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Is There Such a Thing as a Reliable Used Ducati?

Italian bikes, especially classic ones, haven’t really had a reputation for reliability. And Ducati is no exception. The motorcycle company has been dinged in the past by Consumer Reports for its rather high rate of customer problems. Which, if you’re interested in buying a used one, isn’t reassuring. However, just as it’s possible to find reliable used BMWs, it’s possible to find a reliable used Ducati. In fact, there are at least 2 models which are worth considering.

A used Ducati Monster

One of the most commonly-seen used Ducatis is the Monster. And that’s a good thing. It’s not an exaggeration to say the Ducati Monster is one of the company’s most important products.

Black 2002 Ducati Monster S4, viewed from the side, in a concrete parking garage
2002 Ducati Monster S4 side | Bring a Trailer

When it debuted in 1993, the Monster was the first regular-production naked street bike, Cycle World reports. But it was more than that. Because the 1993 Monster M900 used existing parts from contemporary Ducatis, its price was low. For a long time, the Monster was the brand’s entry-level bike. And it soon became its best-selling model. Even today, Silodrome reports, the Monster lineup accounts for a significant part of the company’s total sales.

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Over the years, the Monster has naturally evolved. They all use a variation of Ducati’s famous 90° V-twin, aka ‘L-twin.’ Capacities range from 600cc to the latest Monster 1200’s 1198cc. All Monsters feature the brand’s well-known desmodromic valves, which use solid rockers instead of springs to operate the valves. Fuel injection was first introduced in the 2000 M900, Hooshmand.net reports. Every Monster was fuel-injected by 2002.

Early models had the brand’s signature dry clutch, though starting with the 2005 S2R1000, wet clutches became the norm. Additionally, most Monsters are air-cooled, though some of the larger-capacity models are liquid-cooled. ABS became standard, AutoEvolution reports, on the 2010 Ducati Monster 696.

Like the Triumph Street Triple, these bikes’ minimalist design makes them fairly light. The 2011 Monster 796, for example, weighs 421 pounds, despite having an 803cc V-twin, Cycle World reports. That can understandably be a bit intimidating for beginners. However, smaller-capacity Monsters can be good beginner bikes. And, as our own editor can attest to, the Monster’s low weight, compact size, and sporty riding position mean it has excellent handling. Though it’s not exactly built for long rides, Jalopnik reports.

A used Ducati Scrambler

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The Ducati Monster isn’t the company’s entry-level model anymore. In its place is the Ducati Scrambler lineup. And it arguably might be the better used Ducati, The Drive reports.

2018 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
2018 Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 | Ducati

The base Scrambler actually uses the Monster’s engine, an 803cc L-twin rated at 73 hp and 49 lb-ft, Gear Patrol reports. Which, in a bike that weighs 417 pounds, is plenty, Cycle World reports. If that seems a bit too much, for the 2016 model year, Ducati added the 399cc Sixty2 model.

2018 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
2018 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled | Ducati

While the Monster is the sportier of the two, the Ducati Scrambler is arguably better at every-day riding, Revzilla reports. With its more upright riding position and longer seat, it’s the better commuter. But it can still handle itself well on curvy back roads, Cycle World reports. Plus, in addition to on-pavement performance, the Desert Sled Scrambler has genuine off-road capabilities.

It’s also arguably the more reliable used Ducati.

Maintenance intervals and known issues

It’s important to note that motorcycles have different maintenance schedules than cars. Especially when it comes to their cambelts and valves. Because motorcycles rev so high, their valvetrains require more frequent maintenance. And that’s especially true of the desmodromic Ducatis.

Modern Ducati bikes have service intervals from 15,000-18,000 miles. Older air-cooled used Ducatis, though, have intervals around 6000-75000 miles for cambelt replacement and valve service. It is possible, ADVRider forum users report, to perform this maintenance yourself, and save some money. Otherwise, the combined service can cost upwards of $1000 at Ducati dealerships, DucatiMonster.org reports. Expensive, high-performance brands mean higher parts prices at the dealers.

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While the Scrambler has the Monster’s engine, it’s actually the more reliable used Ducati. Although MotorandWheels reports the Scrambler’s engine can throw heat, that’s more a function of it being air-cooled, Roadshow reports. The only real issue the Scrambler has faced so far is a side stand recall in 2017.

Serviced and ridden regularly, the Monster can also make for a reliable used Ducati. However, the bike has had some issues. Firstly, older examples can suffer from faulty electrics, especially due to water intrusion.

The bigger issue, though, r/motorcycles sub-Reddit users report, is the gas tank. The tanks on 2006-2010 Ducatis, Monsters included, would swell if gasoline with ethanol was left inside for extended periods. Though to be fair, other manufacturers have suffered similar issues in the past, ADVRider forum users report.

Ducati replaced the tanks and extended the warranty after a class-action lawsuit. But these replacement tanks were made from the same material, which didn’t solve anything. The only solution is replacing the tank with a metal one or sealing the inside with Caswell sealant, Ducati.org forum users report.

Pricing

2008 Ducati Monster S4R S Tricolore motorcycle, with a tank painted in the Italian flag's colors, against a brick wall
2008 Ducati Monster S4R S Tricolore | Bring a Trailer

The ‘S’ Monsters tend to command higher values, due to desirable features like Ohlins suspension and upgraded brakes. However, it’s possible to find a number of used fuel-injected Monsters on Cycle Trader for under $5000. The later, larger-capacity ones, though, can swing closer to $10,000-$15,000 on Bring a Trailer.

2020 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
2020 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer | Ducati

The Scrambler, being a newer model, is a bit more expensive. The smaller-capacity Sixty2 models are roughly $1000-$2000 more than the cheapest Monsters. The 803cc models are usually $1000-$2000 on top of that. The cheapest Desert Sled model found on Cycle Trader at the time of writing costs $7999.

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