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Hello everyone,
I am new to the forum, though I have used it for reference before, and also new to the Ducati family. I have always loved the first gen Monster's look and particularly the S4RS. I am in love with this piece of art and it is my bucket list bike.

After several years courting this bike I have finally found one for sale (Portugal, very rare and dear model here) and saved enough to buy an '04 S4R in Ducati Blue with 23K Km on the clock. The asking price was 6 500€ but I managed to get it down to 5 300€ because I knew I would have to take some action despite the bike looking well looked after. I know, in retrospect, I payed more than I should, but some opportunities only present themselves once in a lifetime and I had a soft spot for it.

Before I go any further, I know Duc's get a lot of shit for reliability, some undeserving and some very much so, and that they are not the cheapest to maintain compared to its Japanese rivals. Reason told me I should have gone with an easier and newer bike, this being my first bike, and me having never done any intervention on a mechanical or electronic level.
I have to say, I have never been much what one would all a reasonable person 😂

Thus, here I am, writing to thou in search of enlightenment so that I may overcome some challenges I have encountered 🤗

I went into this with love and to make it my project. I may be unreasonable most of the time but not delusional: Yes, this bike can be brutal and it scares me (not in a bad way). Yes it is my first bike but not the first I've ridden (MT-09). Yes, I am mechanically challenged but I am a quick learner and crave knowledge, also not afraid to dive in and make mistakes (part of the process of learning). And yes, I am inexperienced as a rider, which makes me explore the bike's capabilities at my own pace as I hone my own. Also I am a 27 year old Portuguese national with a talent for finding women with difficult personalities, as you will find 😂

Introduction out of the way, I will keep this as short and concise as possible from hereon.

- Leaking fuel tank, near the hinge: Re-soldered, now only residual trace on gasoline from time to time. It dripped before. Lacked knowledge or time for POR-15 (so, mostly fixed)

- Burnt R/R unit and busted stator: My first big intervention and fear breaking experience (opening the engine cover). Learned the hard way this was an issue and prevented me from riding for a few months. Replaced stator with an Electrosport unit and installed a MOSFET R/R from a '17 Hypermotard. I bought both off ebay from the U.K.
Replaced wiring from the stator connector to R/R and to the Battery with higher gauge high temp silicon. Tested and diagnosed the problem successfully with a Multimeter as well as the repair, which made me very happy. No problems after 1500Km -- Ducati wanted 520€ for the stator/rotor alone plus 150€ labour, and I doubt they would even do the R/R conversion (fixed)

- Cleaned clutch set, which I doubt had ever been cleaned, and reorganized the plates, famous gnarl on harder launches. Will need a new set soon though (fixed)

- Drained coolant and flushed circuit twice with distilled water and el cheapo coolant to remove rust, again a first, I think. Filled with Motul Motocool Expert ethylene-glycol based. Wanted to try Eni but not very common here and Dealer charges a premium (fixed)

-Changed sparkies as they were completely black, also ordered Iridium for future change.

I did my research into common and known issues beforehand and still some caught me by surprise, otherwise I would have intervened sooner (R/R replacement). I also researched maintenance costs which were rounded down to tires and fuel. None of the issues I have found made me regret the purchase. I knew I had to make compromises and
that a Ducati is not for every owner. It requires patience, attention, knowledge and care. Unfortunately I can only assume the original owner was not made for this bike. Which is sad because it is a genuine work of art, in my eyes.

I dug around the dealer and it was serviced at 22K'ish Km, where they replaced belts and general maintenance. Apparently no valve intervention was needed. I am sceptical.

Where I need help is with the following:

The fuel consumption -- It has to be running rich. Even being a good boy I can barely go below 8ltrs/100Km. Also, as mentioned, the plugs were black, literally. Idle is slightly rough and the pattern shifts, even in warm weather. The exhaust tips keep getting black droplets of what I assume is unburnt fuel, even at idle. I've searched a lot but messing with TPS or CPS is out of my domain right now and I don't know what I would even be looking for. I also lack the tools or knowledge to try and get the diagnosis from the ECU. Already contacted Ducati, there is a list... I am avoiding riding too much as to not cause damage or excessive wear to internal components.

Valve clearance -- I want to check it but I have no experience and have yet to find a proper tutorial for this bike, or the 996 for that matter. Indispensable tools, if the are any, or the right tools would be good to know as well. I'm not afraid to dive into it, just wary.

This bike is so much fun and has made me a better owner and rider. I know this first year will be tough but nevertheless I am looking forward to it. I set out from the very beginning that I would do all the maintenance I possibly could, both because I lack the money and I want to learn and be able to work myself out of any situation where assistance is not an option (Yes, I watched The Boomerang and that is very much my frame of mind and my life goal 😎). Everyone else seems to think I am too stubborn and not entirely right in the head...

Sorry for the stretch, I will keep my further posts more economical. I will also post some photos of my adventures so you can give me some insight as to what I did wrong or might've done differently. Thank you very much for taking the time to help me.
 

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Nice detailed first intro post. (y)

Answers to your questions are likely in here somewhere, try a search.
Ask nicely after, and you will likely receive some helpful answers.

First though, pics or you don't exist! ;)
 

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Keep a close eye on the fuel leak, it can get worse suddenly and you’ll have a fire. Fix that as soon as possible.
Make sure your air filter is clean . If it’s stock, blow the dirt off from the inside of the filter. If it’s the washable type, do it. New plugs will probably make the bike run a lot better. They may not foul again very soon, depending how and where you ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nice detailed first intro post. (y)

Answers to your questions are likely in here somewhere, try a search.
Ask nicely after, and you will likely receive some helpful answers.

First though, pics or you don't exist! ;)
Thank you, when you say pics you mean the profile one?
I have searched the forum for those answers, which led me to the Throttle Position Sensor and the Camshaft Position Sensor as likely causes. However I have no idea what I'd be looking for in those
Keep a close eye on the fuel leak, it can get worse suddenly and you’ll have a fire. Fix that as soon as possible.
Make sure your air filter is clean . If it’s stock, blow the dirt off from the inside of the filter. If it’s the washable type, do it. New plugs will probably make the bike run a lot better. They may not foul again very soon, depending how and where you ride.
Thank you for the tips. I forgot the mention: bike is stock. The air filter was one of the first things I checked as it was a quick and easy, the clasps of the airbox are rusty, though, and one is missing completely. As for the fuel leak, I check it every other week as I usually keep the tank above half. Residual is I have to use a wipe to get some slight purple residue coloration on it. If I check it frequently it does not show so easy. I also cut a 4mm rubber pad to install beneath the frame hinge as to reduce the vibration transmitted to the weld.

Another thing I forgot: Suspension setting and is there anything to be done to the yellow rubber that stops shock travel (don't now the precise name...)? It seems that it is coming apart from exposure to elements. I know a new suspension is in order but right now I cannot afford a new set as it would set me back close to 1 500€ (more than twice my salary).

Thank you both for answering so quick.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Very well, the first was a a month before I purchased it. The second is after I had it repainted with original colour and decals, also painted and not stickers. I will have more soon as my phone cracked. Priorities...

984739
S4R 002.jpeg
 

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Was the service work completed documented/ do you have records?
If not, I would get a good base tune up from a knowledgeable mechanic specializing in Ducati's. The list you provided doesn't sound like it was well cared for.
The shock can be rebuilt for much less cost than a new unit.
Enjoy the S4R
 

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Welcome,
The S4R is a very cool bike, i had one for 9 years and it was faultless, i loved it. Your issues are typical of a neglected bike unfortunately but they're pretty hardy so it should be fine once sorted.
It's completely standard so perhaps the plugs are stuffed due to old varnished fuel, or possibly a lot of idling, low speed running maybe.
The tank, make sure it's fixed properly, that leak will be directly above the rear header so as others have said, FIRE is a serious risk and you don't want to be doing 100 when it catches or you will go up with it!
The 996 can have an issue with flaky rockers, make sure you check the oil filter gauze when you change the oil, if you see flakes in there then you will need to get that addressed fast or it can take a cam lobe with it, Ducati had a bad batch of hard chromed rockers, there are plenty of remanufactured options or genuine new ones should be all sorted.
8L/100 is pretty thirsty, it's probably in need of a good service and tune, with a good throttle body balance and CO set, there is a lot you can do at home yourself and you're probably capable but if you can find a good mechanic to sort it you will have a good starting point and most of the basic maintenance is easy to stay on top of from there.

Good luck with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Was the service work completed documented/ do you have records?
If not, I would get a good base tune up from a knowledgeable mechanic specializing in Ducati's. The list you provided doesn't sound like it was well cared for.
The shock can be rebuilt for much less cost than a new unit.
Enjoy the S4R
Yes, they had the entry on their system and they ran it down by me when I called. That is how I knew the valves hadn't been touched. They checked valve timing when changing the belts and no intervention was warranted. I was more concerned with valve clearance though. I also have the booklet with the maintenance registry. However I don't remember it being very detailed, hence why I called them. The only knowledgeable mechanic in my area is a shop that has ties with the dealer but they are not Ducati per se. They are the only one to go to because the dealer itself routes all intervention to them. This is why I want to learn all that I can safely do so as to not be subject to their prices.

Welcome,
The S4R is a very cool bike, i had one for 9 years and it was faultless, i loved it. Your issues are typical of a neglected bike unfortunately but they're pretty hardy so it should be fine once sorted.
It's completely standard so perhaps the plugs are stuffed due to old varnished fuel, or possibly a lot of idling, low speed running maybe.
The tank, make sure it's fixed properly, that leak will be directly above the rear header so as others have said, FIRE is a serious risk and you don't want to be doing 100 when it catches or you will go up with it!
The 996 can have an issue with flaky rockers, make sure you check the oil filter gauze when you change the oil, if you see flakes in there then you will need to get that addressed fast or it can take a cam lobe with it, Ducati had a bad batch of hard chromed rockers, there are plenty of remanufactured options or genuine new ones should be all sorted.
8L/100 is pretty thirsty, it's probably in need of a good service and tune, with a good throttle body balance and CO set, there is a lot you can do at home yourself and you're probably capable but if you can find a good mechanic to sort it you will have a good starting point and most of the basic maintenance is easy to stay on top of from there.

Good luck with it.
Thank you for the heads up. I was unaware of this even after my research. I usually get around 9-10L/100Km if I ride her like I should,so I know something strange must be afoot. I really appreciate you all taking the time to help me. I am sorry taking longer to reply but I am in the military and, in this current crisis, things are unpredictable.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So, quick question.
To replace the rear brake lever, do I have to remove the rear set or it can be done with it installed. I have spent hours now looking for this but there is surprisingly little information for this bike online.
I tried tutorials of other bikes too and even of the 996 but they all have a different system altogether. I have inspected it and the only way I see is by removing the rear ser to access the pivot bolt in order to remove the return spring and lever. I am like a monkey scratching my head right now :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So, quick question.
To replace the rear brake lever, do I have to remove the rear set or it can be done with it installed. I have spent hours now looking for this but there is surprisingly little information for this bike online.
I tried tutorials of other bikes too and even of the 996 but they all have a different system altogether. I have inspected it and the only way I see is by removing the rear ser to access the pivot bolt in order to remove the return spring and lever. I am like a monkey scratching my head right now :rolleyes:
Never mind, went with my gut and it was, but not as troublesome as I thought :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yes, I've become very fond of it myself :) I was leaning towards the Red before, or changing this one to pearl white with blue frame and decals. But after the tail tidy, when I saw it with the white offset pinstripe and white exposed rims, why was sold. Currently waiting on new fluid reservoirs in stainless steel and an open clutch cover. I will post more photos then (y)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
For future reference, www.ducatiomaha.com has a section with a parts blow up, so you can see part #'s, and somewhat how it goes together. Good source for info.
Yes, I have used the diagrams to get part numbers and ballpark costs for the everything I replaced. That way I can order at the dealer as this is an older bike and they haven’t all the parts in stock. Thank you for the info. Right now I am learning how to adjust the suspension so I can finally set it to my weight and riding style 🙂
 

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Yes, I have used the diagrams to get part numbers and ballpark costs for the everything I replaced. That way I can order at the dealer as this is an older bike and they haven’t all the parts in stock. Thank you for the info. Right now I am learning how to adjust the suspension so I can finally set it to my weight and riding style 🙂
That's also in my to-do list! Learning to adjust the suspension!
 
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