Ducati.org forum banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am considering this bike:

http://www.goobike.com/bike/stock_8701610B30141003001/

In short: 2004, nearly 40.000 km (nearly 25.000 mls); according to the ad, the following items have been replaced:

- timing belts
- front and rear tire
- battery
- chain + sprockets
- oil + oil filter
- brake fluid

Basically, nearly every "consumable item" has been replaced and one can hope to ride this bike for at least two years without further ado.

I contacted the seller about the valve clearance, and about the clutch (as you can see, it is completely open). Reply: "The previous owner has owned this bike for five years and we have done the maintenance in that period. Contrary to Japanese bikes, the head cover does not need to be removed in order to replace the timing belt. As far as the valve clearance goes, rather than setting the clearance I think you'd need to overhaul the entire cylinder head. At this point, I think that the clearance is OK both for open and close. For the clutch, it was already (in the present configuration) when the previous owner bought the bike so I don't know. At the moment, clutch operation is smooth and it does not seem to slip. Brake rotors and pads are OK."

Does the story about the valve clearance check out? I found other sources claiming that the valves need "check & adjust" every 10.000 km - which means that this bike is due (probably also means that the clearance has not been checked for at least 5 years...).

If the clutch is so-so, how difficult is it to replace the friction plates (I guess not too difficult as it is a dry clutch)?

I am worried about the brake rotors; at 40.000 km I expect that they need replacement. Any part numbers and/or links to online shops would be welcome so I can get some idea of how expensive the rotors are. Same for brake pads. I have replaced the front brake rotors on my Aprilia RS250 and the brakes on this bike look quite similar (although I think it has 4 brake pads per caliper whereas the RS has 2 brake pads per caliper).

Are there points of interest? What about the "steering pivot bearing" (sorry I don't know the English term)? Swingarm pivot?

The seller tells me that the silencer is "delight" (or "delite") and the bike has a "DynoJet brand power commander". The seller programmed the power commander and it is "in good harmony". What are these things?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
I believe valve adjust was 9500K but yeah 10,000 is close enough. Replacing clutch plates is easy but at that many K's it could be in need of a new basket too. You can check it out by seeing the ridges where the plates rattle against the basket. 40,000 is about the life span of softly used brakes. Brake hard and that is less.

Because the older Duc's required a fair bit more maintenance than the equivalent Japanese bike, you're shooting craps by buying this bike. I believe you had a previous post about this bike in which you asked about buying it as a commuter bike in rain conditions. I'm guessing even though we tried to dissuade you from buying it, you want it anyways??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I believe valve adjust was 9500K but yeah 10,000 is close enough. Replacing clutch plates is easy but at that many K's it could be in need of a new basket too. You can check it out by seeing the ridges where the plates rattle against the basket. 40,000 is about the life span of softly used brakes. Brake hard and that is less.

Because the older Duc's required a fair bit more maintenance than the equivalent Japanese bike, you're shooting craps by buying this bike. I believe you had a previous post about this bike in which you asked about buying it as a commuter bike in rain conditions. I'm guessing even though we tried to dissuade you from buying it, you want it anyways??
I didn't interpret the reactions to my other topic as strictly "dissuasive" but more as "user beware of the trouble you are getting yourself in to!" There was at least one reaction saying "I use the bike everyday in all kinds of weather including rain and it is fine" :)

I guess I could also look out for a Suzuki SV-1000S or perhaps an Aprilia RSV Mille. From a design point of view, I really like the KTM RC8 but it is too expensive....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I just got an email from the seller. He says that he has never done anything on the valves (neither check nor adjust) in five years. His words: "From a design point of view the valve clearance only gets bigger with use. As long as it does not make any strange noises there is no point in wasting 16 shims for 2200 yen each. I asked the (local Ducati) dealer and he said they don't do the valves unless the customer specifically asks for it."

Does the story check out? I mean, I was told that the valve clearance gets smaller with use because the valve seats will wear out. But this is a desmo engine so it may be different (?). Also, is it necessary to replace the shims if you only check the clearance? Again I was always told that you use a feeler gauge to check the valve clearance and only adjust (replace shims) if necessary. And what about the "2200 yen per shim".... that would be nearly USD 25 / EUR 20 per shim, is this usual?

About the brake rotors: "I measured the rotors and they are at 4.4 mm (new: 5 mm)". Is 4.4 mm to be expected for a bike with 40.000 km? But if true, the rotors are OK for the time being.

I think I'll make some time this weekend to go see the bike if the seller is available.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
4.4 is pretty much toast. New should be more like 5.3mm. Min I believe is 4.5mm. No valve adjust, no buy bike.

I don't think the owner knows much about desmo valve systems. As they don't use a valve spring but have an opener and closer, proper clearance is important. By the time you're hearing strange noises, it's too late.

If you check the clearance and it's within spec, you don't have to replace shims.

Honestly......walk away from it or be prepared to get the valves checked and belts done. They should have been replaced at least twice in that 40,000K.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have scheduled an appointment to see the bike. At the moment I am inclined to walk away, but there is another bike I want to see not too far from the Ducati, so I will check both of them out.

The seller is a "generic bike shop", certainly not a Ducati dealer. The seller claims that the timing belts have been replaced (see my first post).

With the present odometer reading the bike is nearly unsellable in Japan. Therefore, the seller is sweetening the deal with new tires, belts, brake pads, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
I did see your first post about the belts but you didn't specify "when" they were replaced. As I mentioned, at 40,000K, it should have had the belts replaced twice. The last replacement should have just been done if following the specified service interval.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm sorry, my first post was indeed a bit unclear. The seller claims that the following items are "replaced with new (items)": timing belts, front and rear tire, battery, chain + sprockets, oil + oil filter, brake fluid.

About the valve clearance, the sellers initial reply was (literal translation from Japanese): "because of the construction, when you need to adjust the valve clearance, I think you need to overhaul the entire cylinder head. At the moment, I don't think it is necessary to adjust the clearance on either inlet our outlet". I guess he is right that if you must ADJUST the clearance, it is quite a bit of work.

When I asked specifically whether he had measured the clearance, his reply was "in our shop we have never checked the valve clearance. Because of the construction, the valve clearance will only increase, so if it does not make (strange) noise, it is a waste to use 16 shims of 2200 yen each. I asked the (local Ducati) dealer and he said they only do it if the customer asks for it specfically"

In the email, he then goes on to say that 20.000 / 2 years is way too conservative for the timing belts (rather surprising, because he has already replaced the belts so why mention them?): "As long as you don't park (i.e. not use ) the bike for two years causing the belt to dry out and deteriorate, and as long as there is no oil leak onto the belt, only distance counts for the replacement interval. In automobiles similar belts are used with a replacement interval of 100.000 km, so the question is whether Ducati is taking an extremely (conservative) margin or whether the design is unreliable. For the (Japanese) dealers, it is of course very profitable to replace the belts every two years. I have customers who run more than 50.000 km with their belts. Of course this is risky so I do not recommend it. As a rule, to be safe we remove the cover every 10.000 km and as long as there is no oil leak, we recommend to replace the belts every 30.000 km."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
As the desmo system uses no valve springs, if the valves go a little out of spec, they will not close properly causing running issues and burnt valves. It's not like a standard valve train where the spring keeps the valve closed and if the adjustment gets a little loose, the valve doesn't open as much and makes a rattling sound.

Your seller is correct that the valve adjust is something that takes a bit of effort on the 749 but I completely disagree with his reply that they don't do them unless requested and you're ok until it starts making funny noises. That's not good.

As for the belts......you're playing Russian Roulet going past Ducati's service recommendation and the failure is catastrophic. All it takes is a slightly mis-aligned idler and the belts will shred before long.

If he's replaced what he says he has and you seem to have your heart set on the bike, sounds like you're mind is made up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As the desmo system uses no valve springs, if the valves go a little out of spec, they will not close properly causing running issues and burnt valves. It's not like a standard valve train where the spring keeps the valve closed and if the adjustment gets a little loose, the valve doesn't open as much and makes a rattling sound.
That's exactly what I also thought - but I wanted to make sure because my knowledge about internal combustion engines is "text book knowledge" and I have never even attempted to check valve clearance, let alone adjust valve clearance.

As far as rattling sounds go, Ducatis are famous for making all kinds of mechanical noises so if the valves are out of spec, one probably wouldn't even notice the noise over the rattling of the clutch etc.

If he's replaced what he says he has and you seem to have your heart set on the bike, sounds like you're mind is made up.
Nah, the seller is not too far away, so I thought I might as well swing by and see what I'm dealing with. I take your advice to heart; at present, I am convinced that it is better to leave this bike to somebody who will only ride it occasionally on a sunny weekend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
The older Duc's did have some quirks but the bikes are an experience to ride. Closest I've found was Suzuki's SV series of bikes. The v-twin is quite intoxicating. I fell in love with them and finally owned one when the 848 came out. The 848 is a bit of an advancement over the previous series 749/999 and easier to deal with.

I came from owning every generation of GSXR so am very familiar with the other brands. Ducati have something for sure. Maybe see if you can find a nice 848 kicking around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I would love to get an 848, but for one simple reason: my budget won't allow it, unfortunately. A 749 in "good" condition is already on the upper limit of my budget. That's why I am looking into the somewhat "less favourable" category - and then, willingly and knowingly, take the risk as far as reliability is concerned.

I have always had budget bikes, because of my financial situation. Kawasaki ER-5, Yamaha XJ6, Honda CB400... Last year I had some pocket money left over and I bought an Aprilia RS250 - thereby accepting the fact that the thing may break down every 2 minutes, it will probably disolve in rain, it has worse fuel economy than a truck. And I was almost instantaneously hooked on the shear exhileration of a sports bike! I got a track licence, bought racing leathers, etc. It all got a bit out of hand, as some people say.

So I have the RS for fun and the CB400 for the rainy days. But the old CB400 became incontinent, and was in need of some open-carburettor surgery. Exit CB400 - and now I need a replacement. Now I can do the "rational" thing and get another CB400 or similar. It will do the job adequately, but not much more. And since a motorcycle is not a "rational" mode of transportation, I am looking around for something more adventurous.

From my experience with the RS250, I want a "sporty" bike. It could be either a 600 - 750 cc 4-cylinder, or a big twin (I hate the sound of small twins). This is my list

- Honda CBR600RR - readily available in Japan, but everybody has a CBR600
- Yamaha R6 or Kawasaki ZX-R6 - not so common in Japan (not intended for Japanese market), so relatively expensive and parts can be difficult

On the twin-front:
- Honda SP-2 - availability is OK but good examples are incredibly expensive, does not really fit in my budget
- Aprilia RSV Mille - depending on model year and ODO reading within budget but few & far between
- Ducati 749 - see above
- Suzuki SV-1000S - similar to the SP-2, good examples are very expensive and probably above budget, besides the bike is kind of bland, IMHO

I am also looking on the "sports/tourer" front. Today I went to see an Aprilia Futura (tour bike based on RSV engine). I absolutely adore the design but it is incredibly rare in Japan and other Futura owners have warned me against it. Another option is the Honda VFR800 VTEC - a good bike but rather bland.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
If the 749 is in decent condition, you'll love it. The 749 is a step above the 748 in both reliability and ease of work. I don't think the 749 required head disassembly to do a valve adjust.

I spent 6months in Japan back in the early 90's and my preferred bike while there was the RVF400. The V4 is a damn fine motor.....next to a v-twin!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I downloaded the workshop manual for the 749 and indeed you need to partially disassemble the cylinder heads to check the valve clearance. At least the "rocker covers", two plates that clamp down the camshafts, need to come of to have access for the feeler gauge.

If you need to adjust the valve clearance on the Testastretta engine, you need to remove the entire cylinder head, because the valves need to be removed to set the shim on the closing rocker. It requires special tools and I guess only real Ducati dealers have (access to) those tools. At any rate, the seller was right in his first email: to check the clearance you need to partially disassemble the cylinder head (he used the word "overhaul" but the Japanese word implies "to take apart and later put together again"). To adjust the valve clearance you are looking at a complete cylinder head overhaul..... Seems to be an expensive exercise...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
It does sound laborious. We're spoiled with the Testastretta Evoluzione in the 1x98/848 as it's whole top cover comes off just like an inline 4 does so the valve adjust is quite straight forward.

Let us know what you end up doing with the 749.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
[...] and my preferred bike while there was the RVF400. The V4 is a damn fine motor.....next to a v-twin!!
The famous 400 cc market in Japan is imploding rapidly. It's due to demographics (average age of the Japanese biker is increasing fast and the older generation (= more money to spend) usually opts for heavier bikes), due to environmental restrictions, and due to economic growth in SE Asia, where there used to be a blooming market for second-hand Japanese 400 cc machines, but most people there opting to buy larger bikes or cars nowadays.

The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are struggling to make ends meet. In SE Asia, everybody aspired to a Honda or Suzuki scooter - nowadays there is stiff competition from within Asia (KYMCO, SYM, Megali) and the economic development means that people want cars. In Europe, demographics, environmental restrictions and economy are killing off the motorcycle market. And finally, (illegal) Chinese imitations, such as the infamous "Hongda".

Especially Kawasaki and Yamaha are hit as they do not have an automobile department to share the R&D costs of engine development. The current crop of 400 cc bikes is a shadow of its glorious past. There are only 2 4-cylinders left (Honda CB400 and Suzuki GSR400) - both struggling to meet environmental standards; everything else is 2-cylinder and they sound awful due to the very strict noise regulations. The bikes are cheaply built - and it shows, with poor materials and cheap parts. These bikes do not have the same quality as the GSX-R400 or CBR400RR that once were.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Mmmm, the plot thickens, as they say....

I contacted the official Ducati dealer in Kobe about the issue of valve clearance on the 749S Testastretta engine. Their reply

"We can offer the following:

- compression test: 6000 yen (= USD 50)

- valve clearance check: 45000 yen + parts approx. 10000 yen (= 460 USD)

- valve clearance adjustment: 75000 yen + parts 40.000 yen (960 USD)
"
But he continues his email:

"In my experience as a mechanic, on a water cooled 4-valve desmo engine with normal use, I have never seen the valve clearance go so far out of shape that it needed adjustment, and you usually notice when there is something wrong by symptoms as unstable idling, strange noises or high oil consumption.

On engines where the clearance is a bit off it is usually due to wear on the half ring that keeps the shim in place (this part is called a valve cotter). If you replace the half ring the valve clearance is usually back to normal.

If the clearance is greatly out of shape, so that adjustment is necessary, then typically I do not recommend to simply change the shims. If the clearance goes greatly out of shape, you need to look at the causes (e.g. wear on the valve seat, carbon deposits, etc), and in such cases you are typically looking at a complete overhaul of the cylinder heads. That would set you back 200.000 to 300.000 yen (1660 to 2500 USD)."

This is basically the same story as the seller: "you never need to change the valve clearance unless it makes strange noises".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,933 Posts
If the bike has lasted as long as it already has, it's probably ok. It seems like one either has a good long lasting one or one that ends up needing parts often. This one seems ok. I've got 91,000K on my 848 and it's been flawless. Others have had issues from early on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,127 Posts
I downloaded the workshop manual for the 749 and indeed you need to partially disassemble the cylinder heads to check the valve clearance. At least the "rocker covers", two plates that clamp down the camshafts, need to come of to have access for the feeler gauge.
Unfortunately that data is completely incorrect. Servicing these engines is identical to any other testastretta or testastretta EVO engine. Valve cover comes off and everything is exposed. The cam bridge is there to provide a bearing surface for the cam's and hold them in place, it doesn't block anything.

If you need to adjust the valve clearance on the Testastretta engine, you need to remove the entire cylinder head, because the valves need to be removed to set the shim on the closing rocker.
The 749S uses the tapered collet retention system, similar to the 749R/999R and 1098R. This system does require a special tool to properly hold the valve in place whilst the collet is screwed into place. There isn't a single mechanic taking the heads off to replace closing shims, it just doesn't happen. Just need the special tool and you're all set. In all the 749S and 749R/999R's I've done over the years, I have yet to find a closing shim out enough to replace it. Plus, the shims are special and Ducati only sells them in .05 intervals. So even if they were a tiny bit out of spec, you may not be able to put it back in spec.

So generally, I wouldn't worry about it.

Ohh and the base 749/999 and 848/1098/1198 don't use that system. Ducati developed it for titanium valves and still uses it on the 1199/1299's.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the update. To defend myself a little bit against claims of spreading false data: my knowledge is text book knowledge. I downloaded the service manual for the 749/749S, MY 2006.

In section N4.1 Cylinder head assembly: checks and adjustments the following is written:

"Checking and adjusting the valve clearance.

Operations
- remove side fairings (E2)
- remove radiator (N3.2)
- remove fuel tank/rear guard assembly (E3)
- remove the airbox (I6)
- remove the timing belts (N4.2)
- remove the rocker cover (N4.4)

The photos clearly show the cylinder head without the cam covers, a person holding the camshaft in place with his/her thumb and a feeler gauge under the inlet valve cam lobe.

From this, I deduced that you need to remove the rocker covers as described in Section N4.4 of the manual.

The manual also states that one should measure the valve lift; this requires special tools.

As far as adjustment goes, again, I took a look at the manual and this is what it says:

Section N4.5 head unit: valves - rocker arms

Operations
- Remove the engine from the frame (vertical head only)
- ...
- Remove the complete head by sliding off the engine stud-bolts
- Repeat same procedure for other head

The following explanations and photos all show the head clamped in some kind of special holder (tool 88713.2346). So this is where I get my knowledge. I realize that practice is probably different :)

So until now, we have three people all saying the same thing: "in practice you never need to adjust the valve clearance" - one of whom is the mechanic from the Ducati dealership :)

BTW only the 749S / 749R were available in Jaoan; 999 / 999S / 999R were also available.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top