DUCATI ST4 (1996 - 2003) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£480|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The forgotten Ducati family of sports touring motorcycles.
While Monsters rule in town and Superbikes jostle for supremacy on the track, few think of these practical yet exciting machines when Ducati is mentioned. It’s a shame as the Ducati ST2 and ST4 are excellent machines.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The sports and street machine DNA is obvious in these motorcycles – they handle well – stable yet reasonably quick to steer. Bumpy roads can upset the Ducati ST4 but adjusting/upgrading the suspension will help. Vibration can spoil the party but if properly serviced it shouldn’t be too noticeable. Powerful brakes.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Ducati ST2 relies on an old power plant derived from Ducati’s old 907 Paso. Like most Ducati's it’s a 90 degree V-twin. It’s liquid cooled and while not incredibly powerful is torquey with superb midrange. The Ducati ST4 is a newer bike with the more advanced and powerful 916cc engine from the iconic Ducati 916.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Despite the reputation for iffy reliability, the Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 are fine if well looked after. Owners tend to be kinder to their motorcycles than those who have sports Ducatis plus the motorcycles get used constantly – occasional use can be bad for them. Full service history is still essential when buying any Ducati ST2 or Ducati ST4.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
There’s a lot of competition, both from other premium sports touring motorcycles like the Honda VFR800 and the Triumph Sprint ST but also from the excellent budget middleweights like the Yamaha FZ6 Fazer. The Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 still represent decent VFM.
Find a Ducati ST2 for sale.
Find a Ducati ST4 for sale.
Panniers were a cost option on the Ducati ST2 and ST4 but otherwise standard equipment is reasonably generous on both motorcycles – they are on the sporty end of the sports-touring continuum. The seat is comfy enough touring but the pillion perch seems to suit some better than others so get yours to try before you buy.
|Engine type||8v V-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||21 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||180/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||44 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||£480|
15 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||105 bhp|
|Max torque||66 ft-lb|
|Top speed||155 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||11.3 secs|
|Tank range||200 miles|
Model history & versions
1996: Ducati ST2 launched in October.
1998: Revised rear suspension, longer gear lever.
1999: Ducati ST4 launched.
2000: Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 get grey frame and wheels, new clocks, improved side stand, braided steel brake lines.
2001: Suspension rebound adjustment removed from Ducati ST4.
2002: Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 get catalytic converter and aluminium clutch housing.
2003: Minor styling tweaks.
2003: Ducati ST2 and Ducati ST4 discontinued in September.
Ducati ST4S: similar to Ducati ST4 but with re-tuned 996cc engine and superior suspension.In production from 2002 to 2004.
Owners' reviews for the DUCATI ST4 (1996 - 2003)
12 owners have reviewed their DUCATI ST4 (1996 - 2003) 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:||£480|
Annual servicing cost: £600
A great bike - sometimes. Must be maintained in a way that the average person is unlikely to do. Difficult to ride slowly, engine needs revs and is not relaxed (not what I imagined - no real low down power), reliability is variable, on the flip side it handles like a sports bike (as long as the tyres are in tip top condition), and is super comfortable
Great brakes, superb quality suspension, however needs setting up carefully then leaving alone. Super sensitive to tyres (type and wear) - handling goes to pieces when tyres wear. Very comfortable 2 up tourer, with 3 hours between stops a real possibility
This was my first Ducati I though it would have huge low down grunt - it doesn't. Giving it a lot of throttle at anything below 4000rpm will result in jerkiness and in extremis, kangarooing. It is actually quite hard to ride slow! Clutch is not the greatest.
Some really nice components on the ST4S, good level of build quality and good paint depth, but some real problems - battery has to be absolutely perfect for reliable starting, clutch hydraulics are terrible (slave cylinder will definitely need attention on a regular basis) and electrics seemed susceptible to water
Expensive servicing, belts need changing frequently, I eventually learned to do it myself, but not easy. Tyres have to be changed before they are worn down as the handling is temperamental on worn tyres. Good fuel economy when used gently.
ST4S has a great base specification (for its time). Bridgestone BT021/23 seemed to work well. Luggage system works well and was well worth buying
Buying experience: No problems, good experience
Annual servicing cost: £100
Great handling and brakes, but it just has that ability to make me want to be out on it and smile all the time, fairing removal for just about any job is a PITA.
I spend time setting it up and leave it alone, tyres and pressures are critical. Bridgestone S21 are fantastic on this bike.
I would prefer the ST4S engine but really plenty of power.
One breakdown in 12 years. The voltage regulator had cooked the cable connection block. Now uprated both.
Do all jobs myself so not included labour.
A voltage meter would be very handy, mine has one now.
Buying experience: Private.
Pulls like a train, handles sweet, comfortable and stops on a sixpence. On real world roads what more do you need. I forgot to mention the sound !
Excellent wind protection and comfortable seat with a perfect riding position [for me] makes riding all day a pleasure. The Brembo stoppers are more than enough, especially with Black Shadow discs.
Straight through pipes and open top air box makes sound and torque incredible. Deep growl from the 996 lump is intoxicating.
After 82,000 miles she`s never let me down, Been all over Europe many times, long motorway trips at high speeds, tight twistys in the Alps and Pyrenees, she handles them all with ease.
I`ve done all the servicing myself. Changed oil and filter every 3,000 instead of the recommended 6,000 miles which I think has paid off because the valve clearances have never needed adjusting after 82,000 miles. Good quality fully synthetic oil always used.
Well laid out dash board, easy to read, no complicated stuff. Factory panniers are big enough for a helmet and look neat, ideal for touring. Only extras I`ve fitted are Oxford hotgrips which do the job.
Buying experience: About 12 years ago I wrote off my Tuono on some diesel on a roundabout and a friend who had just bought the St4s offered it to me with only 1800 miles on the clock. I didn`t need asking twice. This has been my third Duke and definitely the best.
Version: ST4 and 4S
Annual servicing cost: £750
Performance, handling, involvement, noise, red, mpg, comfort, rider and pillion, accessories, motor, did I mention the noise ! The reliability 57000 miles all over Europe never had a breakdown.
At its best in the mountains and wide sweeping bendy roads anywhere in Europe even autoroutes autostradas etc with lots of fast corners ie Lyon to saint Etien or coming out of clermont towards the south as long as you got bends its at it's best. An exceptional sport tourer which will comfortably carry my wife and I in comfort for 500 mile stints? Montelimar to Cherbourg anybody.
The noise the gearbox (best I have ever had on a bike) high speed low revs,real punch on acceleration, the motor is a gem. Don't believe what they say about riding in town,not a problem.
Quality components,quality paint, reasonable fasteners, never had a breakdown in all the years my wife and I toured the ST4S (more than could be said for some of the bikes we toured with) speaking to two adventure bike riders on 2 very popular and expensive new bikes on the ferry,asked me where I had been, told said around Italy for a couple of weeks, asked them where they had been, Bordeaux! But both bikes broke down and had to be recovered back to Cherbourg to be picked up he other side both new bikes gear box and shaft drive, they asked me what I was riding told them a Ducati ST4S they both laughed and said I was brave !!!!
Lots of jobs did myself filters oils, (belts,shims, injection,) quality independent mechanic. Headstock bearings need stripping and greasing by 15000 miles to maintain handling,clutch plates last well with a vented clutch cover, always use quality oil, and change after every long tour say 3000 miles.
Suspension, motor, looks, comfort, load carrying ability for a long tour. Ducati panniers, rack, viper roll bag, Oxford magnetic 2 tier tank bag (in red of course) michelin pilot road 2 and 3 and you will also need titanium or ceramic toe sliders on your boots + spares
Buying experience: Dealer great price
7 years on and my ST4S 2004 facelift 996 engined Sports Tourer still has a few tricks up it sleeve and it still cuts it as a real road bike, with pace to shame a few modern bikes, obviously it's a little slower each year then the newer bikes but i've not noticed anyone riding them any quicker and no no has made a replacement bike that is any better in my distorted mind.
A very nice and sedate bike. I took it on a little tour up to Michigan (about 1200 miles 1 way) and did 750 miles in 1 day. I was concerned about fatigue on the interstate but the ST4 is remarkably comfortable. On the way back, I stumbled onto a great stretch of road. 200 miles of hills, curves, no cops, no traffic and the Duc performed great. Bike gets good mileage and really the only complaints I have are the crappy side stand, the complete whip to get the fairing on and off to do anything, and really the financial responsibility one undertakes when owning a Ducati. The ST4 does not like to start in cold weather (below 40-45F in my part of the world) and the electronics are a bit questionable. I swear I will sell it every time I do an oil change (who ever heard of having to remove the mirrors to do an oil change?), but then I swear I will keep it until the tires fall off every time I ride it.
i have always had jap bikes, and in a moment of apparent insanity decided to try a ducati. i am glad i did,the bike has somthing you dont get from jap bikes. i cant realy explian it, but when you start it up all that mechanical clatter and thumping v twin vibe,there,s just more sense of ocasion. starting some jap bikes is no more exciting than starting a lawn mower.dont get me wrong jap bikes are very good but riding my duke makes me understand what people mean when they say it,s got soul.my bike didn,t come with service history which is potentialy a big mistake with a duke.when i took mine to an indepndant duke specialist it cost me £500 for an engine service and a couple of other miner service items.the st4 leans more towards the sport side than touring with regards to riding position and it,s handling abilities, but its still a very comfy ride long or short distance.mine came fitted with a top box which is a good thing because there,s not much space to keep anything without one. under seat storage is reserved for the tool kit only so i leave that at home and take a pressure gauge and a couple other small items in it,s place.i have just fitted some ducati sport exhausts and it sounds great.it,s a joy to ride what ever mood your in whether you just want a steady ride to youre favourite destination or showing sports bikes the way down youre favorite set of twisties.i dont think i will ever go back to four cylinders,that v twin grunt and good spread of power up to the rev limiter make me feel iv,e been missing out on somthing all my jap bike riding years.A couple of minor gripes, standard screen not tall enough for decent weather protection and a heavy clutch lever.with regards to the cluch i was advised to try clutch springs from a 748 which only made a small difference but still worth while. by with confidance if it,s got service history, but dont pay good money for some thing without it because it could be expensive when you do get it serviced
Wow! come with center stand (thumb up), useless windscreen in rain (thumb down). Please check defintition of "Tourer" for more design upgrade and improvement.
I have had a desire to own an Italian bike for years, but was put off by the old reliability issues, but I threw caution to the wind and ended up with a 3 year old demonstrator. Once fired up, that delightful tune demands you just keep on playing it. Sure, at tickover they sound like the gears are not on the shafts they should be, but once under way and over 3000 revs, joy - pure joy. The grin factor is just huge. Frame is excellent and you feel like your riding on a rail in the road. Brakes also very powerful, yet have good feeling. The seat is great for both rider and passenger, but round town the forward inclination puts a lot of weight on your hands. The clutch is heavy. Commuting in London gave me tennis elbow in the left arm. Motion is needed to help take the weight of your hands, or strong back muscles! Apart from the main bearings having to be replaced at 12,000 miles, the "Duke" has been superb. I love it on the open road, hate it round town. Strengths: Good gutsy motor, solid frame, super brakes. Comfy seat, 50mpg average even when caneing it hard, Italian Styling. Weaknesses: Heavy clutch, you have to get used to the riding position.
This bike has it all, starting with the 996 motor, you can thump about on single track roads 2 up, grunt past cars 2 up with under 7k on the clock (that would leave an on the redline vfr750fv for dead) 1 up on fast A roads 115mph is basic stuff and not having to use more than 7k on the clock, ride it like a two stroke and it is a very fast bike on single track roads, bumpy B road, fast A road anywhere you like. how good is this bike, well its replaced my VFR750FV and my CBR954-RR3 both are for sale. Strengths: Everything. Weaknesses: Fuel consumption when gunning it, servicing costs are well out of order, eats rear tyres.
Having owned the ST2 from new in 1998, I have nothing but praise for it's performance, handling, braking, economy, reliability and build quality. If they are properly maintained, Ducatis are as reliable as any other bike. I took mine for a 3000 mile ride to Prague and Budapest and when I returned, nothing had needed any attention apart from routine chain adjustment and lubrication. Tickover was as sweet as it had been on the day I bought it. The only non routine maintenance has been replacement of the clutch slave seal, a quick and inexpensive job. I have no hesitation in buying another. Strengths: Just about everything really. Weaknesses: Fiddly fairing removal for servicing. Dzus fasteners saves a lot of time.
Having owned my st for a year, I have found it more than capable of either touring two up with full luggage or a blast through the twisties. Reliability has not been an issue with 6000 miles notched up without a hiccup. On the downside the seat can be a bit hard though my pillion says its comfy. Strengths: Mid range punch Mirrors Good hard luggage handles well decent brakes. Weaknesses: service costs, seat .