Who hasn't dreamt of owning a Ducati sportsbike? That glorious blood red paint, the booming desmo V-twin exhaust note and those gorgeous Italian supermodel looks. Ducatis had a reputation for being unreliable with high servicing costs. Some of the horror stories may be true, but with our expert’s help you can snap up a sty lish bargain. So what should you buy?
Well, expert John Burrows, who has been at Ducati Coventry for over 15 years and is currently the firm’s service manager (basically he is a world-class Ducati super-brain) guides you through the fragile world of used Dukes.
The iconic: 1998 Ducati 916
Statistics: 916cc / 195kg / 109bhp / 790mm seat height
- Dealer price £6000 to £12,000
- Private £5000 to £10,000
- This one £8950, private sale
The 916 arrived in 1994 and is powered by the Desmoquattro motor, which started out as 916cc. The 916 was originally sold in monoposto or biposto form (with or without a pillion seat) and in 2000 the 996S introduced Öhlins and Marchesini wheels. The WSB- homologation special models, the SP, SPS and R, feature higher-spec motors, three Senna models and the Foggy Rep. The specials and early 916 models have gone through the roof, the 996 has yet to hit peak value. But it won’t be long.
There are a few issues on early models. The Desmoquattro engine’s alternator nut can work loose, potentially causing havoc within the motor, and sprag clutches can wear if the battery isn’t kept charged-up, so listen out for a slipping sound or squeak when starting the bike. The reg/rec is a weak point on early bikes, but this is easy to swap. As well as the neutral light sensor failing, the fuel warning light also likes to give up as the wires under the tank corrode. The Desmoquattro requires a minor service every year and a ‘desmo service,’ which includes belts and valve clearances checked: a good technician will also tighten the alternator nut.
Best all-round option: 2004 Ducati 998S
Statistics: 998cc / 183kg / 130bhp / 790mm seat height
- Dealer price £6500 to £12,000
- Private £6000 to £10,000
- This one £10,995, dealer sale
In 2002 the 998 arrived with a new Testastretta engine, which increased power through a larger bore and shorter stroke. The 998 came in monoposto, biposto and S versions as well as the homologation R model and a few limited editions. The 998S is best as it has more power and has an Öhlins shock, uprated Showa forks and Marchesini wheels.
Service intervals require cam belts changing and a ‘desmo service’ every two years. The starter motor, located below the front cylinder, can rust its power feed connector, which stops it working. When you try to undo the nut it often snaps off, requiring starter replacement. Ensure the eccentric adjustor moves freely in the single-sided swingarm and that the pinch bolts aren’t over-tightened. Fuel filters often clog due to rust within the tank, robbing the bike of fuel.
The power house: 2010 Ducati 1098S
Statistics: 1198cc / 168kg / 167bhp / 820mm seat height
- Dealer price £8500 to £12,000
- Private £6500 to £9000
- This one £9999, dealer sale
The introduction of the 1098 with its Testastretta Evoluzione motor was massive. It’s a fantastic engine that features extended service intervals and the desmo service is fixed at 7500 miles, irrespective of time. The 1098 came in two forms: stock and the S, which had Öhlins suspension and Marchesini wheels but no extra power.
The swingarm collects water on early 1098 models and can cause the lower shock mounting to rust. Later models had a drain hole, so you can either drill your own drain or keep the shock nut lubed. The fuel tank breather furs up on all 1098/1198 models, robbing the bike of power and the ECU can also become clogged with stored error codes. The fuel pump and ignition relays are a bit weak, but these are simple and cheap items to swap at service time.
The most practical: 2004 Ducati 999
Statistics: 998cc / 199kg / 124bhp / 780mm seat height
- Dealer price £5000 to £11,000
- Private £4750 to £8000
- This one £6495, dealer sale
The 999 is only now getting the credit it deserves. The 999 was the first production bike to feature CAN-bus technology and also has loads of clever features such as an adjustable riding position and a one- push starter system. If you can get a 999R, ideally the more powerful last generation, they are genuinely phenomenal superbikes.
The 999’s engine is solid (it still requires the same service schedule as the 998), but its wiring loom lets the side down. The wiring harness gets hammered by water and temperature changes, causing the wires to corrode and short. The fuel pump relay (located on the front of the battery box) needs to be changed regularly as it is quite weak and the same is true for the headlight relay, located behind the headlamp, causing the lights to flicker and the bike may not start.
Best value: 2010 Ducati 848
Statistics: 848cc / 168kg / 131bhp / 830mm seat height
- Dealer price £6500 to £9000
- Private up to £5750 to £8000
- This one £8599, private sale
Ducati have always had a smaller- capacity version that looks identical but costs less. This started with the 748 and progressed to the 749, 848 and finally the 959 Panigale. There are generally stock and S versions, but the smaller-capacity bikes also came in ‘dark’ form, which reduces the price. The later Evo models, and Corse SE, are the best models.
The smaller engines are mechanically very similar to their larger-capacity siblings, so the faults and fixes are generally the same. But they tend to be owned by less sympathetic or fastidious owners and as a result service schedules are sometimes skipped. It is crucial to buy a smaller capacity Ducati with a good service history and it is better to buy a high mileage one with a FSH than a lower mileage one that lacks it.
For more Ducatis visit MCN Bikes for sale.