Chassis-wise the Ducati 848 is almost identical to the 1098, save for slightly lower-spec, but still fully-adjustable, Showa forks and Brembo radial brakes. These cheaper units don’t harm the 848’s performance through the bends one bit though. Most significantly the Ducati 848 has a half-inch narrower rear wheel and a 180-section rear tyre, which gives the 848 greater agility and lighter steering than its bigger brother. In true Ducati superbike style the 848 is rock-solid stable in the corners, at the expense of slightly slow steering through flip-flop chicanes and very tight hairpins.
The liquid-cooled Desmodromic, 849cc V-twin Testastretta (Italian for ‘narrow head’) engine was designed and developed specifically for the Ducati 848; it’s not just a cheaper, sleeved-down version of the 1098’s motor. Making a true 122bhp and 66ftlb of torque at the rear wheel the Ducati 848’s motor is not only is very strong, but the power delivery is super-smooth and very linear, too. Compared to the 749, the Ducati 848 makes 20bhp and 10ftlb more, while weighing almost 30kg less.
Modern day Ducatis don’t tend to suffer the electrical and mechanical maladies they used to, and like the 1098, Ducati has slashed servicing costs on the 848. Build quality is top notch, from the deep pearlescent paintwork to the high-end components used throughout.
Reader query: Is water getting into my Ducati 848?
Q: I've a Ducati 848 that won't start after I've washed it. I don't jet wash it or over soak it, but straight after washing the diagnostics light comes on and it won't turn over. It also seems like the dash takes longer than normal to light up.
If I switch the ignition on and off sometimes the diagnostic light doesn't come on and it will start - but it's really intermittent. If I leave it for 12 hours or so it starts no problem. It's been into the garage but they can't find anything wrong.
A: This bike had a recall on the battery earth, so it could be worth checking this out either yourself or with a main dealer. The recall number is RM2008/047. But I think it’s more likely that water is sneaking inside the kill switch or the ignition connections.
Why not try ‘showerproofing’ the kill switch with some rags and a plastic bag before you clean it next? If that doesn’t work move onto those connectors.
The Ducati 848 isn’t cheap. You’re undoubtedly paying over the odds for the badge on the tank, but on the other side of the coin depreciation is lower than a Japanese superbike. But expensive as it is, you do get a lot of beautiful, exclusive Ducati motorcycle for your money.
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Although an expensive used buy you are getting a very high spec motorcycle. The Showa rear shock is the same as the 1098’s, a chunky single sided swingarm and a multi-function LCD dash, which is a replica of the unit used on Casey Stoner’s MotoGP Desmosedici. Options include the Ducati Data Analyser (DDA), which is an on-board plug-in datalogging system, that records lap times, throttle position, engine speed, engine temperature and distance travelled.
How to turn the Ducati 848 into a superbike killer
In standard form the Ducati 848 is one of MCN's favourite sports bikes. It has all the grunt, style and the bombastic soundtrack of its bigger brother the 1198, with added agility and a revvier, more involving engine. It was born for corners – it’s the exotic, twin-cylinder take on the legendary Suzuki GSX-R750.
You don't have to spend the thousands of pounds on your 848. Lots of bolt-ons don’t make much difference to performance. Here is the gear to get to turn your 848 into a superbike-killer
- Fully-adjustable 1098R/1198S Ohlins forks and 1198S Ohlins rear shock. They have a plusher action and finer adjustment range compared to standard – and give the 848 a completely different character. The forks are the most expensive bolt-on. Forks: £1809.06 Shock: £847.
- Forged aluminium wheels from a Ducati Hypermotard are lighter than standard so help the 848 change direction faster and save unsprung weight too. £1191.
- Ducati Performance dry slipper clutch stops the 848 clattering into the corners when changing down through the gears. The exposed, anodised red clutch looks cool and sounds like a proper Ducati race bike. £811.
- Lighter, sexier and louder than stock, a Ducati without Termis would be like MotoGP without Rossi. £1210.