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This is a review I found regarding the 999R. Kind of sums up how I feel about mine.


Lots of people have argued long and hard that limited editions, no matter how special the extras, how limited the production run and how ostensibly desirable the result has been, they are never worth the price premium they inevitably attract. And I’ve always been a vociferous supporter of that logic. I mean, look at the Ducati 999R for example. Sure, so it’s got some good quality bits tacked on, but at the end of the day it’s just a basic biposto with some frills and a price tag almost twice that of the standard machine. And as such, it can’t possibly be worth it.

Well listen carefully to the sound of a bike journalist eating his words. Because, £18500 price tag or not, the Ducati 999R is worth every penny.

Now that’s probably a comment worth justifying. It is, after all, an awful lot of money for a motorbike. As many, many people told me during the test. But the truth is that if you took a standard 999 and added a beautiful carbon fairing, carbon seat unit, carbon front mudguard, cam belt covers and exhaust, magnesium cam covers and Marchesini wheels, top line Ohlins suspension and steering damper, Brembo radial brakes and a few subtle engine tweaks to boost power you would spend maybe twice as much. And it would still, ultimately, be a base model so come resale time it would be painful indeed to see all that money get thrown away. No, purely in financial terms the 999R is actually quite good value.

But the real value of a bike like this is not financial. This Ducati, more than any other in the range, cries out to be ridden. And, more than any other 999, it is an object of beauty as well. I’m not entirely sure why the 999R manages to look so much better than the still less than utterly beautiful base machine. Even now we have got used to the looks, there is something about the 999 that jars, while the 999R is, simply, gorgeous. Maybe it’s the depth of the finish, maybe the red frame and one piece fairing. Maybe it’s the quality of the components hanging off the ends. Maybe it’s all of the above, I don’t know. But what I do know is that wherever we went people stopped, looked, pointed and commented. Not a single person had anything bad to say about the bike, whether they were bikers themselves or simply passers by. Everyone said it was beautiful and that it looked expensive and classy. Then, of course, they all said it was an awful lot of money for a bike. I guess you’ll have to get used to that if you get one.

For those of you not familiar with Ducati sportsbikes in general and the 999 in particular, there are some things you should know. First of all, they are physically small and somewhat single minded in design. Secondly, they are bikes that really need to be ridden properly. By that I mean that they don’t really respond well to be ridden in a half hearted way. Sure, you can just bimble around savouring the noise and the looks but the whole package comes alive when you get your head down and start concentrating on what you’re doing rather than just acting as ballast. And third, they are not bikes for shrinking violets. Especially the 999R. No, really.

There is a Ducati trademark. They make a horrible, dry rattling noise when running. A by-product of the dry clutch that almost all of the Bologna machines carry as standard. Now under normal circumstances, clutch rattle is the loudest thing you’ll hear on a Ducati, at least one supplied for road test. Because Ducati are very good and only give us bikes to test that are exactly as the customer would receive them. The 999R is a slight exception to this rule. The bike as we received it is still in standard customer spec, it’s true. But the 999R comes with two different exhausts – a standard wheezy and restrictive affair stuffed full of catalytic converters and baffle plates, and, um, the other one. The test bike came with the other one fitted. Quiet, discreet and subtle it is not. But the enormous carbon resonator box of the Termignoni system that comes as standard with the ‘R sounds simply fantastic and drowns out the unpleasant mechanical clatter quite nicely. It’s one of those noises that, despite our certainty that it is totally illegal in terms of volume, provokes no more than an amused and indulgent smile from everyone who encounters it. I rode down to Hastings, bastion of the blue-rinse, and parked up outside a coffee shop on the seafront. Lots and lots of elderly folk saw and heard me arrive and many of them walked last and looked at the bike. And not one of them tutted, shook their heads or looked disapproving. Likewise the pair of West Sussex’ finest in their Volvo patrol car. It’s a bike that you simply can’t object to.

So we know that the Ducati 999R gives you the social acceptability of Terry Waite and Kylie Minogue rolled into one. Which on it’s own is worth the asking price. But it gets better.

All you need to do is ride to see how.

Swing a leg over the 999R and you will be astonished just how small it is. For those brought up on a diet of Japanese performance machinery, the Ducati will come as something of a culture shock. The narrow tank feels as though your knees are touching. Many riders will never have ridden something this skinny, while most others will immediately feel as though they are back on a 125. Or more likely, given the price and the likely age of most buyers, that they are on their old Suzuki X7 or RD250. The bars are the perfect reach away and the seat, which seems so hard and unyielding before, provides a surprising amount of padding. The mirrors are there, both of them, and are about as usable as one would expect. Actually they’re better than one might expect, but not by much. Turn the key, watch the display panel do its thing and press the starter button. Oh yes, it’s a Ducati alright. The starter struggles against the mighty compression, sounding for all the world as though the battery is flat and you’re going to have to bump start it. And then, provided you have remembered to set the choke, it catches after just two or three turns. And the world and its uncle knows that you have just started a Ducati 999R with a race Termignoni exhaust system. My elderly neighbour thought it was marvellous, but you may want to check with yours. Give it a moment to get warm and revel in the noise. This, my friend, is what a Ducati should sound like.

Pop the sidestand up and notice how it fits neatly into a cutout in the fairing. Quality. Pull in the clutch and select first. Yes, you can comfortably use the clutch with just the one hand. Pull away and you will discover that first is a little on the tall side. No problem – dry clutches are pretty tough and slipping a bit to pull away won’t be a problem. Notice how precise the handling is, even at low speed, and how little effort is needed to turn. In fact, you may well need to be careful at first to avoid clouting apexes rather than clipping them as the turn-in is quicker than you’ll probably be used to. At low speed the 999R does feel a little as though it is going to fall over, though it only takes a few minutes to get used to it. You may be surprised to find that riding through town is nowhere near as painful as you’ll have been led to believe. Oh, the 999R is by no means the perfect commuter, but the narrow width, incredible presence and razor sharp responses mean that actually it’ll hustle up to the city quite nicely if necessary. And your wrists, though they’ll know they’ve done it, won’t have seized up either.

But that’s just silly. You do not, under any circumstances, buy a Ducati 999R to ride in town. Or if you do then you seriously need some professional help. No, the 999R belongs in the country. Or, even better, on a racetrack.

Get out of town, drop behind the bubble and let it rip. OK, at least two of those ideas are reckless at best. Getting behind the bubble will require the sort of contortions that really don’t work on the road. Unless you need a stepladder to get on, that is. The bubble is very small indeed.

And letting her rip on the road is an almost instant way to say goodbye to your licence, liberty and possibly life. More on that later. For now, let’s look at the riding experience.

Out of town that slightly twitchy, keen to drop in steering becomes communicative and alive. And it makes the 999R incredibly easy to position exactly where you want to be. All the time. The brakes, when you need them, are phenomenal, applying immense retardation at the squeeze of a single finger. They tyres did the business as well – Michelin Pilot Race that were well worn but heated up fast and gripped like anything. They were even OK in the rain provided I kept them warm, sliding occasionally but giving so much warning that it was never a problem, especially with the rather circumspect way that the fact I’m on someone else’s very expensive motorbike in the torrential rain tends to make me ride…

My long term GSX-R 750 is a bike that I really, really love. It’s precise, focussed, powerful, fast and all-round brilliant. And yet the 999R makes it feel like a sofa – soft, springy, heavy and saggy. No really – it is that much of a difference. Approach a bend and will the Ducati into the right spot. Exactly the right spot. Need to lose some speed? brush two fingers over the lever and the big Brembos just scrub it off instantly. Drop a shoulder, look through the corner and you’re already turning, hitting exactly the right apex and getting back on the power to pick her up. Smile, relax even more and repeat ad infinitum.

A word about performance though. On paper, 140bhp from a litre bike isn’t all that. And, despite all the exotic material, you’ve still got a dry weight of 181kg to haul around. So performance isn’t going to be that good, is it? I mean, physics alone should mean that the 999R will get destroyed by any decent Japanese sportsbike. Even that little GSX-R has a better power to weight ratio. And the laws of physics are absolute and immovable, right?

Apparently not.

Nothing picks up speed like a big vee twin, and no big vee twin goes like a Ducati 999R. And I don’t know why. This bike is a rolling paradox. It has no real powerband and feels slightly flat and yet anything approaching serious throttle action sees the numbers on the digital speedo change faster than it can keep up. It picks up the front wheel everywhere but stays perfectly stable and still steers. And we know that’s impossible. You can put your knee down on every corner in any conditions but it still works fine if you stay neat and tucked in. It’s physically tiny yet I rode over 2000 miles on it and didn’t get a single ache, even with my camera gear in a rucksack (‘cos that’s the only way to carry anything on this bike).

Let me put this into perspective. Regulars will know that we use the Nurburgring and that I have instructed there. I’ll go public here and now, and say that with a couple of days to get comfortable and no traffic I would happily go for the lap record around the Nurburgring Nordschleife on a Ducati 999R with these tyres. And I reckon I might even be able to get it, too.

I hate superlatives. Once something is the best, the fastest, whatever, you run out of things to describe the next, better one as. Which gives me a problem here. Because the Ducati 999R is, by far, the best bike I have ever ridden. The most desirable, most exciting roadbike on the planet. Today, anyway.
 

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Wonderful

Great reading...I cant agree with you more. After purchasing my first Ducati (999s), Ducati's will be all I ever own. My next step is the 999r, looking currently and have found a deal out of Miami, FL. Could steal the bike, although he has changed the paint on the bike. Would change it over the Xerox garb. Anyhow thanks for the reading!:D
 

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I can't agree more, I use my R for track duty only now and it is phenomenal! Still a great head turner and the performance is great! If you do the 27 mm offset the bike will be perfect! I will keep my R probably forever as one of my bikes!


Mike
 

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I had my 999R out at Mid-Ohio for the races this past weekend. Other than Larry's 1098R and the 1098R that Ducati had in the tent mine was the only R at the track. You should have seen the people that were all over it. Even the guys working the tent came over to see how she looked since they were use to seeing her in the hands of Polan.
 

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I agree. And John has a fine example. I rode mine at the track 5 or 6 times last year and it was unbelievable. REALLY. I put 10k of street miles on her and had no idea what she was about until I got to the track.

Completely different machine. Astonishing really..


BRILLIANT
 

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Agreed, nothing beats getting out of the city traffic with the 999R and opening her up, the bike is a fantastic machine. The 999R doesn't feel physically tiny to me, because it is long and low I actually dont feel like I am too big for it. It is actually the most comfortable, roomiest sportbike I have ridden. I am 6'2 and 220 pounds, and the bars feel like a long reach away from the seat, I guess that suits me because I have a long torso. The thing that struck me about it when I first rode it was how quick it turned at low speeds, how easy and effortlessly it turned in and held its line. getting the proper springs for my weight and having my suspension set up properly really made the bike better in the corners, that's the first thing I would recommend to anyone who gets one. Mine is a 2006 Xerox, and the tail section is not carbon but plastic, so I guess that was changed since '03. I have been considering trading it in for an 1198S or selling it, but there is always that voice in the back of my head that says dont do it, this is a special bike and you will end up regretting it.
 

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Agreed, nothing beats getting out of the city traffic with the 999R and opening her up, the bike is a fantastic machine. The 999R doesn't feel physically tiny to me, because it is long and low I actually dont feel like I am too big for it. It is actually the most comfortable, roomiest sportbike I have ridden. I am 6'2 and 220 pounds, and the bars feel like a long reach away from the seat, I guess that suits me because I have a long torso. The thing that struck me about it when I first rode it was how quick it turned at low speeds, how easy and effortlessly it turned in and held its line. getting the proper springs for my weight and having my suspension set up properly really made the bike better in the corners, that's the first thing I would recommend to anyone who gets one. Mine is a 2006 Xerox, and the tail section is not carbon but plastic, so I guess that was changed since '03. I have been considering trading it in for an 1198S or selling it, but there is always that voice in the back of my head that says dont do it, this is a special bike and you will end up regretting it.
Please don't trade it...especially the Xerox, by far my favorite of the 999R's.
 

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I don't dispute the superlative aspects of the 999R. But I think the article tends to minimize the aspects of the base model, which I own (05). He talks about the nice exhaust, which I have, and the nice red frame, which I have, etc etc. And I got mine for a pretty small fraction of the value of bike this guy was riding. So, my only comment is that I think there is much of the perceived benefit of what this person talks about in something less than the R model. But that raises the cost-benefit issue, which I realize is anathema to this article. I don' think it should be, at least in my world. That isn't to detract from the greatness of the R -- I would own one but for the diminishing marginal utility I perceive over the base model (and that is always a subjective issue). Regards, Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don't dispute the superlative aspects of the 999R. But I think the article tends to minimize the aspects of the base model, which I own (05). He talks about the nice exhaust, which I have, and the nice red frame, which I have, etc etc. And I got mine for a pretty small fraction of the value of bike this guy was riding. So, my only comment is that I think there is much of the perceived benefit of what this person talks about in something less than the R model. But that raises the cost-benefit issue, which I realize is anathema to this article. I don' think it should be, at least in my world. That isn't to detract from the greatness of the R -- I would own one but for the diminishing marginal utility I perceive over the base model (and that is always a subjective issue). Regards, Ed
You make some good points Ed and I don't dispute them. However, let me add from my own personal experience that I didn't think there would be much difference between my recently sold 999S and recently bought 999R. Thats why I didn't, as strange as it my sound, ride the R bike for over a week after I bought it. But once I did I noticed big differences and continue to marvel how good the 999R is. I've heard this from other 999R owners, those who previously owned base model and S model triple nines. I flat out love the bike, that just about sums it up. Your perception just might change if you had the opportunity to ride the R bike, one with at least middle of the road suspension settings. Don't think price is as big an issue as it used to be with the R bikes. If you look long enough and are in the right spot at the right time, you to can be a 999R owner and you might get lucky like I did.
 

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You make some good points Ed and I don't dispute them. However, let me add from my own personal experience that I didn't think there would be much difference between my recently sold 999S and recently bought 999R. Thats why I didn't, as strange as it my sound, ride the R bike for over a week after I bought it. But once I did I noticed big differences and continue to marvel how good the 999R is. I've heard this from other 999R owners, those who previously owned base model and S model triple nines. I flat out love the bike, that just about sums it up. Your perception just might change if you had the opportunity to ride the R bike, one with at least middle of the road suspension settings. Don't think price is as big an issue as it used to be with the R bikes. If you look long enough and are in the right spot at the right time, you to can be a 999R owner and you might get lucky like I did.
Also good points, John -- and nothing beats opinions based on personal experience! Thanks for the insights. I would like to try an R.
 

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I totally agree with motorbikes on the 999R, it's one of the best motorcycles I have ever ridden.. I was lucky enough to own a 2006 Ducati 999R as my first Duc. Of course I've been riding Japanese bikes before that.. 1000rr, r1, r6, 600rr etc. Honestly out of the box the 999R was down right scary. I took it too ortega 3x and was thinking about selling the damn thing..but I knew it was a suspension issue I took the 999R to racetech and got the rake/sag etc done to it. I went back up and it was a night and day difference. Now there was FEEDBACK in the front..yay before I got the suspension set up the darn steering felt wooden and lifeless.

After that I was in love with my Duc, the V-twin took some time getting used to. Since I was accustomed to inline 4's..Like for example what gear you need to be in on corner entry took a little time getting used too. Now im all about Ducs and that v-twin engine..

Camparing it too my 08 1098R is another story, although the 999R is a extremely capable bike that will thrill you.. The 1098R is definitely a better bike to ride. The torque compared to the 999R is massive to say the least. At fist I had white knuckle syndrome on my 1st ride when I got it. When I opened her up I felt like my face was going to get ripped off.

Sometimes I tell myself I should sell the 999R but... then I ride it. Get adjusted to it and come back after my ride and say to myself.. " there's no way im selling my 999R haha " it's still an amazing bike. To tell you the truth the 999R I feel has a bit better build quality as well. With tastier parts like more carbon, seamless carbon fiber fairings etc. Example the middle faring on my 1098R is plastic..:( you'd think after uping the cost they would be full carbon..?? oh well, the ride and traction control make up for it.. Plus it looks great and as my friend put it the 1098R looks more " Ferrari-ish"
 
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