We all hear about what goes wrong with our Ducati bikes but no one ever posts the good! Here's an email I stole from the Ducati List about Gary Egan's world record setting Ducati. There was a thread going on about which cross country bike to buy. I remember talking to Gary at Laguna about his Ducati and was surprise to find it was mostly stock in form. I posted to the list and Vicky Smith posted the below after my response to the tread.
Enjoy the read!...........................................
I got this from Gary Eagan a few months back about this exact thing. He
said it was no probolem to share it with you all so here's what he said:
Greetings, Vicki. As always, it was enjoyable talking with you about Ducati
the other day, especially regarding their durability, actual and perceived.
On the heels of that discussion, I thought I’d drop you a note covering my
history with Ducati.
After riding motorcycles for about 7-800,000 miles, in 2000 I realized I was
no longer “stimulated” by my current ride. I had been riding BMWs, mostly K
Bikes, for years and had been very successful in Long Distance endurance
competitions using the German marque. I’d won the Iron Butt Rally and scores of
other competitions of 24 hours and longer, but just wasn’t thrilled with the
experience of simply riding any longer. I wanted to wake up in the morning and
simply be taken by the thought of jumping on a bike again and just playing
Suffering from this ailment, I spoke with good friend and Ducati dealer Matt
Spencer at Salt Lake Motorsports. Matt said I should try at ST 4, as it
might just restore the verve I was missing. I took the bike for a ride one
afternoon, thoroughly enjoyed it, and found myself anxious to take it out again the next day. I was hooked very quickly, which didn’t bode well for keeping a
BMW in my garage.
At the time, I was still deeply entrenched in competitive endurance riding,
and when I spoke with Matt about trying to make an ST fit for long distance
competitions, I had some misgivings. I had of course heard that Ducatis were
uncomfortable AND unreliable. I knew I could solve the comfort quandary, but
the reliability issue? If a bike isn’t reliable, one cannot win any Long
Distance event. Simple as that.
Matt assured me the Ducati would be able to withstand the heat of multiple
1,000 mile plus days, regardless as to what the rap was on the motorcycle
street. My concerns remained, mostly due to the short service intervals required
by Ducati, especially valve adjustments. We talked it over, then contacted
Kevin Davis, Salt Lake Motorsport’s Ducati rep, and asked Kevin if he thought
DNA might be interested in providing an ST 4 for us to set up for Long
Distance competitions. Kevin ran the matter by Jim Viola at DNA’s New Jersey
headquarters, and Jim thought it would be a good idea. He also wanted to see if the ST 4 could be a serious competition machine and discover via real-world
riding exactly how durable the machine would be. If I could do what I thought I
could, he agreed Ducati would have an incredible tale to tell the moto world.
I got the bike in April, 2000, and commenced to set it up for distance work.
I had a one-off windscreen designed and built, rigged a 5.5 gallon fuel cell
to expand total capacity to the Iron Butt Association’s 11 gallon maximum
capacity, added PIAA driving lights (the old ST series had the worst headlights
ever put on a motorcycle) then added Heli Bars and some custom made brackets
to lower the foot pegs an inch or so. I put more than $3,000 out of my own
pocket to make the Ducati distance worthy. I then took off for Ely, Nevada and
entered a 36 hour endurance event dubbed “Dawg Eat Dawg,” and would use it
as my shakedown cruise for the first serious Long Distance Duc to hit the
endurance scene. When I arrived, I was given huge amounts of grief by the 60
entrants, all of which knew me very well. As I was a former Iron Butt winner and
had also won more endurance competitions than anyone in the history of the
sport, most said they were glad to see me on the Ducati, as they wouldn’t have
to worry about trying to beat me anymore, the bike would take care of that for
them. Simply put, to a rider they laughed and said no one could possibly be
competitive in long rides on a Ducati.
After 36 hours and about 2,300 miles, I’d won the Dawg Eat Dawg and shocked
the hell out of the endurance community. The bike still wasn’t perfect, but
was on it’s way. I tweaked a few things ergonomically, but left the bike
absolutely stock mechanically. Over the next few months I entered the ST4 in six
endurance competitions of at least 24 hours and won five of them. The one I
lost was the five day Butt Lite, and I was leading that at the start of the
fifth day when I sustained a total failure of a rear tire, costing me about 12
hours off the bike. I ended up eighth out of 75 riders, in spite of huge time
and point penalties.
About this time, Jim Viola and I were cooking up plans to put 100,000 miles
on the bike in a year. He agreed that if we could do this, DNA would
reimburse me for my expenses, mostly gasoline and a few motels, in exchange for the outstanding PR value of a high mileage ST4. But before that could happen,
Ducati had a change in management in the US, and new president Joe Piazza put
the squash on any and all expenditures for the ST4 project. I talked with Jim,
told him I would just do it myself without help from DNA as I believed it
would be a huge boost to Ducati’s reliability reputation, and just went on with
the challenge. I loved the ST 4, and really wanted to show the world a
Ducati that lapped up 100,000 miles in a year.
I used the 2000 ST 4 to break the Guinness record for riding a motorcycle
from San Francisco, CA to New York City, doing the ride in 36 hours and 57
minutes, nearly four hours quicker than the old record. I put 118,000 miles on
the bike in 13 months before giving it back to Ducati at Laguna Seca, where the
bike was put on display. I still get loads of e mails from people asking
questions about that bike.
As you, I simply love all things Ducati. No bike extracts passion like
Ducati, and all the rap about it being a fragile, temperamental, service intensive
machine is simply rubbish.
Be well and hope to bump into you again soon.