS just suits me 100%
owned for 16 years and only issues so far were a broken speedo cable and a broken timing belt (within the 2 years) which required a replacement exhaust valve - no other damage.
Cost of oil, filters and belts. Do work myself.
Everything you need, nothing you don't.
Version: 1997 900 SS/SP
Five out of five for smiles per mile per year. I've had dozens and dozens of motorcycles over the decades that I DID enjoy, but I LOVE THIS BIKE and practically giggle every time I ride it!! I will DIE OWNING THIS MOTORCYCLE and WILL come back and haunt my heirs if they sell it!!
Given what the machine is, the ride quality is acceptable, but not what more modern bikes offer...and I get that and live with it. Brakes are GREAT!
Five out of five for GREAT SOUND, Wonderful torque and a superb willingness to GO!
Never broken down or stranded me, but it IS kinda maintenance intensive compared to other bikes I have owned.
Hard to say what the cost is exactly as I do ALL of the maintenance myself, including setting the valve clearances. Don't trust the values printed on the shims! Use your micrometer to find out what they REALLY are!. When you do the clearances and ANYONE wanders into the shop while you are doing them and wants to chat, THROW THEM OUT!! Oh...and make notes as you go!
Stock mirrors give you a GREAT view of the inside of your elbows, not to mention that they get lazy and blow rearward and then droop. That is fixable with a little effort, though. Clutch is cranky and abrupt, but DOES WORK WELL once you get used to making it do so and the sound it makes is UNMISTAKABLE but wonderful! Wind protection is pretty much as expected for this era...just live with it....after all it IS a kinda rare old exotic/performance bike.
Buying experience: Bought it almost new (8 miles) in 1998 for about $8200 US. Now worth maybe, MAYBE 4500 bucks and I have spent lots of money on it over the years. Now 22 years old and GORGEOUS....I LOVE IT! YELLOW, of course as red ones are a dime a dozen!!
Annual servicing cost: £100
My Ducati 900SS is odd. All factory carbon, Termignoni carbon pipes, and the Marchesini light five spoke wheels. Everything that should be black plastic is carbon, so the bike is very light.
Mine’s modified and very cranky down low, but what a noise on the throttle!!!!
Version: 900SS IE
The bike is an excellent all rounder, it has low HP however the torque and usability of the power is excellent on tight roads.
Hard suspension standard have it set up.
Buying experience: It hasn’t got any!
When I still had hair, I was racing the Ducati 900SS 3 days a week against Japanese 4 cylinder, 16 valves, 125 hp +, good pilots. The result: I saw all of them pull away from me in the straight, to see them all drop back behind me in the next curve. Brakes, handling and couple from 1500 RPM are absolutely great. As fast as a 600 Japanese, but infinitely more relax. A growl of a lion, instead of an hysterical scream.
Tune it with internal polishing and the valve cams of the ST2 for more power in high RPM
Never any problem.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Fantastic looks and fun to ride. The sum is greater than the parts.
Brembo brakes are effective
Lots of torque
Buying experience: Private
Engine and looks are unmatchable! The sound angers dogs and startles joggers out of their earphones when this machine approaches. With classic Ducati lines, the intoxicating rumble of the L-twin power plant, and the trampy rasp of the dry clutch, there are few, if any, other bikes as outright sexy as the 900SS. Red... of course.
nice, smooth braking.
WOW! Listen to the naysayers all you wish, but 80-ish HP never felt so nasty! Somehow, it all comes together in a well-balanced machine that is MORE than fast enough for all but professional racers.
Tach cable wore out near engine connector after riding it about 3,500 miles. Other than that, it has been a delight to ride.
Bought it used in 2014 for US$4,000 with 12,500 miles on it.
who cares?! like i want to put saddle bags on this baby! You don't make a Super Model carry your luggage! This thing is for RIDING, not for TRAVELING. Get a Gold Wing if you want luggage.
Version: Reg 2011 - Mike Hailwood LTD
Annual servicing cost: £200
Having owned Ducati bikes over a 40 year period this 900SS has given me as much pleasure as my 916 and 1098. It might not have the maximum speed or handling but when I do my 289 miles commute from North Devon to Cambridge twice a month I get off and smile, thinking that was wonderful and better than any flash cars I've owned doing the same trip.
It's at its best doing maximum speed within the law on A roads and I stop at 120 miles to fuel and food with drink.
No problems really but it doesn't need the cloth inner on the faring which has worn out.
I have a great garage who look after my bike and don't charge the earth.
Bike is all standard and I have Michelin Pilot 3 tyres on it at present which are great.
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer for 6000 with red, green and white paint job. The bike had been stored for 9 years in its packaging.
Version: 900SS full fairing
This bike has a lot of character. It sounds awesome and is a real exotic. I've never had any reliability issues with it. 2000 models have EFI. It handles and stops well. Maintenance through reputable Ducati mechanics is notably more expensive than for Japanese sport bikes. The committed riding position makes this bike uncomfortable for long rides. It does not have 170 plus horsepower like the latest litre bikes, but if your street riding requires you to do more than 120 mph, you need your head examined! The engine is very torquey, and it is a lot of fun on winding paved roads. No rust after 15 years, just normal maintenance. The kickstand is horrendous, like many Ducati bikes.
Brakes are excellent, Brembos. Ride quality is slightly harsh but expected for a sport bike. Aftermarket seat is a definite improvement.
V-twin character, EFI makes easy starts. Lots of grunt when you roll on the throttle out of corners.
No problems after 15 years. Regular maintenance for Ducati should be factored in to cost considerations.
Aftermarket seat fits well with bike, MUCH better than standard seat.
Buying experience: private sale
Version: 900 Sport, matt black
Annual servicing cost: £400
Well worth the money these days. Much easier to maintain than you may have been lead to believe. Suspension is on the firm side and bumpy roads will though you about. Bin the standard cans and fit some good ones so you can hear it snort and thump!
Not overtly fast, but has good stomp through town.
Totally reliable in the seven or so years I have been custodian.
Belt change every couple of years. Worth learning how to do it. Not hard. See how on youtube.
Mine rolls on Continentals. Not much equipment to talk about on this bike. Doesn't lack anything though.
Picked mine up from KJM also. 2002 ltd edition SPORT model. Really impressed with it for £4000!!! Much rather have it than my mates 600 4's and what a soundtrack... Ducati's really are special and the SPORT and SS models are still brilliant these days. Buy one :-)
Picked mine up from KJM also. 2002 ltd edition SPORT model. Really impressed with it for £4000!!! Much rather have it than my mates 600 4's and what a soundtrack... Ducati's really are speciall and the SPORT and SS models are still brilliant these days. Buy one :-)
Stock bike, 14 years old - Looks more beautiful as time rolls on, sounds wonderful, feels great. Who cares if its out performed by Japanese fours. A bike built with spirit not technology and still plenty fast enough on the road. Only problem in 16 months was a broken throttle cable. Used regulary for commuting
I have owned a 1999 900ssie registered in Mar 2000 for 8 years now, it has Remus carbon race cans and I have replaced a lot of the nuts and bolts with stainless items to stop the rust. I keep the bike clean and I keep to the required service intervals and it has given me over 10,000 miles of trouble free fun, it's been to Germany and Holland doing nearly a thousand miles in a long weekend. As for scalping bigger bikes, as long as you are steaming along at a fair pace the suspension keeps the bike firmly planted and you can take them in the twisty’s, sorry Mr Fireblade owner, Handleys Corner, TT 2008!
briefly before turning it into a sexy seventies SS replica with a Baines frame/bodywork kit.
Should be mentioned that the beautifully styled Tamburini-era SS bikes ended in 1998. After that Pierre Terblanche gave them a good working over his ugly stick. Despite technical improvements under the skin, sales tanked worldwide.
I have a brand new out of the box 900ss matt black. Its a 2002 model from KJM, for what I paid for it which is no more than a Versys I have twin Brembo front discs and Ohlins shocks and tons of smiles. In 10mths I have done 7300miles and its never missed a beat, nothing wrong, no breaks or faults. 4 hours in solid rain to glasgow, nothing, it just keeps going. As my first ever bike I couldn't ask for more, I love it, its full of character unlike the souless Jap bikes. And the sound it makes is up there with a merlin engine. Those who have one know the real truth about this bike.
Every time I take a ride I think it's never been as good as this. Its not sweet like many fours from Japan its just a pure, raw no fuzz sportbike. The SS is like your favourite dog and japanese sportbikes are like dishwashers, you like both but have a better connection with one. Forks are not great and mirrors are for looking at your shoulders. My 97 has not broken down yet after 33000 km.
I have a 97 model 900SS. I bought as a second bike and only really use it for fun and riding to race meetings. When I first got the bike it was standard. My first long trip (400 miles) the clutch started slipping due to overheating trying to get out of Donington. Then on the same journey the regulator failed so I was stranded. Fixed with non Ducati parts all OK. Next long journey (Le Mans) and I suffered carb icing all the way there and all the way back. Changed the carbs for Keihin flatslides...no more problems. Now I`ve sorted all the problems, I love it. The sound, the character the torquey power delivery are all great. No chance against modern sportsbikes on a straight, but when the road gets twisty, you can surprise alot of people. I keep spending money on bits and pieces for it. It`s got Sil moto exhausts, single seat unit, Ohlins shock and steering damper. It`s cost me a fortune, but for some reason I don`t mind. I`ll probably keep this bike forever....even though I don`t trust it!