Ducati Motorcycle Problems? 7 Common Issues (Explained)

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 left some owners scratching their heads.

This article will discuss the most common complaints expressed by Ducati Motorcycles owners and, to save you tie and money, how those complaints are resolved.

Let’s rip into it!

Most Common Problems Associated With Ducatis

Some Ducati motorcycles owners have reported problems arising from malfunctioning electrical components, such as the wiring loom, regulator, relay, etc., wearing out.

Some Ducati owners reported that their engines developed issues relating to the clutch, cylinder, oil pressure sensor, etc. In contrast, other reports express problems on Ducati motorcycles include malfunctioning brakes and gearbox issues.

Here is a link to our article that talks on How Fast do Ducati Motorcycles go?

Below, we discuss in detail the most common problems on Ducati motorcycles:

Malfunctioning Electrical Systems

An electrical failure can pop up on any bike, and a handful of Ducati owners have stated that their bikes were no different.

The good news is that most of the electrical malfunctions on Ducatis resulted from conventional wear and tear rather than a defective design.

Let’s get into a few of the culprits to look for when troubleshooting electrical wear and tear on a Ducati Multistrada.

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 at all. It may also cause the lights to function erratically. For example, flickering dashboard lights are common 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. Either mechanics or owners can solve this problem by repositioning and fastening the frame’s main wiring harness.

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 battery.

Faulty regulator/rectifiers can lead to various problems, especially for the motorcycle’s battery. Diode burnout is one such problem. 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 a 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] often signify that the regulator rectifier needs urgent fixing.

iii. Persistent Battery Drain

Abnormal battery draining or self-discharging is a common problem on Ducati motorcycles that have been sitting inactive for a long period of time.

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.

You may also like to explore our article 4 Most-Common Problems With The Ducati V4

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.

The Ducati 848 packs a powerful V-twin engine.

Still, no matter how good the bike is, any vehicle requires upkeep, and even the best of the best goes through wear-and-tear.

A few riders have reported experiencing difficulty starting their Ducati 848s, and we aim to get into the details.

Faulty Ignition Coil:

The ignition coil works as a high voltage transformer.

It magnifies the ignition system’s initial voltage up from 12 volts to thousands.

The voltage needed to produce a spark that traverses the spark plug’s electrode gap depends on variables invariably changing. Simply put, the ignition coil kicks in to meet that demand.

Ignition coils are made to be reliable, but they can still wear out. Heat and oscillation can short them out or corrupt their inner windings.

That said, the most common offender for coil degradation is the power overload created from bad spark plugs/plug wires.

It’s important to make inspecting and changing your spark plugs a part of routine maintenance.

Some of the common causes of ignition failure are:

Damaged spark plugs:

If your ignition coils operate at a higher output than average, then they are bound to get damaged quickly.

This increased output may occur when your spark plugs are worn out.

When a spark plug is wearing out, the coil is forced to produce more voltage to close this gap, and this extra strain can lead to overkill and an eventual failure.

Excessive vibrations:

This is a potential issue on any bike.

Bikes vibrate, and vibration can cause wear and tear on many of a bike’s components, including the ignition coil. If the ignition coil’s windings are damaged from vibration, it can cause breaks in your ignition coil’s secondary windings.

Overheating:

Bike motors get hot. If you’re regularly riding hard for long periods of time, there is a high chance of damaging the ignition coils.

And when the ignition coils are fried from the heat enough times, they cannot conduct electricity.

Again, this is part of normal wear-and-tear and yet another reason why vehicles should be inspected and serviced regularly.

Overuse:

After enduring all the elements of riding listed above, the ignition coil is bound to wear out.

The ignition coil’s wear and tear could damage the bond between the primary coil and the primary and secondary coil windings.

Using the coil past the point of no return only damages it more and more, and overuse could strain other components in the process.

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, making gear shifting difficult or erratic.

For example, the transmission may be stuck in one gear and refuse to go into another, even after pressing 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. They are often the result of hard riding with improper shifting or a lack of regular service maintenance.

Running contaminated or low oil through your transmission increases the friction between your gearbox components, resulting in overheating and faster wear and tear.

3. Faulty Throttle Control

It’s been reprinted that 5,962 Ducati Multistrada’s were recalled from 2010 to 2014 due to a Faulty Throttle Control.

The concern was that the internal sleeve of the throttle cable was disengaging from the throttle.

Once disengaged, the part restricts the throttle from closing, and, in a worst-case scenario, the rider could lose control of the bike.

You’d be able to pre-diagnose whether or not your Multistrada bears this defect if you’ve encountered any tightness on the throttle.

If left unchecked, the problem could result in a failed throttle system, where the bike does not respond to throttle input at all.

If your Ducati has experienced any of the symptoms described above, contact your local Ducati dealership; Ducati’s authorized dealers were directed to replace the upper throttle cover with a new component that corrects the problem preventing it from occurring in the future.

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 your oil reservoir must maintain a specific pressure.

The oil pressure sensor is a component that tracks the oil level and pressure in the system.

Once the OPS detects low oil pressure levels, it triggers the Oil Pressure Warning Light to alert the rider.

Many owners report that many Ducati models’ oil pressure sensors 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 engine’s oil levels normal.

As a result, owners are forced to check the oil levels repeatedly as lack of lubrication can cause extensive damage to the engine.

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 oil pressure sensor is a part that wears out due to heat, vibration, rapidly changing temperatures, or corrosive climates on any motorcycle. Thus, inspecting it is a part of routine service maintenance.

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.

Some issues associated with worn-out clutches on Ducati motorcycles include:

Difficulty in Changing Gears:

The clutch plates are involved in the bike’s 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, a cooling system is designed to reduce the engine’s heat.

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. It’s important to know the difference between normal heat generated by a motorcycle engine and unconventional heat generated by an overheating one.

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 the radiator can dissipate safely.

Low amounts of coolant can cause the engine to produce extreme heat and lead to a spike in its 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, which are often the major cause of low engine system fluid levels. 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.

Look into our article which reads about 6 Most-Common Problems With the Ducati 848

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 engine’s cooling action 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 circulating 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 the most 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.

Another complaint that pertains to standard wear and tear is outlined by Ducat riders who report

The two leading causes of rear brake failure on Ducati bikes are faulty (warped) rotors and frozen calipers.

Brake rotors are made to last long and don’t wear easily.

With continued exposure to friction from the brake pads, especially if brake pads aren’t being replaced regularly, rotors can damage.

Often, the wear affects certain spots on the rotors, making the surface irregular and causing warping.

Warped Rotors can cause a handful of issues, including:

Pulsing Sensation:

A common symptom of warped brake rotors is a strange pulsing sensation through the brake lever.

Typically, riders experience this sensation in either the front or rear brakes under moderate braking.

Excessive Vibration:

Worn rotors can cause your Ducati to stagger under hard braking.

Depending on the severity of the problem, the vibration may be gentle or lead the bike to severe shuddering.

Brake Noises:

When the brake rotors get warped, riders start to hear strange noises when braking.

These sounds can range from a low-pitched squeak to a heavy thumping noise.

For preventing rotor surface wear, the best offense is a good defense. Make sure you’re changing your brake pads regularly in adherence to your bike’s maintenance schedule.

Nothing diminishes a rotor’s lifespan faster than riding around on run-down brake pads- keep them fresh.

General Pros And Cons:

Pros:

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.

Cons:

  1. Electrics are prone to malfunctioning
  2. The engine often develops faults
  3. Gearbox is problematic
  4. The body design is defective
  5. 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.”

[Source: Cyclenews.com]

What Is The Resale Value Of Ducati Motorcycles?

Model Year Mileage Price ($)
Ducati Monster S2R 800 2007 16,767 4,900
Ducati 1198 2009 11,825 8,999
Ducati Multistrada 2011 11,700 10,100
Ducati 848 Evo Superbike 2013 5,500 9,100
Ducati Hypermotard 2015 15,633 8,999
Ducati Monster 1200 R 2017 2,271 15,300
Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer 2019 1,419 10,475

Final Words

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.

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