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Little SPO: 1993 Ducati 888 SPO for Sale

To me, the very names for cars and bikes are simple, to the point. Leganza? What the hell's a Leganza? Or a Spectra? But a GTO, or... a GTO? That just sounds cool. Thunderace sounds kind of silly, but R1M? That just exudes confidence. Even with a naturally cool-sounding language at their disposal, the Italians know that simpler is usually better, and that the sexiest motorcycles don't need silly, made-up names: simple, blunt, alpha-numeric designations suggest a no-need-to-brag confidence. It's like a special code, and Ducati 888 SPO is basically shorthand for speed.

An evolution of the earlier 851, the liquid-cooled, four-valve 888 was the epitome of "truth in advertising." Displacing 888cc, Ducati's big v-twin was meant to take the fight to the Japanese Big Four in production-based racing, move them into the modern era, and allow them to compete at top levels of the sport. Sure, the Pantah provided the foundation four the new liquid-cooled engine, but there's no way a two-valve, air-cooled v-twin was going to have a ghost of a chance against the inline fours in World Superbike and AMA racing, and Ducati's success in those series brought them back to prominence on the world stage.

Over in Europe, they got the standard 888 Strada and the higher-performance 888 SP5. But the SP5 wasn't road-legal here, so we got a sort of halfway step between the two that was dubbed the SPO or Sport Production Omologato. It was distinguished by the solo tail, high-mount exhaust, and an Öhlins shock with adjustable ride-height. Unlike the SP5, the SPO used a steel subframe instead of a lightweight aluminum one.

Look, if you've been waiting since my first paragraph to tell me how I'm wrong and that some cool bike names exist, go right ahead. It's not like I'm going to disagree that exceptions exist: Superleggera springs immediately to mind. But I still say that 888 SPO is a name that is aging better than Fireblade. On that note, it is kind of odd that here in the USA, land of the Vortec V6 and the Blue Flame Six, we got the CBR instead of the Fireblade and the YZF1000R instead of the Thunderace... So I guess we like our car-related names silly but our bike names [mostly] serious.

From the original eBay listing: 1993 Ducati 888 SPO for Sale

This is a near mint 888 SPO 1993 model. Needs nothing, belts and service were done, starts and rides wonderfully, new battery, just downsizing my collection. One flaw on the number one decal. Runs like new, good tires, needs nothing. It needs to go to a 888 lover. Pics say everything. About 13,000 miles which may change if I decide to take a hop. I reserve the right to cancel the auction the bike is for sale locally in the Fort Worth, TX area.

Cash sale, no endless emails or pen pal questions... This is the real deal and a great bike!

Thanks for looking

Aside from that first image, the photos are uniformly terrible, and the usual top triple shot showing the Limited Edition plaque is missing, as is any verification of the mileage. But that doesn't seem to be deterring bidders. Previous SPOs we've featured have sold for right around $10,000 but it appears values have risen in the past year: bidding on this example is up to $12,000 with several days left on the auction. That's not really a surprise: the 851 and 888 were pretty undervalued for a while, but collectors have definitely started to notice them and recognize their significance as the original modern Ducati superbike.

-tad

11 Comments

  • SPOs are not numbered on the triple clamp only the 94 SPO LTDs are numbered.

    • Good info! I think the last one I wrote up was a ’94 and had the production number, so I sort of assumed it was standard procedure.

  • I’m old enough to remember when parents thought thought the naming of bikes would inspire young riders to behave dangerously…thats part of the reason honda switch from the “hurricane” naming convention to the F2/F3 series. Kawasaki also de-emphasized the “Ninja” moniker and went more towards ZX7, ZX11.

    • Interesting, and makes total sense. “Change the name, that’ll fix the problem” seems like something we would say. Maybe, if you want young people to survive motorcycles you should… adequately train them to have the skills needed? Crazy idea, I know.

  • Interesting to see what this collector prizes. Eddie Lawson Replica and GS1100SZ, among others.

  • Brian is correct. The 94 has has a plaque on the triple clamp, primarily to help sell this as a run out model in the USA at the same time the 916 was being released to the rest of the world.

    The SPO is unique to US. I also think the 94 might have had a carbon front fender but that could of been an inconsistency.

  • One thing I struggle with, and it’s just my opinion, but I don’t like it when sellers don’t say what modifications a bike has. They are often small and easily rectified but should be made clear. On this I noticed the tinted screen, carbon plate on the triple clamp, exhaust (I think?), and seat. Maybe it’s just me….

  • DOH! Looks like something bad happened…bidding now at $7600 down from $12k….and yes, those pictures SUCK. I am always amazed that people want a premium for something truly valuable, but represent it like crap and wonder why they get asked a bunch of questions…that cramped shop makes me nervous!

  • Duc Fan — the 94s did indeed have a CF front fender as well as gold rims & BK’s k foot pegs vs the 93’s.
    SPOs were sold in Europe but the total production run of 93s is around 200 WW I think about 175 94s were made with about 1/2 getting returned to Europe after the debut of the 916.
    My production #s may be off but i’m winging it w/o my PC to verify.

  • Guy writes sub par ad with horrible photos and limited details, and then has the nerve to warn us not to bombard him with “penpal questions” or “endless emails?” Wow.

  • Also aftermarket axle carriers on the rear axle.
    Non Ducati master cylinders. Probably Kawasaki, can’t tell from shit pictures.
    Master cylinder reservoirs are tucked down somewhere beneath the triples. Shows signs of hack mechanic at work. Can’t work for long like this.
    Of coarse aftermarket exhaust cans.
    Missing rubber trim around gas filler cap. There’s a trick to getting these back in position. Another sign of hack mechanic.
    I would have to assume all of the maintenance work on this bike is sub par. That’s just going off the shit pics. Once the bike is delivered to your doorstep you’ll really start to see the full story.
    PASS !!!
    I think the production numbers are 175 of the ’93’s and 100 of the ’94;s
    93’s and 94’s have the same footpegs.
    94’s had CF front and rear fenders, gold wheels and numbered plaque on triples. No changes to any hardware.
    Good luck to any bidders here !

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