An aesthetic and performance revolution in its day, the 916 series has guaranteed iconic status for Bologna's blood-red bullets for time immemorial. But are those stories of Desmodromic histrionics all true?
Carl Fogarty. The Aprilia RSV Mille. Neil Hodgson. The Honda VTR1000 Firestorm. James Toseland. Suzuki's TL1000. Troy Bayliss and, finally, Ducati themselves.None of the above would either be here today or where they are today without the beautiful, seminal 916.Developed in 1993 and launched in 1994, the 916 Strada was an astounding success. It had journalists spluttering for the superlatives and Foggy reaching for the World Superbike title in the bike's very first year of production. The 916 was a quantum leap forward.Looks and performance-wise the bike was a winner. With lines from the pen of Massimo Tamburini and an eight-valve, liquid-cooled motor from the genius of Massimo Bordi, form and function hadn't been seen moulded together so perfectly since The Creation itself.It wasn't the most powerful (100bhp at the wheel for a 916), it wasn't the lightest (around 200kg) and it could be agony to ride if you were anything but the perfect size for it, but the 916 was the most beautiful motorcycle then created and it's still the benchmark for two-wheeled exotica today.Better still, it spawned a family of bikes which spanned a whole decade, as well as a host of imitators - although none of which came close to capturing the essence of the Ducati. But two things were wrong with the 916. Firstly, it was too expensive and secondly, it was too unreliable. Now, thanks to Old Father Time, the bike is available for upwards of £3500. And thanks to the Texas Pacific Group bikes produced after 1997 are much better built. This puts the 916/996 and 998 series well within the range of people with enough money in their pocket to buy a younger Jap four. Our advice? Choose wisely, know what model you're buying and check the bike's history.
Continue the Ducati 916, 996 & 998 Used Review
I've been lucky enough to have owned two Ducatis - a 1992 888 SP and a 1999 996 SPS.
The 888 got ridden to France and Italy as well as in all seasons here in the UK plus several trackdays - never let me down and the finish stayed beautiful throughout.
The 996 did more than 30,000 miles including foreign track days and many trips abroad including 10 days down into Italy and back riding through Switzerland, Germany, Holland and France in constant p*ssing rain.
She only ever let me down twice - both times with blown fuses easily mended.
Meanwhile a mate with a new Fireblade has got through three sets of front disks, the paint on his tank wore through in half the miles of the Ducati - plus he had factory recalls; and another mate with an R1 has also had factory recalls and suffered problems with the clutch.
It's all about maintenance and care. The service schedules on a Ducati are there for a reason. Not cheap, but in my experience if you look after her she will look after you and reward you with one of the most all round satisfying experiences you'll get out of two wheels.
All, of course, IMHO.
Posted: 29/04/2009 at 21:48
Posted: 29/04/2009 at 21:53
flipitsteve wrote (see)
i had a 748 and it was in the shop more times than my garage.put me off them for life.it was nice when it worked though.
Posted: 30/04/2009 at 00:50
What was the comfort like on these European trips? They have a poor name for touring in the bike press.
Mind you, so has my SP1, but I've done 400+ mile trips on that and had no problems.
Just curious like.
Posted: 30/04/2009 at 16:46
the 996 SPS is i my dream garage...
to see the rest of it check out my 'bikes bikes bikes' playlist
Posted: 01/05/2009 at 16:04
Timski - I can only report the reality for me and others I actually ride with.
Your experience may, of course, be different and clearly owning an Italian machine is not for you.
Posted: 06/05/2009 at 17:09
jdvtr - Neither the 888 nor the 996 are exactly touring bikes, but they are also nowhere near as uncomfortable as often made out.
If you spend your life on a Beemer then it ain't going to be an easy change, but if you were brought up on Brit cafe racers like I was then it's no problem.
The secret is avoiding long boring motorways. Provided you're on an interesting road and moving about in the saddle then it is surprisingly easy to get in long distances.
The only time I really suffered was doing a solid M way trip in February - I had to be lifted off the bike! Lesson learned.
Posted: 06/05/2009 at 17:17
Turn that dream into a reality mate! A 996 can be picked up for sensible money nowadays and there is really not a huge difference in real world power between that and a SPS.
Life isn't a rehearsal
Posted: 06/05/2009 at 17:20
it's the insurance and running costs that are the issue especially for me...
one day though...
Posted: 07/05/2009 at 09:45
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