Ducati 999

A touch of evil.

Ducati’s 999, a hyper-fast race bike for the street, has designs on your soul.

If you enjoy the wide-open freedom of a motorcycle, the wind in your face, the carefree, horizon-chasing moment, then by all means avoid the Ducati 999.

This thing is misery on two wheels, a wickedly disposed and temperamental exercise of sheer mechanical narcissism upon which you assume a posture like it’s flashlight inspection day in prison. Its 140-hp L-twin motor runs on damned souls and is lubricated with the fat of unbaptized children. All this bike wants to do, all it dreams about at night, is catapulting you over the handlebars or pitching you backward onto the streaming concrete so you make one of those slo-mo, Evel-Knievel-at-Ceasars-Palace death rolls in your fancy Italian riding leathers.

So plan your day accordingly: After riding this bike, you will need some time to unwind. Go for a Polynesian fire walk, perhaps. Play some Russian roulette. Or, if so equipped, have a vasectomy.

The 999 is one of a mutant species of vehicles built to meet the production-based rules of a racing series, a process called homologation. The American Superbike Championship requires that competing bikes must be largely based on series-production motorcycles. In order to make the Ducatis more competitive, the company has built the 999, which is, in fact, a pitifully disguised racing superbike with just enough street-legal spit on it to pass DMV inspection.

Made of steel, titanium, aluminum and sadism, the 999 is almost as close as you are going to get to a grand prix motorcycle, and unless you are a fantastic rider with years of experience, you don’t want to get that close. This bike will beat you down like you said something bad about its mother.

My license should have lasted about a week with this bike, maybe less. However, it persists. The fundamental ratio of performance machines is power to weight, usually expressed as pounds per horsepower. A Ferrari F430 with driver weighs about 3,300 pounds, a burden shared by its 490 horsepower, which the abacus tells us is about 6.7 pounds per horsepower. The Ducati 999 (dry weight of 410 pounds) weighs about 590 pounds with me on board, which means each of its 140 horsepower must move only about 4.2 pounds. Holy gateway to hell Batman!

It’s hard for those who have not saddled a superbike to appreciate the sick, perverted violence of this equation. If you rev the 999’s engine to about 6,000 rpm, shift as much of your weight as possible over the front wheel, and gingerly slip the clutch for a couple hundred feet – and if you can hang onto it – the bike will accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds. Your wits might take a bit longer to catch up.

Oh, and what’s that smell? Why it’s my roasting thighs. It’s hot as brass hinges in hell is what it is. There are times that I’ve thought my pants were on fire.  This is caused by the heart of the 999 (that is, if it had a heart). This motor has to be the most highly stressed engine in any street vehicle, producing all of its horsepower out of less than one liter displacement.

The 999 is a very naughty motorcycle. But, pound for ornery pound, this has got to be the most dynamically perfect motorcycle in the world. Yes, once you master the brakes, the stuttering dry-plate clutch, the splenetic throttle, the aching-back riding position and its overall hell hound demeanor, the 999 can still be a traumatic life event. I mean, come on, it’s a racing bike! It is to normal street bikes what crystal meth is to your morning coffee.

I have never been so relieved to park any vehicle unscathed in my garage.

by collective

 

My pride, joy, daily commuter, and weekend twisty conqueror.  2006 Ducati 999 Biposto.

999

2012-05-11_17-23-55_937

 

Bringing her home 07/19/11.

 

Rolling over 999 on my 999.

 

Installing a new LED tail light.
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And my first track day!

Note: some photos taken with a vintage camera…

“A perfect characterization of Italian bike ownership – a sea of Japanese bikes with a sole Ducati in their midst, half-disassembled and surrounded by tools.” – Jason Cormier

4 Responses to “Ducati 999”

  • Daniel Royster:

    Would you recommend a 2003 999 as a daily commuter? Less than 4500 miles replacing my 1996 GSXR1100W with 35000 miles. My daily round trip commut e is about 60 miles, all freeways.

    thanks

    • admin:

      Probably not if I had a choice. Ducati has strict and frequent maintenance intervals, which unless you do the work yourself (and in the case of parts alone), gets very expensive. If you do the service at a dealer, plan on dropping $1-2k (labor) every 6000 miles. I would get and am getting another DR650 as a commuter, not that I need to commute anymore though. Now, the 999 was a great commuter for me last year (my commute was 40 miles rt), but its not the most comfortable bike out there, nor the cheapest to fix or maintain. For those reasons I wouldn’t recommend it as a commuter, but if you’ve got the money, then by all means, enjoy!

      Oh, and if you live somewhere that has a hot summer, forget it…as phrased above by another Ducati owner, “a seat hotter than brass hinges in hell.”

  • Angel:

    perfect ! i love this site and this post lol, i found you on youtube sir, and you will fix my problem, i hate my after market tail light because i saw yours….so you are entitled to help me make the same contraction you have done to your soul filled ducati, i have found the link you posted to the flex strip led, now i need to know what measurement you got, was it the 8inch or the 10 inch? one to stick to under the rear cowl i want to buy it as soon as possible and create this master piece on my ducati, thank you for posting on the forum and making a youtube video, i almost spent 200 dollars on some rear light that looked identical to yours!! thank you

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