Motorcycles > Ducati 996

Ducati 996


The Ducati 996 appeared in 1998 acting as a replacement and upgrade for the legendary Ducati 916, which was still a potent bike itself.

The 996 had a larger capacity 996 cc engine, with larger pistons, valves, a stronger crankshaft and crankcases. The standard 996 retained the 916's camshafts, however the top spec 996SPS version had its own and therefore made around 10-12 extra hp.

The 996 chassis is almost identical to the 916. The wheels are updated and front and rear brakes are upgraded with more powerful calipers. In 2000 the Ducati 996 was upgraded and equipped with Marchesini wheels and titanium nitride coated front forks.

Similar and related vehicles:
Ducati 998S Bostrom
Ducati 996SPS
Ducati 996
Ducati 916
Ducati 748R

Year of specifications 1998 - 2002
Engine 996 cc, DOHC V-twin
Transmission 6-speed, chain
Max speed 165 mph
0-60 mph -
Horsepower 112 hp @ 8500 rpm
weight 198 kg / 437 lbs
Seat height 790 mm / 31.1 inches

Reviews below: write a review

Review by: Diablo944
20 years ago, Ducati were known for their torquey V twins. With bikes like the SS (supersport) and the SL (superlight), they had a sweet handling package all thrown together in a tubular trellis frame. The racing pedigree was added to by the 851 and 888 models. The basic engine layout at least in terms of the block was almost identical. Where the 851 and 888 different was in their use of cylinder heads that had 4 valves per head rather than the 2 per head of the SS. Water cooling and fuel injection were something new to the Ducati followers, but the 888 went on to be a race winner for some time. With the Japanese manufacturers always raising the stakes, the 888 was pushed to the limits of both it's engine and chassis. It was accepted at the time that the 888 motor had been tuned to a point where the chassis was no longer able to contain the power and handling had become an issue. Something new was needed and 1994 saw the release of the iconic 916.

In a world where bigger and better were now becoming the norm, the 916 was a culture shock. The engine was most definitely available with more power than it's illustrious relatives, but the bike itself was smaller, slimmer and more aggressive looking than anything else on the market. The motor was almost identical to the 888, though with a shorter stroke that gave the bike it's 916 capacity. As with all the Ducati models available to the public, there were huge differences between the power outputs of the bikes on sale. You can't say a detuned version is available, it is more a case of there being a regular version with longevity of engine life in mind, and then there are the hot performance models running more powerful engine setups with lighter materials elsewhere on the bike.

Put basically though, the 2 models most seen on the road were the biposto and monoposto bikes at the lower end of the performance spectrum. Biposto meaning two seats and Monoposto the single seat model. There is no argument againt the fact that the monoposto was the better looking bike, but absolutely useless if you had any need to carry a passenger. The 916 in it's many guises was revered as a thoroughbred race machine. With riders like fogarty at the helm, it went on to prove it wasn't just a stunning looker, it had performance on tap as well. When all was said and done, the bike was aimed at racers first and the public second. Design implementations like the single sided swingarm were solely for the speed a wheel could be changed in a race situation. The underseat exhausts however (an idea previously done by Honda with the NR, something a lot of people forget and then mistakenly feel that Ducati did it first) were something else altogether. They were there because they looked good there. There were a lot of arguments between racers and manufacturer about the fact the pipes were going through a tortuous route from the heads to the exhaust. Attempts to have a more standard type of side pipe for racing were crushed though. Ducati wanted this bike to look virtually identical be it on road or track.

Fast forward a few years and we find Ducati struggling against the Japanese competion. A revision was needed and it came in the guise of the 996. Initially you can be forgiven for thinking that nothing had changed bar the engine capacity, but closer inspection and a little research turn up a fair amount of differences between the 916 and the 996. A slightly beefier swingarm, lighter wheels on later models, stronger crank and larger pistons were things you couldn't see. 2000 saw the introduction of even lighter wheels in the 5 spoke marchesini's, along with an ohlins rear shock at the latter end of the year. Gold nitride fork sliders also made their first appearance and were done to reduce stiction. Some say it was solely for appearance, and it has to be said that the gold looks good, but it was a performance enhancer first and foremost.

To ride the bike is a joy, but can also be a painful experience. Little is done to give the rider an easy ride in terms of comfort. Some owners refer to it as the torture machine. The bars are low and leave a lot of weight on your wrists. The seat padding is minimal and the racing crouch is tiresome at slow speeds. Once out and moving at a reasonable rate, the bike is a dream to ride. Even now in 2009, the bike has enough power to induce a wide grin whenever you open it up. The 1098's and R1's will eat it for breakfast in a straight line, but in the corners and bends? This bike was touted as one of the best handling machines of all time, that still stands today. It still has enough to surprise the more powerful contenders out there. Add in the characteristic soundtrack of a deep bellowing exhaust and the rattle and sching of the clutch and you could be foggy out there on the mountain stretch of the isle of man. The unlimited stretch of road over the mountain allowing a true speed rush on a public road without breaking the law.

Ducati pulled off a fantastic marketing trick near the end of the 996 production. The sequel to the matrix came out and introduced the 996 in a way they had never seen before. Trinity rode a green 996 in a chase scene that alledgedly cost more to film than all the money spent on the first matrix movie. Unusually for a film, the bike even kept it's own bellowing exhaust noises. It isn't unheard of that when Ducati's are used in a film the bikes characteristic clutch rattle and deep exhaust notes are dubbed out and replaced with a japanese 4 cylinder soundtrack (Conspiracy theory with Mel Gibson being one such film). Unfortunately for Ducati, this movie tie in coincided with the end of the 996 production run. They were not about to let go so easily though. The 998 was the replacement bike for the outgoing 996. The testastretta motor coming into the line up. The testastretta being an engine with narrower angle and larger valves making for less stress at high revs, and a higher revving engine. Ducati released a matrix model in 998 guise. With green paintwork, a small matrix reloaded logo on the tailpiece and a few additionally upgraded components over a standard 998, the bike stood out from the crowd, even if it was actually a different model than the one in the film. Throughout the life of the 916 to the 998, the bikes visual appearance remained almost identical. Despite the time scales involved, the bike managed to resist looking old. Even now, many see the bike as a thing of beuty in any of it's guises. The downside to owning such a thing though, excluding the actual cost to buy one (Every version can still command a premium in the right condition) is the actual upkeep of the bike. Servicing costs are often high. Unreasonably high at times. Owning a Ducati is like owning a ferrari and many dealers have been known to charge far too much when it comes to servicing a Duke. This situation is made worse by the marques need for servicing on a very regular basis. 6000 miles on one of these has a service bill that can run from 3 or 4 hundred pounds sterling ($500-700) to some truly frightening figures depending on who you chose to do it.

One rule of thumb on any Ducati with belt drive cam gear (and that is everything they have built for over 20 years) is that when you buy one, you always do the belts as a matter of course. Having one of these snap or jump a tooth will cost you dearly. A great many owners buy the bike as a style icon and then leave the bike standing for most of its life, in terms of stress on the belts, this is never advisable. Owners should make sure they run the engine every week religiously to avoid deforming the belts. The fact the belts were done 300 miles before you bought it are not a guarantee they will be ok now. It could have stood for 6 months before you ride it off.

Ducati were castigated by many when the 749 and 999 replaced the 998. In a break from the 916 ethos, they designed a fairing with more futuristic looks and vertical headlights. Many owners hated this change. It was a shock to see an ugly bike replacing a stunner. Some dealers felt the 999 almost killed their businesses and were relieved when the 1098 and 848 styled bikes made an appearance. Both the 749 and 999 bikes were likely awesome machines, but public perception of the bikes never touched them in the way the old 1994 916 had achieved.

Massimo Tamburini and others at the Cagiva research centre succeeded in creating a modern masterpiece in the design of the 916 form. The little Cagiva 125 Mito carried bodywork so similar to the 916 that it could be mistaken for it's bigger cousins (at least while it was stationary) by people who had little interest in bikes. Tamburini was also responsible for the Ducati Paso, a bike that was virtually fully enclosed and a million miles away from the beauty of the 916 form. However, he did go on to produce the design for the MV Agusta F4, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the MV carries some of the Ducati ethos with it's tail end.

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Ducati 996

Ducati 996

Ducati 996

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