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Hello. I have an opportunity to buy a 2002 ST4s with 16K miles. Has had a major service done to it at 14K including valve adjustment and belts, which was about 3 yrs ago. The bike is in good condition and the asking price is $3500. I have ridden the ST4s once and fell in love with it BUT keep hearing horror stories about the maintenance price tag. Questions:

1. I read somewhere that once Ducs cross 13K miles, the valves may not need adjustments since they would have already worn/settled in. Is this true?

2. Do the belts really have to be changed every two yrs or 4K miles (whichever comes first). Seems a bit extreme!

3. Any major cost/maintenance that I need to be aware of other than the belts and valves (hoping only the belts if item #1 above is correct).

Thank you.
 

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They may not need adjustments for a while but eventually they need to be checked! The belts are probably good for another 4k but you should inspect them to verify the tension. Lots of threads on this here on how to easily do this, search, but if you like the bike these two items should not hold you back as it seems these issues have been dealt with - at least enough to get 4k more miles out of them.
 

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In answer to your questions:

1.) yes
2.) yes
3.) Not really other than standard wear items

Welcome to the forum issakayyal. The ST4 is a wonderful bike. As the valve train seats in after the firs 10K or so miles, the clearances will have a tendency to stay put or slow down. That doesn't mean you should check the valves at the prescribed interval!!! Regarding the belts, understand that these are interference engines, i.e.: if a belt breaks there will be contact between the valves and the pistons. Not good! Therefore, many follow the schedule, some will let the 2 year rule slide a bit to 4 years...depends on how much you like to gamble. One thing to be aware of is flaking rocker arms...the chrome plating has been know to split and flake possibly resulting in wear of the cams. The rocker arms (with improved plating) are available and are reasonably priced.

Given the age, you should also consider a fork and shock service, get the oil refreshed (this applies to any brand motorcycle).
 

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I’ve gone past maintenance intervals before , but I would never advise someone else to do that. If my valve clearances haven’t changed in a while I might push the next clearance check a little further. If the bike breaks because I didn’t maintain it, I may whine but I’ll take responsibility . Ducatis require regular maintenance. Buy a Japanese bike or Harley if you don’t like to do or pay for maintenance. My 2000 SuperGlide has had the oil changed once a year. I have changed brake pads and tires when needed. Very little else. Same with my other Harleys. I treat them like pickup trucks. They require nothing, just a ride every now and then.
 

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I have a 01 ST4 with 63,000 miles (not km). It has been extremely reliable and has never left me stranded. the unreliability of ducatis is bs probably promoted by the japanese mfgs.. i change the oil frequently with synthethic, I always warm the oil up to 140 before buggering off and i do the recommended belt and valve adjustments. this coming 2021 season I will be cleaning the injectors, fuel filter.

the way to keep the maintenance costs down is
ST4.jpg
by learning to do it yourself.
 

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At this price point, I'd say buy it.
Great machine at a fraction of the price for a new japanese bike and with a lot more character. Maintenance is maintenance, all bikes need it.

Let's say the final price of this bike is +/- half of you'd pay for a 2015 Ninja 1000 (I believe is less than half, but let's stick to half) which is arguably the closes competitor today, you'll still have 3.5-4K to spend in regular and preventive maintenance before you reach the price for the Ninja. This will likely take at least 3-4 years to happen. During this same 3 years the example Ninja would also need regular maintenance, stretching those 3-4 years to an even longer time.
 

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I'm pretty sure belt recommendation is 2yrs./12,000 miles.
I have an '02 ST4S purchased last year, upgraded from a '98 ST2. The 4S is quicker in speed and handles lighter.
See if the owner has service records that way your are sure where the state of tune is.
+1 on suspension service if it hasn't been done recently.
+1 on an oil change right off and would suggest clutch and brake fluids replacement if it's been 3 yrs. as well.
I would also be looking at tire replacement if they're older than 3 or 4 yrs.
They're definitely the sportier side of sport touring, much lighter than the competition, Kawasaki Concourse, Yamaha FJ 1300, Honda ST 1300...
For $3,500 it's a good price, really good if they have good service records/history.
Have fun!!!
 

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After thinking about this over a smoke and a beer, say you go all out and have somebody do the belts/valve adj. OK, maybe it also needs tires. All that is probably $1500. $5k for a bike like that with only 16K mi? I still think it's a deal. What else could you really get with that performance et al for $5k? Not much really.

I think Ducati got the maintenance reputation during the dsemo/bevel drive years when the bike were built with yardsticks, and never lived it down. Let the valves go, use the wrong oil, let it sit, and you got problems. Not so with the newer bikes.
 
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Great bike, great price. If you don't do your own maintenance, as others have noted it will be more expensive to maintain but not excessively so. Checking/changing the belts is easy, and I don't see that checking the valves every 7500 miles and replacing belts at 15000 miles is that onerous. I used to do belts every 2 years, but I've been doing every 3 years on my current bike as I'm nowhere near 7500 miles per year riding - one assumes that belt technology has improved in the past 18 years. I visually inspect them every year, and replacing them takes about an hour - if I had to do it more regularly it would take 15 minutes. Doing your own valve adjustments is a time-consuming chore that requires your bike to be in a state of disassembly for a couple of days or weeks while you remove, measure, and re-order valve shims, wait for them to arrive, and reinstall them. The first time will be challenging but after that it's not that bad. Buy a couple of extra half-rings in case you lose one when you order shims. Or shell out the $1500 bucks to get it done and forget about it for a few years.
 

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I would be more concerned about being able to get parts. I just bought a 2006 ST3 and some parts are proving hard to find.The maintenance doesn't worry me, almost every issue can be answered here by members that know their stuff.
Personally I wouldn't pay more than $3,000 as I'm cheap and only paid $2,600 (Canadian, which is about $1,900 USD) for my St3.
 

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I would be more concerned about being able to get parts. I just bought a 2006 ST3 and some parts are proving hard to find.The maintenance doesn't worry me, almost every issue can be answered here by members that know their stuff.
Personally I wouldn't pay more than $3,000 as I'm cheap and only paid $2,600 (Canadian, which is about $1,900 USD) for my St3.
I had trouble with some body parts for my 09 MTS when I bought it in 2016. Some parts that don't span models - or even model years - are going to be unobtainium after a decade or two. I never had trouble finding parts for my Supersport when it was 20 years old but sometimes I had to wait patiently for months for specific parts to appear. I rode the SS as a naked bike for awhile without lower fairings, there are options.
 

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I usually see valves settle in at around 20,000 miles and often stretch the intervals to 10,000 miles at that point where they are not moving much. The concern with a desmoquattro is rocker arms, if you leave the shop and a rocker arm sheds its chrome just after you will run the long distance wearing down the rocker and then wearing down your camshaft. I usually keep desmoquattros to a 6000-7000 mile interval just due to the rocker arms.

Belt life is 2 years or 12,000 miles which ever comes first I have always run belts 3 years or 12,000 miles with no issues some go longer but 3 is my comfort zone as a broken belt may = a new motor.

If you like the bike consider the cost of ownership, Ducati's can be like dating a good looking chick with a drinking problem so you need to be okay with the costs of ownership. A good one is almost worse as you will make plenty of excuses on why it is worth keeping while it drains your play time and bank account. Oh.... but those good days are sweet and soon you will forgive it of all sins. Heck I started as a owner in the early 90's and before I knew it friends did not want to go on large trips because it might not make it back and next thing you know I justified working at the dealership before opening my own shop....... beware my friend. ;)
 
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