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Hey Marc, Sorry to make this public but the PM system won't let me send my message becasue it is too long despite several edits. So I am posting it here. Also it will allow people like DesmoDog to weigh in as well whose opinions may substantially differ from my own.

o1marc said:
I'm educating myself on Ducati's. I see you are familiar and opinionated on the Ducs and which ones are good and bad. When you get a minute educate me on the basics of which ones(years/models) are worth having and which are not and why. I remember liking the 75 SS but I read a lot of bad rap on the other models due to tank issues and cost of maintenance.
While I am not expert, I am semi-knowledgible about ducatis only because I lust for the older ones constantly and one of my good friends runs a shop that specalizes in bevels and guzzis. I will say now I know little to nothing about the smaller singles and parallel twins. here is what I know:

Bevel drive V-twin ducatis - Made from the mid 70's to the mid 1980's these are generally the most sought after. Original Green frame supersports are almost $50,000 motorcycles now and even the later supersports are in the $10K-$20K range. While technologlically interesting and excellent road bikes, they are fragile beasts and require religious devotion to maintance. The service interval on most high performance bevels are 1200 -1500 miles between oil changes and 2000 miles for valve adjustments. So owning one is more akin to owning a race bike. Some of the non desmo bevels (All GT and sport models prior to the Darmah) don't require as much attention but I would still do the 1500 mile oil changes only because the bottom end bearings are really sensitive to dirty oil. Everything else on them is usually top notch, the forks and rear shocks are either ceriani or marzocchi and 38 or 40mm, brembo calipers and rotors, campoginolo wheels (when mags, borrani wires when not), etc... They are excellent road bikes and long track racers but suffer on the short track or in city traffic because they have excessive rake and wheelbase for a performance motorcycle (I think the originals were aroudn 28 degrees, most ducatis are around 25 degrees). All the electrics are notoriously junk, but if it runs all that has been replaced by now.

If you are looking at a round case duc, the party starts at $20K. Same goes for any SuperSports except the Darmah and the final year ones but the styling changed. For a while 860 GTs were the bargain bevel that could be had for acouple of grand in nice shape, now it's a $5K motorcycle all day long, and they don't have desmo heads. The bargains right now seem to be in the Darmahs because their styling is controversial and they aren't considered iconic. You can find nice rider quality SuperSport spec Darmah's in the $5K range, although the price is going up because people have figured out you can change the bodywork and make earlier supersports out of them, in looks anyway.

The only one I would consider looking at is a Hailwood replica - the most produced single bevel v-twin model at 5000 units their lack of rarity makes them cheaper than they should be. A super clean one can be had for $10K-$15K. High I know but they are an iconic bike and will easily be a $40K bike in both of our lifetimes. Seeing a hailwood replica ducati at 7 years old convinced me I needed to have a motorcycle, I owe my entire passion to that bike alone.

Honestly, if you just like riding a bevel isn't for you. I lust for one only because I am stupid and insane, and even I feel they are overpriced for what they are. There is another problem with ducati's of this vintage - finding one. They never made very many bikes in those years (the highest production was the hailwood at 5000 units spread across a production run from 1979-1985) and ducati people are terribly incestious. Most bikes trade at fair prices inside the clubs and amongst friends - it is rare to see one on ebay or CL and they get snatched up quick.

Let's just skip the 80's, the only bikes in there are either junk (carb'ed 750 paso for example) or super high performance race homologation specials that cost an arm an a leg. There are also 500cc pantahs which are nice but small. If you want the cheapest/best value ducati going from this era, the cagiva Allazura is the way to go. Basically a Ducati pantah rebadged as a Cagiva, clean examples can be had for $1500. Standard fare for ducati - brembo, marzocchi, etc... nice upright riding position and a 650 rubber band motor - the precursor to the monster. The other interesting bike from this era is the Cagiva Elephante which was a ducati 750cc or 900cc engine in a dual sport frame. Famous for their paris-dakar victories (1990 and 1994) they are excellent bashers if that is what you are after.

Cagiva ownership straightened out Ducati on a lot of the quality issues, but it took until the 1990s to do it. Under cagiva ownership we got the 900SS, 888, 916, and the monster. All excellent bikes but all with their quirks. If I were looking to buy another ducati I would look at an aircooled 900SS from the 1990s. The biggest issue are hairline cracks in the frame where the top backbones meets the steering tube. It is easily welded/reinforced but common. Later bikes have less of an issue than earlier ones. Right now they are the best bang for the buck with clean low mile bikes going for $2500-$5K including SP and Superlight models. The two valve aircooled engine is robust as long as you do the required belt service. watercooled exotica like the 916 are pretty and amazing and fairly cheap but require almost as much attention as a bevel. Cagiva sold the company in 1996 and while quality hasn't really declined mechanically speaking customer servce and smart decision making has, but the 900SS and monsters of the 90's tend to be the best shining example of high performance ducatis people can live with as real motorcycles. If you can find a 900SS cafe racer (900SS/CR), they are usually $500 cheaper because of the half fairing instead of a full fairing but don't give up anything in the way of the bike performance wise.

For a while a monster was just a defrocked 900ss but it evolved into it's own line. Not a particullarly high performance bike, but a useful one and can be made fast with the right bolt ons. I had a friend with an S4RS (4 valve testastretta superbike engine) who could only get $5K for his even with full ohlins suspension so deals are out there for them (though personally I would prefer an aircooled two valve over the 4 valve's maintenance). A monster is by far the easiest ducati to own. It is the italian sportster. Hipsters have driven the prices of them up substantially but even still you can find a clean carb'ed M900 for around $2K. Personally stay away from the 600 and 750 monsters only because they are frusttratingly slower than their chassis. I like the early 1993-1999 carbed monsters because they are pure naked bikes and mongrel parts bin specials, in 2000 ducati realized the model was their best seller and invested in it heavily with FI, a frame redesign, an immoblizer antitheft, and some restylings and special editions.

in 2005 ducati switched to plastic tanks mid way through the year, I personally would not buy a plastic tank ducati unless the tank had been converted to metal. Easy to do on a monster because the design didn't change from the older 2002-2004 metal tanks, but models like the sportclassics require expensive alloy tanks because there are no earlier metal versions to replace with.
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