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Jumping through hoops

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, November 2023)

ducati 916 strada

Getting our imported Ducati 916 on the road was more involved than we expected. At last we're legal!

Really, it feels like we should have some sort of parade. Or at least crack open a decent bottle of something. Finally, after weeks, or more like months, of rooting around we have the Ducati 916 on the road.

It shouldn't have been all that hard. We in fact bought a fully-functional low-mile Ducati 916 Strada (our second) from importer Brad's Vintage Cycle Sales. It was exactly as promised and the whole experience was pretty good.

A Japan import, it was going to require some jumping through hoops to get on the road – more than I expected, thanks to a combination of my inexperience in this area and some relatively recent change of rules. Oh, and each state has its own take on exactly how to do this.

Okay, so here's the drift of what's involved. The bike is imported with what's called a RAV approval, that includes permission to come into the country and a new VIN. A new VIN for all imports is the recent twist on the plot as has some knock-on effects.

It's required that the VIN is permanently applied to the frame of the bike, either as a stamping or a riveted-on engraved plate. Some importers (like Brad) do it, others don't. It's actually pretty easy to find someone to create an engraved plate for you. The Australian VIN (which is an extended version of the original chassis number) is used for any roadworthy certificates and engineering approvals.

ducati 916

I'm told that, in Queensland, registering an import is relatively straight-forward process where you show up with your RAV approval and an RWC. (Don't take my word for this – check before you leap in!) In other states, like Vic and NSW, you are likely to need an engineering inspection.

In Victoria, that inspection is called a VASS and is required for anything made after June 1975. Cost varies, but expect $500-600 as a starting point. Stock standard bikes get a much smoother run as they generally require nothing more than a visual once-over. The inspection for the 916 took a couple of hours and was very thorough. It included all the things you would expect for a roadworthy. Whether it's actually necessary is very much up for debate.

With the inspection passed, the bike was then fitted with an engraved blue VASS approval plate. It's a fair size and we ended up hiding it under the seat.

With that done, we then needed a roadworthy certificate.

In the end we were fronting up to VicRoads with a bunch of paperwork: The appropriate registration application form(s), the RAV import approval, The VASS engineering approval and the roadworthy certificate. That applies regardless of whether you're intending to put it on full registration or club plates.

The good news is that once the bike is registered, it will be on a national database and things should be a whole lot easier for any subsequent owner.

ducati 916

Perhaps fortunately, I made the decision from the start to take the bike back to standard. This particular machine is an early Varese build and stock condition is what the market demands if ever you plan to resell. I don't have any plans to at this stage, but it's a whole lot easier to sort out now than years down the track. (And if I want something fast and modified to ride, there's a 220hp Hayabusa called Hannibal in the shed...)

Returning to stock required replacing the almost inevitable aftermarket Termignoni mufflers (which have been kept) plus footpegs and gearshift.

It seems the 916 is not only old enough to be on classic plates in Victoria (who knew we'd all live that long?!) but to require patience when it comes to finding some parts.

ducati 916

Standard footpegs were available used and new, and I ended up buying both thanks to some long delays that threatened to derail the whole project.

ducati 916

Stock mufflers are still readily available, but the hardware to hang them (different to the Termi gear) took ages to arrive.

ducati 916

We got there in the end, though there are still one or two things I'm chasing. For example a stock set of new brake lines took a fair bit to find. Someone online was asking Au$300 (US$190, GB£160) plus shipping for a used set! We did find one new, through an obscure shop I'd never come across before.

So far I've only had a brief ride on the thing – must put aside a day for a proper run. The short squirt we did manage was probably the first time I've ridden one with stock pipes since they were launched in the mid-1990s.

While lacking the theatre of the booming Termis, the factory mufflers do make the thing feel smoother and more civilised. It would be nice to be able to flick a switch to get Termi or tame mode on demand.

Aside from that, it's typical 916. You have to play on some curves to enjoy the thing properly, but even a brief run around town reminds you that it's something special. Slim, willing, feisty and beautifully formed.

Now that I know the routine for getting an import on the road, the next one should be a whole lot easier. We'll let you know.

Oh, and we'll bring you an update once we get to have a proper play with this one...

Ducati 916 profile

See the contemporary road test from Classic Two Wheels

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

ducati 916

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