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Hi guys (& gals)

I'm a newbie here. I thinking/going to start looking at used Ducatis. I think I'm interested in a ST but honestly don't know s_it about them.

Without asking anyone to write a novel about them could you send me a few pointers of what to look for and what to look out for? I've been a Porsche guy for 20+ yrs, for the most part have done all my own work on the Porsches so I'm not afraid to get grease under my nails or to use a little elbow grease.

Best year?
Best model? (2,3, 3s, 4 4s)

TIA. I appreciate all the help.

Michael
 

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Newbie myself, but the answer depends on what you want. If you just want a solid "all around" sporty touring bike, any of them would work well. There are advantages to the newer ones on a lot of fronts, but this all depends on what you want in the end. I'd be completely happy on an ST2. I don't ride 10/10ths, maybe 4-5 when I get excited around some nice corners. I don't trust roads or other drivers enough to get in much deeper. Much like last month when I was going down this really nice road at a decent clip and there was a pile of gravel mid corner on a somewhat "tighty righty" with a nice dip so you couldn't see it until you were pretty much on it. Road crew apparently patched the road and didn't clean it up. Stood it up, dropped all the speed I could, hooked around the gravel, and got back in my lane fast enough that I didn't get shook about an oncoming car. Glad the damn thing has great brakes.

Find a nice one for the price you want to pay. I see ST2s and ST4s for some pretty reasonable prices. ST4Ss and ST3s run a bit more. I've got an ST4S, but I was open. Bought from my cousin. Was looking at an ST3 and an ST2 but logistics weren't in my favor.

Saw a really nice ST2 on CL for $2500 with low miles. I don't need a second one, but the temptation was there. Already have a second bike and I don't get too many chances to get out on either so far this year.
 

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Highmiles made some good points and I'm sure the rest of the ST crowd will chime in with their thoughts pretty soon. I was looking for an ST4S but the selection wasn't good when I was ready to pull the trigger. I expanded my search to include the ST3 and the right one appeared on my radar screen. The rest is history.

With the ST line it's pretty basic math to consider that when you go up in the number you go up in complexity and, ultimately, expense. I've owned a 907IE which is essentially (other readers PLEASE don't flame me here) the same engine that's in the ST2. I like the bike's performance and it would serve well as a sport touring platform.

My ST3 really scoots and handles quite well. It doesn't have the performance of an ST4 but in the overall scheme of things I have a BMW K1200S if I want to get jiggy with it plus it even comes with factory luggage is I want to haul ass whilst sport touring.

Like Highmiles I see lots of great deals on ST2's and even the occasional older generation ST4 from the late '90's and early '00's. Look at Cycletrader.com and fleabay!

Good luck!
 

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I have a 2003 ST4S and I have been quite happy with it. It is sort of the "ultimate" ST from a suspension and HP standpoint. That said...if I had to do it over again I would be quite interested in a clean ST2. The two valve motors have awesome mid range torque, sound great, are easier to work on, and appear to be indestructible. I do all my own maintainance and don't really look forward to the 4V valve adjust session every 6k miles. Not too hard just time consuming and requires a night reading the manual each time. Then again...nothing like 120 hp when you want it!
 

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1999 on-up had the 520W, 3 phase stator. '98 (and EU 97) had a 420W single-phase stator that were known to be weak (unless it had the Ducati campaign upgrade performed).
ST2 is much simpler desmo, and pretty bullet-proof. Don't let the fins of the jugs fool you--it's water cooled, and FI. Later ST2's (and 4's) had the smaller AGM batteries, but the adjustable suspension, front and rear, disappeared also. Rear is easy to solve with an adjustable height-link, maybe a better shock, but even the rear Showa, I found, was decent (Much better ride than my old R100RS!) My ST2 replaced my R100RS. BMW doesn't know how to build a light machine any more. ST2 is like 100 pounds lighter than equivalent year BMW sport tourers.

That said, my ST4s seems to hide the weight even better than my ST2!
 

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Since I can't afford to pay shop prices and ride nice bikes , I choose to do my own mechanical work , so I lean towards simple most of time ... I would look for a well documented ST2 or ST3 , the "s" models are worth the extra .... I ride a '07 ST3s with a little more than 60,00okms on it , maybe best bike I have owned , has been dead reliable , easy to work on and has excellent real world performance a true all round bike ....no doubt there are faster , higher spec Duc ST's out there , but I am very happy with the the "Tre" .... I have been on this forum for a few years now and really the entire line of ST bikes seem to be pretty good .... you be happy with any of the models if it been well taken care of .... have fun shopping !
Craig
 

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I was in the same position 3 years ago. Always wanted a Ducati and needed something my wife could be comfortable on. Do I decided on a ST as they were within my budget. Was really looking for a ST2 but came across a 99 ST4 at a great price and only 8000 miles. Watched utube videos on valve adjustments and cam belts and decided I could do maintenance myself. Lots of great help on this forum also. My 99 ST4 has been great with only a few problems, I’m at 31000 miles now. Good luck with your search
 

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I choose to do my own mechanical work , so I lean towards simple most of time ... I would look for a well documented ST2 or ST3
I wouldn't say the ST3 is simple to work on, exactly. It's the hardest of the three motors to do valves on. The double helper spring on the exhaust closing rocker is a PITA.
 

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I haven't tried the 2 or 4 , but don't find the 3 that difficult , I have a tool I made up for taking pressure of springs so I can measure accurately , think I got the idea on here , can't remember .... also other than the belts , valves , chains , sprockets , tires , and chain adjuster replacement , battery , really just maintenance .... plus some accessories , added heated grips , zero gravity shield , anodized res. covers ,desmo times peg lowering brackets and a DP seat , oh yeah , in Montreal last spring I hit a pot hole and bottomed out rear and broke plastic chain guard , poked some holes in it and zip tied it , still holding and you don't see it unless you looking for it ....
Craig
 
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98 ST2

I just found a 98 ST2 on Craigslist. I was the second guy to even bother looking at it in many weeks. Nobody seems to want these bikes and that is fine with me. I gave him 2200 bucks and off I went.
I believe that whatever issues these bikes MAY have had, they are most likely seen to by now. Mine has a mosfet regulator tucked in above the front wheel in a fairing cutout. It charges fine and may or may not have had the stator recall, but from all reports it would have failed long ago without it.
Want to talk about airhead BMW charging? Or Moto Guzzi or VFR and on and on.
I don't need superbike power and I surely don't have it, but the midrange on this bike is SO satisfying. Just delightful.
Someone has been into the ECU and I don't know whats in there, but this bike runs great.
For the short money these 98's sell for, it's got to be seriously good bang for the buck. This bike will leave my R100 gasping for air in a heartbeat and will get me to hyper speed in no time. Just don't wind it up as there is no point to that.
It's a great bike for little money these days, and totally overlooked because it's the "worst" year. But it's ALL Ducati. Dry clutch and all.
The exhaust/intake noise is intoxicating as well. Nothing sounds like that. I have all the stock bits on.
The handling is very pleasing. Not hardcore, but very smooth in and out of the turns, and planted at speed. The fairing lifts you up nicely at speed as well.
For the price of an average used 500cc jap bike, it's a no brainer, IF YOU WANT a Ducati. If you DON'T want a Ducati, don't bother with any of them.
 

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I'm another recent arrival on this board since the purchase of a 2004 ST3.
As others have said, I also always wanted a Ducati and had test ridden an ST2 back in 2006, but at that time I couldn't afford it.
I picked this up here in Oz last year for $6800 with 32K kilometers on the clock and believe me that's not much to pay here for a bike like this.
I paid the same in 06 for a Moto Guzzi Cali3 which are about the cheapest Guzzi .
So for the money a lot of bike, it is by light years the best bike I ever rode, having owned a tricked up Moto Guzzi T3 and a race set up Norton 650SS.
The ST3 allows me to corner like I was 19 again at the age of 65 but it feels so much better. Brakes are superb and the power is glorious.
I have the full set of luggage including top box, the bike came with the latter and then I snagged the proper red panniers on ebay. I can fit a slab of beer in the panniers and still have plenty of room for the groceries in the top box.
I would suggest to make sure they have the luggage when you buy or expect to have trouble and expense getting those panniers. They usually came standard with the new bike so are usually provided.
I got the panniers in Oz but had to get the mounting brackets from USA.
I also highly recommend you only go for bikes with known service history. It is a great comfort to be able to chat with the guy who serviced it from new and has a handle on it just from looking at the records.
I had him do my belts soon after I got it as it was way overdue in time rather than K's.
Oil changes are expensive if you buy the genuine green oil and the air filter was daylight robbery but that's not an everyday thing. I changed the leaking fork seals and the forks were about as difficult as any other bike to work on. I fitted a Scott Oiler for the chain which is so far a dubious addition. I also purchased a chain alignment tool to make sure the back wheel is properly aligned. Coming from a long time with shaft drive Guzzis this was something I needed to do.
Every now and then I read on this forum about something that has broken or come loose for someone so I go out and make sure mine is done up right and tight. That is one of the joys of this forum.
I dropped it in the drive when I failed to retract the sidestand correctly and the mirror flung apart but I obtained the required springs from a forum member and nothing was broken, so a good design there.
A generous bloke sent me an extra clutch plate to fix the notorious rattly clutch at idle but it still hangs on my wall as I have become used to that sound.
I've only done a few thousand K's though so my opinion is not worth much but I can just say it's fabulous.
Ask me again after the coming big ride which I'm hoping to do in August up to Cairns and back.
 

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The biggest changes other than engine type is whether you prefer the looks of the 1st gen and second gen. Chassis between both generations are either similar or the same throughout the years. "S" models have Ti nitride forks, Ohlins shock with ride height remote adjuster, lighter wheels (5 spoke), and aluminum swingarm. The S is a better value if you want these upgrades, since parts alone to upgrade would run around ~2k. I can't speak about the engine differences other than they all have their strongpoints. In 2003 ABS was available. If you want ST4/ST4S in a second gen chassis, those were only available in 2004-2005.

A couple of watchouts and general gripes:

  • Check for cracks around the engine's rear upper motor mount. It's fixable, but any issues here would be a no-go regardless of price
  • 1st gen seats don't have a good rep. 2nd gen seats can be swapped or go aftermarket
  • 1st gen headlight is common gripe. Second gen headlamp is much better. Aftermarket (twin headlight bucket) is an upgrade for 1st gen but out of production.
  • Some second gen forks on the non "S" models are only adjustable for preload - earlier forks have both rebound and compression adjustments. Both forks work relatively well as well as shocks are good for most.
  • Maintenance needs to done on these bikes, so records or trusting the seller has performed them is critically important. Belts and valve adjustments can't be ignored.

I point out to my friends that if you don't mind doing some wrenching, the Ducati is great; if you want a mechanic to do all your work, maintenance is expensive. FYI.

Good luck,
Scott L.
 

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I wouldn't say the ST3 is simple to work on, exactly. It's the hardest of the three motors to do valves on. The double helper spring on the exhaust closing rocker is a PITA.

You really think so? Have you worked on an ST4S? It's a marvel they got that motor in that frame...
 

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Everything is a pretty tight fit. Doesn't matter the model. When you get down to it, it's all just simple mechanics, anyway. Take this part off to get to another part and do something. (Or bitch and moan and curse and scream. ;) )

And it's not just me. Several techs I've spoken to say the same thing. LT Snyder even agrees in his service manual.
 

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You really think so? Have you worked on an ST4S? It's a marvel they got that motor in that frame...
Since 2005...

Only hard part is getting at the vertical exhaust valves due to the shock rocker. Doable, but tight for sure. I do that one first while I am still in a good mood! The rest of the thing is easy access and comes apart very easy IMHO. My old 2 valve 900SSie was worse. You have to pull the rear shock to get at that valve and getting at the throttle sync screw was enough of a pain that you could easily talk yourself out of even trying. Worse still was my old 2001 Suzuki Bandit 600. Screw and lock nut adjusters, with about an inch to work for all 16 valves, once you were able to finagle that giant valve cover out of the way without the giving in to the great temptation of using a big hammer and a hacksaw, the real fun began.

All part of the experience!

If you're looking for an ST, find the cleanest example you can that has been well cared for. They are all old now, but parts are still easy to find used or even new. My preference is the older faring style, but there is no right or wrong there. The newer bikes do have some improvements and all have some things to watch for.
 
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Near as I can tell, an old Ducati isn't a motorcycle, it's a hobby. I bought my 98 ST2 3 years ago with 5800 miles on it for $1500. Due to circumstances, my 3rd driving season hasn't started yet; it now has a grand total of 7450 miles after 2 seasons. It's been worth to me as a learning experience and something to fiddle with, but as transportation, it's been a dismal failure. Just saying it's NOT a pour gas in and ride proposition. Few 20 year old motorcycles are, but especially something pretty exotic like a Duc. Hopefully, after $1000+ in tires (easy), a flatbed truck retrieve, clutch slave cylinder, rear brake master cylinder rebuild, new sensors, starter wires, battery wires, alternator wires, one Ducati voltage regulator, and (the fix) one Yamaha voltage regulator, two batteries, one relay, new coolant hoses, fuel pump, fuel lines, Ducati Design headlights, crank position sensor, fast idle cable, slow roll throttle grip, handbrake lever, plugged expansion tank, $300 in valve shims and tools - where was I? - hopefully, I can roll a few hundred miles yet this summer before winter strikes again. After I replace the known-problem alternator bearing which requires pulling off the left side of the engine. Just getting the fairings off to work on it takes 30 minutes. <sigh>

She's a hot mistress, but a lousy wife ...
 

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Big Picture.
The bike is cheap to buy now,but the maintenance is expensive if you don't do it yourself.If you're handy,with a few tools it's no problem,other than normal Italian engineering frustration.
The bikes have more than enough power and the 996 models would have you lose your license if you ran it hot all the time.

First generation '00-'03 has questionable electronics that can be fixed and beefed up by a thorough inspection,cleaning and higher spec lead wire to batt.
Fairings are 80's style,some like,some don't.
Seat was hard,easy to fix.

'04 Updated electrics to a Can-Bus system,better seat and my opinion, better looking fairings.

'05-'07 Same except for a wet clutch

Go for an S version no matter which bike,lighter wheels and up-rated suspension,doesn't affect price much.

If you want less maintenance,more weight,less power,stock touring parts,a VFR or Triumph ST are comparable.More comfort? For a grand or 2 more a few years old VFR1200,FJR,ST1300,Concourse,Trophy...Big power,big comfort,most have full electrics packages...
 

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Near as I can tell, an old Ducati isn't a motorcycle, it's a hobby. I bought my 98 ST2 3 years ago with 5800 miles on it for $1500. Due to circumstances, my 3rd driving season hasn't started yet; it now has a grand total of 7450 miles after 2 seasons. It's been worth to me as a learning experience and something to fiddle with, but as transportation, it's been a dismal failure. Just saying it's NOT a pour gas in and ride proposition. Few 20 year old motorcycles are, >>><<<t getting the fairings off to work on it takes 30 minutes. <sigh>

She's a hot mistress, but a lousy wife ...
Weird, because my 1998 ST2 was trouble-free for 50,000 + miles. Sans the RR connector, which I caught early, and bypassed the connector. Bike never left me hoofing.

Mine did have the stator recall...but it had the original RR in it when I sold it. And I loaded the heck outta the electrical with 110W driving lights, 140W home-made jacket liner, and more. All simultaneously, and it never crapped out the stator or RR.
 

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Weird, because my 1998 ST2 was trouble-free for 50,000 + miles. Sans the RR connector, which I caught early, and bypassed the connector. Bike never left me hoofing.

Mine did have the stator recall...but it had the original RR in it when I sold it. And I loaded the heck outta the electrical with 110W driving lights, 140W home-made jacket liner, and more. All simultaneously, and it never crapped out the stator or RR.
That's what I REALLY like to hear.
 

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Weird, because my 1998 ST2 was trouble-free for 50,000 + miles. Sans the RR connector, which I caught early, and bypassed the connector. Bike never left me hoofing.

Mine did have the stator recall...but it had the original RR in it when I sold it. And I loaded the heck outta the electrical with 110W driving lights, 140W home-made jacket liner, and more. All simultaneously, and it never crapped out the stator or RR.
How old was yours when you bought it? Running 50k miles on a new ST2 from 1998-2008 probably goes better than covering those same 50k miles from 2015-2025. "All original" is not a good thing when it comes to fluids and rubber. Mine still had the OEM tires and likely also had original brake fluid, coolant, etc. While my case is extreme, 20 year old motorcycles with < 50k miles (and it's pretty rare to see Ducatis with much more than that) are certain to have histories including long periods of relative neglect. It does them no good.
 
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