Top test Ducati 996
It has been on stage for over seven years, delighting the hearts and eyes of all motorcyclists in equal measure: the Ducati 996, ingenious, unique, world champion, not aged, but matured like a good wine.
Ducati 996, built in 2001. In the eighth year, so to speak, after the change in modern sports motorcycle construction, the presentation of the 916, creation of the geniuses Tamburini and Bordi.
The facelift is hidden from view: the Öhlins shock absorber from last year’s SPS, larger screw connections between frame and engine, and a smaller, lighter battery that reduces the weight of the Duc by 2.7 kilograms. Curiously, the quick-release fasteners loosened, the paneling down, and indeed: The small battery finally gives access to the oil filler neck. Not bad, because the 996 likes to take a sip of lubricant, the test copy 0.2 liters per 1000 kilometers.
Speaking of measured values: the test bench reports 118 horses at 8800 rpm for the test motorcycle? at MOTORRAD recently corrected according to EC standards taking into account the current air humidity and therefore nominally slightly less than in the usual DIN measurement. Hardly a record-breaking number among modern sport twins, but strong for a 996. After a long run-up, the test machine reached a stoically stable 265 km / h top speed, and in terms of acceleration it also achieved family best values, garnished by the unique rumble of the aged Desmo four-valve engine.
It runs pretty unevenly below about 3000 rpm, has a hole up to 5000 revs, becomes rough above the 9000 mark, only increases the revs slowly. But between 5000 / min and 9000 / min there is a smooth power that can be perfectly dosed by the throttle grip, which mostly helps over the very long translation, which in turn thwarts better torque values. A tribute to the noise limits that many Ducati riders put into perspective by using a 14 instead of the standard 15-tooth pinion. Real outlaws also remove the reducers from the ram air channels, which releases extra horses. In the test run, however, the Duc remains compliant with the law, pleasing with its moderate drinking habits.
After a good 20 hours of transporter travel, the southern Spanish desert region around Almeria is reached. The leverage stopped? Clutch and brake handle via adjusting wheel, pedals via threaded spindle ??, and off you go. People who are 1.75 meters and above feel right at home, the smaller ones have to stretch hard for the handlebars, the tall ones have to bend down deeply and fold their legs a lot at the same time, which works very well with a tight knee. The tight, spartan-looking bench turns out to be an emotional and tolerable workplace over long stages. The rear seat also finds friends. “A lot more than on the X, the Y or the Z.” Or also: “Awesome driving, almost like driving yourself.” It’s all a matter of getting used to, if there are also softer sofas. After a few hundred kilometers of Spanish country roads, it’s pretty much a matter of course on the 996.
Anything but nimble, the 996 follows the inevitably powerful pull on the low-mounted handlebars. It works better with additional use of body weight: briefly pulling on the handlebars and at the same time letting it fall in the desired direction, while controlling the incline, safely fitted between the tank recess, footrest and the rear end of the seat bench, by pressing your thigh. Once you’ve internalized this way of steering, not only does it become unmanageable, it also provides a surprising amount of control over the sloping drift, which never finds its limits in the components that sit on top of it.
The rear Michelin Pilot Sport brings a little restlessness when accelerating or on bumps in corners in 190/50 ?? too wide for the 5.5-inch rim of the Ducati, which is why we try the tire service right away and put an approved 180 at the rear, by far enough for the performance of the Duc and better suited to the rim in its contour. The result: an almost ingenious, extremely directional calm in an inclined position, in combination with the tight damping and the successful geometry an unparalleled low-level flight experience, without a collapsing front wheel, without a wide arc when accelerating, and also quite tame when braking. The spring elements respond with sensational sensitivity, reinforced with tight reserves they polish the asphalt wrinkles smooth. Driving a Ducati means celebrating the lean angle, enjoying a round, harmonious driving style. Shape straight lines into arches, paint curves gently and ideally, wonderful.
When driving on a brisk country road, a petrol station should be nearby after 250 kilometers at the latest, but the yellow reserve light sounds the alarm in good time. The poor light output is annoying in the inclined position, which can hardly reduce the anticipation of the Circuito de Almeria, where the well-organized Rehm training is waiting for us.
As it quickly turns out, the series Duc does not do badly, because the smooth course of the new Almeria course not only fits the curve love of the 996, but also, as if by chance, its translation. The gearbox is bony as usual, the gears need a little force to engage, which doesn’t get any better even if the shift pattern is reversed. Just a few gear changes per lap are sufficient, the rest is done by the elastic motor on the one hand, and safety and controllability in an inclined position on the other, especially in the often delicate load change from thrust to pull in an inclined position. The front brakes do not have any weaknesses. In combination with the Showa fork, they are ingeniously controllable and turn the tightrope walk at the limit of adhesion when braking in an inclined position into a party. In addition, the high braking torque of the motor stabilizes. Rear brake? To be used only in an emergency.
A couple of experiments: Turning the steering head insert makes it easier to handle, but it takes away a bit of neutrality. Raising the motorcycle further than specified using the rear linkage push rod has a similar effect. It goes really fast into the curve when the fork is pushed through at the front and the same up at the rear: high center of gravity, large lever, sharp turn-in. In alternating curves, however, it gets tougher.
Sticky rubber, please! Hastily assembled a set of approved Dunlop D 207 RR, and the sport-soled 996 runs like it was on fire, even more controllable, embarrassing many a hobby racer. However, the rear Öhlins shock absorber initially surprises with temperature fading, but the effect no longer occurs after several turns. 1: 51.8 minutes, almost two seconds faster than the serial runs, the Duc ?? still 13 slower than Troy-Bayliss on the 2001 superbike. Well.
F.Only the measuring program is selected. Crime scene paddock, circular path. It quickly becomes clear that the asphalt doesn’t grip quite as expected. Although the Duc does not reach a high top speed, it still has a very good circular orbit time, which again proves the cornering qualities. Crime scene home straight, brake measurement and handling course. The brakes and fork allowed insane delays, but the Michelin in front is reluctant to take part in this toughest form of anchoring. As an experiment, we increase the air pressure at the front to 2.8 bar, that’s better. Off to the handling dance in the pylon forest! Here, too, a surprise: the 996 swings noticeably unwillingly through the course, but compensates for its tough handling with high driving stability, which gives it both good transit time and high top speed. She can do it, the mature diva. Better than ever.
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Top test Ducati 996
Changes in detail
Changes to model year 2001: Öhlins rear shock absorber as in the 2000-996 SPS (2000-996: Showa shock absorber), large adjustment range, adjustable in spring base, rebound and compression damping Smaller, 2.7 kg lighter battery (12 V / 12 Ah ), create space for better accessibility of the oil filler neck Connection bolts of the engine and frame for even greater driving stability and better durability in diameter increased from ten to twelve millimeters Changes for model year 2000: Lighter Marchesini rims front and rear in five-spoke design, weight savings of around 500 each Gram sliding tubes of the Showa fork in the interest of better stability Titanium-Nitrite-hard-coated Side stand with locking Smaller master piston on the clutch hand pump for reduced manual force
What else was there
Plus excellent screwdriver friendliness. Cladding, seat and tank dismantling with quick-release fasteners each one minute (tank is airbox upper part), air funnel with bayonet lock, silencer with tension springs Very good workmanship Still one of the best chassisCosts in 2001 only around 1000 Marks more than in 1994 the 916MinusHigh maintenance costsStill as modest windbreakerLower Steering angle, difficult to maneuver Modest rearview mirror sealing plugs on the fat 45-millimeter manifold pipes, otherwise risk of loss Chassis settings * Fork rebound stage 10 clicks (14 clicks), pressure stage 2 clicks (6 clicks), spring base five rings visible, level of all rings plus eight millimeters visible 4 clicks (10 clicks), pressure level 10 clicks (14 clicks), spring base 14 threads visible, level 3.5 threads visible (push rod) * Figures in brackets for comfortable country road operation
Conclusion – Ducati 996
Viva la Diva ?? Even after many years of maturity, the Ducati 996 is one of the most beautiful, best and most desirable sports motorcycles ever. Who cares that it is not one of the strongest, its handiness is not exactly outstanding, its suitability for everyday use is hardly suitable for long journeys?
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