New Ducati 998S FE

We sourced a new Ducati 998S FE for a customer, as they didn’t want to ride their example. One of the biggest problems of these new machines, is are they genuine? Are they really NEW, nearly twenty year old motorcycles? This may sound paranoid to some but we have been asked to prepare customer’s motorcycles, which are claimed to be new, and we discovered that many of them weren’t new. The customer innocently asked us to get their NOS machines running and ready to sell and what we found was tragic. 

New Ducati 998S FE RHS
A beautiful new Ducati 998S FE

Is it really a new motorcycle?

Is it really a new motorcycle, or is it one of the many ex-racing motorcycles masquerading as a new motorcycle from twenty plus years ago? There are companies that have been buying up ex-racing motorcycles, complete with the original bodywork and speedo, restoring them and claiming they are new classic motorcycles. Many of the bikes were bought with the intention of racing them, so the bodywork, instruments and many other parts are removed and replaced with racing items. After many seasons on the race track, someone has decided to buy the lot, restore the bike, fit the 0 mile speedo and claim it’s a brand new motorcycle. You would be surprised how often this happens and in the last ten years, it happens more often than not in our experience. Many of these so-called new bikes need to be investigated, as the owner’s word is not enough.

Photo 01 10 2021 09 27 36
The body work is all removed after the endoscope has been in each cylinder.

How to prove the motorcycle is new.

First thing is an endoscope down the bore, you’ll need one which bends back 180 degrees to check for carbon in the combustion chamber. Absence of carbon does not prove that the bike is new, it’s only an indicator. Remove all of the bodywork and inspect where the bodywork meets the chassis for witness marks to ensure that the bike has not been ridden. The motorcycle would have been ridden up to ten miles for its PDI by the supplying dealer, this is a legal requisite, so any marking should be commensurate with the indicated PDI mileage. Look for evidence of lock-wired components in the past, or for signs of new paint around those areas. Look for signs of chassis repairs, as a racing chassis usually has a very touch life and has some kind of signs of accident repair. You will ned a paint expert with you to spot signs of paint repair. Look for the yellow chinagraph paint marks, proving that bolts have been torqued. Although we have even seen this faked on an ex-race bike, but we’ve only seen that once before. Most forgers aren’t that focused on the details. The Ducatis have date stamps on their body panels, so checking those can verify the date of production of the body panels.

Photo 17 09 2021 11 34 02
The lack of vibration marks on these contact points shows the machine has not been ridden.
Photo 17 09 2021 11 40 07
nearly all of the 916/996/998 series have dates on their body panels.

Does some corrosion mean it’s not genuine?

Does some corrosion mean it’s not genuine, especially when it’s been kept in a heated garage, or inside someone’s home? Slight failures in finishes can be quite normal, such as in the photo below, the corrosion around the arrowed areas marked 1 and 2 is normal. You would expect to see this from a machine even in a controlled environment, unless it’s been kept in one of our storage bags, you can read about them here. In the same photo you can see the difference in the chinagraph paint by arrows 3 and 4. This can be quite normal, depending on the location of the mark. The scratch on the anodising of the subframe by arrow 1 is to be expected and would have happened either at the factory, during packing or during the PDI ride. The paint flaw by arrow 2 is pretty normal from a factory finish, in fact if I didn’t see at least one or two of these on a Ducati from this era, then I’d be suspicious.

New Ducati 998S FE corrosion etc
Even if the motorcycle has been kept indoors, this type of corrosion is to be expected, unless you use our anti corrosion storage bags for your motorcycle.
New Ducati 998S FE frame aint flaw
The scratch on the anodising 1 and the flaw in the factory paint 2 are all quite normal.

Seek out the signs and the evidence

Seek out the signs and the evidence that the machine is either genuine or not. Not being sure is not enough today, as the values of these machines are increasing rapidly and many people are investing their pensions in them. Thinking it doesn’t matter because if I can’t tell, then no one else can is not enough. If you get caught out, the legal case costs about £50,000 to defend alone, it is just not worth it. The motorcycle has to be genuine, or you are very exposed indeed.

New Ducati 998S FE LHS
The 998R FE is a very rare and special motorcycle, whichever way you look at it. Just make sure it’s genuine.

How do I buy a new classic motorcycle that is genuine?

How do I buy a new classic motorcycle that is genuine, without all the grief I could be exposed to? Simple, contact The Motorcycle Broker, as we investigate every motorcycle and judge it on its own merits. We ensure that the invoice is correctly worded, so if there’s a problem we can get a full refund easily on our client’s behalf. We buy through contacts who do not indulge in deception, when it comes to the motorcycles they sell and we know who to trust and who not to. We do the classic motorcycle due diligence for you. If you are interested in investment grade classic motorcycles you know are genuine, then call The Motorcycle Broker.

Paul Jayson

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