30 years of the Ducati 851

1 of 18

While the iconic 916 is usually celebrated as the machine that restored Ducati to a path of race success and fortune, the truth is more than a little different. Instead, it’s actually the 916’s predecessor, the 851, which truly changed everything.

Introduced 30 years ago, initially as a racing prototype, then officially unveiled as a production road machine in the autumn of that year, the 851 was simply revolutionary – and not just for Ducati but for motorcycling as a whole.


The all-new, liquid-cooled, four-valve, fuel-injected Desmoquattro V-twin (or L-twin as Ducati call it) at its heart was not just a quantum leap from anything the Italian firm had produced before, it was also a true moment of change for both DUcati and the whole idea of modern superbikes. In short, without the 851 the 916 simply couldn’t have happened.

To celebrate the anniversary we’ve pulled together some of our favourite images of the 85, and some of our readers have sent us pictures of their pride and joy, too.

Do you have any stories or memories of the Ducati 851? Let us know in the comments below.


Looking for the perfect two-wheeled companion? Visit MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN’s Bikes For Sale App.

Phil West & Jon Urry

By Phil West & Jon Urry