DUCATI ST3 (2003 - 2007) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£250|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The ignored Ducati family – the sports touring motorcycles – got a big boost with the arrival of the Ducati ST3 model in 2003. Its three valve per cylinder engine was new and unique in the Ducati range – previous sports touring Ducatis made do with other motorcycles' hand me downs. A refreshing, different sports touring motorcycle with decent reliability so far.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Ducati ST3 is an easy motorcycle to ride in any conditions – the most versatile Ducati. It’s stable and neutral but nimble enough when you get to those mountain twisties. Brakes are strong.
Weight of 203kg is less than many competitor motorcycles and being a Ducati, it carries it well. Front forks only have preload adjustment and are quite soft. A re-build can firm them up or go for the Ducati ST3s model.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Ducati ST3 has plenty of Ducati character from the 90 degree V-twin (Ducati call it an L-twin) and more than enough poke to waft rider, pillion and luggage along without any bother. A Single cam operates three desmodronic valves in each cylinder. The Ducati ST3's 50mm throttle bodies inject fuel giving a power delivery with smoothness Honda can only dream of – fuel consumption’s good too with 50mpg very possible.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Could it be that the Ducati ST3 is a relatively new motorcycle or that owners are the sorts that look after their motorcycle – but this seems like a reliable Ducati. Finish is excellent too. Servicing still shouldn’t be ignored and maybe time will see problems develop with the Ducati ST3 but we’re hopeful it’s a sign the Italians have finally sorted their act out.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Cheaper to buy than a Honda VFR800 or a BMW R1200S.Unfortunately insurance is pricey and proper servicing is too (skimp at your own risk!). The ageing but extremely competent Aprilia SL1000 Falco aces it on price, especially when discounted but it’s more sporty and suffers niggles. Find a Ducati ST3 for sale.
The Ducati ST3 has headlight aim which is electronically controllable from the instrument panel – Ford Focus cars have it but not many motorcycles. The Ducati ST3 does. Also a fuel consumption read out, fuel range as well as all the regular stuff. Seats, screen and riding positions are well thought out and panniers are available. A huge range of official accessories are available for the Ducati ST3 including lots of carbon bits, high flow air filters and more.
|Engine type||6v V-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Tubular steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||21 litres|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound, compression|
|Front brake||Twin 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||245mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||48 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||£250|
15 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||102 bhp|
|Max torque||69 ft-lb|
|Top speed||150 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||11.7 secs|
|Tank range||220 miles|
Model history & versions
2003: Ducati ST3 launched, replacing both the previous Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 and featuring new 3-valve engine, revised styling and a host of other mods.
2005: Power increased from 102bhp to 107bhp. Wet clutch.
Ducati ST3S ABS: As Ducati ST3 but with fully adjustable forks, Ohlins rear shock and ABS braking.
Owners' reviews for the DUCATI ST3 (2003 - 2007)
11 owners have reviewed their DUCATI ST3 (2003 - 2007) 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:||£250|
Annual servicing cost: £200
Bought mine second-hand with 28,000 miles to replace an aging k100 with electrical gremlins. It came with a dubious service history and fairings that hinted at a high-speed off. I remember thinking I was giving into emotion and paying far too much. 22,000 miles later, I can say it was worth every penny. It looks good, that is to say not like a bird or too much like a race replica or some fake desert racer. It's uniquely proportioned. It's light, nimble and plenty fast and it sounds really good at any rpm. If you are looking at this category of bike, there are options that will put down the highway miles with more comfort, but for an even mix of travel, twisties and commuting, there are few rivals. Now that prices are bottomed, you don't have to worry to much about how you treat it or where you park it.
It's stiffer than other tourers, but right on for what it is. At 16 years and 50k miles old, front suspension rebuild is the next off-season chore. The handling is good, though has a little of that old-school ducati charm where muscular tip-in is needed in rapid riding. At legal paces, it's quite sublime. The dual brembos up front are more than capable. Mine was fitted with multi-adjustable riser bars by the previous owner and a sargent saddle, so I can't speak to stock ergos. In this trim, I can go about 2 gas stops, or 400ish miles, before my knees and shoulders need a break. I did have to wrap the rear header to reduce heat, there was enough to put a blister on my leg on a 12 hour highway day.
The throttle is a bit abrupt compared to what I had been used to, my previous bike had no-where near the torque. It's not a deal-breaker, it simply made me more incremental and thusly a better rider. It's a non issue after some seat time. The engine has enough torque to make shifting optional in most situations. In the US highway riding is unavoidable and I do find myself lusting after some of the newer bikes that offer another 20-40 horsepower, which is objectively ridiculous given this bike breaks most US speed limits in 3rd gear, all of them in 4th and keeps on going to a confirmed 130mph. That said, performance is smooth in character, rather than rowdy or manic. 150hp bikes are fun for a fling, but the ST3 is the one you should settle down with for long term fun and ease of maintenance.
The bike has a quality fit and finish and looks good. I think it's one of the most handsome of the sport tourers. Mine is beautiful from 20 feet, but has a cracked headlight fairing from a crash. Currently, in 2021, there are no viable replacement fairings to be had, keep that in mind if you are looking at one with cosmetic issues. Mechanically, there is nothing too exotic or novel going on, so repair parts are less of an issue. For twenty thousand miles I've only replaced oil, brake pads and tires. I did have to sort an improperly installed clutch pack from the previous owner and preemptively I replaced timing belt and fuel filter at around 36,000 miles. At 50,000 miles and with no help from me, the valves still sit within tolerance and the cylinders have good compression.
I'm a fair back-yard mechanic, but also lazy. The ST3 has been perfect for me. Most wrenching I do on the ST3 is normal maintenance or curious tinkering: nothing serious has come up. One year I did spend $600 usd on clutch, sprockets, chain, timing belt, and some other bits, though I could have spaced that out. Beyond that, It's only oil changes and front pads as needed. I've never had mine to a Ducati shop as I'm a little scared of the potential bill; if you have no comfort attempting repairs, you should do a little research on service rates. It's not a heavy bike for a tourer, but a switch from "sticky" Michelins, to Metzeler Roadtec 01's has reduced wear with little performance sacrifice.
The ST3 has useful electronic readouts for fuel economy and range. I like the combination of large digital speedo and analog tach, that should be the way of things on every bike. The center stand is useful and high enough to be out of the way. The factory panniers are a must for my money, but be advised that some large snell helmets wont store in them- there is a cable lock for helmets under the seat for trips to town. skip the sport tires and put on some Metzelers, the performance is still beyond my limits and the manners in the rain are reassuring. I put on Silmoto slip-ons because I'm a hooligan at heart, but the stock pipes are well tuned and neighborhood friendly.
Buying experience: I picked mine up from a private seller for $3500 usd, and immediately rode it 100 miles home.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Fantastic engine, easy to handle, and my first big bike
Ride quality is superb with the Ohlins suspension but the brakes could be a bit better, specially the rear one. On the plus side, it's really safe in the wet, I had to brake harder once whilst on a corner in the wet and had no lock up at all.
That traditional Ducati V2(L2) grunt puts a smile on your face. Because of the L shape, it helps with balance. It is my first big bike (since my 125cc) and it was really easy to handle. Torque is amazing, you can have 2 up plus cargo and it will go with no trouble at all. I get decent mpg too (45-50mpg) on a normal use.
Although it looks solid, there is a lot of harnesses under the dash that doesn't give the confidence you need when it comes to washing it. So I would stick with a bucket and cloth and avoid pressure washers as some have been stranded because of that. Apart from a low battery that left me stranded, it never let me down. To access the battery you need to remove a few panels as well which is not ideal.
Expensive if you stay on main dealers. Every 2 year you should swap the engine belt with makes it even more expensive. It's like owning a Ferrari, you pay for style, performance and prestige.
The side panniers are good enough. I later added a taller zero gravity screen, a GIVI box and a tank bag. For the givi box I had to order Venturi rear rack frame that was compatible with the panniers frame. I also added a 12V socket by the dash. Nowadays you get all this in their Multistradas.
Buying experience: Bought it use to a bike collector.
Version: ST3S ABS
Annual servicing cost: £200
It works best as a tourer, comfortable all day long. It's fun on a track, but it would need to shed a good few pounds and gain a few more horses to be a track weapon. It can work as a commuter, the mirrors make it a bit wide and it doesn't like hot summer days in stationary traffic. Worst thing about it is ground clearance when 2 up with luggage, it handles OK fully loaded but will grind the exhaust under the engine on the slightest of speed bumps.
It's well balanced for almost anything, except perhaps off road. But it makes most sense on country B roads.
The engine has balance, it's flat above 8K rpm, would be nice if you could find a bit more power above there, but between 4 - 8K it pulls like a train.
It's a Ducati engineering design is high, if a little quirky, but build quality comes up a bit short so maintenance key.
It's easy enough to maintain yourself, would be costly to get it done by a dealer/garage. Belts are about £80 every 2 years/7500 miles, valve gear is like the 2v motors rather than the 4v so easier to check and replace
It's got a powerlet socket which you can charge the battery through as well as attach a USB acceerories, but in a strange place just below seat. Dashboard can display different readouts but it defaults back to standard every time ignition is switched off. The range readout switches off when the reserve fuel light comes on, which is bonkers, the only time you would be interested in how many miles is left in the tank is when you are low on fuel - seriously why would the designers let that slip. If the fuel light comes on it should default to range, who cares about total miles, trip miles, mpg ... Instead they have built it so an orange light comes on (good) and the display defaults to total miles (wtf).
Version: ST3s ABS
The ST3s is extremely comfortable, you are able to ride for miles without any issues. The L-twin has plenty of torque to carry you, you're misses and luggage, although a few more ponies would be welcomed! The suspension is a bit soft, even after playing with the front and rear setup, which requires some learning since it has a lot of setup places to tamper with. It is the best Sport-touring bike I know of!
There is no problems to do high mileage on the highway and it behaves very well on mountain roads, being capable of a more committed riding.
The L-twin has plenty of torque, although a few more ponies would be welcomed!
The painting is very high quality (better than in my previous GSX-R) and after 11 years no sign of rust anywhere! The only problem I ever had was a loose fuse after riding through a cobble stoned road and the wires for the rear indicators are too short when you want to assemble the panniers mount.
The servicing cost is high, has it is in all Ducati's! Although You can spare some change if you do some basic servicing at home like oil and filters change.
One of the best standard equipment's is the ohlins rear shock, it allows very good handling and corner speed.
Buying experience: I bought it from a dealer for 4805£ with Ducati Performance mufflers, top case, panniers and mountings, pillion seat cover and smoked windshield.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Underrated Gem. Comfortable fast smooth. My previous Honda VFR 800 was good, I can confidently say after 18 months/6000 miles of ownership this bike is even better. Just that bit more feel. Be careful as it picks up speed very quickly !
Excellent comfort although mine came with aftermarket replacement seat. Ducati panniers make it a very practical ride
Pleasantly surprised. Starts first time after laying idle for weeks in winter. Only issue can bit starter switch sometimes slow to connect - never let me down just need to make sure solenoid is regularly cleaned says the guy who keeps it maintained .
Does 45 - 50 mpg on average but as you'd expect can drop if getting a move on
All good no weird electrical gremlins but after 18 months still not worked out the on board digital display features
Buying experience: Bought privately. Generalisation maybe but bikes like this are owned by enthusiasts and as such looked after
Version: 2008 ST3
So I always wanted a Ducati but needed something that my Senior Executive Manager in charge of fashion, soft furnishings, morals and social affairs could feel comfortable on as a pillion. This on the face of it met all those needs. Due to supplier issues later models (mine is a 2007 build registered in 2008) .the early models had Nofargo side panniers and later Givi top box. I managed to find the matching nofargo to make a handsome set and looks great. So far it's run very well having put 18,000 miles on it. I get great economy at sensible speeds and the management thinks the saddle is the best one yet. I love the Ducati big twin engine although it really does not like being hot on a hot day in slow traffic ans starts to misfire slighty. The mid range for me is amazing and I love the pull out of a twisty corner even fully loaded. I know that by Ducati standards it;s a bit pipe and slippers but it suits me perfectly. My only beef is the servicing costs but I knew what I was getting into and I have to say it's all worth it. Espaically as I use an independant specialist. Owning Ducati is not owning a motorbike, it's a passionate love affair. Maintain the relationship and it will stay a happy one. Neglect it and it will cause you pain.
Buying experience: Independant dealer in Ireland, got a great deal because he hates Ducati's and sees them as trouble. Great afterservice.
the season draws to a close up here in scotland so I thought I'd update my review on my ST3s ABS. The ST range is THE most expensive of the Ducati units to service, even more so than the super-sports. I was shown the OEM service price list by the Ducati Service Centre as the lady was most suprised! A major service is £353. I had a new set of tyres put on at the same time and saw barely any change from £600! A bike problem with this bike is the fuelling. The closed loop system combined with the Euro3 emissions requirement means it sufferes from snatchy throttle at low speeds and the need to ride the clutch round corners/roundabouts or suffer the dreaded '50p' look. It can also result in a lot of blowing back through the air box and stalling at idle once the bike becomes warm. Not even the Ducati Service Centre could solve it, as it's so integral to the ECU/O2 sensor loop. In the end it was solved only with the installation of a Power Commander and Lambda controller, with 6+ hours of dyno time and a custom map tweak. Worth it? YES!! I wish I had done it sooner. The bike is smooth, responsive and accelerates like a demon! What else would I change? The standard exhaust note - my last bike was a twin; a (1700cc) Yamaha MT01 with Akrapovic pipes. Now that sounded like a bike! My wife says the ST3 sounds like a lawnmower in comparison and she's right. Only after 5K rpm does it sound a little more throaty. I wish the OEM units had been blessed with a removable baffle. Overall though, despite being expensive to service, temperamental if left unused and difficult to source 'extras' for, she is a beauty. The paint is thick and creamy, the 21Ltr tank is fantastic, the Ohlins & ABS a must-have. She draws admiring glances as the sun shines off her bright red paintwork and dropping 'Ducati' into the bikes-you-own conversation turns others green with envy. Get the 'S' version with ABS if you can but, they are rare as pixie-shit, so expect to pay a premium - and no, you can't have mine!
Just got a clean 7K mile '07 ST3s, and 1,000 miles on I am enjoying it more than ever. Mine came with the factory paniers, and you do have to watch out for them as the bike is wider than you think when filtering with them fitted. The suspension is fully adjustable and proper setting is worthwhile. I set mine back to the default settings in the manual after my first ride out and have tweaked them since, and the ride is much better. Compared to some other sports tourers the equipment level is quite poor. On the other hand none of those are Ducatis, and they don't have that engine or that sound! If you can find one buy it, but make sure the belts have been done and budget around £750 for a service every two years!
Bought a 2005 ST3 one year ago and still love riding it. Use it every day on a short commute but also done a Winchester to Cornwall for the weekend !. It starts every time, I've loaded it with luggage (colour coded panniers came with it) & I've added a top box. For general riding / traffic filtering remove the luggage & swing the cans up (one bolt per can) and you've got a slim sports bike. Suspension is on the soft side and if you push it hard you will get slight steering wobble but if you use it for what its designed for then a 300 mile run is easy going added to 50-60MPG. The engine is lumpy below 3000RPM but accelerate above that and you're rewarded with a sound that is 'hell unleashed upon the world'. It really is two bikes in one, far sportier than a 'Pan' & far more comfortable than a 'Gixer'. Its 'clutch clatter' gets it noticed and even a guy in a 355 stopped & wanted a chat about it!. In conclusion I love it, its not perfect (but nothing is) but I'm pleased I bought it, what would I change it for..... god knows, maybe the S version.
Where's the one I submitted TWO YEARS AGO? It was on the old website!
Have it for 2 years and 37.000km whent to Hinckley in England on it and France and Spain use it for every day comute in center Lisbon, so far its a perfect all rounder, low maintenance also.