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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A base model 851 has come up for sale locally and I already have a '95 900 SS that I really enjoy. I was wondering if anyone out there has driven both and could give me an idea of the different riding experience between the two.
 

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Sport/sport tourer vs Superbike. I have both, but really dont need to--they're quite different. Carbs vs fuel injection. 851 is heavier, more powerful, more performance, less comfort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks nine16. That's what I gathered from the specs, just wanted to know seat of the pants experience. What do you mean - "I have both but really don't need to" - if they are so different?
 

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I meant you don't need to own both to guess how different they are.

If it tells you anything, I'm selling my 900SS...
 

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A base model 851 has come up for sale locally and I already have a '95 900 SS that I really enjoy. I was wondering if anyone out there has driven both and could give me an idea of the different riding experience between the two.
Is that almost totally stock 851 on Craigslist here in Vancouver for $7500?
If so that's a sweet looking example of the breed..
A buddy of mine just bought a cherry '95 900ss this spring. Overall he really likes it, it's his first Duc, but he's pretty disappointed with how damn slow it is (his words). And he's not coming from a history of high powered sportbikes...
If it were me I'd be buying that 851 for sure! Those are getting damn hard to find, especially in locally in that kind of condition
 

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what year 851? big differences in suspension and fuel tank width for example across years.

900ss is easier to work on. probably nearly as fast in most instances - i think a lot of people would be surprised by how fast the 851 isn't. easier to get unique parts for.

i find my 89 very comfy for longer rides, but the suspension is not so nice.
 

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I think a lot of people would be surprised by how fast the 851 isn't.
Quite true. Actually pretty close to a 748, but you can fix that pretty easily with mods...or a 996cc swap.
Hypothetically, of course.
 

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748 will have more peak power than an 851, at higher rpm. better airbox, bigger header pipes, bigger valves (except for 92).

748 heads seem to work very nicely at the 850cc level. i'd drop them on an 851 for sure.
 

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Although I own an 888 and no longer own a 900SS, personally if I were forced to keep one or the other I would have probably kept the 900SS.

I enjoyed the handling of the 900SS more than the 888. Less top heavy, lighter, with wider bars and a more street rational seating position, the 900SS is a great bike. It is a better on tight twisty roads than the 888. The relatively weak engine performance of the 900SS compared to the 888 is the primary reason to get an 851/888 over a 900SS. Flat slide carbs will narrow the horsepower difference between the two to about 10-15 hp, but for people used to big horsepower, the 900SS will never feel that exciting.

So why do I still own an 888 and not a 900SS? I'm a superbike collector, and the 900SS isn't a superbike. My 900SS was replaced with a Bimota DB2 with flat slide carbs and CF wheels which weights about 380lbs full of fuel. Even though my 888 has magnesium wheels, it handles like a truck, compared to the DB2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes vanduc996, the one here on the lower mainland.
Bradblack - it's a 1992, probably considered the best year from what I've read.
Nine16 - I wouldn't be selling my SS - had it for almost 20 years and we are pretty well joined at the hip. The 851 would be an addition so I don't want something that is not much different ... and I know some of that is up to personal interpretation. It has 20 more hp than the SS but less torque and 50 or 60 more lbs. Maybe that's why you talk about how fast it isn't.
 

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I've got a 92 900 SS and a 91 851 SP3. Haven't ridden the PS3 nearly as much as the 900, and it's been a while, but I find them pretty similar in the riding position. To me the 851 feels like a hotted-up 900 SS. Haven't ridden a 916 / 996 or newer bike, but had a 2004 CBR1000RR death machine for quite a while, that wasn't comfortable after about 30 minutes :( , but jeez it moved :grin2:
 

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The remarkable thing is how similar an 851/888 feels to a 748. I sold my 851 to get a 748 back in the day. In hindsight, it was a dumb move. If you want collectibility cred, get the older bike. If you want to ride, buy a 748 for half price and enjoy.

The SS is a lighter bike that's fun to ride. Superbikes are heavier, harder to ride, more serious...but also more rewarding when you get it right.
 

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I'd snap up an 851 in a heartbeat for $7500, was so close to buying the first year Tricolore a couple of years back...
 

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I own a 92 that I have owned since 93 and put 40,000 miles on . It was my sport tourer and I have done 800 mile days in the saddle. I stopped riding it because I started work in the industry and lost time to ride long trips, I track days became more frequent. I dropped in on the track around 2000 and decided parts were too sparse at that time that I would prefer a track bike. I built a monster to be my 851 and found I preferred a light bike for track use over Hp.

I do see the 851/88 as becoming collectible as they are pretty rare, even the 92 which was the largest sales year are nothing by today's standards. If it is in good condition and you do not mess that up I doubt you would lose any money if you owned it long enough to see if you like it.

When the 748 came out I loved the look and compared to my stock (at the time) 851 the 748 did have a slight hp edge. When I test rode one I was floored at the difference, the 748 was much less powerful. Midrange on the 748 was missing and until you put it back via a 853 kit I would take a 851 powerplant over a 748 any day. Now I have both a 748/853 and the 851 became a 905 I am quite happy with both of them.

900 vs 851 my .00002$

900 +
air cooled= lighter
long stroke= midrange and torque
cantilever suspension= lighter
2-valve easier maintenance for owners to do.
classic styling and that just right feeling riding it.
small size that people have toured cross country,raced,commuted and Sunday rode.

851 +
comfortable for a superbike, more 999 seating position than 916 perched on top.
more linear power, 900 hits harder down low and then drops off the 851 is a diagonal line . More revs= more hp.
classic style
rarer.
MOST have been kept in better condition than the average 900ss.
sound, still one of my favorite Ducati's.

900ss -
chrome studs
cracked frames on certain years
early aluminum swingarms that cracked.
crank plugs fall out some times.
carburetors for some.
regulator rectifiers.

851 -
weight, not a light bike.
parts are getting harder to find.
regulator rectifier
crank plug can fall out
fuel injection for some.
regulator rectifiers.

I am not the one to ask but I will say if it is in good shape and you can afford to buy it do so and then figure it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, I've decided against it. Thanks everyone for all your great input. I've learned a lot about the 851. In the end the deciding factors were the weight and similarity to the SS. My Darmah is a similar weight it turns out, and I find it awkward to manhandle when not running, while the SS is somehow fairly easy. I'll just throw the money at the other bikes: god knows they could soak up a few thou in parts and upgrades.
 
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