The Ducati 999 was produced for a brief window of time: 2003 to 2006, to be precise. However, the “Triple Nine""--the brainchild of South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche--gained popularity for its high level of performance and handling, as well as its aggressive styling. The 2004 Ducati 999 represented the superbike’s second model year, and marked the debut of two new models: the 999S and the 999R.
The 999S and 999R of the 2004 Ducati 999 are notable for their greater engine power. The liquid-cooled L-twin (two-cylinder) Testastretta engine on the base model (999 Base) produces 124 horsepower at 9,500 revolutions per minute (RPM) and 75 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque at 8,000 RPM. On the other models, however, horsepower is increased by 12 on the 999S and 15 on the 999R--both at 250 more RPM. Torque is measured at 78 lb-ft and 80 lb-ft on the 999S and 999R, respectively, albeit at the same RPM as the base model.
While the 2004 Ducati 999S was designed as a slightly more sport-oriented model than the 999 Base, the 999R is designated as the racing, top-of-the-line version. Thus it is a lighter bike, at 423 lbs.; the other models are 15 lbs. heavier. The 999R is the only model with its engine displacement matching the three-digit designation of the bike, at 999 cubic centimeters. (The other models have an engine displacement of 998 cubic centimeters.) The engine on the 999R has larger valves, longer bore and shorter stroke: factors that contribute to its greater performance than the 999 Base and 999S.
Instead of the automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) common on motorcycles, the 2004 Ducati 999 uses a six-speed manual. It makes riding the bike more exciting; and like the CVT, it contributes to generating decent fuel economy. Each ‘04 Triple Nine has a fuel tank that can hold up to 4.1 gallons, with Ducati recommending premium fuel for the best performance. With its powertrain, the ‘04 999 can go from zero to 62 miles per hour (mph) in less than 3 seconds, and can achieve a top speed that surpasses 170 mph.
Using an aluminum frame slapped with sleek plastic and a spoiler--and riding on huge 17-inch steel wheels--the 2004 Ducati 999 provides sturdiness and sportiness. The digital dashboard at the front of the bike is loaded: with a clock, trip odometer, tachometer, lap timer, shift light, speedometer, service reminder indicator, and temperature and fuel level warning lights. Dual disc brakes in the front and a single disc brake at the back give the ‘04 Triple Nine great braking ability. A halogen headlight and a pair of side mirrors increase visibility when driving. As a theft deterrent, each bike has an engine immobilizer. Storage space is provided by a front, rear and fender rack, as well as a sidecar trunk.
Each 2004 Ducati 999 has a length of 82.6 inches, width of 28.8 inches and height of 42.9 inches. Its wheelbase and ground clearance are measured at 55.9 inches and 4.9 inches, respectively; and its one-piece seat is set at a height of 30.7 inches. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $17,695 for the 999 Base, $22,995 for the 999S and $32,000 for the 999R.
There is little to distinguish the 2004 Ducati 999 from the inaugUral model year that came before it, and the two that succeeded it. A great accelerator with awesome power and handling and pleasing aesthetic value, you cannot go wrong with getting the ‘04 edition of the Triple Nine.