Exclusive Worldwide First Test! - Page Two
Janelle Perzina tests the Ducati 999S 03 Superbike

This Girl Doesn’t Put Out on the First Date
After picking up the new 999S from our undisclosed source at Ducati and riding it back home, it was quickly obvious it has handling like a truck and not like a World Superbike Champion contender. Sure it was rock steady on the Hollywood Freeway, but not ready for a romp between between the sheets or down a twisty canyon ribbon of asphalt like Latigo Canyon. But we knew what was needed to get her in the mood. The Ducati Superbike supermodels always come from the factory with the steering head angle set in the “wrong” position for the added liability protection against geeks, novices and motojournalists whose only visit to the race track is on press new bike introduction days. Once back at my garage I fabricated a rear wheel stand to support the bike upright by inserting a long breaker bar through the lightweight hollow rear axle (Ducati North America doesn’t have any swingarm stands or accessories yet for the new 999s), then followed the instructions in the Owner’s Manual to disassemble the top triple clamp and rotate the steering head 180 degrees, pulling in the adjustable steering head angle from 24.5 to 23.5 degrees. Doug Toland told us this is the setting used on all the factory superbikes.

To make any Ducati Superbike model handle right, set the adjustable steering head angle forward to 23.5 degrees, or flash them the deed to your condo in Monte Carlo.

Next I copied onto the 999S the Ohlins suspension settings from my old bike, assuming the chassis geometry of a proven race winner would be left intact on the new model. This included dropping the front end from the stock 1st groove setting at the top of the fork tubes, down to the 4th groove to quicken up the steering even more and lower the ride height, and keeping the suggested damping settings offered in the Manual. You’ll find the Ohlins suspension, when dialed in right for high speed work is a little more harsh for street riding than the lower budget Showa components on the base 999 model.

The 999S comes with some awesome rubber, new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Radials. The back hoop is a huge 190/50 ZR17 that looks like Jennifer Lopez from behind, and sticks to the pavement like an aspiring young actress to a casting director’s couch. These skins are definitely race track bred, cause when I jam my manicured Covergirl red fingernail into the soft tire face it leaves a lasting impression.

Janelle in the saddle of the factory WSB spec 999 during recent tests at Valencia. Note the much prettier nose fairing on the works bikes, but it is illegal for use in Superbike racing. Hopefully this will be a design changed carried over to the street 999s. You can buy this nocse piece now, unpainted in carbon fiber from MotoWheels.

A Blast Down the Cat Walk

With the new 999S all dialed in I phoned up Jim and told him to grab his camera, and we headed for the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu and my favorite canyon carving roads that separate the girls from the boys. Once you get past the readily apparent differences like the wide new saddle, the cool new digital dash which has way more information then you’ll ever need to assimilate, and the cool looking huge central mounted retro looking tachometer (What, no indicated redline?) that looks like Pierre borrowed it from the MH900 Hailwood bike.The new narrow tank and mid section really lets you now easily move around the bike and keep your knees together like in that limo back seat on Oscar night.

Handling wise, it’s hard to improve on near perfection from the previous generation Ducati 916/996/998 Superbike. But the new 999 handles even more to perfection with just the most subtle hint of taking you closer to heaven. The seating position doesn’t seem much lower than claimed, but after 30 minutes of hard canyon thrashing I notice my forearms weren't as pumped up and knumb, nor was my neck as sore for trying to look up the road. Everything works together and the bike flicks through tight corners and tracks dead stable through the sweepers, while being totally stable and secure everywhere. In case you've never ridden a Ducati superbike that's set up right, it is the one bike you can not crash. The Ducati is better than any rider. I 'm in love again.

The engine is pure awesome. Smooth, tractable, incredible power right off off idle up towards the redline around 11,000 rpm. Normally you’ll never ever need to take it past 8 grand the power is so good, and the reward for short shifting is all that incredible torque and acceleration out of a corner. The front wheel pulls up 3rd and 4th gear power wheelies at any time with just a twist of the throttle despite the overly tall final drive gearing. The only bummer is the stock gearing which is way too tall for street, canyons or track racing. Expect to have to drop 1 tooth on the front, or 2 teeth on the rear sprocket. We broke our engine in hard like a race bike, changed the oil and filter after 50 miles, gave the bike a thorough check over, and then went out an rode it even harder.

The front brakes on the 999S use the latest 4-pad Brembo calipers like on my older 996R and work extremely well, but I also suggest the change to race rotors with a higher iron content and less chrome to give the front brakes an even better bite and lever feel. I run the Brembo race rotors on my bikes for the added bite and lever feel. There is no need to change to stainless steel braided brake lines because they come standard.

The new catalytic converter rear muffler is big, bulky and really quiet. But despite its restriction the engine still has more power than you can ever use on the street. And it’s kinda nice being able to actually hear the engine for a change. But that Ducati Performance Titanium Termignoni Race Exhaust sure is tempting despite the price, since it drops some 20 pounds and ads some 11 more horsepower.....

Spending the Night
Needless to say, my 999S didn't make it make it back to Ducati after the test. After a few dramatic tear streaked pleads, fluttering eyelashes and a covergirl smile (plus Sugardaddy's open check book), the 999S is now taking up permanent residence in my garage next to the 996R. Both bikes have their own personality. The old generation, short wheelbase chassis 996 feels like a pit bull on steroids as you hump the tall tank doggy style, cuting and dicing through corners. The new 999 is like a long distance greyhound, smooth and even more confidence inspiring as it archs its way predictavly though corners. Both feel right in their element, but the 999 is a lot more comfortable in doing it.

In conclusion, the 999S costs more than twice the price of any Japanese sportbike, and even $4,000 more than an Aprilia R. Is it worth it? In comparison, yes, particularly if you have the cash or a high limit on your credit card. For a virgin Ducati buyer, you’ll probably be just as happy with the lower priced $17,600 base pinup model 999. But if you are an serious Ducati enthusiast or pavement scratching sportbike girl with a previous generation 916-996 Superbike model and you know how to get down on your knees for some serious satisfaction, the 999S is the box office starlet offering its backers a significant step up in engine performance and handling. You'll be extremely happy you made the move to Hollywood. KISS! -Janelle.

Decisions, decisions! The 999 looks best from behind, while Superbike girl Janelle looks great from any angle!

Added bonus! Janelle and Ducati 999S FastDates.com Screensavers
Click on the links to these pics and then save to your computer hard drive.
You'll find more pictures and a profile feature of Janelle in Meet the Models and in Members Corner.
1). Janelle's Curb Appeal
2). Janelle on the 999S
3). Janelle - Decisions!

Jannelle tests the 999S: Page OnePage Two

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DUCATI 999S-03
Suggested retail: $23,000
Less dealer prep, shipping, taxes.

Engine Type

L twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder Desmodromic; liquid cooled
Displacement 998 cc cc
BorexStroke 100 x 63.5 mm
Compression Ratio 11.4:1
Power 102 kW - 136 HP @ 9750 rpm
Torque 106 Nm - 10.8 kgm @ 8,000 rpm
Fuel injection: Marelli electronic fuel injection, 54 mm throttle body
Exhaust: Single steel muffler with 3-way catalytic converter, Emissions Euro2

Gearbox 6 speed
1st 37/15, 2nd 30/17, 3rd 28/20, 4th 26/22, 5th 24/23, 6th 23/24
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; ratio 1.84
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 36
Dry multiplate with hydraulic control

Tubular ALS450 steel trellis
Wheelbase: 1420 mm / 55,9 in
Rake: 23,5°÷24,5°

Front suspension
Öhlins 43 mm upside-down fork, for radial calipers; fully adjustable with TiN surface treatment
Front wheel travel: 120 mm / 4,7 in
Front brake: 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, 4-piston, 4-pad, radial calipers
Front wheel: New Y-shaped 5 spoke design light alloy forged 3.50x17
Front tyre: 120/70 ZR 17

Rear suspension
Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Öhlins monoshock
Rear wheel travel: 128 mm / 5 in
Rear brake: 240 mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Rear wheel: New Y-shaped 5 spoke design light alloy forged 5.50x17
Rear tyre: 190/50 ZR 17

Fuel tank capacity
15,5 l / 4,1 US gal (including 3 l / 0,8 US gal reserve)
Weight : 196 kg / 439 lbs
Seat height: 780 mm / 30,7 in

Speedometer, rev counter, high beam indicator, turn signals, oil pressure warning light, low fuel warning light, neutral light, water temperature. anti-theft Immobilizer


2 years unlimited mileage
Tank Colours: Red, Frame and Wheel colours: Metallic grey frame, grey wheels
Versions: One seat

520 Chain / Sprocket Kit Update
5/01/02- Optional sprockets are finally availabe to regear the 999. We opted for a narrower 520 from stock 525 chain and sprocket kit which reduced weight 1.5 pounds .
We went down 1-tooth on the front countershaft sprocket form 16T to 15T which helped the tall gearing a lot, but we still need to go further and suggest going one tooth taller in back from 46T to 47T.

748 / 999 Parts

All the hard to find race parts for your sportble now available from our new Fast Dates Calendar sponsor Moto Wheels including parts for the Ducati 748 / 999 Superbikes impossible to find elsewhere.
Goodies like a carbon front and rear swingarm mounted fenders, and a beautiful front nose piece without the ugly stock air slots.

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