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Ducati 999s

Ducati 999

(by Ian Falloon, July 2022)


Technically better but troubled in the market


One of the forgotten more modern Ducatis is the 2005 model 999. The 2005 999R in particular was spectacular.


Heading the production Superbike line-up for 2005 was as new generation 999 and 749. Particular emphasis was placed on the 999R, with the intention of homologating it for AMA racing. Updates to the range extended from styling to chassis and engine improvements.


The basic 999 was more powerful, the 999 S more exclusive, and the 999R the most powerful production bike ever produced by Ducati.


For all 999s and 749s the fairing was redesigned, with a higher and wider cockpit without the two upper side air ducts, and higher screen. The lower fairing had more protective spoilers, as on the previous R models, and was constructed of a new high-strength polymer, Terblend. Other updates included a lighter (by 500 gm) box-section swingarm and a black anodised aluminium exhaust protective heat shield.


The 999R engine now produced 150 horsepower at 9750rpm, and was modified to conform with AMA rules that required racing engines be almost identical to the corresponding production units. There was a new cylinder head to go with the 104 mm cylinders, with the distance between the valves and valve seat increased for the titanium valves with bigger heads but 6mm stems.


The valves were retained by conical collets as on the 749R. New rockers increased the valve lift. The con rods were new, and the crankshaft more rigid with improved lubrication channels. The injectors were the 12-hole type as on the 749R, and the compression ratio increased to 12.45:1.


The chassis was similar to before, with the highest quality Brembo brakes, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo/Marchesini wheels. The styling included the updates shared with other 999s, but the fairing was carbon fibre.


As before, the 999S slotted between the base 999 and limited edition 999R. Although the 999 was upgraded this year, the 999S engine retained titanium con-rods and a lighter crankshaft, and produced slightly more horsepower (143 horsepower at 9750rpm). To differentiate it further the 999S also received a race kit as standard, and retained an Öhlins front fork, now with radial mount brake calipers.


In response to more powerful competition, the base 999 motor was considerably upgraded, the power increasing from 124 to 140 horsepower at 9750rpm. The die-cast crankcases were the low sump type of the 999S, there were new camshafts, and vented timing belt covers.


The four 749 (749 Dark, 749, 749S, and 749R) models were similar in specification to 2004, but shared the new fairing with the 2005 999. This year the 749R produced 121 horsepower at 10,500rpm, the 749S 116 horsepower at 10,500rpm, and the 749 108 horsepower at 10,000rpm.


Despite all the updates, 999 and 749 sales were down 29 per cent in the first nine months of 2005, with the 749 particularly hard hit..

More reading: Bennetts buyer guide



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