I have long been lured by Ducatis.
They are unlike anything the motorcycle manufactures
have ever produced and during the 1990's- Ducati became, again, a
household name. I have always loved to photograph what I'm convinced
is one of the most beautiful brands of sportbikes ever produces.
Trying to capture that is always a challenge as a photographer.
These bikes are art.
I have long deliberated on purchasing one and in the
meantime have had several conversations with Ducati owners. What
follows is an amalgamation of those discussions.
|This was a conversation I had with Matt McDermott about
the mid 90's Ducati 900CR or SS:
Q: Okay, here's the deal. Ducati's have long been a fascination for me and I am looking at a new
bike in the coming months. The 900SS, SP, & CR are easy to find here in California
if you wait for the right one to turn up and the prices all seem to hover around $6K which is the category I'm in for now.
I am especially interested in the 93-94 Ducati 900CR (named one of the best buys of the year back in '94) probably
because of it's $6000 ballpark price and every 900 out there I
see seems to have very low miles and many owners seem to extensively modify the
A: The Ducati 900CR is a great bike, in fact it was the first Ducati I owned since 1994 and I have only deviated from the brand once and that was for a VTR1000. I put 348 miles on it and
then sold it. Although the VTR1000 does everything it is touted to do, to me, it lacked the sole of a Ducati.
I am curious as to how long of a ride is this bike comfortable for. I have the terrible habit of not stopping for anything save to shoot a roll of film of the road throughout the day.
own rides typically are 8 hour loops with occasional one-tank-rides which amount to about 3 hours. This bike has about a 4.6 gallon gas tank and I am wondering if the usual 200
mile range and 40-50 mpg that most bikes of this caliber get is to be expected.
A: The Ducati SS/CR definitely puts you into a semi aggressive riding position, however, I do not find it to be too extreme. I am 5'10", 150 lbs and can usually handle about 100 -
150 in the saddle at a given time. The mileage you have stated above is accurate assuming a bone stock bike.
Ducati 900 Supersport
Q: It is commonly written that stock 916's will have you screaming for mercy after an hour in the saddle. Is this the case with the 900? While I am a pretty flexible guy at 160 and
5'9"- I admit I actually like the racerboy position, however when testers speak of the 916, they mention phrases like "torture chamber" and "60 minute
ride max" all too often. I am curious as to how you feel this bike is on longer rides.
A: I can tell you from personal experience, a
Ducati 916/996/748 is a torture rack. When I owned my 916 I called it "the bike you hate to love". In fact, I sold my 916 in favor of a
1994 Monster, however, I found the Monster's riding position to be too civil / upright for my taste.
During the 80's I owned a
Kawasaki ZX900 which was not only a great bike, it was a great deal more comfortable than that of
a SS/CR. Then again, the Ducati is the bike that meets "muster" for me from a comfort perspective in addition to that which I have detailed
Q: Traffic around here flows along at
80 mph, sometimes even faster. I've gotten used to my ZX-11 loping lazily down the
road. I have done 500-mile round
trips in one day & I do a lot of freeway riding to get where I need to be.
Can the bike be ridden comfortably for 2-3 hours on end at this sustained
A: At 80 miles per hour the Ducati will turn about 5,850 rpm (assuming stock 37 tooth sprocket) and is very stable at that speed, however,
your ZX-11 will definitely exert less effort
than the Duc given the riding scenario you have identified above.
Q: My other problem is I ride a lot. Last year I put 20,000 miles on my ZX-11- and although this is unusual for
me- at my lowest- I'll do at least 10K+ a year. The motorcycle is my primary mode of transportation (despite
our two vehicles) and I do a 60 mile round trip commute daily on the bike.
So the bike is by no means driveway jewelry or a weekend hobby.
Can you put a lot of mileage on a Ducati?
A: Without a doubt, Duc's are more maintenance intensive than Japanese bikes. Valves need to be checked / adjusted every 4 - 6K and belts every 10K. I don't do anywhere
near the mileage that you do and I also do all of my own work on my bike (the 2 valve twin is a very simple design), so maintenance is not a big deal with me.
If you were to pay a mechanic to do a full maintenance (valves, oil, carb sync), expect to pay $300 - $400 every 4 - 6K miles and add another
$150 - $200 if belts require replacement. Now, that said, is not
to say that a Duc will not hold up to the rigors of extensive mileage. In fact, I know several guys who have put extensive (50K plus) trouble free miles on their
Duc's. If you maintain
them, they will reward you.
||Q: The Japanese sportbikes- no matter which 1990's model you ride- if they're well taken care of and maintained- no crashes of course- in a heartbeat you can put 50K on without
blinking. They'll run forever with valve adjustments, carb syncs, and tons of tires (which I have changed tires every three months at times!). In a nutshell, can you put this much
mileage on this bike? Or should it be a second bike? The weekend joy ride as it were. The Ducati's for sale commonly all have such low mileage on them, even bikes that are ten
years old. This is so common and the low mileage Ducati's are so easy to find- I wonder if anyone ever really rides them?
A: Typically, I think you will find that Ducati owners are either multiple bike owners or are owners that just do not spend a whole lot of time in the saddle given time constraints or
whatever. Again, other than some commonly known trouble spots (voltage regulators etc...) they are reliable bikes.
Ducati's are air cooled with an oil cooler- can it handle the 100 degree days? My FJ1200 was oil cooled and you could feel it cooking away
at stop lights during our hottest days here. This wasn't too often fortunately- only on the hottest of days. It's like riding in an oven sweating buckets in my armored leather jacket.
Thank god we can split lanes.
A: It is an air cooled bike so it will run hotter than a liquid cooled bike. A couple of things you can do to alleviate the problem of heat is to 1) stick with the 1/2 faired CR (more
air circulation), 2) use a quality motor oil and if you are concerned about heat, there are aftermarket suppliers of oil coolers with better heat exchangers than the stock unit.
And is the chatter of the dry clutch bothersome with the sound or is it rather a part of Ducati lore that evokes a deep seated pride of 'I ride a Ducati- everyone look at me you poor,
poor people in your silly cars'
Other than the chatter, are there any problems with it when putting 10K a year on the bike. Can the bike handle the occasional stop light to stop light riding that although you get to
go to the head of the line, is simply inevitable from time to time.
A: To me, the dry clutch is one part of the Ducati mystique and is one of the things I feel contributes to that "character" trait I referred to above. If the maintenance issue is of
concern to you, or if you are looking for additional information on Ducati's, stop by the following site and investigate (http://www.cowin-tech.com/Ducati/). If you don't mind some of
the wise cracker's that participate in the "Help Needed" section on occasion, it is an informative site and there are a lot of knowledgeable people who frequent the site who are usually
willing to share their experiences.
|I got in touch with Steve and posed the same set of questions. His response: I have owned damn near every twin made. The Duc reins supreme.
I bought a '93 Ducati 900 in late ' 94 with 3500 miles on it. It has 14K now.
I have kids and do not ride as much as you, however, I have taken this on
numerous 3 to 4 day jaunts. My longest ride was an eight day ride to
Oregon and back down through all the mountain passes that you can ride from the top of
California to the bottom.
The rest of the pack were on BMW GS's (of which I now own as well). And
I was the only one that was not uncomfortable at any time. This bike is nowhere near
the aggressive position that the Ducati 916's are- setting your suspension is key.
This is why I went for the 900.
||In my 11K miles, I have needed to have the valves adjusted once.
I replaced the belts once, changed oil and tires- that is it. I am still on the original front brakes.
This is the original clutch as well. With regards to your clutch
question- Clutches should always be released while waiting for stop lights.
They should never be engaged until ready to take off. I wear ear plugs so
I don't hear any noises except that sweet exhaust. I do not commute on it.
I go for rides in the twisties, on the track (8 times) and on trips short and long.
The bike has never once failed me- super reliable- 40 mpg average (never
below 75 or 80 mph). More if you easy.
|I am very smooth and take great pride in that and keeping the bike up.
Hot temps and lots of stop and go may (not always) induce some clutch screetch.
I have not experienced any though. I run Mobil 1 synthetic.
My RKA magnetic tank bag works great. Don't know about soft bags for the
rear, but tying anything down back there is ifffy. I am 6' even at 180 lbs.
This bike fits me like a glove. The stock seat has been shaved slightly and custom recovered.
I found Reed Dallmann and sent him my query: I owned this 93 Ducati 900 SP. I loved riding this bike even for long
distances. Much of my day-rides were in Colorado where I loved riding all day - not problem. I am
also 5'9" 160lbs and loved both riding positions on the Duc. It is VERY
comfortable on the highway at 80 - RPMs not too high but not too low.
Don't recall the exact RPMs, but I do recall rolling up to 130 mph in a heartbeat
without even noticing the change in speed - until I hit a swale. With
regards to the clutch- I didn't realize the clutch was different, but thinking back, I loved
the sound of the dry clutch. I loved everything about it- around town, around
a mountain, on a highway.
Reed's Ducati 900 Supersport
|I had been used to riding a Harley Softail which was a
completely different experience but also one I loved. Given a choice of bikes for a day ride or run across
country I would chose the Duc, though the HD always will draw more attention at lunch.
Thing is, I wouldn't trust either very far. I never had any trouble with
the Duc and only had to have it maintained each Spring.
Nonetheless, I think you will find it much different than the rice burners you're used to in terms of reliability (just a hunch). Love your website and from reading and looking at your pictures, I suggest you give in the that urge to buy a Ducati as soon as possible. You will love the Duc even if it is different - I suspect you'll adjust accordingly. But I mean, come on. Look at it! It's beautiful
I think you should be able to find a solid bike for close to $6000 especially in CA. - Reed Dallmann
|Jon Doran sent me this account of his
Why I bought a 900SS?
Well, I had dreamt of owning a Ducati ever since I saw one in Italy. It just
seemed proper that I be a part of the exclusive club of Desmo-ownership,
that and my continual fascination with all things Italian led me to consider
the 900SS. I knew I couldn't afford a 748 or 916 at the time and the MSRP on
a 900SS was at the very top of my price range. I was also warned that since
I was looking for a bike with more power than my old CBR F2, the 750SS would
not suffice. I happened to be glancing through a cycle trader, and saw an
add for several new 1999 900SS (this was Jan 2000). I called and was assured
that the store was selling the bikes for @$8500 or a little more for the full plastic. So, I jumped on the opportunity, drove to Palm Beach,
purchased myself piece of a legend.
| I have not spent as much time on the road as I would like due to a busy
schedule, but my Duck was used as a daily commuter for the last year. I
amassed almost 10,000 miles in a year even though I live 2 miles from work.
I will say that it takes getting used to.
I have heard the 748s and the
916/996 described as torture racks. There is a similar seating position between the two models, but the 900SS is not as drastic. And the other key
to salvation is to support some of your weight with your lower back. I have
heard gripping with your knees will help as well, but that feels a tad awkward
Also, if the roads are twisty, you never really notice any
wrist discomfort. I will have to do further testing to completely answer the distance before discomfort question. Hopefully, I will be able to do
research in 2 weeks when I go on vacation. I can say that I have ridden from
Tallahassee to Jacksonville. That is a 170 mile ride, but it is straight.
During the ride, by shifting weight and using my lower back, I didn't feel
any more pain than I would with another sportbike.
I have found that my bike has around a 140 mile range when I ride outside of
the city. Most of my fill-ups are about 3.5 gallons. This equates to about
40 MPG with the bike mechanics completely stock. I haven't really noted the
range of one tank while doing all highway miles. See previous comment about
testing in the near future, and me paying attention to be able and give a
statement with facts and more than just estimates! In city mileage is less,
but not drastically lower.
|Pashnit Photography of Ducati Motorcycles