Tell me about the Ducati 900ss

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by rokklym, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    OK, I know some of ya hate Ducatis so please keep your comments to a minimum. I've personally loved Ducatis for a long time, but never owned one. I've been noticing a few 94+ 900SS's around for decent prices and was wondering about the bike. I know they take more love to own but I want something with some character that I can take out for the weekend and tour around, and ride with the local bikers occasionally.
    Are they decent bikes? Junk? too high maintenance?

    The only reviews I've read of them were form the early 90's and they sounded like a good bike at the time.
    #1
  2. NorCalslowpoke

    NorCalslowpoke Long timer

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    Overall: good bikes

    I wish I still had one sometimes. I'd buy one again.

    Bad: limited steering lock, hard to park in tight spaces; pretty jerky at slow speeds, more maintenance than more modern bikes.

    Good: tons of fun, good torque, plenty of hp for sane riding, good sound, reasonably comfortable riding position, light weight, lots of online information.

    truly a fun bike, especially in the mountains. I would not buy one to use for in town commuting/riding.

    hope this helps!
    #2
  3. ImaPoser

    ImaPoser adventure imposter

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    I miss mine dearly.:cry I will have another. :nod Perfect bike to have in the garage for the sport bike fix.
    #3
  4. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

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    I have a FE. It is the last of the model you are looking at. I bought it new in 1998. I have about 13k miles on it, but it is mostly a garage queen now.

    The Motor:
    I think it has a sweet motor and I consider it a fast motorcycle up to about 110. It'll top out about 135-140mph. It is smooth and very torquey. It pulls as hard as a 748 desmoquattro up to 100 (maybe harder). It doesn't burn or weap oil anywhere. It is most comfortable above 3200rpm and cruises nice up tp 80mph. Above 80 it gets buzzy. It is no fun in city traffic or stop/go. The motor is snatchy and the clutch is grabby. When it gets hot, it is hard to ride in stop/go. The clutch is heavy too. Mine is totally stock except for a jet kit for my Termi exhaust.

    Handling: Rock steady and solid steering. The later generation models are a little steeper in the front and turn in quicker. But It still turns effortlessly. It feels flickable to me, but different then a japanese bike (or even a 748 as I had that too). The suspension is stiff in the back. It does not have a rising rate linkage in the back and you feel it. It's very fun to ride on track days and gives you confidence. The motor is a big part of that because you can let the revs drop really low thru the apex and it still pulls out of the turns nicely.

    Comfort: Not very. I did one week-long tour with it and I felt permenantly disfigured when I was done. It is truly a sportbike. It makes you want to brake a little later and tip it in leading with your shoulder. It gives you a bad case of the zoomies (even on cloverleaf offramps).

    Its Parts: A nicely kept 900SS is one of the great values in motorcyling. There are few motorcycles made that have such nice parts. The motorcases, frame, wheels, brakes, sprockets, levers, T-clamps, tank etc. The fairing is a very nice piece as well. It is a collage of industrial art.

    Service: Mine has never had a motor problem. The valves need be checked every 6k and reshimmed every 12k, but its not a finicky motor. The motor was improved in some small way every year. Mine was the most refined of the carb models (built in 1997), but I wouldn't be concerned about anything newer then 1992. Some of the earlier ones weep a little oil at the rear cyl head, but that isn't a biggie if you keep it clean. Actually, keeping it clean and lubed is your best medicine.

    The later 900's are good buys too. They aren't considered as classic, but they handle better and the motor is much more civil with its FI and such.
    <IMG class=imgBorder id=mainImage onmouseover=smugPopular(this.id,45458359); title="pantah > Partial Collection photo" height=450 alt="pantah > Partial Collection photo" hspace=0 src="http://pantah.smugmug.com/photos/45458359-M.jpg" width=600 border=0 name=mainImage>


    -P
    #4
  5. BubbaZanetti

    BubbaZanetti for a corrector life

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    my buddy's 750ss has been very trouble free, 20,000 miles in just over a year. road trips, saddle sore rallies, does it all pretty well or so it seems. keeping it outside is starting to take it's toll though, i'd assume a 900 is roughly as good, i liked riding it a lot
    #5
  6. Lettlander

    Lettlander Gold Medal Minivan Dodger

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    The ol' air cooled Duc's are great machines. Torquey, fun, make great sounds to wake the neighbors... They're not shabby reliability wise either. Ducati engine building guru J.D. Hord described them as being "stone hammers" in his opinion.

    Like most Ducati's they're geared to the moon. I wound up going +2 teeth on the rear sprocket of my M900S just so I wouldn't have to do a super clutch slippin' Moto GP start at every stoplight.

    Yes, the carbureted models can be a bit snatchy on the throttle especially at low RPM's. Later fuel injected models pretty much eliminated those issues. I know of people that have swapped out the stock carbs for flatslides... expensive, but well worth the improved throttle response.

    Some of the switchgear can be cheesy at times, and the speedo drives can fail. But, all that stuff is cheap to fix.

    Can I interest you in a nice, clean M900S? I've got one for sale over in the Flea Market.... :deal

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=131582

    No pressure... :lol3
    #6
  7. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    ++++ on these comments. A wonderful street bike that's a lot of fun to ride, street or track. About the only thing I would caution in getting a used one is either know the provenance or have a maintenance history. I sold mine with (iirc) 36k miles and it was still running very well.
    #7
  8. ST2 Butch

    ST2 Butch Been here awhile

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    The SS is a great bike. The 2valve motors make good torque and are very easy to ride on the street. They are snatchy at low rpms but if you keep the tack over 3500 they are nice and smooth, power is linear all they way up to about 8000- then it falls off pretty quick. 2 valve maintance is pretty cheap and they are pretty reliable.
    Look in the classifieds- there is a 94 SS in Kansas City for $4200 :cry.
    #8
  9. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Thats actually one of the ones I was looking at.

    Thanks for the replies. What I really needed to hear was that they were crap but now I have to think up some other excuse not to get it.

    I really don't need to go too fast, been there, crashed that!

    Might have to give my friendly banker a call :evil
    #9
  10. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Thats a sweet bike! I love Monsters and dream of the S2R1000 every day! Yours would be nice too, but a little out of my budget.
    #10
  11. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

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    I bought one the first of the redesigned SSs new in 1991...

    [​IMG]

    :D

    Waited for that crate for months, picked it up at the freight company myself, its side hangs on the garage wall. The bike never missed a beat for about 20k miles of all weather sport rides and as other bikes joined the garage, became a beloved fair weather toy. So, after years of its having only the usual tweaks - mufflers, jetting, etc - I went all the way and it ended up with a lightened/balanced Ferracci crank, Carrillo rods, GCM 94mm pistons (944cc), head work, 41mm Keihins, Termignoni Spaghetti system, Marchesinis, and on, and on, and on.

    Hard to believe it's been 15 years, but I still have that little SS and can't imagine ever letting it go. Here it is, 'cept the wheels are black now and those EBC rotors have given way to some fresh Brembos...

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, very entertaining contraptions, and they respond well even to the simplest of tweaks if one gets the urge. No need to go nuts like I did. Some drop-in 92mm 11:1 slugs, open airbox, jetting & mufflers. If set up correctly, this will add about 10hp and more importantly, 10 ft-lbs. Motorcyclist did this on a CR in one of their old Sportbike Splurgery pieces. Huge bang for the buck, and the bike remains reliable & friendly.

    Speaking of CRs, when shopping around for an early 2 Supersport, might as well stick with the SS/SP models. Lotsa useful factory upgrades for not a relatively larger amount of money. There's some great info to be had here, including an SS/CR differences page.

    And here are some online marketplaces...
    <!--StartFragment -->http://www.ducati.net/classifieds/
    <!--StartFragment -->http://www.cowin-tech.com/ducati/ClassDisplay.cfm?Action=Select&CountHit=Yes
    http://www.superbikeplanet.com/classifieds/showCategory.jsp?catId=4
    http://www.thetrackclub.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=2

    Enjoy! :thumb
    #11
  12. newcastlebrown

    newcastlebrown cars suck

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    Still one of my all time favorite bikes. I couldn't swing it at the time but I did get a 750SS in 92'. I rode the shit out of that thing, loving every second of it. Finally traded it on a 916 after 12k trouble free/hard miles:thumb
    #12
  13. Leu

    Leu Been here awhile

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    My buddy has a 900ss that I've ridden several times. Maybe it goes without saying for the Ducati fans out there but the thing that struck me about the bike was that it was the smoothest shifting I've ever ridden over 30 years of motorcycling.
    #13
  14. spanky

    spanky Well, maybe...

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    +1 I could not have written a better response. All true, not too good in town but a blast in the mountains, makes a sound that's like sex in your ears, lots of soul.:1drink
    #14
  15. Tweeek

    Tweeek rides

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    Simpley put, the Ducati 900SSCR is one of the most BEAUTIFUL bikes ever concieved. The 2V motor is absolutely wonderful in the twisties of SW WI. Its so animated, and a joy to ride. The sound is completely orgasmic; I still tremble at mere thought of my SS with SS2R's at full song... I'm seriously having a hard time sitting still at the moment. My most intimate experience on two wheels occured with this bike. I feel bad for becoming so attached to a material object, however this bike envoked so many overwhelming emotions that I place it on some higher spiritual level. Not many bikes have done this for me.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    I rode my 95' SSCR for one year, in which I railed almost 25k TWISTY miles. This included riding down to the Ozarks in the 95-100 degree temps from last June. I found the SS to be VERY comfortable on "long", (800miles/day) trips, as well as for railing 4-500 miles/day in the tighter stuff. The bike NEVER left me on the side of the road (other than my one ditch surfing experience...), and if I have the opportunity to by my old bike back I would trust it just the same. The 2V motors are absolutely BULLET PROOF! If you like the characteristics of you XR, you'll LOVE the 900. I found the sweet spot to be from ~5-9000 rpms. The bike will pull from low RPM's if you chose, and keep going up to redline where the limited flow of the 2V heads become apparent. Offhand I don't recall my gear, -1 up front and +2 in the rear, but it was good for ~140 on the top end. More than plenty for our roads. The transmission was great, good gear ratios, etc, and never had any issues. Personally, I love the dry clutch sound. We all know that loud clutches save lives. The upper fairing is beautifully sculpted, and provides plenty of wind protection at speed. My god do I miss merely looking at my old SS...

    The bike was amazingly stable at speed for not having adjustable suspension (other than I believe rebound...). The stock 0.90 kg/mm fork springs were about perfect for my 165# frame. The rear was also adequate. I increased the rear preload to ~%80 of the full adjustment, and dropped the triples on the forks ~2.5-3 [cm]. I also sectioned (lowered) and rewelded the stock steel clipons, and put them in the lowest position possible. Stock the CR came with a 60 series front tire, however I noticed a HUGE stability improvement at full lean with a 70 series. In the really tight stuff I would start rolling off the edge of the 60 series (decreasing contact patch), thus pushing the front. I again moved the triples accordingly to counteract the geometry change. Ground clearance was not an issue until right before I sold the bike. I had my midpipe make contact a few times at serious lean, and my toes would consistantly be dragging when I had a knee down. The massive amounts of rear preload probably kept me from having more issues.

    With the addition of stainless lines and HH pads, the stock Brembos worked great. On the street I never had any issues with fade or a general lack of feel.

    The massive amounts of torque made the bike a lot of fun in the really tight stuff. I also found the bike to be a blast around town. Again, the torque was perfect for quick lane changes as well as the general hooligan antics such as sliding the rear around corners! Oh how I miss her!!!

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. rider33

    rider33 Long timer

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    hot blooded, trash-talking, unforgiving and unfaithful- in other words
    the perfect sports bike. You may not want to introduce her to your
    mom but you will want to take her for a spin. And, signifiicantly cheeper
    than a mistress.
    #16
  17. RonS

    RonS Out there...

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    I just sold a 95 900 SS/SP. Loved the bike but it had been thrashed before I got it and I got tired of working on it more than riding it. I'd love to find one in good shape with low miles that had been taken care of. The problems I had were all the common problems these bikes have:

    Fried headlight connector.
    Dead voltage regulator.
    Various electrical gremlins.
    Rusted out corners of tank.
    Clutch slave tu.
    Carbs rebuilt four times in a year by me as well as other individuals and never really were quite right.

    All items fixed eventually but I didn't want to find out what the next problem was going to be. The problem is that I sold it to my nephew. That means I will still get dragged into working on it.
    #17
  18. rider33

    rider33 Long timer

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    for reliablity we have Honda's,
    for La Dolce Vita, we have Ducati's.
    Remember, first the grapes must suffer..........
    #18
  19. Tweeek

    Tweeek rides

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    Eloquently put!! and I couldn't agree more. SS's are dirty, dirty girls that BEG to be ridden harder than any other bike I've been had the pleasure of throwing two legs over.

    I forgot to mention the maintenance myth. My Ducati has proven to be more reliable than my 01' Hondah F4i. I replaced my belts every 10k miles for a piece of mind, and never had any issues. Belts take an honest 15-20 minutes to change, and are cake if you have common sense. Valve adjustments are not nearly as often as people have made them out to be, especially if you are used to streeeet riding an XR! I checked my valves every 6k and immediately adjusted if out of spec. I was pleasantly surprised when I only had to adjust the valves twice during my duration of riding; once the first week I got the bike, and then again right before I sold it. Once the 2V's have ~12-15k good miles, the valves have seat ed themselves into the head and most all deformation has taken place. The most difficult part of a Desmo valve adjustment is making sure you don't drop the closing shim collet into the head, and learning how to correctly measure the closing shim thickness. For the rear exhaust valve you need to take the shock off; I just hung the rear of the bike from rafters in my garage. Again, easy solution. Do NOT be scared of the maintanence. If this is an issue, I would gladly ride to Westby and give you some pointers!!

    The only parts I had to replace was the inevitable leaking clutch slave cylinder; its an easy fix if you don't mind installing new o-rings, otherwise an aftermarket bit is ~$100. I also replaced my reg/rec @ 38k. Some SS developed cracks in the frame near the headtube. Make sure to look closely. I believe Chris's site (ducatitech) discusses this. When I bought my bike, it already had the frame replaced. The previous owner said Ducati replaced it with a new one, no questions asked, in 2004.

    The road feel from my SS is far superior to my "modded" F4i. Perhaps its the steel trellis frame and the inverted forks... whatever it is, I had a lot more confidence in determining when the front was about to let loose on my Duc than my Honda.
    #19
  20. KSJEEPER

    KSJEEPER Long timer

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    I bought a new 900SSCR in 1996, and rode it for about 6 years. Never had a glitch of any kind. Agree with the earlier poster ; for me, the aesthetics don't get any better... I did do the dual headlight fairing, and carbon pipes. I don't know that I've heard a better sounding bike to this day.

    Count on replacing the seat with a Corbin or something else. At least for my ass, the seat seemed to have been designed specifically to split me in half...
    #20