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Ducati ST4 test

Strong fabric

What speaks against adding a powerful, blazing four-valve device to the well-known Ducati sports tourer ST2? – Well, basically nothing!

Ducati is not the address where you would traditionally order a sports tourer. That will change. The Italians put the two-valve ST2 aside, the ST4 with a 916 unit, and at the latest then it should be clear that the matter is taken very seriously in Bologna.
Especially since the engine could not simply be planted in the existing ST2 environment without effort. Due to the limited space available, the high-rise four-valve cylinder heads had to be cut off, a task that could be accomplished by setting the exhaust camshafts 15 millimeters lower than the intake camshafts. However, valve timing, valve sizes and lifts remained the same.
But why, we ask, does Ducati need the ST4 in addition to the ST2? Quite simply: The conspiratorial Desmo brotherhood is by no means as homogeneous as it often seems. The front runs between two-valve admirers and four-valve fanatics, together it only goes against the enemy from Japan. In other words: a 916 driver with lower back pain would never get on an ST2. And secondly: If Honda already accommodates the engine from Aaron Slights RC45 in the new VFR – at least in principle – then it can also be the unit from Fogarty’s world champion machine in the challenger from Bologna.
Which brings us to the topic. Of course you know that the 916 twin in the ST4 has just as little to do with Foggy’s rocket as the bored, whispering VFR engine with Slight’s RC45 hammer, but you still expect something special when you pull the throttle. Cannonball-like approach, barking desmo-tubes, black lines at the end of every curve or other little things. But none of that.
It is almost depressing how well the ST4 starts at the push of a button, even at temperatures close to freezing point the choke lever can be withdrawn after a few hundred meters, normally the jump start is not necessary at all.
The motorcycle starts rather gently, there is no trace of brutal acceleration. The two-cylinder runs reluctantly hacking below 3000 rpm, so the Wuterich often has to be helped out of the speed cell with a slipping clutch. The hydraulically operated dry clutch requires significantly more manual force, so the rumbling running at low speeds is a disadvantage, especially in city traffic.
The ST4 is nevertheless suitable for shopping trips: its mirrors ensure good consideration, the seating position is not too strenuous even when driving slowly, maneuvering is no problem, and it also rolls easily onto the main stand. The side stand that snaps back under relief when the load is released must unfortunately be viewed as a cerebral half-bakedness on a motorcycle that is loaded to be parked at the frayed roadsides of some Alpine passes.
But what nasty things we’re talking about here. Even on the first arterial road, the Ducati tugs you strictly in the direction of the horizon, the topic of everyday suitability is ticked off. It is not the characteristic, deep crows of the 916 that the ST4 can hear, but when it grunts its battle cry from the intake duct under full load in the middle speed range, then it always provides fun in the saddle. The harmless area at the very bottom is quickly overcome, from 5000 rpm the Ducati noticeably increases in revving and bite. The four-valve engine creates noise, vibration and, above all, propulsion at high speeds; Especially expansive high-speed activities are fun in the saddle of the ST4. But it is also excellent, despite the somewhat rear-heavy weight distribution, it runs straight ahead safely.
The raised Metzeler Z4 calm the handlebar twitches, even shimmy is barely noticeable. The Ducati falls neutrally in an inclined position, hardly stands up when braking in an inclined position and, thanks to the wide handlebars, masters every handling requirement satisfactorily.
What is great for handling, however, doesn’t have to be good for comfort. If the handlebars were a little narrower, just as much higher and closer to the driver, one could speak of an optimal seating position. The narrow tank allows comfortable knee closure, the seat does not hurt the driver and front passenger, the suspension elements represent a convincing compromise between sporty handling and comfortable responsiveness. The wind protection is very good, and the view into the cockpit shows a speedometer and tachometer, digital instrument cluster with clock, fuel and temperature display. Perfect.
To the downsides. A motorcycle that costs over 23,000 marks deserves standard adjustable brake and clutch levers. And the little knickknobs on the switch units might fit a 916 with a sense of spartan sportiness, but not a newly installed sport touring series in a classy format.
A stuck start button completely paralyzed the ST4. The starter ran while the vehicle was being driven, ensuring a welded starter relay a short time later. That in turn did not let the starter come to rest – it did not help to remove the ignition key, or to flip the kill switch, only the completely discharged battery shut down the hysterical starter motor. And that because of a loveless penny. Back to the drawing board.
The brake system is also a case for immediate model updates: the lever on the test machine could be pulled up to the handlebar, the pressure point was spongy and the braking effect could only be booked under toothless. At moderate speeds the anchor struck dry, but as soon as you zoomed in on curves, cars and free-running horses, the braking distances became long and sweaty.
AT.In the end, however, the impression remains largely positive. A good twenty horsepower more than the ST2, a low-vibration engine and the four-valve image bonus speak for the ST4.

Ducati ST 4 (T + comparison with ST 2) – unequal sisters

So right? as for the appearance ?? and yet so different, that best describes the two STs from Ducati. The Italians ask for 3500 marks more for the ST4. A lot of money, even if number four with its modified 916 engine delivers significantly more power and four-valve prestige. In the test, it impressed with a top speed of 253 km / h and a whopping 112 hp – values ​​that can only be topped in-house by the super sporty 996. It is logical that the ST2 with its shirt-sleeved two-valve valve has little to oppose the paper form: its engine, which was originally designed for the 907 iE was designed, lifted 85 hp in the last guest appearance (comparison test issue 7/1998) and inspired the Ducati to an honorable 222 km / h. Plus point of your V2: The maintenance of the two-valve engine costs significantly less than that of the cultivated running four-valve engine. And despite the ST4, the ST2 is a great all-round motorcycle that knows how to please with its rough charm. Like this wonderful boost from the low revs, not exactly the ST4’s parade discipline. Thanks to this advantage, the Zwo can easily keep up with its strong sister on country roads. For its part, it makes no secret of its super sporty origins, responds aggressively to manual throttle commands even at high engine speeds and mercilessly plays its extra power on fast motorway sections. In terms of handling, the ST4 is much more manageable without losing the stability at top speed that is typical for Ducati. The Italians justify this with significantly lighter wheels. To check this, MOTORRAD weighed the cast wheels of the two Italians. Tires with Metzeler ME Z4, the ST4 front wheel weighs 12.9 instead of 13.5 kilograms, the rear wheel 14.5 instead of 15.3 kilograms. Good to know that the ST2 of the 1999 vintage will also be equipped with these lighter cast wheels. It would be nice if Ducati would emphasize the tour character of the two even more. For example with a standard case system, which is currently only available for an extra charge, March motorcycle trade (phone 07243/59300) is offering it for 998 marks. The two Sport Touring models would then complement each other even better.

Conclusion: Ducati ST4

The ST4 combines Ducati magic with high practicality, it extends the functioning ST concept to the motorway. Travel faster is the motto, and if you like the combination of performance and character, sportiness and comfort, you should definitely consider the Ducati. However, you have to consider very carefully whether you want the plus in performance, low vibration and ease of turning compared to the ST2 and the more robust look compared to the Honda VFR are worth the high price.

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