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When the Diavel sells; I am planning on replacing with an older Duc that will still yield good performance without breaking the bank. If depreciation is low or flat that would also be nice.
I have owned two 999 bikes in the past (a base and an S model). So, I figure a nice clean R model would be a nice Sunday ride. But, I am also intrigued by the 888 allure but cannot seem to find a lot of information regarding that bike. I owned a 900 SS in the past and thought maybe the 888 would satisfy that classic Duc look while giving a more thrilling ride than the 900?
Any input regarding the 888 (maintenance, issues, etc.) from you guys would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Scott
 

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I have no experience with the specific bikes you're asking about but I have to ask, because something about your question seems odd. You're skipping right over what seems like the default choice in a classic Ducati superbike, the 916-era bikes. Any reason for that?
 

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I think if you're looking for a thrilling ride, it'd definitely be the R.
 

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I own both as well as a 916, 1098S and 1199S. I use to own a 900SS/SP. The 888 and 999R are certainly a step up in terms of engine performance, but the extra mass and higher placement of mass that comes along with water cooling makes it less clear that the later bikes are a step up in terms of handling.

The 888 is easier to maintain and likely to be more trouble free. It is less comfortable for me and is particularly poor around town. There are no bar options that significantly alter its aggressive riding position. Having lived in Texas, it is more comfortable with respect to heat. The 999R is significantly higher in performance, but the Testaretta engine is a bit more difficult to maintain and the electrics/dash are a bit problem prone. If design is important to you, visitors to my workshop tend to be most interested and intrigued by the 999R since its design and details dramatically stand out from the other Ducatis. This is also true out in public. The 999R always draws much more interest than the 888. The 888 is most ignored Ducati I own.

Personally if I were going to have one classic watercooled Ducati superbike, I would buy something out of the 9X6 series. More comfortable, better supported with parts and spares, a design icon, and available for fewer bucks than the 888 or 999R.
 

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... The 888 is easier to maintain and likely to be more trouble free. ... The 999R is significantly higher in performance, but the Testaretta engine is a bit more difficult to maintain and the electrics/dash are a bit problem prone. If design is important to you, visitors to my workshop tend to be most interested and intrigued by the 999R since its design and details dramatically stand out from the other Ducatis. This is also true out in public. The 999R always draws much more interest than the 888. The 888 is most ignored Ducati I own.

Personally if I were going to have one classic watercooled Ducati superbike, I would buy something out of the 9X6 series. More comfortable, better supported with parts and spares, a design icon, and available for fewer bucks than the 888 or 999R.
A lot of this surprises me.

I would have thought that the 999R, being more modern, would be easier to maintain than the 888. I was under the impression that the Testastretta engine was significantly easier to service than the previous designs.

I'm also surprised that the 999 draws more attention, since the 888 (IMO) is considerably better looking, more unusual, and more Italian / less Japanese bike looking. The 9X6 series is my favorite, and I'm also a bit surprised that those are less expensive than the models both before and after.

I'm most interested in a 998, at some point. That is supposed to be the best combination of the classic design, but with the Testastretta engine for easier servicing. Am I wrong about that?

PhilB
 
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A lot of this surprises me.

I would have thought that the 999R, being more modern, would be easier to maintain than the 888. I was under the impression that the Testastretta engine was significantly easier to service than the previous designs.

I'm also surprised that the 999 draws more attention, since the 888 (IMO) is considerably better looking, more unusual, and more Italian / less Japanese bike looking. The 9X6 series is my favorite, and I'm also a bit surprised that those are less expensive than the models both before and after.

I'm most interested in a 998, at some point. That is supposed to be the best combination of the classic design, but with the Testastretta engine for easier servicing. Am I wrong about that?

PhilB
Never owned a 998, but I'd expect your characterization of the 998 to be correct. In the 999 the electrics get moved to the left side of the engine, which along with other changes makes valve adjustments and belt changes slightly easier, however the electrics become much more of a PITA to work on.

I think the 999 draws more interest because it is like nothing else and the CF and Mag details ooze special. The 916 was so significant, that imitation of the style has made it seem less significant as time passes and people become less aware of its significance. This also what seems to impact the 888. Appreciation of it becomes more and more esoteric as people increasingly see the 916 as the bike that put Ducati on the map.
 

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The 999 (tesastretta) is more reliable, but not necessarily easier to service--access is the issue.

The 999R will absolutely be more thrilling and useful.

For me, the choice is the 888, hands-down. I value the looks and history and character. And I have other bikes for different moods. Though a great bike, the 999 has little appeal.
 

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Completely different bikes for different reasons, so why do you want either of them? I have always felt the 999 series was an update of the 851 series as the two were more similar than the 916 series it replaced. I find them to be similar in seating position as you sit in them both but the newer bike has moved the rider into a better position for weight balance.

Hands down the 999r is the better tool if you are judging based on performance alone in every category. No comparison really, but my question do you want the performance it gives you? i own a 851 that I have put 40,000 miles on and it was a great bike. Yes it was from the era where you had more potential problems but most of them could be solved. desmoquattro vs testastretta is one of reliability vs performance. the testastretta is a great motor overall but if you are looking at an R model the ti rods are the weak point and can need a re-fresh in as little as 15000 miles. desmoquattros have flaking rockers but older bikes were as good as they ever were lets say 95% good.

Electronically I will take the 888/851 any day as the rectifier was the weak point and it is an easy fix. 999 harnesses,ecu,dash were all prone to fail (later was better).

Handling = 888 will be better than an SS due to better style suspension but components are better on the R for sure. Front 41mm showas on the 888 are a bit flexy , prone to chrome pits have bed valving and springs. 999r has good parts but may need a spring change for your weight.

I do not have production numbers for the 999r bikes but I would not be surprised to find the 888 a rarer bike even in non-sp versions. This was back when Ducati had low production numbers. Which brings me to the question of are you thinking strada or SP 888? the SP variations are equally racer homoligation bikes but were NOT street legal in the us where the 999r is. A SP variation was a factory hot rod that had more power than the strada and should have 41mm ohlins forks but still would struggle to make the power of a non-R model 999. These will be much rarer than any modern "limited edition" Ducati.

I would not trade my 851 for a 999 as I like what it does for me and it is a vintage bike that I owned from almost day one. I feel the 851 had a raw sound and feel that few other ducatis have/had so it gets me there as well. I do not ride it as hard as I once did so the lack of MODERN performance does not bother me at all. I have been able to put in 800 mile days on it as it used to be my touring bike so comfort is not an issue there either. Heat being a byproduct of HP is also lower so I do not find it too uncomfortable to set on other than too much stop and go. testastrettas not so much.

Right now is a good time to buy either as they are both due to start climbing in value. I would bet the 999R can be had for reasonable money for an R right now as they are bottomed and the 888 is on the rise. I would bet the 999R will always be worth more as the limited name gives it an edge. The 851/888's are more of an acquired taste than the more polished and refined 999r, the wild card is if you are looking at an SP series 888.
 

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you probably wont have rocker flaking as this is on the 916 etc yrs. i owned a 92 851, the big things that change the bike for the better was the Woodcraft clip-ons i put on it (night and day handling wise) and ohlins shock. cant emphasize the woodcraft's enough. finding body work if needed will be a challenge. i fixed my charging weakness by bypassing the low beam wiring with a relay and a electrix reg/rec. if i were to get the 999 era bike it would be a 05/06 999s. cheers
 

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Both brilliant bikes ... I'll be honest and say that I just don't understand how anyone can compare models like this. I never do, one is not better than the other as you have to appreciate it for what it is or was in that period of time when it was built. As such I love both.
 

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1992 851
2 soft valve seats
3 flaking rocker arms
1 crank plug falling out
2 ducati electronica regulators -fixed with late style oem hitachi

Early rockers can and do flake but they are much less prone to do so, when I discovered my last one bad was around 99-2000 and i decided running a barely flaking rocker was better than installing a new one at that time. ... lol. The newest generation is as good as the early 1st generation rockers, which is as good as it gets.
 

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Yep--just depends on what you're looking for.
 

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Since OP mentioned maintenance costs, I did not notice valve service intervals mentioned. On my 91 851 valve adjustments are a scant 3,000 miles apart. I do not think the 888 was very different, if at all. I think the 999 was 7,500 miles (not sure about the R).
 

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851 started at 1850 miles between full tunes and was stretched to 3000, Then to 6500 miles I would say the intervals could be run the same with no issues. I do not think there would be much difference is tune time between the 2 bikes . testastretta is much easier to check. I have done so many desmoquattros that I do not find them a problem anymore. Bodywork almost a toss up as to ease of removal. belts are easier on the testa. I hate the battery box on the 999 but it does not come off for service. Toss up really , no clear winner here.

I think Ducatierv nailed it myself.
 

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The 851 and 888 engines are very service intensive and require more fiddling and adjustment then the later 916/996 desmo 4v engines.
I looked at them myself and was advised by several 851/888 owners that it's a great bike, but not for those who don't do their own servicing basically.

The Testa in the 998/999 is another beast entirely. Better to service and less prone to problems on the mechanical side, but some electrical issues.

But don't be fooled. The P8 and 1.6M magnetti marelli units used on the 851 on to the last 748 in -03 isn't really bulletproof either.

Id really look for a 748-916-996-998 myself, because they really look great!
Buuuuuut.... If you like the 851, an engineswap to a more modern 916/996 engine is bolt on everything. Just saying.
 

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Id really look for a 748-916-996-998 myself, because they really look great!
Buuuuuut.... If you like the 851, an engineswap to a more modern 916/996 engine is bolt on everything. Just saying.
I suppose you could take a 996cc ST4S motor, breath a little SPS/RS/Carillo/Microtec fire into it, and have a pretty fun bike...
 
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The 851 and 888 engines are very service intensive and require more fiddling and adjustment then the later 916/996 desmo 4v engines.
I looked at them myself and was advised by several 851/888 owners that it's a great bike, but not for those who don't do their own servicing basically.

The Testa in the 998/999 is another beast entirely. Better to service and less prone to problems on the mechanical side, but some electrical issues.

But don't be fooled. The P8 and 1.6M magnetti marelli units used on the 851 on to the last 748 in -03 isn't really bulletproof either.

Id really look for a 748-916-996-998 myself, because they really look great!
Buuuuuut.... If you like the 851, an engineswap to a more modern 916/996 engine is bolt on everything. Just saying.
I dont agree with what you say here. A 916 is a bored and stoked 851. Nothing more nothing less. 851 and 888 has less problems with flaked rockers then 916.

851 and 888 has less ECU problems then 916 as they have P7 or P8 ECU. They do however start to get old now and anything old can make a bit problem.

The service interval on 851 and 888 is shorter then a 916 in the manual but as it is the same engine with the same cams and rockers as a 916 its no difference. If a 851 needs service a 916 will need to.

916 is a later design but the engine is the same and did i forget to say.

851 does not have problems with the swing arm attachment and the sss bearings. Try to remove a swing arm on an old 916 and you know what i mean.

For engine upgrade. 916, 996 engines are not bolt on. They do not fit at all. You can however install a S4, S4r(996), ST4 or a ST4-S engine but you would have to rewire the bike as you would have to change from the original P7/P8 ECU to a 16m, 15m, 59m or 5am ECU due to the different engine sensors.

Jocke

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999R, but I'm biased because I have one. I just did the 6k service and didn't find it very difficult. Once you remove the tank, fairings, radiator and front wheel (took about an hour) access is very good. Can't comment about the 888 service but the 999 is much easier than the 748/916.
 
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