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Moving to the Italian side - the trials and tribulations.

By Shane Gowan

Bad desire

I have always owned and ridden Japanese bikes on and off-road, but I have always wanted to own a European motorcycle. I recall a couple of local Ducati’s when I first started riding; the old air-cooled two-valve Desmo powered ones, an old SD and a 750SS. I’d always heard horror stories about the costs of getting them serviced and poor build quality, oh, parts, and their price and unavailability. So, I put all thoughts of owning one out of my head and kept buying and riding Japanese bikes.

Passion rekindled

I took a bit of a break from bikes, but my wife decided she wanted one, so the passion began again. I still wanted a Ducati but was concerned about the abovementioned issues. Aprilia was the new kid on the block, and the RSV sounded oh so good too! I just couldn’t afford one.

So, I settled for a Suzuki TL1000R (stock image). Hey, it’s a V twin!! It sounded great, looked good, and it could fit a 2ltr bottle of milk, dog roll and loaf of bread under the tail section!! Sadly, it handled very poorly, so it was sold on for a GSX-R, and my love affair with GSX-Rs was born.

Ducati lust persisted

But, I still wanted an Italian V twin. I felt after riding the TL, I had unfinished business on one. I test rode a Gen 1 RSV, and it was impressive. It did everything my GSX-R did but ran out of revs sooner and didn’t have the top-end rush, so I kept the GSX-R. After a few years and a job change, I sold my bike.

First Italian - Aprilia

Not long after that, I changed jobs again and wanted another bike. I found an Aprilia RSV1000R Factory with one owner (stock image); yeah, the kms were high, but it was the right price, and the Rotax is just bulletproof, so the deal was done!! I had my first Italian V twin superbike, and I loved Ohlin's, Brembo, OZ and carbon!! It even had polished Arrow slip-ons too!! I loved this bike; it was everything I had hoped for.

Sadly, I discovered they had some issues, a swingarm recall; mine had been done. Next was the dreaded stator/rotor/regulator issue. After a lot of hours and research, I had a solution.

Next was checking the suspension. It seemed Aprilia didn’t like spending money on grease!! New bearings, pins and seals were sourced, and the bike was all set!! Sadly, I suffered awful pins and needles in both arms in a matter of minutes on my beloved RSV, so I got despondent and stopped riding it.

Harley madness

I figured I still wanted to ride, but my sports bike riding days seemed to be over, so I bought a Harley (stock image).

No more numb hands. But, it just wasn’t really what I wanted.

My wife and I were in Wellington, looking around; she spotted an MV Agusta F4 1000R that she really liked; it would go well with her MV Agusta F4 750, she argued, but it was sold.

Led astray in Wellington

Down the road at another shop was a red Ducati 1098. Now, I remember these being released, and I instantly loved it. This was one Ducati I wanted to own!! It just looked like sex on wheels to me, pure bike porn! I started searching the net and found an immaculate low km one, and a good friend, Steve Leggett of Moto Mover's fame, checked it out for me and confirmed it was mint. The deal was done, and Steve bought it up to me, safe and sound.

Finally, a Ducati, but

I had a Ducati!! I figured I could cover the costs for the number of km I’d do, and servicing had been pushed out over older Ducati’s, so why not? I figured if I still had problems with my pins and needles, I could sell it easily enough; after all, Ducati’s sell!!

(stock image)

My first ride was astounding!! Man, this thing is fast, real fast, it handles, and it handles really well, and that glorious sound!! Best of all, no sign of pins and needles after an hour!! I was hooked; it was also comfortable too!! I was in heaven!! Next ride, I only made a few km, and it died, much to my annoyance. Luckily it was an easy fix. The fuel line had come off the pump in the tank. It was up and running the next day and off for another ride!! I love this bike!!

Some setting up of the suspension next had it handling as I wanted, and a set of Termignoni carbon slip-ons had it sounding like it should. This bike was amazing. I spent the winter preparing for summer, cleaning and checking it over. Summer duly arrived, and I was set to ride. Then the problems started.

WTF Ducati?

On a ride with a group of mates, it was smoking worse than a two-stroke, and it had a bad misfire!! The dreaded Ducati gremlin had struck, and I was devastated. What to do? I tried all sorts of things in the shed. I tried forums and FB groups; you name it. I consulted it, but it seemed to be a major issue, so off to a workshop it went.

The workshop diagnosis was incorrectly installed oil rings. I couldn’t believe it. The scraper ring had been overlapped at the factory, locking the oil rings in place. They had chattered a step into the piston, making the issue even worse. To add to it, the dreaded non-sealing 1098 air filter had allowed something into the engine, and one cylinder had a score in the bore. A new piston set was sourced, and the damaged cylinder was honed. I was in luck; the score was gone!!

The bike was back, and I was set to go!! Sadly, the misfire was still there, and I was gutted. A rebuilt engine, and it still had a misfire!!

Off to the shop again, after a full electronic diagnostic check, they diagnosed dirty, clogged, misfiring injectors, so they were cleaned. A substantial bill later, I was set to ride. But, no, the misfire was still there. I was gutted again. It wouldn’t even idle on two cylinders and was hard to start. I contemplated dismantling it, as I couldn’t find any solutions to my problem. Three people suggested the TPS, so I got another one, but the problem persisted.


A mate offered his ECU, which seemed to solve the issue. The 1098 started easier and idled on two cylinders. So I bought a new ECU. By now, summer had come and gone, and I hadn’t ridden it since I first bought it the previous summer!!

Better yet, a Panigale R

I should add while awaiting the ECU and other parts, I bought a Ducati Panigale R and rode that a couple of times. What a bike!! The Panigale is simply amazing!! Now I have two Ducati’s waiting for summer!! I figured maybe the Panigale would shame the 1098!! Roll on, summer.

(stock image)



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