Ducati is one of the most popular motorcycle brands in the world. Prized for their exquisite design, superior handling, and powerful performance, Ducatis remain classic favorites among bikers.
While Ducati motorcycles are prime examples of fine Italian engineering, they have some flaws, which we will discuss in this article.
Most Common Problems Associated With Ducatis
Ducati motorcycles often have problems arising from malfunctioning electrical components. Owners say electrical components such as the wiring loom, regulator, relay, etc. are prone to rapid wear, which affects the bike’s functioning. Another problem area for many Ducatis is the engine.
Ducati engines often develop issues relating to the clutch, cylinder, oil pressure sensor, and others. Other common problems on Ducati motorcycles include malfunctioning brakes and gearbox issues.
Below, we discuss in detail the most common problems on Ducati motorcycles:
Malfunctioning Electrical Systems
Different components of the electrical system on Ducati motorcycles malfunction repeatedly. This problem is more common on Ducati Monsters and often prevents the motorcycles from functioning properly.
Some issues owners have reported relating to faulty electrics on Ducati models are:
i. Failed Wiring Loom/Harness
The wiring loom or harness is an assembly of electrical wires bound by a durable material like rubber or electrical tape. It keeps wires organized and protects them against exposure to vibration, moisture, and elements.
A failed wiring loom can cause the motorbike not to start all. It may also cause the lights to function erratically. For example, flickering dashboard lights are a common occurrence on Ducati bikes with bad wiring harnesses/looms.
Besides malfunctioning lights, melted or broken wires are another symptom of a failed wiring loom. Also, if you notice your Ducati motorcycle stalling abruptly, it may be because of a faulty wiring harness/loom.
NB: Ducati issued a recall for some motorcycles in 2009 due to a defect in the wiring harness design. The wiring harness could be exposed to the vertical cylinder and exhaust pipe, suffering extensive damage. This problem can be solved by repositioning and fastening the main wiring harness to the frame.
ii. Faulty Regulator Rectifier
The regulator rectifier converts AC to DC, which is used to charge your bike’s battery. More importantly, it regulates the DC current and prevents high voltage surges from damaging the motorcycle’s system.
Faulty regulator/rectifiers can lead to various problems, especially for the motorcycle’s battery. Diode burnout is one of such problems. It also causes the battery to drain abnormally. Electrical components like headlights, meters, and others may perform erratically as well.
Battery overcharge is also common on motorcycles with a faulty regulator rectifier. Because the regulator rectifier is not converting excess electricity, the battery will overcharge. If this happens, the battery may resist future charging attempts or, in extreme cases, blow up. Even if the battery itself does not explode, components like headlights may blow up from high-voltage supply.
Some causes of regulator rectifier failure include:
- Bad wiring setups
- Corroded battery connections
- Bad grounding
- Exposure of regulator rectifier to excess heat
It is important to test your bike’s voltage with a voltmeter to be certain the fault is from a faulty regulator and not a bad battery.
Low voltage [below 13 volts] and high voltage [above 17 volts] are often signs that the regulator rectifier needs urgent fixing.
iii. Persistent Battery Drain
Abnormal battery draining or self-discharging is a common problem on Ducati motorcycles. On Ducatis with this problem, the battery seems to drain, even though the bike is not in use. For most owners, this abnormal draining of the bike’s battery occurs overnight or after a period of non-use.
The biggest effect of abnormal battery drain is that starting the motorcycle becomes difficult. Because the battery has no current, it cannot power the ignition. If the ignition system is down, your motorcycle will not start no matter how you try.
What Can Cause Abnormal Battery Drain?
A faulty ECU may be responsible, especially if it keeps running while the bike is switched off. Other components, such as the immobilizer or the ABS module, can also trigger while the bike is at rest, causing the battery to discharge. This is called “Parasitic Draining.”
To fix this problem, pinpoint which component is drawing the current from the battery. Once the culprit component is found, replacing it will solve the problem.
Another solution is to connect a battery tender to the motorcycle’s battery. A battery tender monitors battery power and alerts you when the cell needs charging. It also detects when the battery is full and prevents overcharging.
iv. Ignition Failure [Motorcycle Refuses to Start]
Ignition failure is another widespread problem on Ducati motorcycles, 848 models in particular.
According to owners, the motorcycle cannot start when you press the starter button or turn the key in the ignition. Instead of firing, the starter engine merely turns over and makes a cranking sound.
Several factors can cause the motorcycle not to start. First, if the bike has been used in wet conditions, you may have difficulty starting it again. Some owners say cold weather e.g., winter can also affect the bike’s performance and prevent it from starting. This is called a “cold start problem.”
Other causes include a damaged ignition coil, faulty starter relay, and a bad battery. However, it is better to take the motorcycle to the repairs shop for comprehensive tests to identify the source of the problem.
2. Malfunctioning Gearboxes
Malfunctioning gearboxes are another widespread problem found on Ducatis, particularly the Monsters and Multistradas. According to owners, the gearbox (or its components) develops faults, which make gear shifting difficult or erratic.
For example, the transmission may be stuck in one gear and refuse to go into another, even after you have pressed the gearshift lever. You may also find it difficult to downshift (go into a lower gear) or upshift (go into a higher gear) or vice versa.
Erratic shifting aside, false neutral, delayed engagement, and missed shifts are other problems caused by a malfunctioning gearbox. False neutrals occur when the transmission goes out of gear during shifting. As a result, the motorcycle will decelerate like one in neutral gear, hence the name “false neutral.”
Delayed engagement refers to the transmission failing to move into gear even after the rider has changed gears. The bike’s RPM may go up, but the tires will not move until after some time.
A missed shift happens when the transmission acts erratically and does not move into the gear you selected. Say you selected the third gear, and the transmission moves into the fourth gear instead. What happened is called a missed shift.
Most of these problems are often the result of damaged or faulty gearbox components. Avoid the urge to do some DIY testing; take it to the repair shop for a comprehensive check instead.
3. Faulty Throttle Control
The throttle is the component responsible for controlling the acceleration of your motorcycle. Any problem with it may lead to difficulty in accelerating, and “false idles” are common on motorbikes with throttle problems. False idles refer to a situation where a motorcycle refuses to accelerate and loses speed even after the throttle is applied.
Faulty throttle control is common on many Ducati motorcycles, particularly the Panigale, Multistrada, and V4 models. Here the throttle cannot respond, and the bike may decelerate or stall.
On other occasions, the throttle performs erratically when applied. For example, the throttle may hesitate before responding or shudder when applied. The hesitation, shuddering, or jerking typically makes for an uncomfortable ride and in extreme cases, cause the rider to lose control.
If your Ducati motorcycle is experiencing throttle failure, check out for:
- Clogged air filters
- Dirty carburetors
- Dirty spark plugs
If you find the above-listed components to be in good condition, but the situation persists, have your mechanic examine your motorcycle.
4. Faulty Oil Pressure Sensor
For your motorcycle’s engine to work properly, the oil in the system must be at a certain level and pressure. The oil pressure sensor is a component that tracks the oil level and pressure in the system. Once the OPS detects low levels of oil pressure, it triggers the Oil Pressure Warning Light to alert the rider.
Many owners report that the oil pressure sensors on many Ducati models are prone to several faults, especially leaking. Leaking oil pressure sensors can cause the following problems:
Blinking Oil Pressure Light
The Oil Pressure Light on a Ducati bike should come on only when the engine oil is low. However, a leaking oil pressure sensor can cause the OPL to blink incessantly, even if the oil levels in the engine are normal.
As a result, owners are forced to check the oil levels repeatedly as lack of lubrication can cause extensive damage to the engine. This can be stressful for even the most experienced rider.
Hence, you should replace the oil pressure sensor as soon as you discover it is faulty.
False Oil Pressure Readings
If the oil pressure gauge on your Ducati is sitting on zero, even though oil levels are normal, the oil pressure sensor is probably faulty.
The best fix for a faulty oil pressure sensor is to replace it with a new one. Oil pressure sensors are cheap and cost between $30 and $45. Replacing it is easy, and there are online DIY videos that can guide you.
5. Faulty [Worn-Out] Clutch Problem
The clutch on your motorcycle separates the engine and gearbox, allowing you to change gears while the engine is running. Without the clutch, you cannot change gears or accelerate on your motorcycle.
Like every other component, clutches are prone to wear-and-tear as they are continuously used. However, Ducati owners report that the clutches on Ducati motorcycles often wear out faster than normal.
Some issues associated with worn-out clutches on Ducati motorcycles include:
- Difficulty in changing gears: The clutch plates are somewhat responsible for controlling the gear change process. If it’s difficult to shift between gears, your bike’s clutch is probably worn. Here, the clutch’s plates are likely stiff; hence, the difficulty in changing the motorcycle’s gears.
- Slipping clutch/delayed clutch engagement: A sign of a worn-out clutch is gear slipping or delayed engagement. Slipping occurs when the bike’s RPM increases, but there is no corresponding increase in speed. This problem, often encountered while trying to accelerate from a standstill position, can be solved by installing a new clutch.
- Poor acceleration: If you twist the motorcycle throttle and the motorcycle does not speed up as it should, the clutch is probably worn and in need of replacement.
- Jerking or lurching motion: Another thing you should watch out for is jerking or lurching motion when the clutch is applied. If your motorcycle shudders or shakes excessively when you apply the clutch, the clutch is probably nearing the end of its service life.
6. Engine Overheating
It is quite normal for the temperature of your motorcycle’s engine to rise. Due to the internal combustion process, the engine produces heat and will only get hotter with use. To prevent the engine from overheating, there is a cooling system designed to reduce the heat in the engine.
This cooling system stabilizes the temperature of the engine and prevents overheating. It is why you can ride comfortably without the heat from the engine burning your legs/thighs.
However, this is not the case for some Ducati owners who complain of their engine’s temperature rising abnormally. According to them, the engine produces so much heat that the motorcycle seat becomes too hot to sit on.
For other owners, the engine temperature fluctuates, and the temperature gauge gives erratic readings. The “Check Engine” light may come on, signifying dangerously high levels of heat in the engine system.
Is the engine on your Ducati getting hotter than usual and exhibiting some of the symptoms discussed above? Here are some reasons your Ducati engine may overheat:
a. Low Levels of Engine Coolant
The coolant ensures the engine stays cool and transfers heat from the block to the radiator, where it can be dissipated safely. Low amounts of coolant can cause the engine to produce extreme heat and lead to a spike in the engine’s temperature.
An improper coolant-water ratio can also make the engine overheat. The ideal mixture must be 50% coolant and 50% distilled water. Anything different will probably cause the engine to overheat.
Watch out for any coolant leaks, as that is often the major cause of low levels of the fluid in the engine system. If the leak area is small, you can use a sealing agent to fix it.
However, if the leak area is wide, it is better to take it to a repair shop to avoid worsening the problem.
b. Faulty Radiator
The radiator cools the engine and prevents it from overheating. A motorcycle’s engine uses coolant to absorb heat and sends the liquid to the radiator to cool off. Once it cools, the coolant is transferred back to the engine, and the process starts all over.
If the radiator is clogged and does not function properly, the cooling action in the engine will be lower, causing overheating. Watch out for high-temperature gauge readings, especially any exceeding 220 degrees F. The normal operating temperature for a bike is around 195 degrees F and 220 degrees F. Anything above that is a case of the engine overheating.
Causes of clogged radiators include corrosion, exposure to debris, or buildup of dirt. Any of these will reduce the coolant circulated in the engine.
c. Broken thermostat
A broken thermostat will cause the engine to overheat, among other things. The thermostat regulates the flow of coolant in the motorcycle’s system. A broken thermostat will prevent the coolant from circulating properly and cause high temperatures in the engine.
d. Prolonged use
Riding at high speeds for extended periods also causes the engine to overheat sometimes. Long rides often require you to keep revving the engine for as long as you are on the journey. Because the engine is allowed no rest, it will retain most of the heat, hence the overheating.
7. Recurrent Brake Problems
Many owners have reported several problems related to malfunctioning brakes on Ducati models. One such prominent problem is what riders describe as a “spongy brake” problem. According to users, the brakes feel “soft” and “mushy” when they are pressed. As a result, they have to pump the brakes multiple times before they respond. Other times, the brake pedals sink to the floor when depressed.
Several diagnoses reveal that the spongy brake problem is caused by air or moisture in the brake lines. Hence, mechanics advise “bleeding” as a viable solution to the problem. “Bleeding” is a process designed to purge the braking lines of air and moisture.
A faulty rear brake is another problem with Ducati motorbikes. Owners complain that the rear brakes on their Ducatis are prone to sudden failure. In most cases, the back brakes seize, locking the tires and forcing the motorcycle to stall.
The two leading causes of rear brake failure on Ducati bikes are faulty (warped) rotors and frozen calipers. Calipers cost around $150-$300 to replace; rotors are costlier, and a typical rotor replacement costs around $600 on average.
Another brake problem riders encounter on Ducati motorbikes is what they describe as a strange sensation when pressing the brakes. This strange sensation, they say, is close to a shudder or pulsing and is mostly felt when braking at low speeds.
Reasons for this “pulsing brakes” problem include warped brake rotors and tire imbalance. Most people rarely think of tire imbalance when their bike brakes start pulsing.
Once you discover your brakes are pulsing, take your motorcycle to a repair shop to have the air pressure in both the rear/front tires checked. Cleaning the surface of the brake pads and rotors with Scotch-Brite pad and brake cleaner liquid has also proved effective in solving pulsing brakes problem.
General Pros And Cons
Ducatis are known for their awesome performance and incredible speed. With their powerful V-Twin engines, they can reach breathtaking speeds. Little wonder Ducati motorcycles have a history of winning some of the premier motorcycle races in history.
Ducatis have responsive handling that gives riders complete control of the motorcycle. More importantly, the handling is precise and allows riders to turn tight corners with surprising agility.
Motorcycles can be dangerous to drive on certain occasions, given their speed. However, Ducatis have a collection of safety features that makes them one of the safest bikes to ride.
Some of these include Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Traction Control System.
- Electrics are prone to malfunctioning
- The engine often develops faults
- Gearbox is problematic
- The body design is defective
- Brakes perform erratically
What Do The Reviews Say?
“Ducati motorcycles, and their trademark Desmodromic timing engines, hold a hallowed place in motorcycle culture and competition combining undoubtedly style and character with real performance.”
What Is The Resale Value Of Ducati Motorcycles?
|Ducati Monster S2R 800||2007||16,767||4,900|
|Ducati 848 Evo Superbike||2013||5,500||9,100|
|Ducati Monster 1200 R||2017||2,271||15,300|
|Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer||2019||1,419||10,475|
Ducati motorcycles are some of the best bikes money can buy. Despite all the problems, they remain recommendable motorcycles anytime.
Besides offering performance and speed, they offer a unique riding experience that you will surely enjoy.
However, use this article as a guide to prepare against the problems that may arise on your Ducati motorcycle.
Do not forget that regular maintenance can prevent most of these problems and save you the money you would have spent on repairs.