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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

My first new thread! I am planing on purchasing my first Monster soon. I have already decided that it's the bike for me... now just a question of which one. I'm getting back into motorcylcing after 20 years away. I considered getting a "re-learner bike" first like an SV650 or such but my heart will not be satisfied with anything but a Monster so I'm just going for it.

Here's the question: I've found locally for sale for about $5,000 each and each with about 8K miles on the clock:

an '01 S4 pretty much bone stock

-or-

a '99 M900 with a Fast By Ferracci 944 big bore kit, lots of Carbon fiber pieces, Full Forza Exhaust, new Shorai Lithium Iron Lightweight Battery, Corbin Seat, Olin Steering Damper, and Chopped Tail.

Both bikes look well cared for and maintained at local trusted Ducati Dealer. Neither ever dropped. Both clean title.

I am a decent shade tree mechanic and plan on doing my own work (mostly).

All other things being equal, any recommendations one or the other?

Thanks for any input! - Phil
 

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S4 is an amazing machine.

The 900/944 will be easier and cheaper to maintain. Less valves, no coolant.

The S4 will be the smaller 916 vs the 998 of the later models and a bit less horsepower as a result. So at least it's not the worst Monster to choose for your first bike back.

I absolutely adore my S4RS. I've not ridden a S4 so I can't compare them. I do know that while my Tricolore has been occupying dealer service space, I found my 1000DS engined Paul Smart Sport Classic to lack all that torque that makes me get all child like when I describe my S4RS.

It would be a tough call as the early S4 looks closer to a M900 than the later S4R with the single sided swingarm.
 

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Subtle Differences

There are a few additional differences between them beyond the engine, perhaps this can help you make your decision.

The S4 will have the following advantages

Aluminum swing arm with spools
Adjustable suspension
Clipon style bars with a ST style triple tree
Lighter wheels if I am not mistaken...
Immobilizer system (perhaps not an advantage)

But like mike said, the M900 will be easier to work on...

Tough call...
 

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Some thoughts.

My recollection is that the S4 had a steel swingarm. My '97 M900 came with an aluminum swingarm with spools as did other Monsters. Either way doesn't seem to matter that much. You'll need to buy a rear stand with either bike.

I'd want to know who installed the big bore kit and how many miles it's been in the bike. I had an unpleasant experience with a 916 that had a built motor in it. Not saying that it is, but the kit may be an indication that the bike has been ridden harder than the S4.

I'd also want to know how long the belts have been in each bike. Age is a factor, in addition to mileage, as to whether they should be replaced and the bikes are 14 and 12 years old. Same for the tires, fork fluid, and the brake & clutch fluids.

Speaking of age, the upright riding position on my Monster is better for my back and wrists than the (raised) clip-ons on my Aprilia, although that may not be an issue for you.

I agree that the air cooled M900 will be easier to maintain yourself than the water cooled S4. There are numerous websites and written materials that can help you out. I have the Desmo Times manual and a Ducati service manual, both of which have proven to be useful.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow. Great info, everyone. Thanks.
Both sellers are the second owners. Both seem not to have ridden the bike hard. Both bikes have been professionally serviced at the local authorized Ducati dealer/service shop: A&S Ducati, Roseville, CA which I believe to be a very reputable and well-regarded shop. Both have had a “full” service within the last few hundred miles and were given a clean bill of health from A&S.
I know the s4 has brand new timing belts. The 944, I’m not sure. The tires on both bikes are new within a few hundred miles. I don’t know about fork oil and seals and other fluids besides engine oil but I’m assuming A&S would have flushed/replaced those, if deemed necessary.
The big bore kit on the 944 is by Fast By Ferracci and, I’m told, was installed professionally by them. It is in their shop right now in fact, to address a small leak on one of the cylinder base gaskets. I’m not sure if that is cause for concern??? Hopefully, FBF will fix it and that will be that.
I intend to look at both bikes this week but I’m not in a hurry to do anything rash. I intend to make a trip to San Francisco soon as well and check inventory at some of the cool moto shops there. Right now, I’m gathering info. I figure the right bike will jump out at me when I see it.
More soon! Phil
 

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I'd say "test ride". That may settle the decision.

Also keep in mind that just because the tires, and even the belts, have been replaced in the last couple hundred miles, that if the owners were not out riding the bikes then the tires may be so old they still need to be replaced.
 

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Finjis, when I was in the market I inquired about that red S4 (that I think you're talking about, serviced at A&S). The tachometer has an issue where it doesn't register until above 4-4500 RPMs, not sure if the owners have fixed the problem yet. If it is the tach and not a wiring or electrical issue, that particular unit is $$$ from what I have read because the immobilizer is built in. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable like caferacermike can chime in if it's a common issue or an easy fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Farmer, yup, that's the one. Looks like that's about a $500 part. Yeesh! I gather this can be a problem with these bikes...? I'm already learning! I'm gonna go look at the bike but won't make any decision just yet.

Are these tachs cable driven or electronic? If it's a cable, I'd be inclined to suspect that first. CafeRacerMike, any thoughts?

Farmer: just curious - you say you "Were" in the market. What'd you end up with? Mind if I ask what you paid? What made you pass on this particular bike?

Thanks all.
 

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Farmer: just curious - you say you "Were" in the market. What'd you end up with? Mind if I ask what you paid? What made you pass on this particular bike?

Thanks all.
Finjis, I ended up purchasing a 99 M900. Everything worked and had a service history and some nice mods which I would have ended up doing myself anyway (Ferracci exhaust, 14T front sprocket, Corbin seat, RoadRacing gauges, new tires, sliders, etc etc). I paid $4500, 9700 miles on the clock. A good deal? I don't know, but I'm very happy with the motorcycle; it's super strong, torque everywhere and sounds fantastic :p I've already ridden it from SF to Chico (about 360 miles round trip) three times and I enjoy riding this thing A LOT. I came from a 600cc FZ6 so the torque this M900 makes is :eek: compared to the FZ6.

I passed on the S4 because I wanted something that didn't have any issues right out of the box.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Farmer, I take it then that you are somewhere near SF, yes? I'm planning a trip into the city Saturday and I want to hit some of the moto shops to see what's out there, ask questions, get advice, info...

Do you have any recommendations of shops I'd want to visit? I already have a few in mnd but you'd know better than I.
 

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Tach is electric.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Mike. Figured it must be for that $$$ but was hoping...

Farmer: headed to SF on Sat. Gonna check out SF Moto, Scuderia, Munroe Motors... any recommendations on other shops I should visit?
 

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Thanks Mike. Figured it must be for that $$$ but was hoping...

Farmer: headed to SF on Sat. Gonna check out SF Moto, Scuderia, Munroe Motors... any recommendations on other shops I should visit?
Those are pretty much the only Italian motorcycle dealers I know of in the area lol. J&M Motorsports in Mountain View usually has a few Ducati's in their inventory too. I've personally been to SF Moto and Munroe Motors, both are very friendly dealerships.
 

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being that I own one of these, I will be biased. With all the trick bits you're indicating that the 900 already has installed, I'd say its the clear choice. (assuming both are in fact clean bikes that haven't been abused). the S4 will give you a slight bump in HP, but the difference is not going to be enough to wow you...if you want that, you need to go S4R(S). torque is pretty much the same between the 2 bikes. the S4 has the 5 spoke wheels, and the adjustable suspension. But if you're not the ideal rider, you may want to have the suspension redone anyway. Lets say 300ish for new spring and fork rebuild. The 900 has the exhaust and ohlins steering damper which are way pricier if you add these on your own. If FBF did the install, then they should have mapped it for their exhaust, which is a huge bonus. Again, if FBF did the work, there's probably a dyno chart floating around documenting what you got out of it.

btw, you say the 900 is back at FBF for gasket work? FBF is east coast. looks like you're west coast. don't know if the bike is shipped or what, but thought I'd point that out.

As a street bike the 900/944 will have enough punch to make you smile, the damper is a nice safety upgrade and the aftermarket exhaust is considered an essential item to get the true experience. I'm happy with mine and its not going anywhere.

But then again, test riding them, you may come to your own opinion. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Morningstar, Thanks for yet more awesome info. I'm gonna check out the s4 just to do it but I'm more interested in the 944 for many of the resons you listed. Comparativly, the S4 seems pretty vanilla since it's totally stock.

I think I was a little confused by the way the seller explained the bike being in the shop right now and thought maybe there was an FBF out here. But I think what they meant was the gasket issue was being addressed at A&S Roseville.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Farmer, well that's cool news. I have texted him at his number and emailed him from the CraigsList ad but haven't heard anything back after our first contact a few days back. I'd sure love to at least see the bike as it seems awful darn close to what I'm looking for. I really don't wanna hound the poor guy but I'm seriously interested... what else can I do? Oh well. If I don't hear back in a few days, I'll contact him here too. I hope he hasn't sold it to someone else. That'd be a drag (for me, not them!)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Very late response/resurrection of this thread: While I was visiting moto shops in SF, I had a sudden flash of responsibility and decided to delay purchase until I get my financial house more in order. I know, I know... boring, huh?

I didn't really see a bunch of used inventory, Monster or otherwise at the moto shops that interested me.

Interestingly, one of the sales dudes somewhat strongly tried to talk me out of a Ducati. He said he's owned them and even has one now but that I'd be getting more for my dollar with a Japanese bike. He also wondered if I would really be all that stoked about doing my own maintenance in the long run or paying the high dollars that Duc shops usually ask.

I completely ignored this advice. I'm getting a Duc, dammit. Just not right away.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I bought a Ducati!!

SO I was thinking I'd have to save up for a while and take care of some debt first. And then I was thinking it would be smart to pick up a beat up SV650 or something just to get my skills back for a while, then I'd pick up the bike I really want. I looked around and nothing really seemed right.

AND THEN... an '01 Monster 750 Dark came up on CL for $2,500. It looked pretty good so I started inquiring. It's got 16K miles on it. Bone stock. New chain, sprockets, front tire, rebuilt rear shock, recent oil change, valve service carbs rebuild and brand new battery. It did have a driveway drop by the first owner who then sold it at 400 miles! The guy I bought it from has had it since. He had the tank dents fixed and the tank painted. I will be repainting over that soon though. When I post a pic, you will see why. (They did a great paint job but it's got a p40 fighter plane style shark mouth and eyes painted on it. Not at all my style.)

And it all just tuned out as if it was meant to be. The seller lives two blocks down the street from me! And he even gave me a "neighborhood discount" on the price without me asking! And gifted me with a free new battery and a bikini fairing from an M900 (doesn't fit quite perfectly but I think I can fabricate some brackets or something to make it work)

Still, I had to be sure so I took it to the local Ducati Dealership for a pre-sale inspection. Turns out the bike was actually sold by them and they've done all the services. THe tech told me the bike was "immaculate." for it's age and milage and strongly reccomended I buy it, at $2,000. it was a great deal.

So, here I go... riding for the rest of the summer/fall to get my skills back. And then, this winter, she goes into the garage for paint, tail chop, high pipes and whatever else I can think of! Heres what she looks like right now.



Hi All,

My first new thread! I am planing on purchasing my first Monster soon. I have already decided that it's the bike for me... now just a question of which one. I'm getting back into motorcylcing after 20 years away. I considered getting a "re-learner bike" first like an SV650 or such but my heart will not be satisfied with anything but a Monster so I'm just going for it.

Here's the question: I've found locally for sale for about $5,000 each and each with about 8K miles on the clock:

an '01 S4 pretty much bone stock

-or-

a '99 M900 with a Fast By Ferracci 944 big bore kit, lots of Carbon fiber pieces, Full Forza Exhaust, new Shorai Lithium Iron Lightweight Battery, Corbin Seat, Olin Steering Damper, and Chopped Tail.

Both bikes look well cared for and maintained at local trusted Ducati Dealer. Neither ever dropped. Both clean title.

I am a decent shade tree mechanic and plan on doing my own work (mostly).

All other things being equal, any recommendations one or the other?

Thanks for any input! - Phil
 

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