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748/916 Reliability/Performance

5960 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  kingsnake1650
Okay I'm sure this will start it off. I was wondering if I could get as much personal information as possible about maintaining these and what to expect. I've already bought a manual, and checked out Sigma Performance; I'm looking for personal experience.
I'm looking to buy either one, and I'll have to buy used/in disrepair and fix up (yah that's right I'm not rich, what of it=). I don't mind the work I'm just poor and picky.
Unfortunately I can't find a whole lot of personal sites for these with rich information banks about modifying, performance, maintainence, etc., so whatever you can tell me is outstanding, as I want this purchase to be a positive experience and as few bad surprises as possible is key.
In particular I'd love to hear from Mark Buckelew, as I was sent over here from the Club Desmo list by a nice guy named John_shutz who promised Mark is the expert.

If you also want to throw out buying advice that would be much appreciated too. For instance, when I was buying my Jeep (ZJ) I smelled the transmission dipstick for signs of burning, as they're known to go through transmissions. Anything like this?

Thanks in Advance guys, I'm out. :abduct:

Feel free to email [email protected]
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I dont think my opinion would be exactly what you are looking for since Ive only owned 900SS and 999's but I have ridden the 748 and 916sps. I will tell you that from my personal experience from being a duc owner for 3 years, and having a cloes friend who is a duc mechanic, buying a Duc that is a fixer upper really sucks unless you have access to cheap parts and are a good Duc mechanic. The previous gen motors where less reliable and more maint. intensive than the current motors. Also, if its a fixer upper chances are the bike was neglected and that is about the worse thing you can do for a Duc. You might think it only needs new rockers, but chances are when you pull it apart there are going to be more problems and more time and money. Also there are special tools that make life much easier that cost a lot too.
I have a 996 and I do all of my own maintenance. The one think I havent done yet is the valve adjustment. when it comes time to have it done I will probably take it to AMS the 1st time just so they can check the rockers for flaking. (that is a big problem with the desmo motor) So far I have changed belt, flushed all my fluids, oil change ect. The belt are the most critical thing Ive done so far. I also checked the valves(they were with in tolerance by my Haynes manual @ 12k) So as far as that kinda stuff goes your on the right track. #1- get a good manual. I like the haynes manual but they dont cover everything so I would get a shop manual as well. Between the 2 you should have all the info you need. #2 use Ducati MS there are alot of guys on here that know Ducatis. I know its been a huge help to me, and it fun seeing What color rainman is going to have his bike this week, and who got what cool new toy. #3 Im sure you already know this but.... If you are gong to do your own work you will save a ton of cash use it to buy tools. No good will come of taking on a job your unprepared for. Also take your time.
As far as Ducatis go I have had a few of little minor problems with mine.(it is a 2000 model what do you expect) Like the Speedo cable broke, the coolant bottles (im on my 3rd), I had a headlight taken out by a rock ( the headlights are GLASS not lexan) The older models like the 916 I have heard have electrical problems also. It might be something to check into. The last thing I can tell you is that finding a bike in "disrepair" might save you some money up front but to catch it back up to where it needs to be will probably require at least belt and a valve check/ adjustment, and could require ne rockers as well. None of this is cheap so by the time you get done with all that you might be better off buying a bike that has been well maintained.
I have had several bike. R1, R6 Srad Gsxr 750, 2002 Gsxr 600, Kawasaki
ZR-7, and a couple of hondas, and ofcourse my 996. Out of all of them the the only 2 I will brag on are the 996 and the R6. To me these 2 had soul and were just more fun to ride.
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Owning a Duc

Ducati's are great bikes that can be reliable, but realize that they will always require more maintainance and cost more than a Japanese bike (much more). Along this same line of thought, I think you will always get an expensive suprise if you own a Ducati long enough.

I have owned a 748 which I put 10,000 street and 1,200 track miles on. Recently I re-built and blueprinted a 996 engine that resides in the bike now. I count myself lucky in that I've had nothing more than 8 rocker arms and one camshaft (as a result of a flaked rocker) go bad. As a sidenote, that was in the used 996 engine that came with a complete service history (look into the dealer's reputation even if a bike comes with service records).

As others have said, I would recommend buying the best bike that you can from a maintenance standpoint.

Many Ducati parts are outrageously expensive even if you do your own work (i.e. set of 996 piston rings @ $250).

Personally, I do all my own work. If you're mechanically inclinded, have basic tools, and a good workshop manual, you probably can too.

Good resources for tools are:

- http://www.ca-cycleworks.com
- Independent clutch holding tools can be found on e-bay at a reasonable price
- http://www.ducati-kaemna.de/cms_en/index.htm (good source for more specialized tools)
- Then there are just some tools that you'll have to fabricate, like the tool to remove cylinder head nuts (I think the Ducati tool is around $300-$400)

Good resource for information are:
- http://moto-one.com.au/performance
- http://www.section8superbike.com
- http://www.visi.com/~moperfserv
- http://www.speedzilla.com/forums
- http://www.ducatisportingclub.com/

Hope that helps, and good luck on your purchase.
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As a fellow "Not Rich" kid, I too have expencive tastes on a shoestring budget. I have a 2000 748s and an '02 BMW K1200RS. The BMW I bought as salvage on ebay 3 years ago with 750 miles on the clock. I had to put in a new short block and numerous other pieces, which meant basically striping the bike to do the work. I now have 20+K miles on the bike and love it. I also am very familiar with just about every aspect of the bike; even more than most BMW techs, who rarely get a chance to see a short block in a crate.

The Duc I bought last Fall on ebay with 6500 miles on the clock; a clean title, but sketchy service history. But, I did however, get it for a good price. Upon doing the 6000 miles service this winter, I got my education with Italian engineering and design. I managed to find a dealer that waranteed all of the rockers: openners and closers, as long as they did the work. I dropped off just the heads, and they were happy with that.

The bike is all back together, seams to run like a banchee, and if the NE weather cooperates, I'll get some saddle time this weekend.

All in all: in order to work on these things, you need to be able to fabricate special tools, have a very good selection of tools and above average mechanical skills. These bikes are a PIA to work on, once you get beyond the basic stuff.

To give you and idea of the cost of parts, the head gaskets were $71 each for a piece of stamped out tin. But all-in-all, I can't wait to destroy the new Diablos that are on the new Marchesinis. This bike is gonna be a blast to ride.
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kingsnake1650 said:
.... I will probably take it to AMS the 1st time just so they can check the rockers for flaking. (that is a big problem with the desmo motor).... .
Flaking is not a problem with the 2V or the 998's, both of which are (as you know) Desmo motors.

I bought my 97 916 about 1 1/2 yrs ago. It had 6,000 miles and looked like a new bike. Always garaged and covered. The wiring from the alternator was replaced under warranty. The bike had been serviced at 500 and 3,000 miles. As soon as I bought it, I replaced the stock mufflers with Arrows and put in a chip. I also put in MBP retainers and inspected all the rocker arms. I replaced 2 opening rockers.

I have since put on 1900 miles, 95% of which are track day miles. I run the piss out of it. Have had only two minor problems. The oil cooler developed a slight leak due to vibration on the head of the screws that hold the screen in front it. The starter relay connections had to be cleaned and rebent to make good contact again. Other than that, the bike has run great.

I own 3 ducatis and have owned bikes all my life. I guess I am kind of a martyr in that I have owned Nortons for years and am used to maintenance time equal to riding time! I have Japenese dirt bikes too. The Ducati's do require more effort to keep them running, but it is my hobby and so I dont mind. It seems that if you are lucky you can have a trouble free experience, but when things go wrong, it can get very expensive. Right after I bought my Monster used, I had a main bearing fail. Only 4,000 miles on the bike. The cage that holds the balls broke apart and I found it in my oil before any damage had occured. But to fix it I had to split the cases which means pulling the engine and disassembling the whole thing.

The weak areas of the older 916's that I am aware of are:
Rockers Flaking (post 95')
Alternator wiring getting too hot and burning up the connectors.
Regulator Issues
Flywheel nut coming loose
Cush Drives backing out
Coolant Reservoir cracking (this can happen on all the superbikes up through 998)

Would I get involved with Ducatis again, knowing what I know now? Absolutely. I love the tractability of the motor and the feel of the bike through the turns. The suspension when set up properly is fantastic. And with the older ones you dont have to go out and buy and ohlin shock, it comes stock.

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bruce19 said:
Flaking is not a problem with the 2V or the 998's, both of which are (as you know) Desmo motors.

True.. I should have been more clear. As if my post wasnt already long enough
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