I had a Ducati Monster 696 for 3 years, 25,000 miles and am thinking of getting a 900ss.
There's something about the dry clutch and classic style (1996 model) that makes me happy. There is enough power for me, and the ergonomics work well as a sport tourer for me.
Having said that - I'm looking for advice on buying a decade old motorcycle.
Here are my current concerns, please chime in if there is something I don't know enough to ask about.
The cracked frames: A local shop says that to fix a cracked frame the entire bike will need to be disassembled and thus cost a lot in labor hours. If I find one without any cracks, should I expect it to crack eventually?
Aside from normal services, what can be expected with replacing older parts that have deteriorated just due to time?
Specifically, I'm concerned that a random part will fail and leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere.
I appreciate that these motorcycles are better to learn basic service and maintanence on, as compared to 4v superbikes, and want to learn to be comfortable working on it.
My current level of handiness is hitting finger with hammer, then dropping said hammer on toe. I'm good at swearing and drinking so at least I'm part way there, right?
Essentially, I'm looking forward to some tinkering, but would rather be riding than spending weekends in the garage fixing things.
The alternative would be to buy a more modern, possibly Japanese motorcycle... but where's the fun in that?
Read, a lot, on this forum and others. If memory serves, cracked frames were still a problem in '95, but the issue got better in later years. The same is true for head studs. The steel fuel tanks rusted and leaked, but this is an easy fix if you followthe sticky in this forum. I did two tanks with the POR treatment. The three biggest problems I had during six years of ownership of a '97 CR (besides my son crashing it) were carbs, electrics and rotton rubber/plastic. I suggest strongly that you or someone who knows what they are doing disconnect every connection, clean, coat with dielectric grease, and reconnect. Pay particular attention to the ground and starter connections. The (+) connection to the starter is in a bad place and will be corroded. DO NOT force this nut to spin the bolt, you will be buying a new starter. I had to use a nut splitter to get this off. A thin wrench at the bottom helps with this too.
Go ahead and replace the spark plug wires.
The headlight is pathetic. Ditto the horn.
The OEM Mikunis on these bikes are tempermental at best and require someone familiar with them for optimal performance. Toward the end I just could not get them right despite three trips to a certified Ducati mechanic.
All of this is in addition to the usual fluids, tires, chain, sprockets, pads, etc. that will need to be inspected and/or replaced. Demand the service records and be sure the valves and timing belts are within their age and service limits.
These bikes are fun, light, comfortable, and pretty simple, but if you want reliability in a Sport Tourer as well, go find yourself a '98 thru 2010 Honda VFR800. They aren't perfect, are much heavier, and do not have the soul of a Ducati, but are a lot less likely to leave you stranded. Overall, my 2002 VFR is the most enjoyable and reliable street machine I have ever owned, and it is 11 years old today.