Ducati 851 Strada


Make Model

Ducati 851 Strada




Four stroke, 90°“L”twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valves per cylinder, belt driven


851 cc / 51.9 cu in
Bore x Stroke 92 x 64 mm
Compression Ratio 11:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled


Weber I.A.W. CPU P7 electronic fuel injection. 2 x 50mm throttle bodies

Spark Plugs

Champion A59G


Inductive magnetically triggered


12V 16Ah



Max Power

77 kW / 105hp @ 9000rpm

Max Torque

71.2 Nm / 7.26 kgf-m / 52.5 ft-lb @ 7250 rpm




6 Speed

Primary Drive Ratio

2:1 (31/62)
Gear Ratios 1st 2.466 / 2nd 1.765 / 3rd 1.350 / 4th 1.091 / 5th 0.958 / 6th 0.857:1

Final Drive Ratio

2.6:1 (15/39)

Final Drive



Tubular steel

Front Suspension

Marzocchi M1R upside-down fork with rebound compression damping adjustable

Rear Suspension

Marzocchi Supermono shock with preload and damping adjustable, rising rate swingarm

Front Brakes

2 x 320 mm Disc, 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 245 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/70 x 17

Rear Tyre

180/55 x 17


Length: 2000 mm / 78.7 in
Width:     670 mm / 26.4 in
Height:  1120 mm / 44.1 in


1430 mm / 56.3 in

Seat Height

760 mm / 29.9 in

Dry Weight

190 kg / 419 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

20 Litres / 5.3 US gal / 4.4 Imp gal
Consumption Average 5.1 L/100 km / 19.5 km/l / 45.9 US mpg / 55.1Imp mpg
Braking 60 km/h - 0 12.4 m / 40.7 ft
Braking 100 km/h - 0 37m / 121.4 ft
Standing ¼ Mile  11.1 sec / 194.8 km/h / 121 mph
Top Speed 240.9 km/h / 149.7 mph
Colours White frame, red
Road Test

Moto.Revue 1989    

Moto Sprint Group Test 1988

Motociclismo 1989

Moto Sprint Group Test 1990

Moto Sprint Group Test 1991


After buying Ducati, Cagiva invested in the development of another V-twin, but with liquid cooling, and four valve desmodromic heads. Massimo Bordi, had designed a 4V Desmo in 1973 for his thesis at the University of Bologna, and with Cagiva in 1985, saw his updated ideas come into production as the Desmoquattro.

Based on the Pantah motor, but with liquid cooling, fuel injection, and desmodromic four valve heads (with an included valve angle of 40 degrees), the 851 made Ducati race competitive again.

The original Desmo Quattro was an experimental 748 cc 4 valve racer (seen at the Bol d'Or in 1986) and used 750 F1 Pantah crankcases. Bordi collaborated with Cosworth to develop the heads, but in the time they had, they were only able to reduce the included valve angle of the desmodromic engine to 40°, while less than 30° was possible with valve springs. Ducati stuck with the desmodromics.

The subsequent 851 road bike had stronger crankcases, while the heads and valves remained the same; designed to fit above the 88 mm bore of a 748 cc version.

The 1987 – 1988 Ducati 851 Strada used the signature steel tube trellis frame, adorned with Marvic wheels, Brembo brakes and Marzocchi suspension. That first release was criticised for its handling, so front wheel was changed from a 16 inch to a 17 inch wheel, and even better suspension components fitted

Ducati 851 vs Ducati 1199 Panigale

Remember the Ducati 851? It came out in 1987 and blitzed the world of sportsbikes like few other machines have ever managed to. Desmoquattro V-Twin, liquid-cooling, fuel-injection, four-valve cylinder heads, 95bhp and a top speed of about 240km/h made the bike a bit special 25 years ago and that’s the way it remains today.

The 851 and its various avatars (851 SP, 888 and 888 SP) were produced from 1987 to 1993 and the bike won three World Superbikes championships – with Raymond Roche in 1990 and with Doug Polen in 1991 and 1992. By 1993, the Ducati 888 had twin fuel injectors per cylinder, power was up to 125bhp and the bike had the best bits that companies like Termignoni, Brembo and Ohlins were making back then.

The Ducati 851 was pretty much the top dog of its time, the baddest boy on the block. And that makes you wonder how the bike would stack up against the modern day Ducati 1199 Panigale, a bike that has, in one fell swoop, made every other superbike on the planet look old and slow and outdated. For their August 2012 issue, Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine have ridden the 851 and 1199 back to back, and here are some brief excerpts from what they have to say about the two machines:

"After riding both of them, it was the 851 that left the strongest impression. Where the 1199 feels overwhelmingly fast and verging on out of control pretty much the whole time on the road, the 851 is a manageable challenge. The older engine feels much more mechanical, like it has cannonballs in the cylinders instead of the oversized tennis balls of the 1199. The heavy throttle, heavy clutch and teeny-weeny steering lock combine to make eight-point turns on a busy road very interesting indeed."

"On the 851, there’s not a lot of room between the bum pad on the pillion cowl and the back of the fuel tank, so instead of hanging off, you tuck in and take wide, fast, classics arcs through corners. The 851 seems to need half the lean angle to go faster through the corners than a modern bike and it rides on well controlled suspension. Its handling is sharp, predictable and reassuring. Only the brakes gave its age away. If you think bike engines have advanced in the last 25 years, it’s nothing compared to braking performance."

So there you have it – the 851 can still, it seems, hold its own. Nobody is trying to imply that it would be comparable to the 1199 in terms of outright performance. It’s just that even with the passage of time – a quarter of a century, no less – the 851 hasn’t gotten fat and slow. And we’re sure Messrs Roche & Polen will be happy about that…