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More Than Skin Deep: 1998 Ducati 916 SPS for Sale

We’ve been a little Ducati-heavy this week, but there’s no way I was going to skip this one: an Eraldo Ferracci-prepped and tuned Ducati 916 SPS. Sure, this might look like yet another boring 916, but the SPS is one of Ducati’s fire-breathing homologation specials, and this example has been endowed with a highly-tuned stroker motor from one of the era’s premier tuners.

If you’re not familiar with Ferracci, he was an east coast Ducati tuner whose bikes won several World Superbike and AMA titles. He eventually opened a well known Ducati/MV Agusta dealership, and the company still sells high-performance Ducati parts on their site, although the brick-and-mortar dealership itself is closed.

The SPS or “Sport Production Special” was basically a way for Ducati to begin racing their stronger, larger-displacement 996cc v-twin before the 996 was introduced. As with all the bikes in the 916/996/998 series, it might look like a regular 916, but featured extensive, evolutionary upgrades to the Tamburini superbike that was introduced way back in 1994. It used the close-ratio box from the smaller 748, along with updated suspension that included an Öhlins shock and a lighter frame.

But of course, the heart of the matter was the updated 996cc engine that included titanium connecting rods for 1998. Ducati found that the functional limit for their original Desmoquattro was 955cc: any bigger, and the cases tended to crack under racing stress. The new engine was a comprehensive redesign that saw the inclusion of new heads, barrels, pistons, injectors, and a lighter crank.

Combined with the usual tuning tricks that didn’t make it over to the regular 996, the changes all added up to an engine that was more than the sum of its parts, with a savage and aggressive character. It was very expensive, but made testers at the time struggle to find enough superlatives to adequately describe the lust it inspired. The seller borrows a good chunk of his description from a very nice history of the SP/SPS Ducatis over at OddBike, and it’s worth a read if you’ve never checked that site out.

From the original eBay listing: 1998 Ducati 916 SPS for Sale

About This Motorcycle:

“The primary reason of building the 916 SPS was to homologate the new 996cc engine for Superbike competition but fortunately for bike fans, the installation of the 996 engine into the 916 setup produced a bike that was described as legendary, astonishingly good looking and a true Superbike. Only 404 examples were built with less than 50 of those imported into the States.

The SPS was released to homologate the new 996cc engine for Superbike competition. The previous 916 crankcases had been maxed out at 955cc, and had problems with cracking and stress fractures under racing conditions. So in 1997 Ducati tried again by taking their new 996 engine and putting it into the 916 frame. The result was the 916 Sport Production Special (SPS).

New reinforced crankcases were needed, and to accommodate a displacement closer to the 1000cc limit for twins in Superbike the case mouths needed wider openings and wider stud spacing to match. Thus the barrels and heads were new, made wider to match the new cylinder stud spacing. Bore was now up to 98mm, with the same 66mm stroke as before. The heads had larger combustion chambers and bigger valves. Compression ratio was now 11.5:1 inside a lighter crankshaft with tungsten plug balancing. The high pressure double injector fuel setup with P8 ECU was carried over from the SP.

Press reviews of the 996 powered SPS declared it to be something quite special, with some testers being able to crack 170 miles per hour with the Termignoni exhaust and ECU kit fitted, a pretty stunning speed for a twin with ‘only’ 120-odd horsepower. The new engine gave a much wider power delivery band but this together with neck-snapping torque was enough to push the limits of the chassis. The 916 models in general did not respond well to ham-fisted riders, so it is not surprising that the SPS and its significantly wider power band resulted in a bike that could be dangerous for even skilled riders.

Despite its somewhat dangerous reputation the SPS was still sexy as hell with a sound like the apocalypse, especially if the Termi pipes were installed. Price tag new was almost $25,000 USD, a significant amount above the $16,500 Biposto and nearly double the price of a 748 model. Most reviewers declared that despite its dangerous nature it was worth the extra investment and there was a lot of demand for the SPS but since these bikes were built for homolgation, just 404 examples were built and only a small number of those brought into the USA.”

Among these rare breed of motorcycles there is something even more special and quite possibly one of the most spectacular, modern era homologated Ducatis. Now that would be tough to believe except this is a FBF bike, but for those who know about Eraldo Ferracci and his relationship with Ducati will easily justify the aforementioned statement.

Speedart Motorsports acquired this motorbike few years back and it has been a highlight of our Ducati collection ever since.

The first owner of this stunning example took delivery in November 1998 from Mr. Ferracci and he commissioned FBF on November, 11 to transform the SPS in to one of their 1,026 cc stroker fire-breathing monsters at an exorbitant cost.

The following is a partial list of the work performed by Eraldo Ferracci with an FBF serial number stamped on the case, further attesting to the pedigree of this extravagant Production Special.

  • Renthal quick change rear sprockets carrier
  • Ferracci billet lightweight flywheel
  • High pressure fuel regulator
  • Ported and polished heads
  • Stage-3 Eprom chip
  • Corse rearsets
  • 37mm Intake valves
  • 31mm Exhaust valves
  • 54mm Ferracci Forza full stainless system
  • Ohlins shock revalved
  • Hyperpro spring
  • Ferracci billet clip-on handlebars
  • 98mm 12:1 Compression piston Kit
  • FBF power crank 68mm stroke
  • Ducati Performance carbon fiber under-seat oil vent tank
  • MS Production carbon air intake runners
  • Stage-3 cams
  • Pankl Racing titanium rods
  • Carbon fiber MS Production swingarm cover

During our custodianship at Speedart Motorsports, further enhancements were performed including Dymag carbon fiber wheels, ultra-rare Ducati Corse RS slipper clutch with DP carbon cover, NCR sprocket carriers, Poggipolini titanium fasteners, Samco hoses, Spiegler cables with fittings and much more.

The sale of this legendary Ducati is accompanied by extensive documentation, owner’s manuals, all Ferracci build records including Dyno sheets, fastidious maintenance receipts, stands, cover, etc.

Speedart Motorsports invites all serious inquiries of what is believed to be the most extraordinary 916 Sport Production Special in captivity, freshly serviced, in spectacular form both cosmetically and mechanically.

The high-compression pistons match the original 98mm bore, but the new crank’s 68mm stroke is up 2mm from the original for a total of 1026cc, compared to the original 996. That might bother some collectors, but it looks like only the very best parts have been used to upgrade and tune this very special SPS. Other than the gold plugs that don’t match the frame paint, this is a very nice, very trick bike, and one of just 1058 built in 1998. A nice SPS will generally sell for much less than the $34,500 asking price seen here, but they usually haven’t had as much attention lavished on them.

-tad

19 Comments

  • Closing on 30 years since this design, and still one of the best looking motorcycles ever built (IMO).
    Not a comfortable ride, but I would love to own this.

  • I had the same motor built by Eraldo Ferracci in my ’95 916….so only a 984cc version instead of 1026cc. Cost $17K for conversion, it made 141rwhp back in 1999, it was a beast! This looks very well done.

  • I really like this site but I am getting Ducati fatigue. Maybe you should spin off a separate site for Ducatis? It seems like it’s the same 20 people buying and selling these bikes to each other……..

    • We primarily source from eBay and to some degree it’s what has been on offer, and in turn, what we’ve highlighted. That and the Featured Listings from Edinger Ducati collection, which we still have 4 to list.

      But we’ll see what else we can come up with. -dc

  • Blah blah blah boring! I keep checking this site and kicking myself for doing so. It used to be interesting….

  • Personally, I like the site. If a bunch of Ducatis are on the market right now, then Dan can’t control that. Sometimes there are multiple 400’s, or multiple Kawasakis, or whatever. Scroll past if you don’t like a bike, I scroll past 98% of the bikes on this page, but I still like the page, bc every once in awhile there is one that catches my eye and sometimes I even buy them. Anyway, Dan has a unique site, and I wouldn’t want to do the work that goes into maintaining it, so we should all be thanking him for keeping it going instead of giving him crap about what other people have decided to sell at the moment. Or, make a better site. But for myself, I wold like to say, Thank you Dan!

    • Your analysis is spot on: we post what we find, and this time of year is generally slim pickings. And you are also correct that it’s weird how things seem to come in waves, like everyone hoarding a particular bike sees one or two up for sale, and suddenly decides it’s time to sell, before demand dries up. We had a run on Laverda SFCs a while back, which was pretty weird…

      It’s always odd to me that people spend precious minutes looking at, and then take the time to comment on, sites they claim they don’t like. It’s definitely not something exclusive to RSBFS, and everyone who frequents a fan site [cars, bikes, games, movies, etc] has seen similarly trollish behavior. Me? If I don’t like a site, I don’t spend time there. If the quality of a site I frequent seems to be declining I just… find myself not visiting much. There’s too much cool stuff out there to waste time looking at things I don’t like. And I have even less time to spend commenting on them.

      The reality is that all the writers here do this primarily for the enjoyment, and to share our passion for interesting motorcycles. We do it for readers like you, not the ones who show up to complain about our sincere efforts to entertain and educate site visitors. In the end, those comments read as, “Look, I know I don’t pay anything to visit this site… But honestly, I think you should do a better job of entertaining me.”

      Anyway, thanks Damon! We appreciate all of our readers, even the grouchy ones.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Damon.

      I left the criticism comments in because there is often a perception that I moderate more than I do — usually only the most malicious personal attacks on sellers, or unsubstantiated critiques, are deleted. 98% of the rest is published and much appreciated.

      I also want to take this opportunity to again thank our contributors (Aaron, Donn, Mike, and Tad) for their efforts. We all have full-time jobs and operate the site in our spare time as enthusiasts sharing with other like-minded enthusiasts, buyers, and sellers. These days I handle the backend of the website, staff the inbox, and help coordinate the Featured Listings. The contributors do the rest and and the end result never ceases to amaze me.

      As always, thank you to all the readers and commentors for your engagement and support!

      Sincerely,

      Dan Crouch, owner and founder of RSBFS.

  • I will add one more comment. Dan has been a wealth of information on a personal level. From the first bike I bought (RC30) and through the years after that, Dan has answered tons of questions, shared his thoughts and opinions, and helped me track down some bikes. I got to meet him one year at the Vegas auction and had dinner with him. A true gentlemen and enthusiast. I am up to 15 homologated bikes and I could not have put my collection together without help from Dan and others like him. Delete if not allowed, but I don’t like seeing anyone denigrate a hard working, knowledgeable, helpful guy or his site like that.

  • This is a Great site!! Thanks for all the time and energy you guys spend finding us these bikes and providing write ups on them. Keep up the good work guys.

  • The ad and approach to selling this bike matches closely what you see in the high end car business. Take a bunch of nice pictures, combine that with well written descriptions using terms like rarity this and carbon fiber that, and then ask a ridiculous price hoping that someone will bite. It’s a beautiful bike but not worth close to what’s being asked no matter how pretty the pictures are.

  • “It’s always odd to me that people spend precious minutes looking at, and then take the time to comment on, sites they claim they don’t like”

    First line in my post “I like this site” My suggestion is a sping off site featuring Ducatis since they are bulk of listings here.

    Just tired of Ducatis, very few are actually “rare” Every single “limited” “LE” “Special Edition” “Paul Smart” etc Ducati sold in the last 25 years is snatched up by a speculator and sits in a climate controlled storage un-ridden.

    Rare would a Ducati that ridden like it was stolen, showed some wear and tear and needed some work.

    • My comment wasn’t really directed at you. More the “blah blah blah boring” guy. You were making an observation, which is fine by us.

  • There’s a ton of interest in Ducatis. If you don’t like them, ignore them on this site and enjoy everything else. It’s not that difficult…

  • P.S. I’m also not a Ducatisti, but I’m not going to complain about this site featuring Rare Sportbikes For Sale…

  • “A nice SPS will generally sell for much less than the $34,500 asking price seen here” Yes much less!

  • Great site. Thanks for the effort. Always informative.

  • Curious, not arguing in the least. But wondering is that sarcasm or seriousness. I dont really know what they are worth. I did buy a 916 SPA in 2018, and it was impossible to get any comparative pricing, including talking to Ducati NA and DOC. I made an educated guess, and it was not less than $34,500, although I believe the SPA is a rarer version. Thoughts?

  • Ah, what was purported to be a Ferracci 916 Ducati Superbike as ridden by Freddie Spencer sold for a measly $17k at the recent Mecum auction in Vegas. The video is on Youtube.

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