Ducati ST3 (2003) - Review

Posted: 27 Feb 2013

Ducati didn’t achieve fame through making sport-touring motorcycles but this doesn’t mean it can’t make good sport-touring bikes and the ST3 is testament to this. The previous ST2 was okay, but didn’t drag Honda VFR owners through showroom doors looking for something better. But the ST3 did just that.

Ducati started afresh with the ST3 starting at the core with a new 90-degree V-twin air-cooled engine that was tractable, smooth and had a delicious spread of midrange drive. Ducati figured that most sport-touring riders simply wanted overtaking power without the need to rev an engine to get it. Ducati gave the ST3 exactly this, almost by accident when it designed a new three-valve cylinder head and improved the fuel injection to meet new emissions regulations.

The end result was indeed overtaking power bang in the middle of the rev range. This meant that there wasn’t any real need to change down the gearbox but simply roll up to corners, tip in and then open the throttle. In effect a less tiring approach in getting to your destination. In a word: perfect.

Because an ST3 rider doesn’t need to “rag it” with a flurry of upper rpm gear changes, fuel consumption can stretch to 52mpg with just the rider onboard making use of sunny Sunday afternoons. However, the ST3 was designed primarily to lug rider and pillion in a fast and comfortable and it does this with aplomb.

Although the pillion seat is comfy, it sits that person high up enough to catch deflected air from the fairing screen. Ear plugs or head uncomfortably tucked downwards, it’s their choice. At least the grab rail is effective.

The ‘sport’ side of the ST3 is glaringly obvious when making the most of dry roads. It is agile and very easy to chuck around. Because the footpegs are set to a position to be comfortable they will touch down in appreciation of the fun you’re having.

Early models didn’t come with matching panniers as standard but some dealers included them to clinch a deal. What it does come with is an electronically adjustable headlight operated from the dash. This dash also makes use of CanBus wiring to include a multi-fuctional readout with average fuel consumption and remaining fuel, clock and everything else to keep you informed of life with an ST3.

+ points – an affordable and alternative non-Japanese sport-tourer

- points – the engine is a magnet for road crud and difficult to keep clean. Front wheel spindles corrode so keep greased

Year: 2003-2007
Power: 100bhp, 68.6ft lbs
Kerb weight: 214kg
Seat height: 820mm
Colours: red, yellow