1988 Ducati 851 Superbike Kit
Frame no. ZDM851S 850207
One of the most influential motorcycles of recent times, the Ducati '851' restored the fortunes of the Italian company and paved the way for a highly successful family of superbikes, the final (pre-Panigale) example being the '1098' of 2007. In developing the original 851, engineer Massimo Bordi created one of the finest motorcycle power plants ever. By the mid-1980s, Ducati's existing air-cooled 4-valve twins were approaching the end of their development, so Bordi started with a clean sheet in creating their water-cooled, 8-valve, fuel-injected successor. Ducati's trademark desmodromic valve actuation system, which closes the valves mechanically rather than relying on springs, was retained, as was the 90-degree angle between the cylinders. Wrapped around this outstanding 'Desmoquattro' engine was a frame, consisting of an intricate trellis of straight tubes, whose design would become a Ducati trademark. Two models were available initially: the 851 Strada and 851 Superbike Kit, the latter being the first of many limited edition 'homologation specials' produced to satisfy World Superbike Championship requirements. The major differences were the Kit's closer-ratio gearbox and 17" wheels (16" on the Strada). Only 207 Superbike Kit models were made (all but one in 1988) and today it is one of the rarest and most sought after of the Desmoquattro family.
This rare 851 Superbike Kit 'Tricolore' was purchased from a Japanese auction and imported into the UK in October 2011 (duty has been paid and the relevant documents are on file). Since its arrival the machine has been re-commissioned, which included a replacement fuel pump, supply pipes and electrical relays (bill on file). The engine was successfully started but we would advise that the cam belts be changed before it is started again. Unused for some time, the machine appears to require relatively little work, plus a full service, to bring it back to a good presentational standard.
- The Engine no. is ZDM851W4*850203* The machine is offered with copy import duty papers only.
Since going to press, the Ducati factory has confirmed that this motorcycle is an 851 Tricolore Strada sold to All Motorcycles Hong Kong Ltd in October 1988 and not an 851 Superbike Kit as printed in the catalogue. It is one of only 304 Tricolore Strada models, all of which were produced in 1988. The factory has also advised us that the engine currently fitted is not original to the frame and that there are a number of other departures from original specification. These include the wheels, front brake discs, clutch cover and white rear mudguard. However, the exhausts, swinging arm and front part of the fairing appear to be 851 Kit parts. Accordingly, prospective purchasers are urged to satisfy themselves with regard to the extent of the motorcycle's originality and correctness prior to bidding.