Alistair Maclean's Web Site
Products Review

Tried & Tested

Ducati Tank bag

The design of the 996 never envisaged people going on Iron Butt tours, but it also didn't seem to take into account the concept of going for a short trip for a weekend either. This means that there is no provision for luggage of any kind; there are no bungee hooks, no pannier mounts, no places to put your smalls.

Ducati obviously realized this to be a problem, in the end, and created the tank bag you see here. It's not huge, but it does do the task at hand fairly well.

In zipped up form, low and minimum capacity

in low mode

In uncorked mode, with helmet shown for scale

in full mode

The bag has a zipper about its middle that allows it to accordion out. This allows you to get a helmet inside. I would not recommend riding with the bag so distended, even with my long-ish arms, I find it hard to comfortably reach the bars with the bag fully loaded.

Because of the bags coffin like shape, it tends to be a pain to put rectangular things in it. The boxes that video cards come in tend to be just too large to fit.

The bag is held in place by magnets. These have not yet zapped my credit cards, but then it's probably just a matter of time. The bag itself, is attached to its base with a zipper that allows the bag to be removed from the base and carried alone. There is a shoulder strap to make this more elegant.

In general I have found this bag to be a boon. It holds enough to make me feel somewhat able to travel further afield, yet not so large as to give me pretensions of visiting the brother-in-law in California.

A definite thumbs up.

Ferraci Handlebar risers

As I may have alluded to in prior jottings, the Duke is a little hard on the wrists. This is a combination of the low position of the handlebars and the angle they are set at in relationship to you, the rider. The way to sort this is not that easy. Generally, you would just alter something like the bar bend, by putting on a new bar, but here there is a problem. These are clip-ons and to complicate things, the hydraulic reservoirs for the brake and clutch are set high over the bars and if raised too high conflict with the fairing. So there is limited latitude for adjustment here.

There are several companies making handlebar risers. I chose the Fast By Ferraci (FBF) risers to start with. Other options include MUCH higher risers from Vreeke Enterprises and altered bars from one or two suppliers (Pro-itailia used to do one).

Risers tend to be replacement clamps, that alter the angle and/or height at which the handle bar is positioned relative to the fork leg.

The Ferraci risers are a simple replacement for the standard Ducati parts. You remove the existing clamps and put the new ones on. It took under an hour to do everything. Allen keys are all you need. One minor item that was different: there was no engagement tag to make them line up the way the originals did. This is good in that it allows you to change the fore/rear angle of the bars, but bad because it's a devil to get the bars the same angle on each side of the bike.

Below are the original clamps, they differ to the FBF items only in the angle of the holes. (Said the actress to the Bishop.)


I cannot claim to have had unmitigating success with the FBF handlebar risers. They fit well enough, they seem a little less sturdy than the originals, to the point that I occasionally think I can feel them flex. They alter the angles, and improve things, but they are not the solution I was hoping for. They are however still on the bike as they are better than a poke in the eye with the original clamps.

Half a thumb up.

The "Throttle Rocker"

This dainty piece of plastic claims to relieve the rider of that odious task of keeping the throttle in a single position by allowing the palm of the hand to be used to moderate the throttle. It slides onto the throttle grip, and can be rotated around the grip in only one direction. It fit well, and didn't break.

I found that on the highway I could indeed ride using the palm under my thumb to control the throttle position. It was a not-uncomfortable position (such as can be said of any position on the 996).

The black plastic shape is a little hard to photograph.

The Throttle Rocker

Getting to that cruising situation was one thing, getting out of the position was an altogether different matter.

In around-town traffic, the rocker is a liability (is that a safe word to use about a product?). It gets in the way of all throttle actions until it is wound out of the way. I had to move it quite a bit around the throttle grip before I was free of it. If I hit it with the palm of my hand, I had the tendency to abruptly accelerate - not a nice feeling as you crawl through traffic.

Getting onto a highway then involved a few minutes of twisting the Rocker back round to an active position.

Leaving the highway, again, forced me into adjusting its position, an activity I considered did not increase my safety or comfort.

Now some of this positional stuff might be because the 996 has one of those quarter turn throttles (a little tug gets a lot of fuel injector attention), but I would have to say that I would not recommend this product. I removed it from use.

Two thumbs down.

Power Commander III (USB)

Have you ever feared that for want of a few shekels you were going to miss out on an improvement that could transform your life? Well, the Power Commander III may be that thing. It is definitely safe to say this is Bling, hidden, but Bling nevertheless. The computer is a small device about the size of a packet of fags, it sits in the tail piece of the bike velcro'ed onto the EFI computer. PC III in place A wiring harness runs forward, under the tank, to the fuel injector connector on the left side just above the front cylinder. The device fitted relatively easily, though my big fat fingers were a tight squeeze under the tank trying to put the connectors back in place. I programmed the Power Commander using the company laptop - just don't tell 'em! - having downloaded the latest software and an injection map from the Power Commander website. As evening quickly became night and the clock hands whizzed toward midnight I took the bike out for a test ride.

What a transformation! The bike immediately idled more smoothly, then once on the road it became obvious that on a steady throttle the engine was almost perfectly smooth, not hunting and surging as it had done before. Pickup from a closed throttle was immediate and smooth. Then the rush... Blasting out onto a late night Interstate, fighting for a place with 16 wheelers suddenly became child's play - not that the 996 ever had much problem in this department. Now, though, the bike blasted to 110 mph like all the foregoing numbers never existed. I can see traffic tickets in my future...

Recently the dealer managed to recalibrate the throttle position value in the PC III. This has made a wonderful improvement to the delivery. It is now even smoother, and gets a bit better mileage than before. I get about 125 miles before the reserve light flashes (approx 40mpg).

Get one. There are no other recommendations... Just Get One! You need it, even if you don't know it!

Power Commander Website

1000 thumbs up! (never been one to exaggerate, too much.)

© Copyright A. Maclean 2001 -
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