Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Ducati Monster

Credited as the bike which saved Ducati in troubled times the Ducati Monster was first launched in 1993 to critical acclaim. Sharing parts from several model ranges it took the frame from the 916 family, married to a carburetted aircooled engine ranging from the M400 through to the M900 (M400, M600, M750, M900). With bodywork designed by Miguel Angel Galluzzi it was an instant hit with its back to basics design remit, light weight, sportsbike handling and awesome exhaust note.

Early in 2000 Ducati added fuel injection to the M900 and in 2001 shoehorned the watercooled 916 engine from the 916 superbike into the Monster creating the S4, a brutally fast and fun naked bike. Adding premium components from the likes of Brembo, Marchesini, Showa and other manufacturers they created a bike which would become legendary for it's versatility and ability.

In 2005 it was all change again with the retirement of the famous 916 powerplant, only for the engine to be replaced with the Testastretta engine from the 999 Superbike creating the top of the range S4R. Adorned with Ohlins suspension, Marchesini alloy wheels and radial brakes it took the performance and handling of the Monster to the next level. At the same time coinciding with an all new engine range for the Super Sport range the Monster inherited the all new 2 valve 800 and 1000 engines becoming the S2R 800 and S2R 1000 respectively, although, it could be argued that the term "all-new" is incorrect as the engines were modified 750cc and 900cc powerplants from the Supersport ranges.

Moving to the current Monster Range, there are three models: the 696, 1100, and 1100S. The Monster 696 was announced in November 2007 and officially launched early April 2008 in Barcelona. The Monster 1100 was announced in September 2008. Based on the Monster 696, it comes with a larger 1078 cc engine, a single sided swingarm, radial brake calipers, larger diameter forks and taller suspension. The 1100 "S" model features fully adjustable Öhlins suspension components, a different colour scheme and aluminium brake disc carriers reducing weight. All models have been praised by the press and public alike, and in what is quite a rare achievement actually take the best of the older models and improve upon them both technically and aesthetically.

Like most enthusiast marques, there is a very active trade in aftermarket performance parts and customisation with a lot of owners choosing to fit freer flowing exhausts, premium suspension, lighter wheels and carbon fiber accessories from manufacturers such as Termignoni, Arrow, Fast By Ferracci, Akrapovic and Ducati Performance, ohlins, Marchesini and Showa to name but a few, all of these parts taking an already good standard bike and making it better.

The Monster range has also spawned several signature products including Monster watches and clothing, but most notably the Ducati Burton snowboard, a collaboration between two of the hottest brands of the present day, Ducati and Burton snowboards. The Ducati Monster snowboards were produced in strictly limited numbers, appearing in a gloss red or matt black, adorned in both cases with a stomp pad manufactured to look like the fuel filler on the Monster roadbike. Both are very rare and very collectable.


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