In essence, the Ducati 888 is an enlarged 851 – a model launched in 1987 to replace the 900SS. It came with the signature Ducati v-twin engine but was upgraded to liquid cooling and 4-valve desmodromic heads with computerized fuel injection. The chassis remained a Ducati trellis frame fitted with Brembo brakes, Marzocchi suspension and Marvic wheels (initially a 16-inch front but soon changed to a 17-inch to improve handling).
The Ducati 888 was the evolution of the 851 superbike that came about due to the fiercely competitive World Superbike series (the 851/888 won 3 WSB titles!), though it took a couple of years after the racing machines went up to 888cc before the road bikes followed suit. In 1992 Ducati launched the 888 as a factory model, the bore being increased to enlarge the capacity. Several variants of the model were produced, the first 888 being an 851 chassis with a SP3 (888) engine, through to the 888 SP5 that came out in 1993.
Only eleven 888 Ducatis of all variants were licensed in the UK in 2016. Although there are surely more tucked away in sheds around the country we think this demonstrates the rarity of these benchmark bikes. The 851/888 was the turning point of Ducati’s fortunes and put them back on the map as a racing company and as manufacture of top flight road machines. The price of these bikes has already seen a significant rise and it is easy to see why.
The Ducati 888 offered here is a SP3 example finished in Tradition Red. It is still with the original owner and has covered 35,000 miles from new. The body work isn’t perfect, but there are no major dents and it still remains perfectly presentable. It is very useable as it stands, but is ideal for light restoration to its former glory with very little effort.
Given the extreme rarity of this model is it no coincidence that they are in the sights of many collectors.