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 chassis.
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.
The 2005 onwards model 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 became standard across the range. Servicing is crucial on the Ducati 999 - every two years it requires a 14 hour 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.
Ducati 999 owners' reviews
The 999 scores 4.6 stars in our owners' reviews, with the only negative points some electrical faults and expensive parts - both to be expected for a bike of this type and age.
£20K when new the Ducati 999R wasn't great value and didn't sell that well. 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.
Is the Ducati 999 a modern classic?
Few bikes have proved as controversial as Pierre Terblanche’s replacement for the iconic 916 and this fact alone makes it a worthy future classic.
Launched in 2003 the 999 instantly hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The graceful and flowing lines of the 916 were replaced with an angular look, weird stacked headlights and a double sided swingarm. Ahead of its time or just plain ugly?
The jury was split when it came to the styling and this caused sales to be slow.
In a desperate attempt to rekindle market share Ducati updated the 999 in 2005 by removing two of the vents at the front, giving it a more pleasing look, and increasing power to 140bhp, but that wasn’t enough to save the 999 and after just four years it was replaced by the 1098.
Ten years since it first graced our roads the 999 is rapidly being seen as a future classic due to its brief life span and troubled history. Collectors are drawn to bikes with a quirk rather than the run of the mill and few can argue the 999 sticks out in the timeline of Ducati superbikes.
With a 2003 999 costing around £3,500 you can own this future classic for a very reasonable amount, or you can push the boat out and get a 999S with Öhlins suspension for around £4,500 or even the stunning 999R for closer to £9,000. Although they are yet to properly turn in value, there is no doubt that prices of the 999 are only going to go one way…
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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.
In June 2003 Ducati revealed a WSB replica 999 to celebrate 200 wins in the series. There were only 200 units built and they cost £19,500 when new.
What are the best tyres for a Ducati 999 for road and trackday use?
The BT016 might get overawed fitted to your bike on those track days you've got planned.
The Super Corsa tyres are probably too extreme for the mix of road and track, so we'd say give Dunlop Qualifier RRs a run.