If you have been around long enough to remember Carl Fogarty winning multiple championships for Ducati in World Super Bike, the Ducati 998 requires no introduction. Ducati dominated the Superbike series with their v-twin superbikes during the 1990s, which found a winning formula with the likes of Carl Fogarty, Troy Baliss, and Troy Corser.
Ducati introduced the 999 model in 2003, however whilst the bike was a success on the track it wasn’t an instant hit with the fans, many of them preferring the look of the 998, which continued to sell alongside the 999 model for a few years. Many argued at the time that Ducati’s success on the track was down to superbike rules of the time which allowed 999cc v-twins, and 749cc four cylinder machines.
There may be a certain element of truth to the argument because Ducati started to struggle when the rules changed to allow 999cc four cylinder bikes to compete in World Superbike and domestic superbike championships. Ducati continued to still dominate for a while, however when the air restrictors were removed from the 999cc four cylinder regulations, the bike four cylinder bikes started to dominate.
The 998 used the Testastretta engine, originally from the 996 model through to the 999R. Ducati have been innovators with the big v-twin engines long before the World Superbike series, with bevel driven camshafts and desmodromic (springless) valve system, which primarily reduced the risk of valve bounce at higher RPMs. The system is actually simplistic engineering, which occasionally scares off potential buyers who like to undertake their own maintenance.
Buying a Ducati 998
Condition and service history is important, in addition to knowing exactly what model of 998 you are buying. The price can vary widely depending on special edition models and track focused machines.
998 Strada (Biposto and Monoposto): 2002-2003
998S Ben Bostrom and Troy Bayliss replicas (USA Version): 2002
998S non US model: 2002
Many bikes were bought with the intent of track days and racing, so always be wary of super clean bodywork over worn out chassis and engines, occasionally a sign of track bike put back on the road with the original stock bodywork. Aftermarket exhausts are fairly common to help liberate a bit more power and sound more like the race prepared superbike, however not setting up correctly with a remapped ECU or power commander could lead to problems.
If you are buying a bike with these modifications, question the owner if they have any paperwork regarding the installation and information relating to any dyno time. No two bikes are the same and dyno time is a worthwhile investment to understand if the bike and fuelling are correct for the modifications applied.
Whilst there was always an undertone of reliability issues relating to Ducati’s, this is often unfounded if maintenance schedules are observed and undertaken my someone competent. If you have the correct tools any bike can serviced by a home mechanic, patience is the key and if you don’t know, read the manual and check-in with expert groups. As with any bike, there are factory noted methods, and methods evolved over time by mechanics actually doing the work.
Camshaft belts is often cited as something that can’t be ignored during servicing, which is the same principle for any engine. Whilst the belts are very important, various guides and guide bearings are just as important to prevent engine damage. If a guide pully bearing fails it can easily lead to a belt failure. Take your time and double check the work.
Bidding on 2002 Ducati 998 Biposto
This example has some age related stone chips, wear, and some cracking around the fairings. The bike has just over 16K miles, therefor a bike 20 years old will start to show some signs which possibly make it more genuine to a buyer than something which isn’t display any wear. The bike also comes with some service history and receipts for work, in addition to some nice aftermarket parts which are very expensive. If you wanted to put back to stock, you could potentially trade these parts for original items.
If you are bidding on this lovely bike we wish you the best of luck, and please let us know your plans. Seeing these on the road is always fun, there’s nothing like a Ducati v-twin on full song through a twisty road.
If you are looking to take the maintenance yourself, please also check out our workshop tools article for some inspiration. Most important of all, ride safe!