Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Lebanon, MO, USA
I have owned a '90 851 for 23+ years now. If you already own older Ducs you know what to expect as far as OEM build quality and the semi-handbuilt nature of these things. Not to mention parts availability.
Owning one of these older bikes is easier now than it used to be in the pre-internet days. There are now plenty of online resources for maintenance, tools, and upgraded parts. Back in the day it was the FBF catalog and the dealer parts counter.
I would agree the 888 seems a little bit overvalued (F1 too) compared to the 851. There were 500 851 brought into the US from '89-92 including the handful of SP examples. The 888 is not that much more rare (200 in '93 & 100 in '94 IIRC). The 888 looks very cool, doesn't seem to offer that much more in performance, not enough to justify a 50% premium IMO. Maybe the 851 is undervalued in actuality.
Anyway, point is all of these bikes are quite rare and special. Bike night most places you will be almost assured to be the only F1/851/888 in attendance. I get way more questions and comments on my old bike than anything else I have ever had.
I see the appeal of having three of the same year. As you probably know '90-91 models are mechanically identical except for the forks, triple clamp, and shock (EDIT: mirrors are rectangular on '91 as well). The '90 M1R forks and shock can be made to work "good enough" when setup for your weight.
Power-wise, don't expect a dramatic upgrade over your current bikes except on the top end. 7k-10k has a nice pop in power for the early desmoquattros. But it is nothing compared to the bikes that have came since (my 1299 has as much power as my 851 and 999...combined). My 851 feels like a toy, almost a beginner bike with respect to power. Funny how times change.
Comfort: there isn't any. Depending on your build and age, an 851/888 can be anywhere from OK to horrible. I rarely ride it these days (only 500 miles this year) so after owning it for half my life I am contemplating selling it next spring. We will see.
1990 851, 2003 999, 2016 1299S, 1985 VF1000R (restoration project)
Last edited by sburns2421; Aug 5th, 2019 at 2:01 pm.