As such the SPS got a reputation as a thundering, maniacal motor that felt
way stronger than the dyno numbers would suggest, with a barely-contained
fury at lower speeds that made it a bear to ride in slow traffic. Every
review reported stalling at idle. Just like any good 916, then. If you meet
a 916 owner who claims they are smooth at low speed and easy to ride in
traffic, they are either lying or in the process of having a stroke.
To reduce strain on the primary gears a new lower ratio
gear set was introduced. Transmission was now a close-ratio box, shared with
the smaller 748. First and second were the same as a 916, but third though
sixth were lower – so much so that 6th on the close ratio was the
equivalent of 5th on the standard box.
stellar. While the SP was a bit disappointing to testers when they weighed
the extra cost against the standard 916, the SPS was clearly a winner and
worth the extra investment – if you could afford it, or even get your name
on the waiting list. Price tag was around $24000 USD (1998), a healthy
premium over the $16500 Biposto and nearly double the price of a 748, both
of which were already expensive propositions. Regardless of the price tag,
there was a lot of demand for the SPS. 404 examples were built in 1997, some
being squirreled away by collectors without ever turning a wheel in anger.
Power claims were, as per tradition, all over the place.
Ducati initially claimed the SPS made 134hp (with the “illegal” pipes that
came with it), then later revised it to 123. Or maybe that was 120? No wait,
this source says 121. But wait, it couldn’t be down on power compared to the
916cc SP, could it? Dyno sheets proved the mettle of the new engine by
showing a nearly 20 horsepower boost over a standard 916, which was a 5-10
hp boost over a SP – provided you had installed those slip-ons and the
accompanying EPROM chip, and then promised not to ride it on the
More important was that the torque was up significantly
across the board, so the SPS wasn’t as gutless in the lower revs as the SP
was. Some independent testers were able to crack 170 miles per hour with the
Termi kit fitted, a stunning speed for a twin with “only” 120-odd horsepower
at the wheel on a good day. All that and it sounded apocalyptic.
Testers waxed lyrical about ridiculous shunt at any
revs and second gear power wheelies, and a ferocious character that demanded
and commanded respect. That merciless power delivery and snappy torque was
enough to push the limits of the chassis and scare a few testers straight.
916s in general do not respond well to ham-fisted riding. With a violent
motor and instant tire-shredding torque, SPSs are downright murderous if you
don't treat them with the necessary respect. You have been warned.
Despite being down on power compared to pretty much all the competition it
felt stronger and faster than anything else on the road. It was the ultimate
Desmoquattro and the best Ducati you could buy until they shoved a hot
Testastretta motor in for the 2001 996R.
Source Odd Bike