There’s a difference between having a hot Ducati and an overheating Ducati. Running a performance motorcycle usually means pushing it to the limits on the road or on the track, which can often lead to high temperatures. You may even experience issues with overheating, and if your Ducati temperature gauge climbs into the red zone, you risk major damage to your engine and cooling system.
It is important to understand why your motorcycle is overheating so you can correct the problem, cool it down and get back out to enjoy your ride. At Design Corse, we carry a full range of aftermarket performance upgrade parts and accessories that improve the performance of your Ducati’s cooling system. We're as passionate about Ducati motorcycles as you are, so we wanted to share our expertise and help you diagnose, repair and avoid overheating. Here’s how to keep your motorcycle engine cool.
Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Engines
There can be several reasons why a motorcycle overheats. Before we get into that, it’s important to understand the difference between water-cooled and air-cooled engines. While you probably know the difference, we thought a quick refresher would be helpful:
Water-cooled: In a water-cooled engine, a series of passages allows water — generally mixed in a ratio of 50/50 with coolant, for corrosion protection — to flow through the engine. Obviously, the water can't mix with the engine oil or fuel, which is why there are gaskets and chambers separating the fluids. The water passes through your radiator to be cooled by air flowing through and in turn, circulates in your engine to remove heat from the oil and engine block and heads.
Air-cooled: Automobiles have long since moved away from air-cooling — like the famous Beetle — but many motorcycles still feature air-cooled engines. Fins on the engine increase surface area for air to cool as you’re driving. While this type of cooling is less effective than water cooling, especially when stopped or at slow speeds, the advantage is a less complicated engine, no possibility of a water/coolant leak and no radiator, hoses or water pump for added weight.
Why Is My Ducati Overheating?
Modern motorcycles feature a digital or analog gauge to show engine temperature, and many also feature a warning light when the temperature gets too high. If you ever see your gauge climb to the red or your temperature light come on, stop as soon as it's safe to do so. You risk causing severe damage to your engine. A hot coolant leak can also burn you, so always keep an eye on your temperature gauge.
Depending on your engine — water-cooled or air-cooled — there can be several reasons for overheating:
Low coolant level: A low volume of coolant can’t remove as much heat as a larger volume, which is why Ducati specifies the correct amount of coolant for your motorcycle cooling system. If your coolant level gets low enough, air pockets can keep your pump from circulating the remaining coolant properly, compounding the problem.
Aftermarket modifications: While most riders are careful when they make modifications, in some cases changes you’ve made to your engine, radiator or other performance-related components might cause overheating. A pinched coolant hose or incorrect temperature sensor, for example, can keep your cooling system from functioning properly.
Incorrect fuel mixtures: Those of you that run race or custom fuel mixtures may sometimes experience engine overheating. That's because your Ducati is designed to run on a particular grade of fuel and any changes can affect the compression. This, in turn, generates more heat that your cooling system might not be able to handle. Aftermarket exhaust modifications may require a fuel remap to avoid overheating and other problems.
Idling/traffic: Motorcycles that are either air-cooled or don't have an electric radiator fan can overheat in traffic due to a lack of air movement. When you're sitting in traffic, hot, stagnant air around your cooling fins or radiator allow your engine heat to build. In general, as soon as you start moving, the temperature will drop again, though in very hot climates this can take a while.
How to Keep Your Ducati Cool
When you've determined why your motorcycle is overheating, it's much easier to fix the problem.
For air-cooled motorcycles, the solution is often to pay closer attention to your temperature gauge and react accordingly or find a cooler area to ride, such as a shaded road. If you see your temperature gauge climbing, back off the throttle a bit. While you might think riding faster forces more air across the cooling fins of your engine, this is negated by the extra heat created by running your engine hard. If your air-cooled engine still isn’t cooling, shut it off and let it cool for a while before taking off again.
With water-cooled Ducati models, if you experience overheating from time to time and have verified your coolant level, modifications and fuel mixture, it might just be that you’re pushing your motorcycle beyond its cooling limits. If that’s the case, you may want to consider an aftermarket cooling solution to improve your bike’s process. This may include aftermarket cooling system hoses, an upgraded radiator or cooler guard, or a higher-capacity water pump.
If you’ve suffered damage to the cooling fins of your radiator, your cooling system will be less effective. Consider installing a custom radiator or cooler guard to help protect from stone chips and clogging.
Browse our catalog now and find the solutions you need for your bike. You can also give our team at Design Corse a call or send us a message. We’ll help you select the right part for your bike so that you can avoid future overheating issues.
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