If you were lucky enough to flick through the catalogues of either Storm or Elite model agencies, you’d see some stunning models, upon which your eye might linger…
But further along in the same catalogue, you might casually flick past some less attractive models, yet the thing is, these lesser models are worth a serious, in-depth look.
The Ducati ST2 is one of those models; not quite in the superstar class, but still pretty good. Mark Bullen reviews an underrated Italian beauty.
Mention Ducati to anyone, and the odds are that they’ll think, 996 or 916. But would they think ST2? I doubt it, and that is a real shame.
On the plus side, it’s got a growly, thumpy, torquey 944cc unique motor. It’s got a chassis that’s about as stable as anything you could wish to ride and you can get one on the road for a shade over six grand. On the minus side? Well, it’s not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, it could be a little more agile and it could afford to skip along to weightwatchers once a week to shed a few pounds. But let’s delve deeper;
Before I got hold of the ST2, I admit that I wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of testing the ST2. I was working on preconceptions, like we all do. I knew that it wouldn’t be the most thrilling or satisfying ride of my life and that it might be a little bit dull. But within a mile or so, I was ( I swear ) thinking, ’hang on, this isn’t half bad’.
Barrelling down a twisty A road, the lovely motor did it’s typical Ducati trick and as soon as the revs rose, it smoothed out its lumps and bumps and just barked at you as you wound it on. Short shifting through the gears ensures remarkably quick progress, but it’s also astonishingly civilised. You just don´t need to change down a gear to blast past another vehicle, you simply wind the throttle open and this puppy get’s it on.
Ducati call this a ’Sports Tourer’ and that’s exactly what it does.
Sports-wise, you can play on this bike. It prefers smoother, well surfaced, roads and riding around the Welsh borders was a revelation. This is pure sportsbike territory and on the twisty bits, nothing came by me. You turn in very easily and as the Dunlop Sportmax tyres roll onto the side profile, you can actually feel the chassis holding the line for you, it’s that stable. As you see the road straightening, you open the throttle further and the Vee twin torque fires you out of the turn. Inevitably you’ll have to slow down and the Brembo brakes on the ST2 were powerful, even if they did need quite a hefty squeeze, dragging you down very hard.
The Tourer-bit was also very impressive. In a single day I rode some 360 miles, easily within two tanks of fuel, to a business meeting. A lot of this journey was on motorways and while cruising at high speed, the air flow of the screen hit me just on the bottom of my helmet, making ear-plugs a sensible option. But even after riding nearly 400 miles, with a lap-top in my rucksack, as I neared home, I just couldn’t resist diving down my favourite A-road for a 30 mile blast. I can’t remember the last time I did that, but I really did the complete Sport Tourer experience in one day.
So have they achieved the impossible? Have Ducati created a perfect compromise, a bike that really does it all? There’s lots of sensible touches like (shock horror) a centrestand, complete with a little fold away grab-handle, a comfy seat – under which resides a U lock – a reasonably accurate fuel gauge and clock, pannier mounts and even a power socket for things like heated jackets. You can ride 400 miles in a day without, honestly, really noticing any aches and pains. Pillions have got a genuinely comfortable ride, so on that side, I’d say yes, they’ve made a very good tourer.
On the sports side there’s an amazing chassis; it really is far too fast for the road, you’d have to be in warp velocity to get it misbehaving. It’s pretty nimble and agile, but the best bit is the engine. From 3,000 up to approaching 10,500 it’s a beauty. It’s smooth, pushing out loads of useable torque and makes excellent use of its modest power output. It’s quite quick too; I saw well over 140mph (on the track, obviously, Officer). It definitely gives a very enjoyable ride when you are in sport-mode.
Nothing can be all things to all men, but the ST2 puts up a remarkable fight. In many ways, it’s actually a bargain and a very acceptable way to get into the whole Ducati thing.
So don’t be seduced by outrageously expensive beauty all the time. Occasionally that Supermodel needs to leave the catwalk and join the real world where the rest of us live. In the meantime, if you are looking for something just that little bit different, go and have a test ride on an ST2.
Get Ducati motorcycle insurance for the Ducati st2 2001.
Engine V-twin cylinder, four stroke, Desmodromic valve, liquid cooled
Claimed power (bhp) 83 HP @ 8500 rpm
Compression ratio 10.2 :1
Carbs; None, Marelli Electronic Fuel Injection
Frame; Tubular steel trellis
Wheelbase; 1430 mm
Front forks; Showa upside-down adjustable 43 mm fork
Wheels; Three spoke light alloy, 3.50×17
Front, 120/70 ZR 17 rear.
Front brakes; 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, 4-piston caliper
Rear brake; 245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Dry weight:209 kg /460 lbs
Colours; Red, yellow, metallic blue, silver
Top speed 140mph (est)
Fuel capacity 21 litres