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Review of the 2005 Ducati ST3:
Ducati´s ST blows away Honda´s ST
Author: bob the lawyer, 2005-05-03, viewed 109 times.|
I traded in my Honda ST1100 for a Ducati ST3, without riding the latter bike. I took a chance and was not disappointed. All the disadvantages of the Honda disappeared, and the only downside to the trade was a bit less wind protection. Cycling is more fun on the Duc.
I´ve been riding a Honda ST1100 for several years, as part of my philosophy always to ride a shaft-drive bike with minimal maintenance issues (I also have an 87 Magna). The ST1100 was a bulletproof bike with great long-distance comfort and good wind protection, allowing me to ride into November even in Northern Ohio without heating my suit. Howver, I disliked maneuvering the bike at low speed and positively fighting with it around parking lots and my garage. No wonder Honda built plastic bumpers into the sides of the bike to prevent damage to the bodywork. I must have dropped mine a dozen times in my own driveway. The ST1100 was heavy and unforgiving with its top-heavy weight distribution. I wanted a more flickable bike that nevertheless had the comfort of the Honda for long distance. I rented a Ducati Monster for a few days of mountain riding in California, had a lot of fun, and started thinking that maybe going Italian would be fun. So I ordered an ST3. Naturally the dealer wasn´t going to let me ride one of his ST3´s around, so I sat on one and guesstimated that my beyond-middle-aged body could tolerate a forward-leaning position even more pronounced than on the Monster.|
My guesstimates turned out to be true. I lost 170 poinds in the transition, much of it by abandoning my preference for maintenace-free shaft drives. I also picked up a few horsepower and the pride of riding a Duc. The Honda ST1100 is very rare in Ohio, so it was always a subject of stares around town. But the Duc, now that´s a real head-turner. People just can´t get over a gorgeous Italian bike with matching luggage. It flicks through the esses with so much more ease than the Honda, and of course moves out with more torque and that unique Ducati sound and throb.
Since biking is all about pride of ownership and of participation in an activity viewed by the majority of Americans as risky beyond comprehension, having a bike to be proud of is the essence of biking pleasure, and this bike delivers that feeling in spades. I love features like the lock hidden under the seat, the computer built into the instrument cluster, and the ability to convert the touring look of the bike into a more sporting bike with a modicum of effort.
The seating position has my 5´8´ body more onto my wrists than I would like, but I have been able to adjust to it. My right hand gets the fizzies, but it also got the ginger-ale feeling on the Honda in a slightly more upright position, so I am learning to adjust to this by moving the clutch and brake levers lower in order to force my hands farther over the handlebars to avoid pinching the nerve in the palm of my hands. The height of the handlebars is adjustable by about an inch, but my dealer delivered the bike to me with the bars in their highest position, correctly anticipating my wishes. It´s a long way from putting me upright.
Some folks would rather have analog gauges than the digital speedo/computer readout. The digital system is highly visible in direct sunlight, though, and I like having all the info about fuel economy and other trip-related calculations, alongside the big analog tach.
I gave up four things in moving from the Honda to the Ducati. First, the Honda had small compartments in the fairing for sunglasses, extra gloves and the like. The Ducati requires the rider to dismount and remove the seat to reach small-item storage locations. I will probably remove the seat on this bike a thousand times while I own it. As a slight recompense, the Ducati seat is easier to re-fit than the Honda seat.
Second, although the salesmen, and certain Ducati literature, claims that the hard luggage delivered with the bike will swallow a full-face helme, my ST3 didn´t even come close to accepting my Shoei with the liftable face-front. It would, however, accept a smaller full-face helmet that I keep for passenger use. The Honda would take any helmet with room to spare. So I have to lock my helmet to the bike using a truly awkward cable that is locked to the bike by ----- you guessed it, removing the seat and stringing the cable through a post under the seat. Maybe I´ll be removing the seat two thousand times while I own the bike. If you are going to take your significant other into the wilderness for a few days with the gear you pack into the ST3, well, you are going to have to get by with minimal duffel. Tell her to pack her flimsiest negligee, because the bike won´t tolerate her usual flannel PJ´s.
Third, the wind protection is not as good on this bike as on the Honda. This means that 48 degrees is about the minimum temperature for a long ride without heated gear, whereas the Honda was good for temperatures about 10 degrees colder. Also, I will get wetter if I get caught in rain than on the Honda. Still , that´s a lot better than on my Magna or a Monster. There´s a flip side to this difference. On the Honda, there wasn´t much difference in sensation between 60 MPH and 80 MPH. On the Ducati, you feel the speed much more proportionally due to the wind passing around your helmet. I find that the sensation of high speed is a good warning of the danger of high speed, so I appreciate having the sensation of speed more on the Ducati.
Fourth, it´s got a chain drive. And the chain is hard to reach for oiling. I haven´t had to oil a chain for many years, and it´s a real pain. How primitive.
Why do I put up with this? Man is this bike flickable. It goes around corners like it´s on rails. Totally unflappable. The Brembo´s are like throwing an anchor over the side --- in a hurry. yet I can sit on this bike for hundreds of miles with my decrepit old body and feel great at the end of the trip. In terms of per-ride enjoyment, I have improved my life measurably. I commute 32 miles each way to work every warm dry day. A lot of it in traffic. It´s really fun. I can´t think of a bike I would rather have for this purpose, and for weekend trips.
It was very hard to observe the instruction in the owner´s manual to maintain the engine revs below 6000 rpm for the first 1000 kms, and below 7500 rpm for the first 2500 kms. You don´t have to do this with Japanese iron. I suppose that the Japanese bikes are assembled with closer tolerances so that the bits of metal that are flushed out of the engine with Ducati´s 600-mile oil change are not present in the Japanese models. Well, I don´t care. I can afford the additional fiddling with Ducati bikes, and the next oil change isn´t until 6000 miles. I´m riding the Ferrari of motorcycles, and not paying Ferrari prices either. Actually, almost anybody that can afford a motorcycle can afford a Ducati, so there isn´t anything really exclusive about them except for making the countercultural statement whenever anybody asks you, ´Oh, do you have a Harley?´ And you get to say, ´No, I ride a Ducati.´ Sounds better than when you have to say you ride a Honda. Indeed, with certain people, saying Ducati really scores, and these people are the ones that you want to impress. What good does it do to say, ´Yes, I ride a Harley´? Millions of Americans can say that. Indeed, at my local WalMart store they give away Harleys in drawings. Buying a Ducati is acquiring low-cost prestige. At least, compared to buying a Ferrari or joining a country club. A lot more fun too. Riding a Ducati is not just riding for prestige. It´s the real thing, a genuine pleasure. An absolute blast. There aren´t very many things that you can buy these days for prestige that actually give you more real pleasure than the generic version of the same product. For example, you can´t get a better car than a Honda Accord at any price. However, in motorcycles, Ducati stomps the competition with aesthetics, real world performance, and oftentimes at the race track too. Pretty cool, considering that you can buy the ST4 for the same or less than the new Honda ST1300.
This review of the 2005 Ducati ST3 was posted by a visitor on Bikez.com and does not necessarily reflect facts, truth or Bikez.com's opinions.
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