A short ( unless I get carried away ) page on the various 996 eproms and problems we have with them. This has been bought on by recent events ( me being hassled ) and things that were said during. I hope it’s not too confusing.

I was asked by one upset customer’s wife why it takes so long to find out if a chip has problems or not. The question was answered by her husbands non response to my request for feedback. I rang him a month after I fitted the chip and his response was that he hadn’t ridden it much, that it was better from what he could tell so far, but he was going to ring me when he had ridden it more. As some of you are probably aware, we don’t know what people think if people don’t tell us.

Anyway, I’ve begun digressing already. We have had some problems with 996s and eproms we have fitted to them. These issues are usually very inconsistant and may be affected by something else I had never considered. I also have the problem that, being a representative of an authorised dealership, what I say gets used against me later on. If anyone who deals with me ever gets the feeling I’m a little jaded, that’s dealing with the public for you.

The specific issues with the 996 have been around since ’98, but have been very on and off. One rather odd aspect of this is that the thing about these bikes that drives me absolutely nuts no one has ever complained about. The first shop bike we had was wacky with the standard chip, showing a "steppiness" ( for want of a better term ) to the low speed delivery. This is a characteristic of the std eprom. Then I played with the cam timing, fitted a FIM eprom and got a bike that went great and ran just as well.

The first bike we played with the cam timing on also ran great. Then we started to have problems. Talking to Duane at Ultimap ( FIM’s new name ) I found out that the software ( mathematical algorithms ) used in the 996 eprom was different to the 916/748. This appeared to explain the steppiness. Duane’s first solution was to make an eprom that combined 916 and 996 chip software, which I had used in our shop bike. For some guys it was fine, others had problems. We tried some Ducati Performance eproms ( not adjustable ) with varying results. Given the mapping the DP eproms had compared to the FIM eproms, I tried to stay away from them anyway. Duane revised his eprom a few times, again with varying results. Some people loved them, some not. Any problem would take between 3 and 6 months to come up though, so it was a slow and annoying process.

The main problem has always been a stumble or misfire when the throttle is wound on at 3,500 RPM. How bad it is varies, with what I’m not really sure. Backfiring on overrun was another problem that could get some owners screaming. The next issue that came up for me was that when Duane does an eprom for a bike, he insists that a few things are done to the sample bike to make sure it is set up right. One of those things is setting the cam timing to spec. Given the range that Ducati obviously feel is acceptable for std cam timing settings, this was changing the way the bikes were set up quite a bit and was, in my opinion, rather misrepresentative of the "as delivered" bike.

Now don’t ring or email me and tell me you want your cam timing redone for free under warranty. Ducati do not see this as a problem. The other thing to remember before you go your dealer like a pit bull is that the warranty covers bikes with "original equipment" only. A lovely little phrase that protects their arse ( ass? ) very nicely. If it’s not standard, it’s not warranty. OK.

This cam timing theory is shot down by the fact that one of the bikes I had dialled the cams on also had this problem. The cam timing we use is quite different to the factory specs. I have spent many hours since trying to get this bike running right, wiping out any profit we made on the job originally. My last effort involved one of Duane’s later eproms, which according to the owner helped a whole lot. Personally I wasn’t that happy with it, but it appears the owner is, and that’s the main aim.

By this stage I was trying to get Duane to test a bike as it came out of the box, but this is also based on the idea that they are consistantly incorrect. Which we are not sure is a valid assumption. And you guys thought this was easy huh. Then something else came up that, while very weird, seemed to work very well.

When the 996 was first introduced, I assumed they came with dual injectors per cylinder because they needed it. As all the SPs have had duals, I didn’t think about it too much. Duane had mentioned a couple of times that he knew of people running them as single injector bikes using 916 eproms with one injector disconnected. Supposedly they were running great, with none of the issues we were having.

Then someone who needs to remain nameless rang me ( he works in something we refer to as an ivory tower ) and said "have you ridden a std 996 recently". He went on about how bad he thought it was and how much better it ran with a 916 eprom and one injector disconnected. I had asked Duane to send me one of his new dual injector eproms to try about this time, but he sent me a single injector version instead ( which is his way of getting me involved in the trial process ). This required some minor changes, due to the dynamic differences in opening one injector for longer as opposed to opening two for half the time we think.

Anyway, we got the eproms, disconnected one injector per cylinder and away we went. Our current shop demo showed all the problems we had been having with the FIM eproms, so was a good model to work on. It was very happy. Then I tried two rather patient customers who had been waiting for an eprom for some time. One had used an earlier FIM eprom when he bought the bike. He hated the way it misfired at 3,500 RPM and backfired on overrun. He did like the way it went when the throttle was opened, however. The other we had tried on the pre delivery test ride, deciding to pull the FIM eprom out and wait for something better. The wait was much longer than we expected, but now we think we are there. Both have reported improvement, which is what we expected. Duane has supplied this eprom to another person also, who’s response came back to me as "horn". Got to be happy with that. Duane currently has another 996 to test, so a refined version of this chip will hopefully appear soon.

At this point some of you are probably screaming about the bikes running lean. Well, the new ST4S, the 996 powered ST4, runs a single injector per cylinder. The same injector as the 916, and one half of the 996 pair. Which is probably Ducati’s way of saying something. And don’t think the ST4S is a lesser 996 either. With a new inlet cam that shuts the valves about 10 degrees earlier ( another factory confirmation of something we have known for a while, and also fitted to the Monster S4 ), this is claimed to be MORE powerful @ 117 Hp than the 996 STRADA engine @ 112 Hp. The 996 dual injector setup has more to do with SBK homologation rules than what the bike actually needs I now suspect.

The theory with this is that the dynamics of two injectors firing into the under throttle area somehow creates a problem. The SP/SPS models have used this dual injector set up for a long time, but they have always run the older style P7/P8 ECU, which have the dual pick ups and none of the later issues it would seem. The P7/P8 software can use a single injector for low fuel rates, then switch to both injectors at a higher, preset level ( between 4,000 and 6,000 RPM from my experience trying to solve a problem with an SP ). It must be that the problem area is in the single injector only range on these engines, negating its appearance. As for how the 996S works, with the SPS engine run by the 16M ECU, remains to be seen ( do I sound confident? ).

The ST4S, as a side issue, runs the new, very compact 5.9M ECU ( as does the Monster S4 ). This is a flashloaded ECU, like the SS ie and Monster ie series, but is much smaller. How it works in service will be found in the future.

I also alluded to another problem earlier. There is supposedly a rather significant variation in the flow rate of the fuel injectors. Over 10% was the figure Duane gave me. At this point I pretty much thought about giving up. We try really hard to get these things spot on, but variations that I couldn’t account for always seem to creep up, particularly when I am playing with bikes I have modified. How much of a problem this is I don’t know.

Duane went on about the problems they had in the early days when he worked with the Ducati Dealer Team. Back then, when no one really knew too much and any obstacle could go from mole hill to mountain in an instant, injector flow rate mismatch was a real problem. The bikes being raced in Australia were probably kitted up SPs at that time, and bits or info weren’t all that easy to get. To get injectors that were matched acceptably in flowrate, DDT would buy sets of injectors for Aston Martin DB7 ( I think ) and flow all 8 of them until they found 4 that were close enough in flow rate to be useful. The possible variation was over 15% in those days, according to Duane. The reason they were buying Aston Martin ones is that this was about the only other vehicle that used Weber Marelli injectors in that size. Expensive? You bet. Probably less than the Ducati ones, if that was any consolation.

Short? I think I got a little carried away.

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