People always think that buying a used Ducati is a potential minefield, but a well looked after one is actually quite reliable. And that’s the key. Don’t buy a hound imagining you can return it to its full glory, you won’t and you will spend a fortune discovering this fact!
First of all ensure you have a good service history – a higher mileage Ducati with a service history is a better buy than a lower mileage one without. The 748 needs its cam belts changed every two years, irrespective of mileage, while the ‘desmo service’ is every 6000 miles and involves a valve clearance check.
Dodging these services can lead to expensive mechanical woes, especially as the alternator nut has a habit of working loose on pre-testastretta V-twins, potentially wreaking havoc within the motor…
Reg/recs are weak points on early 748 models, and the plating on the rocker arms can also wear (this should be sorted by now), but your main concern when buying used is the swingarm pinch bolts.
Check the eccentric swingarm adjuster moves freely and that the hub hasn’t been deformed by the pinch bolts being over-tightened (ask the owner what the torque settings are, he should know it’s 31Nm), a common issue. Other than this, check the positive feed into the starter motor for rust, listen for signs the sprag clutch is worn and ensure all the electrical items work – especially the fuel warning and neutral lights.