Ducati 851 1988

We are in the spring of 1988.
In a few days, a few hundred lucky guys will be able to afford a dream. Indeed, the Ducati factory is preparing to market neither more nor less than the civilian version of Lucchinelli’s motorcycle. Yes, the 851 is coming to our roads. 300 copies in standard version and 200 compé-clients will be manufactured for this year.

More than a motorcycle, it’s a new era for the Bologna plant.

The bet is daring but the manufacturer gives itself the means. To counter the Japanese armada of 4 cylinders 750, the Italian has developed a high-tech twin. The oh so symbolic and effective desmodromic distribution system is preserved but it is now the desmoquattro. Understand by this that it is a cylinder head with 4 valves per cylinder. There are therefore twice as many rockers (8 per cylinder) and this is not the greatest effort. This twin which outputs more than 100 hp at the clutch (very strong for a twin) is powered by a set of double Weber injectors per cylinder controlled by Magneti-Marelli electronics. Good luck in granting all that. Admission was the subject of very extensive work. The 2 air intakes fixed on either side of the headlight supply the air box via large pipes connected to inverted intake ducts. Then it’s up to the injectors to play. Only 1 operates in low and mid-revs, then the second starts up in high revs. Finally, the cooling becomes liquid, guaranteeing better thermal regularity and a reduction in mechanical noise. The soul of this Ducati is quite simply the most advanced and competitive twin available today..
The “Production” version compé-client is distinguished from the Strada by its wicked ACT and a host of specificities: combustion chambers, compression ratio, distribution diagrams, ignition, valves and injection settings are different. Thus prepared, the twin cylinder outputs 110 hp … to the rear wheel; we also gain 1,000 revolutions, i.e. 10,000 revs (the standard mill breaks at 9,000).

A little gem like this cannot be satisfied with a vulgar simple, split-cradle-style frame. No, the 851’s chassis is a race model. Its frame is typical Ducati: a thin and rigid tubular trellis in chrome / molybdenum steel, so tight to the engine that there is no more space to slip a sheet of paper. On the motorcycle, all the available space is optimized. Do not expect to be able to transform the seat backrest to put your other half on it. The battery and on-board electronics are hidden below. Exceptional motorcycle, ego motorcycleïste.
Impressive motorcycle, which awakens instinct as much as the senses. We admire it above all, the look detailing in turn its slender and evocative line. No gimmicks or flashes, just the concern for efficiency. A beautiful machine, only marred by ungrateful exhausts and a very "italian" ; We must love. Beyond this make-up, the amateur as the enthusiast will delight in the attention of the swinging arm reinforced down and directly anchored on the crankcases, the Brembo double piston brake calipers, the finish of the chassis, the minimalism instrumentation – tachometer, speedometer, water temperature, that’s it. Sobriety and efficiency, the 851 is a sports car that charms.

And how fine this motorcycle is! Once on board, we are surprised at this narrowness. The atmosphere is sporty, with very folded legs and the bust on the front. Nothing exaggerated because we naturally catch the half-handlebars placed near the pilot.
Getting started. We will discover the nature of the motorcycle. Far from being violent, the twin rolls in low revs then sends a ladle of torque to 3,500 revs. You still have to wait for 6,000 trs to see the herd of horses land; which get even more nervous above 8000 rpm. You still have 1000 trs left to enjoy it, then we cut.
Full throttle, we pull the reports. OK, it’s growing seriously. Not in a spectacular way but enough to have its dose of sensations. It’s all well and good, but as you approach the virolo at 180 °, you might have to think about braking … No problem for the Brembos, which offer excellent feeling and even better endurance. They are a bit tight in power for the circuit but are very suitable on the road. During all the braking, the Ducat ’does not move. No more in big curves or in technical difficulties. The 851 makes perfect use of its rigidity and the efficiency of its chassis. Too good ! But watch out for optimism. A good curve swallowed a little too quickly followed by braking because the turn closes … you have to take the right lever to negotiate the turn correctly and … the machine doesn’t like it and you move your jab. Here is the main fault of the machine: by grasping the brakes when the motorcycle is on the angle, it communicates its disapproval to you by getting up. Staying on course becomes overly tough.
Once on the road, the Bolognese has enough to hold its own against the 3/4 liter Japanese. Its agility relayed by its superb mill make it formidable on the tormented departmental roads. Let’s add to its credit decent comfort and more than decent protection. On the other hand, like any self-respecting sportswoman, she shines as well as a barge.

Endowed with a very strong potential, the Ducati 851 is much more than exciting. It is a jewel of the same rank as the Honda RC 30. In reality, an exceptional machine, as confirmed by its price. More than 10 bricks in basic version. This toxic tariff condemns the 851 to this fate: it is a dream that will remain for many only a dream.

N.D.L.R: What was the fate of the 851? It’s quite simple: she is the mother of a prestigious dynasty. His progeny, the 888, 916, 996, 998 and 999 will win the majority (almost all) of the Superbike World Championship titles..

The prices of the different versions:

– street version: 117 520 F (± 17 900 €)
– racing version: 178 880 F (± € 25,270)
– Lucchinelli version: 254,000 F (± € 38,720)

(internet photos)

What you must remember




    the credits


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    sure 3 notice
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    Model marketed in



    Max speed:
    about 225 km / h

The technical aspect

Ducati 851 1988

  • Frame
  • Tank: 22 liters
  • Width: 700 mm
  • Height: 1130 mm
  • Wheelbase: 1,460 mm
  • Dry weight: 180 kg
  • Weight in running order: 207 kg
  • Train before

Ducati 851 1988

  • Transmission
  • Secondary chain transmission
  • Rear axle
  • Engine
  • 851 cc
    (92 x 64 mm)
  • 102
    at 8,250 rpm
  • 8.80 mkg
    at 8000 rpm

Detached pieces


chain kit


Ducati 851 1988


Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

Ducati 851 1988

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