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.

The Cookie Story

Cookies by Douglas Adams (author: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”)

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.

I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.

I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.

Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.

It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.

You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know. . . But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?

In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.

Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice . . .” I mean, it doesn’t really work.

We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.

Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.

The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.

(Excerpted from “The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time” by Douglas Adams)