Introduced for 1994, the Massimo Tamburini-styled 916 superbike and its subsequent evolutions captured the motorcycle world’s imagination and finally established Ducati as a brand of note. Within a short time the original 916 Strada was superseded by the Biposto (two-seat) and the higher-specification SP. The engine remained at 916cc for both models but the SP came with twin fuel injectors and bigger valves for more performance, together with a single white panel seat and an Ohlins rear shock.
Next came the ultra-exclusive homologation-special 916SPS or Sport Production Special for 1997 and 1998. There is ongoing debate as to how many were made – both years, perhaps 400 odd plus 202 of the UK-only “Fogarty Replica” version. It is believed that either 50 or 100 came to the USA; data collection was not Ducati’s forte at the time. The SPS enjoyed a 996cc engine – complete with reinforced crankcases, new heads and barrels with both bigger combustion chambers and valves, high lift cams, a 11.5:1 compression ratio, close-ratio gearbox and various lightweight parts – delivering a mighty rear wheel 132 horsepower.
Production number 228 of a limited series run, this 916 SPS has recently been imported from Japan and will have a fresh MOT by the time of the auction. The bike has covered just 14,932 miles or 9278 miles from new is completely standard and unmodified. A new timing belt and battery have been fitted. The bike that ensured Ducati a signed and sealed entry into the world of super bike manufacture and gleaned them the name the Ferrari of motorbikes.