10 things you should know before buying a Ducati Superbike

Check out my Ducati 749 Review

1. They are not cheap to run. Even those that don’t have any issues will always be shouting for some new titanium/carbon or other expensive part to be fitted to suit the new owner.


2. Ducati Dry clutches make noise. Some make a lot of noise, some not so much. But ALL dry clutches make some noise. It is how they are. Whether you embrace the noise and open the cover up to share it with the world, or fight to make it quiet is solely down to the individual. If it really annoys you so much and you really must have a Ducati, then find one with a wet clutch. Note:- Only go the wet clutch route if you are prepared to sound like a japanese v twin on approach though. like it or not, the rattle and sching of a duke clutch is very distinctive. Clutch action is invariably heavier than any jap rider will expect and some clutches are more forgiving and controllable than others. For anyone in the older model early 90’s ducati range, the ‘select neutral before you come to a stand’ technique is regularly used. Otherwise its the 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 1st neutral, not quite but nearly, 2nd, 1st oh the lights have changed lets go approach.


3. Ducati’s are usually more expensive than the average Japanese bike of similar performance. Some are more desirable than others. bikes with an S, SPS or similar will hurt your wallet more than a less high spec model. For the majority who ride legally on UK roads, none of that matters. But if you want to be elitist, you go the extra mile. That said, there is an element of elitism in owning any Ducati, so the S just takes you to a ‘wheels within wheels’ scenario. When you get to desmosedici heights, you have to ask is it any better than the model you really want. Which is better in the car world? an Aston martin DB5 or an Aston martin DB9. Newer bigger better isnt necessarily always the case when it comes to buying what your heart tells you it wants.


4. Exhaust noise is usually loud on a Ducati. Mainly as the average owner wants it to sound and breathe like any Ducati should. This makes early morning riders especially obvious to all around them as the sound of a big v twin on open race pipes is ever so slightly louder than the twittering birds of the dawn chorus.


5. Comfort. Difficult one this. Some are comfortable. The Superbikes however are, on the whole, not so comfortable. With riding positions in virtual race stance and little padding in the seat. Many are one step away from a torture tool over long distances.


6. Town riding and stuck in traffic. Try to avoid this as much as possible. Ducatis were not designed to sit in traffic and most Ducati models will prove this to you in every way they can. Lousy steering lock, grumpy clutch action, a propensity to refuse any of the accepted legal speed limits as a place where the bike will be happy in one gear at constant revs. 30? forget it. 40? possibly, but still not nice. 50? just about the 1st place where none snatchiness can be achieved at a constant. A far better option is the slow down a little and speed up to where you want to be before letting the bike bellow on the overrun as it comes down in speed again. Handle Bar and peg positions often lead to wrist pain for many owners in slow riding. The only real cure being speed. Higher speed equates to less weight on the wrists.


7. Comments from people who dont know about Ducati’s. Is it going to break down? and how much will it cost to fix that problem? are usually directly related to the dry clutch when an average Jap owner hears it.


8. Reliability. Do Ducatis have problems? yes. All bikes do. Honda were forgiven for the chocolate cams in their vfr750, kawasaki for their lousy cam chain adjusters.Suzuki for the killer handling of the TL range. Ducati dont seem to get that same forgiveness from the public though. Regulator rectifiers have a (deserved) reputation for going wrong. It is a genuine fault,easily cured (and avoided if you check the connectors and ensure they are good). Cam wear on 748 through 996 is always a gamble and can happen to any of them. But as long as the bike is used regularly, the majority are trouble free. They just don’t like standing around doing nothing for months on end. Where a japanes four will start up after 6 weeks alone in a shed, the average duke will just sulk about the whole being left alone aspect and refuse to play. At least when it starts it will move and stop. Brembo brakes rarely suffer seized pistons. Unlike tokico stuff that seizes because it looked rainy 5 miles away. Although belts are a constant drain on a long term owners wallet, the instances of belt failure are almost unheard of. Certainly a lot less than cam belts on cars are known to fail.


9. Paintwork and finish. Difficult one this. Some models have good paintwork. Resilient to weather, good paint and generally spot on finish. Others don’t. Those that don’t have paint that is generally allergic to being attached to anything other than itself. Flaking engine paint, ultra thin paint on frames that rubs off if a wire harness even gets close enough to scare it. Fasteners rust if they are in a country that has more than 3 millimetres of rainfall in a year and you are daft enough to get them wet. Common sense says either fit stainless stuff or avoid the water and winter at all costs.


10. Why would anybody want one? Because they are something special. They look good wherever they are. Pull up at a pub and it stands out from the sea of Japanese road rockets. It announces itself in a cacaphony of noise and then sits there like the king of the world. Some models verge on being a form of art and all make you smile. A good ride really is a good ride and leaves you with a huge smile. A comparable litre Jap 4 will still get you there, but often without that same feel good factor. That said, a Ducati can also have a sulky day and make that same ride a nightmare. But when you park it up, it still sits there looking like a million dollars in a sea of blandness.


One last thing. Nobody knows where the tax disc should be mounted and no answer is ever likely to definitively answer it. Don’t bother asking. Ever.

8 thoughts on “10 things you should know before buying a Ducati Superbike

  1. Love it! Thanks for describing all my feelings for these machines with soul and personality

  2. i just bought my first Duc 2004 999s its getn delivered next week only seen pics of it havnt even test rode it im excited and scarred reading realiability forums its only done 14000k owner said he will shed a tear when itgoes out the door hes putting new belts tyres and service then getn his mechanic to deliver it a 5hour drive to my door he was gonna use it for a show piece in his lounge i said wat does it sound like he said thunder! then let me hear it overthe phone paid $11.995 for it i dont know wat it was but everything just feels right about this deal he owns his own upmarket mc shop and rebuilds classic bikes most wierdest hounorable feeln deal ive ever done lmao

  3. It is amazing how Ducati, Harley and their like think that their bikes are a piece of art. Along with how much better they are to ride then the Japanese bikes. It is all about marketing. If the Japanese secretly built a bike and put a Ducati badge on it, the Ducati crowd would go nuts over it and tell the world how beautiful it is. Expert marketing is Ducati’s real strength which is where the Japanese fall down. A great example is the Yamaha cruisers. They try to market them as a bad boy’s bike and then go and call it “Star”. What self respecting tough guy would buy a bike called “Star”. I do thankyou for the article you inform us of the good and bad insights into owning a Ducati. Like any other bike they aren’t for everyone but for you and dare I say it, it’s your passion.

  4. Ok well I been thinking on getting an 848 evo is there anything that I should know about that

  5. Interesting article. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to own a Ducati, but I’d rather not foot the bill for the inevitable trouble these bikes have.

    I quite like how you laid out the article, you said it for what it is.

    To the other commenter though – do you have anything less cliché to say than “soul and personality” – bikes don’t have souls and personality, if they do, the Ducati brand is the least likely to possess any kind of soul or personality. Reliability problems; bad paint jobs, bad electricals, bad mechanicals etc. is not the mark of any contraption that possesses “soul and personality”

    If anything – the Japanese win in this aspect in every way. It takes great skill and dedication to make a motorcycle that lasts decades and still performs as well as the day it left the factory. Ducati isn’t that.

    As for “Race bike” – well yea, Ducati has done well at WSBK during the period that the Japanese manufacturers never paid much attention to it. Honda concentrated big time on MotoGP. Where is Ducati in that? MotoGP is cream of the crop yea? What about Isle of Man? When was the last time Ducati won there?
    BSB? WSS? Fuck Ducati.

    They make shit motorcycles – I wouldn’t trust my life on one of these on the street, let alone try and race the useless crap.

  6. I actually don’t agree, Peter.
    I stopped liking the new Ducatis after 2008. They arrived at a kind of childish look in my opinion.
    The most recent ones look like a steampunk emo girls nose piercing.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence how all of that pre 2008 era hold their price like they’re waiting for Ducati to notice the same.

  7. Yea Ducati… Keep on regular schedule maintenance or your bike will tell you it’s time.First time something goes wrong check your factory book and see when you missed taking it in for maintenance…lol have fun with that.

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