Ducati 400SS Review & Ratings
- 17 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
IT REALLY WASN’T supposed to be like this. Last autumn I carefully put the shiny little Ducati to bed in a nice, airy, dry (or so I thought) shed. I drained the fuel tank and carbs, greased the chain, sprayed anti-corrosion gunk everywhere, connected a home-madesolar charging system to keep the battery happy,satit on paddock stands to keep the tyres round, and added a breathable cover to keep the dust and moisture off. So come the spring it should have been a caseof whipping off the cover, adding some fuel, checking the tyre pressures and rumbling off to explore some back roads. Instead I’m staring at something that lookslike it’s been dragged out of a swamp. The alternately damp then dusty air has caused havoc. There’s corrosion everywhere – the chrome brake line connectors are rusty red, the swingarm’s spotted with rust through the silver paint, alloy engine casings are furred up and the hydraulic reservoirs are just blobs of knackered aluminium.
Oh, and mice have nested in the airbox and eaten the insulators off the battery terminals. It’s a mess, but at least it’s mostly cosmetic damage. Except, when I open the tank to put in a drop of fuel, I find that’s a mass of rust as well. The tanks on all early SS models are prone to rusting at the rear edges, where any water in the fuel collects at a low point and works its horrible dark magic. Shining a torch down there confirms my worst fears – serious rust at the rear edges, and adding a very little fuel confirms it’s gone all the way through and is leaking out under the paint on the outside. At the very least it’s going to need chemically sealing, ideally it needs brazing up properly. It’s like bending over to kiss Sleeping Beauty awake from her slumbers, only to find she’s wet the bed and smells like a tramp. On the plus side, the solar charging system worked beautifully, so I can nick the enormous battery for my ride-on lawnmower. The Ducati won’t be needing it any time soon.