This is a factory 888 superbike – one of 19 built in 1989

Steering damper mount is also a mount for the intake air pressure/temp sensor bracket

Fuse box lives in a convenient place, just beyond the front brake lever

The ECU is the vertical thing to the left of the battery. Plugs and cables are original, leading to fresh junction plugs in the loom

Mark’s Ducati 888 racer

Back in 1989, Mark Forsyth rode this factory 888 in the UK Battle of the Twins championship. He’d left his job as features editor on Performance Bikes to race in New Zealand the winter before, so that he could hit the start of the season match fit. It paid off – he won the championship.

Since then the bike has spent most of the time lying around Mark’s house looking cool. But this year he decided to revive it.

Mark’s still got the original 888 motor, newly rebuilt, but it’s a fragile thing and he doesn’t want to risk hurting it. So he’s found a 996 from an ST4S, which should give similar performance with much more reliability. That way he can thrash around doing historic parades, or maybe even the Isle of Man.

The 996 has the same mounting points as the 888, but the details are different. On the early bike there’s a top cross-brace that carries the coolant. The 996 motor doesn’t have this, and in fact one of the injectors bangs into it. We solved that by tweaking the injector round a bit.

The plugs for the ECU (1AW 59M, if you’re curious) are obsolete. You can still get the pins, but removing the old ones is often impossible, including in this case. So used the ST4S plugs, plus as much cable as possible, and stuck a plug on the ends. You can see that on the wiring diagram.

Mark spent ages trying to track down a genuine factory airbox base (his original one was full of holes). The replacement he found didn’t have provision for the ST4S pressure/temp sensor, and I didn’t like to damage something so priceless by fitting one. So the sensor lives on the steering damper mount. The 888 didn’t have a complete airbox anyway. There was a base where the bellmouths are, and the tank underside formed the top. If it is an airbox, it’s a draughty one.

Another hassle was the ST4S’s digital tacho output. The 888 used a cable, so Mark was forced to dump the analogue tacho. The best-looking replacement was a Motogadget Classic. It fitted the hole, but needed hours of bracketry making to get it rubber-mounted as per original.

We had a bit of trouble getting the ECU to wake up, so thank you Andy and Mark at BSD Performance. Their long experience of these bikes helped tidy up a few details. Mark’s next job will be to adapt the 888 fuel pump and pressure regulator to the 996 engine. After that, it’s just a few snagging issues: strengthening the battery box mounting, and maybe repositioning the ECU to make it easier to reach the oil filler.

Catch this gorgeous motorcycle at a parade somewhere next year.

The below-dash area. Pins in the male white plug, centre, should be in a female plug, but I couldn’t get one and didn’t want to hack the original 888 loom

Motogadget tacho is stupidly expensive and awkward to fit, but gorgeous with it

The 996 engine bolts straight into the 888 frame. The ancillary bits take slightly longer