Inverted type, 43 mm diameter stanchions, Showa GD051,
Front Wheel Travel
127 mm / 5.0 in
Progressive linkage with adjustable monoshock, Showa
Rear Wheel Travel
130 mm / 5.1 in
2 x 320mm Discs, 4 piston calipers, Brembo
Single 220 mm disc, 1 piston caliper, Brembo
Length: 2050 mm / 80.7 in
Width: 685 mm / 27.0 in
Height: 1090 mm / 42.9 in
1410 mm / 55.5 in
790 mm / 31.1 in
150 mm / 5.9 in.
850 mm / 33.5 in.
198 kg / 436 lbs
17 Litres / 4.5 US gal / 3.7 Imp gal
5.8 L/100 km / 17.3 km/l / 40.7 US mpg / 48.9 Imp mpg
Braking 60 km/h - 0
13.3 m / 43.6 ft
Braking 100 km/h - 0
37.7 m / 123.7 ft
11.2 sec / 204 km/h / 127 mph
250 km/h / 155 mph
Derived from racing bikes that have been consistently winning WSB
championships since WSB began, the first Ducati Superbike, the 851, was
launched in 1987, this bike was followed with the 888, 916, 748 and the 996.The 916 won several worldwide awards including 4 “Motorcycle of the
Year” awards from MCN magazine.The 996 replaced the 916
in 1998.An entry into the legend of Italian
motorcycling racing, an aggressive, high performance and beautifully
designed machines, closely derived from Ducati’s currently competing in the
WSB.Aimed at purists who want everything from a bike
with its compact design and slim silhouette to provide superior handling at
speeds up to 170 mph.Combines advanced thermodynamics
of 4-valve per cylinder with unsurpassed efficiency of Desmodromic valve
With more World Superbike
Championships than all the other marques combined, the Ducati Superbikes
continue to dominate the World Superbike Championship. Ever since the creation
of the first 851 Superbike, Ducati Corse engineers have put unsparing efforts
into pursuing an ongoing development of the Desmoquattro engine and of the
Superbike family as a whole in terms of technology and performance. It is this
kind of commitment that has enabled Ducati to dominate the most prestigious
stock-based motorcycle championship in the world.
The ongoing evolution of the
Desmoquattro engine spans an incredible period of time and is evidence of the
superior engineering and manufacturing quality of this project, which is
rightly regarded as the very foundation of Ducati's current technical and
(2001) The “S” model comes with lighter 5-spoke wheels (allegedly),
upgraded suspension (Showa front and rear suspension components and
adjustable rake), and zeus clips for the bodywork that is not available on
the 748 “E” models. I think that every year except for the 2000 model year,
the bike only came with the monoposto (one-seat) tail section. My motorcycle
came with a biposto (two-seat) sub frame so I can just throw my biposto tail
section on when I want to take a passenger with me. Other than the
suspension and zeus clips, there are no differences in the engine’s power
output between the 748 and the 748S, for more power you have to buy the “R”
The engine (748cc L-Twin) is very rev happy, producing 97 hp @ 11,000 rpm
and 52.8 lbs-ft of torque @ 9000 rpm (at the crank). The engine redlines at
The power delivery of the engine is very smooth, a Billy D. Williams type of
smooth, not like the babies skin type of smooth power delivery of an in-line
four. The engine really comes alive after 5,500 rpm; if you keep the revs up
through a turn you can really use the engine’s torque to blast out of turns.
I’m big into torque (hence buying a V-twin) and not so much into high hp
numbers, although for bragging purposes it would be nice to say that my bike
has gobs of horsepower.
Another characteristic of the engine is the amount of engine braking that
the engine produces when compared to an in-line four. It’s a little awkward
at first, but you get used to it.
The sound of the engine is extremely addictive. The stock exhaust sounds
nice, but I find that the roaring sound coming from the air box at WOT (Wide
Open Throttle) is the most exciting. I definitely plan to get some after
market pipes, install larger intake mesh screens, and maybe removing the
baffling from the intake tubes to really release the engines deep purr and
increase the air intake volume.
It’s been so long since I’ve been riding regularly that I can’t remember
what my average mileage per tank was. The engine seems to take a little
longer to warm up than an in-line 4, so starts on cold mornings can be
prolonged, but it does start up strong and idles well.
Common modifications to the engine are larger exhaust (slip-ons & half
systems), upgraded chip (usually come with the exhaust), modifying the
cams/timing, modifying the fuel injectors (size and/or layout), and big bore
kits (855cc and 890 cc). Some people also add an oil cooler and an after
market fan control switch to help the bike run cooler.
Drive Train The hardest thing for me to get used to on the bike was the “dry
clutch”, especially after learning on a bike with a “wet clutch”. I stalled
my friends 748 at least 2-dozen times before I finally got it rolling after
jumping of a Gsxr-600, the two clutch types have entirely different
characteristics. Ducati superbikes get knocked for having a heavy clutch,
but after a month or two my muscles got used to it... When I first started
riding I dreaded getting stuck in traffic on the bike. There are aftermarket
parts to reduce the clutch pulling effort by 20% or so. I’ve also noticed
that the clutch does like to be slipped a little bit more than “wet
clutches” when you are taking off from a light.
Common modifications to the drive train are installing a lighter flywheel
and increasing the number of teeth on the rear sprocket (stock = 38 teeth).
The lightened flywheel helps the engine “spool up” faster and quickens the
throttle response, but I have read that it also increases the engine’s
braking characteristics. Going up a couple of teeth on the rear sprocket
helps the bike to accelerate faster and sacrifices some top speed as usual.
I’m planning to jump up to 40 teeth later this year. Some people also
install vented clutch covers to unleash more of the “clak-clak” sound that
the dry clutch makes (“loud clutches save lives”). That’s one mod that I
won’t do because the “clak-clak” sounds like a bike that’s about to break
down to me, I’ll keep it muffled with my stock cover.
Suspension & Brakes The 748S comes with a fully adjustable Showa rear shock absorber,
Showa Titanium-nitride (TiN) coated upside-down fully adjustable forks,
steering damper (on all Ducati superbikes) and the rake is adjustable
between 23.5 and 24.5 degrees.
I’ve only been riding for a year and I don’t have much experience on other
makes of bikes, but I can tell you that I love the suspension set-up on the
bike. It’s set up like I like a car’s suspension… very compliant to the road
surface, great feedback, not too harsh, eats up bumps in turns without
unsettling the chassis, and turns like the vehicle is on rails. During
initial ”turn-in” the bike feels rock solid and very precise. When I lean
over in turns there is a noticeable transition point where the bike just
seems to “fall over” in the turn. The bike is very flick able, you don’t
have to man handle it to zigzag through a chicane.
Encountering bumps in a turn is no problem, they barely upset the bike, and
the bike just stays planted. I get excellent feed back from the suspension
and steering, it’s almost like my hands are attached to the axles. I’ve
noticed that the suspension is set quite a bit stiffer than other bikes that
I’ve ridden. During regular straight line riding the suspension isn’t harsh
at all. I believe that the suspension is set up for riders that weigh 70 kg,
so I’m “in like flint”.
The front brakes grip well, but I could use a little bit more feedback.
Well, I probably just need to explore the “lock-up” zone on them. The rear
brakes work fine, but the rear brakes on Ducati bikes tend to get air in the
lines. So the rear brake lever travel increases as time goes on, you just
have to bleed them more regularly. The brake and clutch levers are
adjustable to 4 different positions.
Common modifications to the brake system are steel braided lines and
aftermarket brake pads. The most popular suspension up grade that I’ve seen
on the 748 is to install a adjustable steering damper.
Comfort Ducati superbikes (916/748/996/99 are known for their aggressive
rider positioning. The bikes do put a lot of weight on your wrist and I’ve
had my wrist go numb and/or get sore on many occasions, especially when I’ve
got a passenger on board. I’ve also heard a lot of lower back pain
complaints too. My lower back doesn’t hurt after riding, but I need to
stretch it out after a long ride, which is normal. I found that laying on
the tank and just being relaxed in general are great ways to increase
comfort on the bike.
The engines do tend to run a little on the hot side. Heat from under tail
exhaust can really get your thighs cooking in the summer time when you are
sitting in traffic. I read that the aftermarket half and full system exhaust
decrease the amount of heat that you feel on your thighs.
The pre-2002 models have engine air exit vents near the top edge of the side
fairings. These exits are located right in front of the rider’s shins and if
you don’t have motorcycle boots on your shins will get hot.
The stock windscreen is pretty low and opens you up to getting blasted by
the wind at speeds above 75 mph or so and it’s hard to get full protection
from the wind when you are tucked behind it at high speeds.
You ever wonder why Ducati superbike riders sometimes flap their arms while
riding? It’s because the mirrors are pretty much useless, you have to pull
your elbows in toward your body to see anything in your mirrors. So that’s
why we look like we are doing some kind of bird dance sometimes…
Other than the issue mentioned above the bike fits me (5’, 10”) like a
glove, it almost feels like I’m in the fetus position when I’m tucked in.
The bike has a very narrow feel to it and when you look forward and backward
the bike feels pretty short.
Common modifications that can make the bike more comfortable to ride are
higher clip-on handle bars, throttle rockers, aftermarket seat (Sargent or
Corbin as usual) as usual, higher windscreen, carbon fiber exhaust cans
(better heat transfer characteristics than aluminum or titanium), carbon
fiber exhaust heel guards, and a carbon fiber under tail section (better
heat shield than the plastic one). I’ve had experience with the “throttle
rocker” and so far it’s eliminated any pain or numbness in my wrist, I’m
dying to see how it does when I have a passenger. I purchased a Zero Gravity
“double bubble” windscreen for my bike and it really makes a difference when
sitting up right and when tucked at high speeds. When I rode with tennis
shoes on the carbon fiber exhaust heel guards really made a temperature
difference when compared to the stock metal units.
Fit and Finish I’ve only found one paint blemish on the bike; the paint has some
sort of hazy looking paint in a little section on the gas tank. The only
other area that I don’t like is the gap between the front edge of the seat
section and the bodywork directly below the gas tank. A ¼” gap is a little
much for me.
The fairings have an “okay fit”. I’ve had two different V-shaped (below
radiator) bodywork pieces on my bike, one that came on my bike and another
from a friend’s bike and they both fit differently. The other troublesome
bodywork region is in front of the rear tire where the exhaust and lower
fairings meet. The right side of my lower right side fairing is singed where
the exhaust used to touch the fairing. Again, this happens on some
superbikes, not all of them.
Common modifications included carbon fiber bodywork and 3M film to protect
the leading edges of the bodywork and the gas tank. I highly recommend the
3M film to any motorcycle rider out there.
The major gripe that I hear and read from non-Ducati riders is the cost and
frequency of getting the valves adjusted. The service intervals for the
valve adjustments is every 6,000 miles and the cost is about $300-$500. The
bikes come with free service cards to be used at the 600, 6,000, and
10,000-mile mark. These cards are transferable to other owners if you buy
the bike used. The bikes also come with a 2-year warranty and the warranty
can be extended for something like $500/2-year period.
I highly recommend spending some time to research the dealer that you’re
thinking about buying the bike from. I also highly recommend spending some
quality time at the dealership to get to know the dealer’s staff and their
regular customers. A dealer can make or break your purchasing and servicing
The dealer that I purchased the bike from was great with the purchase and
the service. Their staff is very nice and knowledgeable (they eat and sleep
Ducati). They’re almost like family and the regular customers there gave me
a lot of useful Ducati and dealer feedback when I was thinking about
purchasing the 748. They also have “pot-lucks” every Wednesday evening for
everyone (all riders and non-riders welcomed) to hangout and eat.
You also get free membership to the “Desmo” owners club, with this you
receive a card that you can use for free towing if you ever get into trouble
on the road.
My first 748S was very reliable, the only problem that I had with it up
until it’s mystery engine problem was a cracked coolant tank at 3,300-miles.
It took a little while (about a week) to get a replacement tank, but it was
fixed for free. I have read that this is a common problem on Ducati bikes,
so I have an extra coolant tank that I purchased for $20 on EBay just incase
it happens again.
I have read about many Ducati Superbikes with over 50K miles on them, but my
first Ducati developed a mystery engine problem at the 6,000-mile mark. For
some reason the engine would always die when I’d come to a stop. The dealer
and other Ducati techs looked at it for a very long time, but it couldn’t be
fixed. The great thing is that Ducati replaced my bike, it took 2 months,
the last 2 good riding weather months of the season, but they did replace
it. So I got an extra 6,000 miles on a 748 thanks to Ducati.
I only have 190-miles on my replacement bike so far because of the
relentless bad weather, so I can’t address any reliability issues with my
new ride yet. Hopefully there will be none, but this time I’ll keep a little
Common Problems The most common problems that I’ve heard and read about with the
Desmoquattro engined Ducati Superbikes is Rocker arm flaking, engine coolant
tank cracks, clutch slave cylinders that break, and faulty (cheap)
electronics (voltage regulators). Ducati replaces the Rocker arms that flake
for free and I believe that there was a recall on the faulty clutch slave
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