1999 Ducati ST4

Oh dear...

She's a lovely bike to ride, especially since I got the free flowing pipes, performance chip and progressive springs. Trouble is, I rode her so rarely. Here's what went wrong in the first 20,000 miles:

  • Clutch slave cylinder seal leak
  • Rear body panel cracked twice
  • Low oil pressure, due to blanking plug on crank coming loose.
  • Crankshaft bearing journals spinning in housing
  • Engine mounting lug on frame breaking (while on holiday in France - see glum expressions in photo)
  • Starter solenoid jamming (so the starter motor wouldn't stop!)
  • Both wheel bearings worn out
  • Number plate light wiring breaking

Frame breaking and engine problems were the worst - the bike was off the road for three months in the first year I owned it! Everything was fixed under warranty, but despite protestations, the only recompense I got from Ducati was an additional years warranty - not even a loan bike while they were getting it fixed.

Its now got nearly 35,000 miles on it, and the only other problems I've encountered have been the rear brake light switch failing, the three way snap connector between the alternator and the regulator burning out, and, er, the frame lug breaking again. Identically. They'd put on a new frame at about 17,000 miles,

Corners well!
Broken frame #1

17,500 miles later the new one breaks. And I know of at least one other owner who's frame also broke in the same place at the same mileage. This time, though I got a loan bike - an ST4s. Ducati initially wanted to put another frame on the broken one, but I declined - I'd not feel safe on it. They sent the broken frame back to Italy, and heard nothing from the factory. But the ST4s felt good, and eventually (three months after the second break) they agreed to do me a new 2002 ST4s at a substantial discount. Taking into account the notional value of the ST4 (35,000 miles in three years, out of warranty - er very little even if I could find a buyer) I swallowed hard and accepted it (it does have bigger engine mounting lugs!).

Broken frame #2
Broken frame #2