Ducati's flagship sportsbike gets a new look as well as a whole load more power for 2005. Jon Urry samples the delights of the new 999
Ducati's 999 hasn't exactly set the world on fire since its launch in late 2002. While its predecessor, the 916, caused queues in dealers when it was launched in 1994, public reaction to Pierre Terreblanche's development of Massimo Tamburini's classic has been cool.Despite the 999 actually selling more units in its first year than the 916 did, this statistic is skewed by the fact that very few 916s were actually available back then. By 2002 Ducati had sorted out its production lines and bikes were rolling off at a much higher rate.Look at the UK sales statistics and you will find that last year - the 999's first full year of sales - a total of 469 bikes were sold, and that's including the S and R versions. In the same year, 124 998s were sold, while the year before 388 of the older style bikes were cleared from dealer's floors, despite the eight-year-old styling. Can you imagine an eight-year-old CBR600 almost matching the sales of the new CBR600RR? And in 2004, things are even worse for Ducati.
Just 276 999s have been sold up to August, compared to 115 of the 'old' 998s sold! Even combined, Ducati's superbike sales are a fraction of the 2176 new R1s sold this year."Things could always be better but it's unfair to say we are unhappy about the 999's sales," says a Ducati spokesperson when I quizz him about it, but he did look strangely unworried. And now I know why.A few weeks ago Ducati launched an updated version of its homologation special 999R in America with a reworked top fairing and new engine internals (see over the page), claiming the changes were purely to give Eric Bostrom a few more bhp and a more slippery profile in the American AMA race series. But Ducati was pulling a flanker. Just a week after the 999R's unveiling we received an invitation to the launch of an unspecified 999 at Mugello in Italy, which the Ducati men were keeping tight lipped about.
Assuming it was a European spec 999R I was more than a little surprised when, sat in a pit garage at the track, a curtain dropped to the tune of Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best' revealing... a 999. But hang on a second. A closer look revealed the new style front fairing is in place, but the bike beneath it isn't the all-singing R, but actually the stocker and base model 999. The 999 has received a facelift, but that's not all.
Continue the Ducati 999 Review
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk