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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all- I owned a '94 900SS when I lived in the US and it was awesome. I put 8k trouble-free miles on it. Now I live in Europe and want to buy a superbike. I rode a 2005 GSX-R1000 after hearing great things about them but it did nothing for me. As I read in a R1 vs 996 comparison, the R1 is about the engine, the 916 series is a 'concept'. I rode a 996 a long time ago and loved it.

My budget is about 5000, which gets me a 996 with between 15k and 25k miels, but not a 998, which seem to start at around 7000. For 5000, I could also get a 2006 999S, but I think I would prefer an earlier bike.

I read some horror stories about engine cases cracking and less horrible stories about flakey rockers.

What's the truth ? Are some of you caning these bikes (fast street use + autobahn) and finding them to be almost totally reliable ? I am up for regular maintenance, but i don't want to be rebuilding things.

I think I'd put on about 4k a year.

Also, is a 998 much easier to sell later on, or are people buying 996's too ?

Just need a reality check before I buy something like this. Thanks !
983534
 

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It is about 90% the bike you find and the care (mechanically) up until this point. A clapped out version with pretty bodywork will cost you aggravation and money. Spend your money wisely and find one with good service history and you should have a good bike.

Expect bad rockers. and possibly a bad main bearing if it has sat with old dirty oil. I have a couple in my shop getting work done. 1 I rebuilt years ago due to a rod bearing failure the other lost a main bearing. both get track use often and ridden hard. The main bearing bike has had a sketchy past for sure so no surprise there. Rod bearings happen often when bikes are crashed and continue to run so look for crash damage /history.

A 998 has a more reliable engine but wore issues with heat and electronics in my experience. I would have a hard time deciding as both have strengths and weaknesses. I have been working on these bikes since 1997 full time and find no other bike I like better to work on.

I personally own a 748/853 and am simply glad to have a variation of one of the best bikes ever designed.
 

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Not sure I understand the question.
1 day no issues
1 month no issues
6 months-1 year keep battery charged and do not let it sit with blackened oil in the sump.
1 year = year keep battery charged and do not let it sit with blackened oil in the sump. also swap out stabilized fuel yearly or drain and dry (both have good and bad points).
long term storage= fresh (cheap) oil, protective coating on all rubber and bmetal parts. Do not ever use chemicals that will attack rubber or strip protective coating from electrical connectors. Plug up intakes and exhaust to keep animals,insects and humidity from getting in the motor.

When bringing it back , strip it down and inspect everything. Change the timing belts and all fluids, as you do the belts you will be turning the motor over by hand so feel for anything abnormal at that time.Remove any plugs you sealed the motor up with.
Fresh battery,fuel and start it up. Check for leaks,noises. I do it all the time and if properly stored you should be fine. ALWAYS expect leaks from seals or gaskets so after you heat cycle it and run it check for them. Then after 1000 miles treat it like a new bike and go over everything again.

If properly stored I would not worry if it has not been run since it was built.
 

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I put 70 000 km on my first 996 between '03 and '12. No commuting, just "spirited" back road riding, and some highway droning to get there. This was an '01 996 mono.

In that time i had to deal with two separate "breakouts" of flaking rockers. The first was relatively early at about 18k km, and involved 3 rockers needing replacing and I think I had to replace a cam, but I can't be certain of that. I was a bit surprised to be dealing with flaking rockers because I had read that it mainly affected earlier bikes and by 2000/ '01 Ducati had the issue sorted... Perhaps, but I had it twice so there you go. To be honest, I considered it a minor nuissance, rather than a major catastrophe, but the 996 was/is my dream motorcycle and I was very much in love with the ownership/riding experience, and therefore was very "tolerant" of things like that. I mean, I'd been a devotee of Italian vehicles since I was kid and understood what went along with owning one of these exquisite, but sometimes "tempermental" creations. I just considered it part of the package. But the replacing two or three rockers and a cam wasn't really very expensive at all. I had three more rockers flake at 70k km, again damaging a cam. This led me to look for SPS cams which led me to buying my second 996..!

I also had a main bearing go at about 40k km. I had hi compression pistons in the motor though, which may not have helped with the longevity of certain engine components.
Other than that I had no other issues other than consumables. Oh, one rectifier. Not bad for 70k km of primarily back road aggressive use, imo.

I changed the oil every 3500-4000 km. I was pretty fanatical about warming her up thoroughly before each ride as the Desmoquattros are slow to get the oil where it needs to be, as I understand. I had the valves done the first time at the perscribed interval, but after that I would stretch it longer than perscribed. My mechanic said the valves were very much in spec and didn't need to be done exactly on the recommended interval.

I think the 996 is a very entertaining road bike, even today, with a minimum of small, but in my opinion,very necessary mods. For a track bike I would probably recommend something newer and less expensive to run. But for the road, I offer two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
You ask how long they can sit between running? This is just my very non scientific opinion, but these bikes do better with regular, "as they were intended to be ridden" riding. If you own one of these beauties, why wouldn't you want to ride it as often and as hard as possible?!!
 

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A good question Nick. One thing that I have always wondered about is how will our Ethanol mixed modern fuels fair in a bike like the 996 or any other bikes fuel system that wasn’t designed for it? Back when I was riding my 916/996 around 2000 there was no Ethanol in the fuel.. I guess by chance you hope that there isn’t a material within the fuel system that will react adversely to the Ethanol. And if there an issue how do you remedy when the parts you can source to repair will have the same specifications as the part that got ruined.
I suspect the bike will run fine as the octanes are the same but just curious when the bike sits and the corrosive and hydroscopic (retains moisture) fuel starts to eat away at the fuel system..

The only experience I have with it is an old CRF50 I bought for my kids back in 2002. The ethanol fuel completely melted the brass screen that was part of the peacock. I have had to change it out a few times now even though I use a fuel stabilizer every fill. Ridiculous
 

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Anyway, to get back on track to your question. In 98’,99’,00’ I put 16,000 miles on my 748, over 13,000 on my 996. Had zero major issues with both bikes during my ownership. the only things I had issue with were 2 failed clutch slave cylinders. 1 starter solenoid and a couple failed kickstand switches.
all in all not too bad IMO.
 

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In January of 2017 I bought what I found to be an honest 2000 996. By that I mean, the seller accurately described what he had, and what he knew about the bike. It had just over 17K miles on it, which I thought was about right for a bike that had been regularly ridden and therefore, take care of.

Cosmetically it was in great shape for its age, which means it had a few battle scars here and there, but nothing I would call major. I didn't expect to find anything wrong mechanically but over a few months of ownership I did.

The biggest, and most major issue I found was that the chain had derailed at some point in the life of the bike and smashed the alternator cover. It was cracked on the inside but not visible externally.

It ended up requiring me to replace the cover, and during that job, I found the water pump seal had also gone South so I had to replace that too. While I was in there, I replaced all the hoses with silicone hose. The clutch was pretty jangly with hammered tabs so I replaced that with a 48 tooth EVR clutch. I also replaced the clutch slave cylinder while I was at it.

Just after that, I found the fork seals leaking so I had them rebuilt with new super slick seals and fresh fluid. After that, I found out the head light bulb had gone out so I replaced that too. Then the integrated tail/turn signals went out so I ended up installing some Barracuda LED turn signals on the rear, and bar end signals up front. All that occurred in my first year of ownership.

Since all that, just general and routine inspection and adjustments and oil changes. What that says to me is, if you are careful with your purchase, once you get things to the point where all your mechanicals are good, you wind up with a dependable motorcycle.

I think you just accept that flaking rockers will happen. I've had none so far but the previous owner had several replaced before I bought the bike.

As for the change in fuel.....the only time I've had fuel issues was when forced to buy crap fuel out in the middle of now where on my way to WCM 2019. I can say without hesitation that the 996 does not like anything less than 91 octane. It runs like crap on 89 and does not like to idle. It's fine on 91 though. I don't let it sit long enough to have issues with ethanol separation.
 

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Once you make sure the rockers are sorted out and not flaking, the 996 seems to be a solid engine. I'm a fan of high mileage bikes, and have seen about 2 dozen Ducatis with over 100K miles, and know of 3 that had over 200K miles.

The 100K+ bikes are mostly either (a) aircooled 2V belters , e.g. early Monsters and '90's SuperSports, or (b) 996 engined bikes. There are a few others here and there, but those are the two main kinds that successfully see serious miles.

The 3 bikes with over 200K miles were an ST4 (916 engine), an ST4s (996 engine), and my M900 Monster (aircooled 2V).

So yeah, get a good one, get it sorted right, and ride the heck out of it.

PhilB
 
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I bought my 2001 in 2016. I’ve had one flaky rocker, which I found during my valve clearance check at 16k miles. The valve check wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was goin to be. No dealer would work on it, so I had to learn how myself. The coolant tank has a tendency to blow. I changed mine to a metal tank, which solves the issue. I also upgraded the rectifier / regulator to a MOSFET unit for much more reliable charging. One last thing - I changed the rear sprocket from a 36 tooth to a 40 tooth. It’s pretty over geared. With a 40t rear sprocket, the bike definitely “wakes up.” I’ve put about 6k miles on it. It is a hoot to ride.
 

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Man, this is making me have the itch now! I shouldn't be reading this lol. I have a "contact" that has 2 996's stashed, one with a 998 transplant. Extra set of immaculate factory plastics for each one. If I could cough up 7 or 8k and some garage space... hmmm...
 

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Once you work the little issues out, they're great bikes to ride. I really enjoy mine, and I find it one of the most pleasing machines to look at. There are YouTube videos on how to change the belts and do valve adjustment checks, among a ton of other work. I think the only "issue" I can think of is that my 996 does not like going through town. It gets hot - the exhaust pipe warms my right leg, and the coolant temperature will easily go to 210F. Note that's not boiling over, but it's something I keep my eye on. I installed a low temperature fan switch, which means my cooling fan runs most of the time while running. However, I don't worry NEARLY as much about soaring engine temperatures now when I have to troll through town. On the interstate or back roads, temps stay around 175-190 indicated at 90F ambient. Panigales don't "like" going through town either, so I hear...

Oh... One last thing. The 916-996 bikes produce, in my opinion, one of the best engine notes ever (especially through an after market exhaust). I flip between what I like best - Ducati 996 with Termis, Ferrari F355 with a Capristo, 60's Ferrari V12... Anyway, not to derail this thread, but I really like being able to go get a Ducati aural "fix" when I need it.

Handling isn't too bad either with these Superbikes! It's so stable in turns. Mine just lives for long sweeping curves.

You won't be sorry if you do your homework and choose well.
 

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To the OP, you're definitely going to have some flaky rockers; however, they're not as bad to change as you might initially think. The openers are the ones that generally flake, and they're easier to get to than the closers. Pulling cams is probably the easiest I've ever encountered. Super easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You ask how long they can sit between running? This is just my very non scientific opinion, but these bikes do better with regular, "as they were intended to be ridden" riding. If you own one of these beauties, why wouldn't you want to ride it as often and as hard as possible?!!
Just in case I ride it to my grandmothers or to the south of france, fly back, then fly back a few months later to retrieve it.
 

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I got mine from EMS Duc. EMS Duc sold to LT Snyder.
 
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Once you work the little issues out, they're great bikes to ride. I really enjoy mine, and I find it the all time most pleasing machines to look at.
There, fixed 😁
Oh... One last thing. The 916-996 bikes produce, in my opinion, one of the best engine notes ever (especially through an after market exhaust). I flip between what I like best - Ducati 996 with Termis, Ferrari F355 with a Capristo, 60's Ferrari V12... Anyway, not to derail this thread, but I really like being able to go get a Ducati aural "fix" when I need it.

Handling isn't too bad either with these Superbikes! It's so stable in turns. Mine just lives for long sweeping curves.

You won't be sorry if you do your homework and choose well.
That last statement is absolute truth. I put in the time on mine, and I'm not sorry I bought it all. I only regret not doing so sooner. I don't ride mine all that hard, but once in a while......you gotta let it loose. It seems the harder you ride it, the better it feels.

I second the long sweeper comment. Mine seems to love those as well. It's a tough choice some days....my Aprilia sitting there, black and sinister looking, chomping at the bit to go out ride....my 996 in red, gorgeous, slim.....insisting on a ride too. Tough call.....each is rewarding to ride and each has its own "character" to use the cliche it's just a matter of which character suits the mood on a particular day.......sean
 
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I bought my 2000 996 new way back in 2001 and still have it. After 20 years it is still a stunningly gorgeous motorcycle.
I think Ducvet hit all of the maintenance issues but I would suggest you change the fork oil as this gets neglected on almost every motorcycle and if you are changing the oil you might as well change the seals while you are there, after all this is a 20 year old bike There is no problem with parts availability and the 996 has never let me down at the side of the road or at the track. In my opinion the best modifications are those that drop weight. A lightened flywheel, lithium battery, aluminum clutch and my favorite, carbon fiber wheels all improve acceleration braking and handling. Even without modifications the 996 is a joy to own
 
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