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A little overwhelmed by a Ducati

Blue Beemer Dude

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Blue Beemer Dude

Man oh man oh man. My neighbor's kid (now 21) bought a used Ducati a year or so ago. I don't know what it is, I think around 750cc, yellow. confused.gif Point is, he's run the tires down to the cord and is now doing his 12K (actually he's at 15K) maintenance. Now, I'm not one to remember details, as I suffer from CRS, but he had to remove the exhaust to be able to (I think) change the oil. Seems a little silly to me. He's also going to adjust the valves at some point, naturally replace the tires, but he also has to replace the chain and sprocket. Then he discovers that the bolts that hold on the sprocket (which are integrated with rubber bushings to reduce vibration I guess) have worn to the point that they also need replacing. But wait - there's more! One of the bolts had backed-out and basically destroyed his wheel hub, so that's gotta be replaced. He thinks he can buy a complete swing-arm assembly on fleabay, remove the hub and then sell the swingarm alone for more than he'll pay. He's a bit of a wheeler-dealer, this guy.


Still, he's looking at some serious coin to do his maintenance. The bike has no center stand, so he bought a jack to do all the work but now that won't fit so I suggested that he get dad to make him a jig to hold up the bike, but they had none of that. I just kept laughing at him and saying "I think I'll go take my shaft-drive low maintenance BMW for a ride!". I'm mean. smirk.gif


The kid is 21, still in school, so he has no money. The bike has been sitting in the garage, unridable, for most of the Summer and now all of Fall. Me, I'd rather be riding.


OK, so much for that. Maybe riding a Ducati is worth all of the maintenance nightmares. I'll never know.


Did stop off at the Beemer Dealer to check out the new Roadster. I liked the pictures, the improved ergonomics. But in person... no thanks. (Where's the emoticon for vomit?) Plus, with standard options, it was over 15K. Phuleeeeze! So I sat on it and some other bikes. The one that fit me best was the new GT. But I don't like that massive hunk of plastic that they call a fairing. It's just not attractive. Actually, I don't find any of the new BMWs attractive. Much like the cars (although I am warming up, slightly, to the 6 series) of which the press has been blasting them for years.


I understand that BMW is going for an upscale market, and as I've owned something like 11 Bimmers and 6 Beemers, I guess I fall into that group, but I am more and more discouraged with their styling and pricing. Not going to go trade it in on a Ducati though. grin.gif



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I was looking at Ducati when I bought my GS, both the Multistrada and the ST3S.


One thing alone pushed both of these bikes out of my sight.




Otherwise, Ducati makes amazing, soulful bikes. When they are running, they run very well, and their owners love them.


Too many ducs fade into the night. They don't die glorious track deaths; they die when owners park them in sheds because they don't want to pay $1k for the 12,000 mile maintenance intervals (another $500 for the 6k), and then they sell them to someone who rides them for a couple of hours until the engine grenades from a deteriorated timing belt suddenly snapping.

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Well they've been listening folks, here's from my latest Canadian Biker magazine: "Ducati announces upgrade to Multistrada - ...including a displacement boost of it's Desmo L-Twin engine, a lighter clutch pull, vibration-isolated handlebars, and a new maintenance program that is said will reduce servicing costs by as much as 50%.

Demo'd a multi last fall but it just didn't ring enough of my bells to consider it.

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I am sorry, but you don’t understand the brand (Ducati). An irresponsible owner is not a proper indicator as to how the brand will perform. My RT could never survive the life of my race/track bikes. This does not make it inferior. It’s a matter of understanding.

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Bart Anderson
I am sorry, but you don’t understand the brand (Ducati)....This does not make it inferior. It’s a matter of understanding.


Please say more - I want to understand.

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Bart, let me know what you don't know!! Seriously, I am very experienced with this great brand. I tour on my Multi if my wife is not accompanying me - longest trip of about 4,600 miles in a week (I have put a Corbin seat on the Multi otherwise, ouch). What do you question?

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Bart Anderson

I guess the big question with me is whether the maintenance is really as complicated as people make it seem. It bugs me when people say beemers are "high maintenance bikes" because I don't find that to be the case...yes the intervals are relatively frequent, but the work is really simple to do. I do all the maintenance on my bikes, and would consider a Ducati if it were possible to do the work myself. It's a zen thing, I guess.


Oh, man, those Ducs are sexy--the way they look, the way they sound...is the maintenance thing really that complicated or is it just part of the "mystique?"


Do you do your own maintenance?

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Bart, valid question. It is similar to owning a BMW, or I should say my experience with my R1200RT (my first BMW). My service/maintenance costs run between $200 - 400 per visit at 6,000 - 7,500 mile intervals. This is similar to what I have paid for my RT (11K miles now). Also, each of my Ducati's have been very dependable, with the only time stranded when a battery shorted out and failed. I ride my bikes quite hard but maintain them according to what is recommended. Tires are the greatest expense. My maintenance costs per mile average right at $0.06, very similar to my experience with my RT (my dealer does all the service). This is extremely cheap when comparing to other exotic vehicles in general, and only slightly more then your average Yamaha, Honda, etc.. The criticism and misinformation is usually tendered when individuals have insignificant knowledge and a slight/strong bias against a particular brand and use a bad example (in this case an under-funded owner buying a used bike who can not afford the required maintenance) to enhance their position. Poor mantenance is where any exotic will kill you, car or bike. Bikes fall into this category quicker then cars due to the accessibility factor. Usually your average teenager can not afford to neglect a Porsche, etc. Buying a Ducati is very special, similar to the feeling I have felt when buying a Porsche, but at a fraction of the price. This is what makes it a great deal for me.

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Well, I'll throw my 2¢ in here - much of which is 2nd hand info as I've never owned a Ducati.


I've looked at Ducati's a bit, but not to the extent that others here have and my friend who had this same issue with Monsters: He really wanted one but had "heard" that maintenance was a big issue.


First of all, the valves aren't nearly as bad as people make them sound. They're a bit more difficult to get to than a boxer, but not that much more. Adjusting them can either be difficult or pretty easy. The reason is that desmodromic valves are adjusted by shims, not by adjusting bolts and the like. So, if you have the right shim size, it's easy to adjust the valves. If you don't, it's a pain because you end up filing down a shim to be the right size. Just have a buncha shims on hand, (or plan a trip to the dealer during your maintenance time) and you'll be OK.


Beyond that, it's not that difficult to do.


With the advent of the 2007 Monster 695, Ducati have expanded their maintenance window (to 7,500 miles) so you don't do maintenance as often on these newer bikes. Supposedly you'll see this change across their whole lineup soon.


However, once the valves seat (much like Beemers) and if they've been adjusted well, you tend to find that you don't adjust them very often at all.


Most web reports that I've seen/heard of tend to say that they were really intimidated (much like I was prior to doing my 6k on my r12st) by the maintenance. However, once they bit the bullet and did the stuff themselves, their reaction was "is that it???"


My point to this is that if you're expecting to take your bike in every 24k miles for the occasional maintenance like your typical Yamahondazuki, well, you're out of luck. Buy Japanese. However, if you don't mind taking an afternoon every 6-7.5k miles and doing maintenance (or paying a dealer), it's not that big of a deal.

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I have owned a Ducati since 1993 and have found it to be as reliable as any bike that I have owned. I have not found anything that handles the corners as well or looks any better. Ducs have soul!

Dealer network sucks, period. No dealers in my state. Valve adjustments are a pain and you need special tools that I don't own. Time consuming and expensive to boot.

Owning one of these machines is a commitment, and I would (probably will) do it again. I feel the rewards of riding one are great enough to out weigh the hassles.

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Just looked at reBay and had no idea you could pick up a Duc for so cheap. I was thinking a R1200S in the spring but I could grab a really sexy Duc for $6k to play with?! Those 748's are REALLY sexy. But if I do it I'd go with a half or naked... (specially after just having my new K1200GT tip over... UGH! Serves me right for riding sick, I s'pose)

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