Niall's Spin: Ducati ST4

With an engine donated from the exotic 916 how does Ducati's sport tourer compare with the rest of this tough market, Niall Mackenzie investigates...

Click to read: Ducati ST4 owners reviewsDucati ST4 specs and to see the Ducati ST4 image gallery.

Discovering they had a surplus of 916 motors on their hands as a hike in capacity loomed for that machine, Ducati's ever- economical and green-minded engineers decided not to throw them out but to recycle the little fellas. But how? "What about a sports tourer?" said one bright spark and lo, the ST4 was born, and about time too because Ducati's attempts at sports touring until this point had amounted solely to the ST2.

Now, while the ST2 and ST4 look very similar the big difference is in the motor. Where the 2 struggles to pull the skin off a rice pudding thanks to its ancient wheezy old 900SS lump, the ST4 suddenly makes sense of the whole concept by finally giving the great ST chassis the shunt it deserves. Not only will it demolish Alpine passes for breakfast, but it'll also make it further than the end of the road once fully laden with pillion and luggage.

Next to a VFR the ST4 is a touch on the harsh side thanks to firmer suspenders and a stiffer chassis, although this does make the ST4 the more precise ride when you want to wick things up. And the Duke does come with the added benefit of you not seeing every other Tom, Dick and Luigi on one whenever you pop out for a blast either.

"But what of reliability?" I hear you cry. Being a Ducati, and one of a certain age, you may expect the ST4 to be a timebomb looking for a layby to happen in. Fortunately it's far from that, although as it does run what is at its heart a race-based motor it will need rigorous maintenance to keep it on song. For example valve clearances and cambelts need checking and cambelts replacing every 12,000 miles, which will set you back about £600. But buy smart and with a full service history from a Ducati dealer - essential with all second-hand Duke purchases - and you're in for a very pleasant surprise.

Key ID: 2000 onwards models have grey wheels
Walk away: if it's not been cherished