Miscellaneous – Yamaha Days 2014 at Castellet, Carole and Le Mans –

Endurance test Ducati ST 4

Sound miracle

A feast for the ears and a feast for the ears: The dream of all four-valve Ducati fans who love to travel brought joy and sorrow. Not just in the ear canals.

The Ducati people hang the equally fabulous and capricious 916 Desmo four-valve engine in a comfortably arranged environment, and MOTORRAD chases the device over 50,000 kilometers in one and a half years.

Can that go well? Exciting, right? So, curtain up on the first Duc four-valve endurance test ever.
The mill rattles: comments on the acoustic expressions of life of the Bolognese persist in the logbook. The frightening clatter and rattle of the engine mechanics and clutch of the Desmo-Twin on the one hand and the horny Ducati-typical roar on the other. The ST 4 was never boring. Always polarizing. The first entry in the logbook in April 1999 already points the way: "Great moped, hopefully it stops." After 3500 kilometers, colleague Moni Schulz hears strange background noises from the direction of the engine ?? to state a little later that previous ST 4 test copies were significantly better.
One point of criticism is the poorly adjustable, rubbing front brake that Ducati encountered for the 2000 vintage with one millimeter thicker discs and other sintered metal pads. The fact that the dry clutch is difficult to move despite the hydraulic system also causes protests? meanwhile also changed. Inner-city stop-and-go operation turns into a rock-hard hand muscle workout. In addition, there are enormous mechanical noises during the entire test distance, which not only have the faint-hearted oracle in the direction of total failure.
The Duc never let you down, but a few repairs caused trouble. At 18940 kilometers the rubbing brake discs and fogged headlights have to be replaced. The replacement of six of the sixteen rocker and rocker arms of the desmodromic valve control in the office is even more serious: the hard chrome plating of the contact surfaces did not withstand the loads and came off, which also damaged the running surfaces of the camshafts . After four months there is still a case for the guarantee, but after the end of this period, 3000 marks are due for such an intervention. A complete replacement of the clutch is due only 7000 kilometers later: chatter marks have made the basket unusable.
Test Werner "Mini" Koch asks after a weekend trip: "Is the ST 4 really a touring bike for all occasions? "In addition to the harsh load changes, the seating position and the lack of wind protection bothers him? Although only 1.71 meters tall, the cladding only protects it sporadically. The chassis receives hymns of praise. Both solo and in pairs – the firm, but sufficiently comfortable suspension elements offer plenty of reserves and are a source of enthusiasm for pilots of all stripes. Whether with guest driver and VTR-1000 owner Frank Richter or ex-racing driver Christian Aurnhammer: The brisk Italian scores points above all when it comes to keeping on the heels of four-cylinder Japanese bikes. Who is surprised, as soon as the rough speed valley below 4000 tours has been crossed, the four-valve V2 also plays with it: Greedy for speed and charismatically trumpeting, it shows the good side of its relationship with the super sportsman Ducati 916 and catapults the super sports tourer ST 4 Ahead.
It is a strong scolding for the independently folding side stand, which repeatedly caused involuntary contact with the ground during the year and a half. Regardless of whether you are a seasoned touring professional or sports driver, whether loading or refueling, the ST 4 was plagued by epilepsy. After all: the stand of the 2000 model is equipped with an ignition breaker and no longer snaps sneakily.
The unanimous view of the tires: Due to sluggish turning behavior and comparatively limited liability, the original equipment Metzeler ME Z4 falls out of favor with long-term test pilots and readers alike. In return, the Pirelli MTR 21/22 have to put up with the accusation of pronounced self-steering behavior and sensitivity to longitudinal grooves, while the ST 4 with Bridgestone BT 56 is extremely handy, but tends to flutter the handlebar. A reproach that the Dunlop D 207 has to put up with, while the response to the D 205 has been consistently positive.
The oil filler neck gains little sympathy: To reach it, the paneling has to be laboriously screwed around. To make matters worse, nothing works without a funnel. Little went in April 2000, when the Duc, at 32,000 kilometers, sometimes only ran on one cylinder. 2000 kilometers later, the mirrors and fairing have vibrated loose, at 36,000 kilometers the oil pressure light suddenly starts to flash.
Before the defective oil pressure switch can be replaced a second time, a violent fall pushes the ST 4 into two-wheel nirvana almost prematurely. After the assembly of new plastic parts and mechanical extremities such as levers and rear silencers, the red one is back in action ?? including oil pressure switch and petrol tank that was leaking under warranty. And somehow remains, as the constant smell of fuel suggests. A curious reason: the workshop failed to fit the mechanical fuel tap, so that fuel is constantly seeping out of the nozzle, which is sealed with tape. Unfortunately, the clutch lives up to its reputation from kilometer 45,000: It grabs extremely, so that the third friction disk package is due at odometer reading 48,000.
2000 kilometers later, the final dissection is done. And, ouch, practically all the important components of the engine are clearly drawn from the 50,000 kilometers. The clutch was really bad: the basket is already defaced by deep chatter marks, and the pads on the pads are completely overworked after just 2000 kilometers. Bitter: The hard chrome plating of several rocker arms and rocker arms is damaged again, although six of them had been replaced after almost 20,000 kilometers. Correspondingly, the surface of the cams on three camshafts is heavily worn. The shafts have to be renewed as well as the rocker arm and rocker arm axles as well as the exhaust valves, the seats of which show strong scorch marks – the intake counterparts get away with grinding. The seats in the cylinder head fared better; they survived the distance unimpressed, while the valve guides are widened conically on both sides.
The pistons, which are defaced by heavy tracks, are also exactly within the operating tolerance. Over there are the connecting rod bearing shells and the pitting-plagued pair of gear wheels of the sixth gear – the other pairings also have tracks. Luck in misfortune: the broken spacer ring of the alternator rotor could have massacred the coils if it had been able to pass through the stator windings, instead of keeping quiet.
B.It is easy to state that the ST 4 unfortunately lives up to the reputation of the capricious four-valve engine from Bologna. In contrast to the comparable Honda VTR 1000 F, which was fit for the second spring after the MOTORRAD long-distance test without having to dig into the spare parts shelf, the Desmo-V2 has serious weaknesses in almost all highly stressed components, sometimes several times, which require replacement – with the current state of the art, this is not acceptable. It is to be hoped that the customer ST 4, mostly with lower mileage, will show a better condition.

Ducati takes a stand

This problem occurs especially with a brisk driving style and has been remedied from year of construction 2000 by using thicker discs (five instead of four millimeters). In addition, the braking effect has been optimized with new linings made of sintered metal. For stiff clutch actuation From the year of construction 2000, the smaller hand pump (12 instead of 13 millimeters in diameter) with a different transmission ratio reduces the operating force by 20 percent. To the chatter marks on the clutch basket and the linings reconditioned on the drivers Damage is mainly due to the system-related higher wear of the dry clutch in combination with the more pronounced load change reactions of the V-engine. For this reason, Ducati recommends replacing the clutch friction pack every 20,000 kilometers. If there is still damage, this will be regulated on the basis of a guarantee or goodwill. The condition of the rocker arms and rocker arms A change of supplier has already ensured a significantly better quality of the hard chromium plating. Defective levers are exchanged on guarantee or goodwill. Surface wear of the camshafts This is a consequential damage to the defective rocker arm and rocker arm. They should have been changed together with them, as a rule this is done on a guarantee or goodwill basis. About the fogged headlight The lamp, which was mounted too close to the reflector, overheated and evaporated its coating and was deposited on the lens. In the meantime, the position of the lamp has been changed so that there are no longer any problems. About the broken-in connecting rod bearing The breakouts are due to the use of thin-bodied oil. Ducati expressly recommends fully synthetic 15W- 40, but at least 10W-40. For double defects in the oil pressure switch, more vibration-resistant specimens are now being installed, which no longer cause problems. The defective tachometer This is an isolated case.


Cylinder head: three camshafts are worn, three rocker arms are defective, others have had their hard chrome plating attacked. The rocker arm and rocker arm axles have run in, the exhaust valves on the seat are badly burned. The inlet valves and the double-conically widened valve guides are within the tolerance. Cylinder, piston, crank drive: the cylinders themselves are in good condition, but both pistons have visible grooves, but are within the tolerance. Outside there are the connecting rod bearing shells with significant cavitation marks and the right main bearing, which has large running play. Gear: Pitting on the sixth gear wheel pair, running marks on the others. Clutch: The basket shows clear chatter marks, and the drivers of the lining discs are after only 2000 kilometers badly hit. The hub is ok. Chassis: good condition, no corrosion.

Reading experiences

Almost unanimous opinion of the ST 4 drivers: original tire equipment and details such as side stands or headlights, engine, chassis and passenger comfort top.

After 8000 kilometers on Italian and Swiss alpine passes with the fast, track-stable and, by Ducati standards, comfortable ST 4, I have not regretted the purchase. Except for the slightly too long gear ratio, which I changed with a larger pinion and the headlamp that was tarnished from the inside, which was replaced under warranty, there is nothing to complain about. And then this sound that inspires again and again! Uli Welt, Hüttlingen I would buy the senior version of the 916 again immediately: 9,000 kilometers, zero problems. Only the high coolant temperature, which according to the thermometer rises to 120 degrees in a traffic jam, has so far been negative. On the other hand, the super engine is quite economical with six liters of fuel consumption, and the Metzeler tires also turned out to be good. Bert Schmitz, WipperfürthRupf, hoppel, screech: the clutch of my Duc spoke up on the first exit. Diagnosis: voids on the pressure plate. So change it. It has held up to this day, at 8000 kilometers, even when it screeches against the rattling engine. Nevertheless, driving is simply fun, whether it’s training on the racetrack or a vacation trip for two. Even the suitcases work and are even sealed with inner bags.Wolfgang Wegner, LudwigsburgAfter 15,000 kilometers on the fantastically successful sports tourer, it is clear to me that the ST 4 is one of the best motorcycles I have ever ridden – although the lousy side stand for three Failed and the oil filling behind the "bombproof" screwed cover is a nuisance. The chassis and engine are excellent, whether on the autobahn or mountain pass roads, the fuel consumption of around six liters is modest. I found the Metzeler Z4 unwieldy, better with Michelin Macadam 90X. Armin Ladwig, Königsdorf After 5000 kilometers with my first Duc, there is not much to say. Just sit on it and drive off. The pillion seat is great, even for long journeys, and after installing the Performance Eprom, the annoying jerking of the push button is no longer an issue. Except for the stiff clutch, jerking under 3000 tours and the snapping stand, I have no criticism. The chassis, workmanship and ergonomics are great? my wife is also satisfied with the comfort. At 8000 kilometers I swapped the standard Dunlop for Bridgestone BT 010 / BT 020. Kurt G. Poms, Soultz sous Forets (F) has 9800 kilometers on my Duc, so there have been no technical problems. The Metzeler Z4 were displeased because of poor self-damping and grip, with the Pirelli MTR 01/02 it drives better. Personally, I prefer the chassis of the 916/748, especially the fork, which on my ST 4 does not respond well. In addition, the moving pressure point of the front brake bothers. Wind protection as well as handlebar and peg position cannot completely convince me (height 1.90 meters) either. Overall, the ST 4 is still a very good motorcycle. Günter Martens, Uehlfeld

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