We look back into the 25 years of Ducati Monster, the bike that transformed street motorcycle market.
Who would have known that a motorcycle inspired by a movie poster will go onto become one of the most legendary motorcycles in the history of the world. The Ducati Monster not just created the naked street-fighter category, and it is not just a bike that saved Ducati Motorcycles from imminent bankruptcy, what it is truly is a phenomenon that transformed the industry. The Ducati Monster history is worth talking about again and again and here we ride through its origin and evolution over the years.
September 1992, Cologne International Motorcycle Show, a stunned crowd was greeted by a Ducati design study called the Monster. It defied Ducati’s traditional sportsbike designs and it defied everything else there was in the market then. Designed by Miguel Galluzi, the Monster was a simple idea served with the thorough-est of Italian style and flair. Galluzi had said about its design, “All you need is: a saddle, tank, engine, two wheels, and handlebars.” But what he did not say was to be a deeply passionate Italian while doing it. The Monster was a never seen combination of premium components and Italian excellence against its mostly commuter-ish rivals that were uninspiring at best. It wore the Ducati 888’s chassis and an air-cooled 904cc SOHC L-twin from the 900SS as its heart. This new breed of motorcycle had agile handling and mad power, all in a stupidly practical package.
What followed later is what they call is history, but it could easily have never happened. The monster was initially scheduled to be a Cagiva model, and Ducati’s severe financial issues with its vendors almost resulted in the bike failing to go into production. Then, it was a last minute change of heart that saw the Monster earn Ducati name on its tank. Looking back in time, Ducati would be glad that they made that choice. In last 25 years, the Ducati Monster has sold over 300,000 units worldwide and has been manufactured in 37 different guises. It also saved Ducati in the 90s by accounting for more than 40% of Ducati sales. It was a spectacular success for a bike designed as an inspiration from a picture of Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One’.
The Monster had arrived around the same time as the Ducati 916, which is by far, the most beautiful motorcycle ever designed. But it was the Monster that kept the company alive. The Monster was Ducati’s return to its products like the Marianna, Elite and Scrambler. Years later its idea and design has been able to inspire thousands of riders across the word bitten by Monster bug. No wonder, the Ducati Monster is also one of the most copied motorcycles of all time.
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1993 – Ducati Monster M900:
The first ever production Monster arrived with an 888 chassis and an engine from the 900SS. The bike had simple ergonomics with a flat handlebar. Even with its basic design, the Monster was thoroughly Italian and an absolute beauty to look at. It was priced almost equal to the Fireblade, but it delivered both in design and performance. Against its dull rivals, the monster was a premium product having inverted forks, up-spec Brembo brakes and agile sportsbike like handling to boast about. The Style conscious world did not take long to get mad for it and a revolution was born. The Bikes 904cc SOHC L-Twin made 67bhp and 82Nm and it weighed just 185 kg.
1994 – Ducati Monster M600:
The M900 was a huge success, but its high price tag meant a lot of riders could not afford it. Ducati knew a bike for the masses which had to be smaller and affordable. The M600 arrived in 1994 and was an enormous success. It had cost efficient cycle parts but was true to its roots. A smaller 584cc air-cooled SOHC L-Twin on the bike made a decent 51bhp and 52Nm of torque. Moreover, it was priced significantly lower at £5000, while the M900 asked £7500. It brought a new range of younger customers to the Ducatisti family. It was not only lighter at 175kg; it also had a lower seat height and suited city riding perfectly.
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1996 – Ducati Monster M750:
Anyone even half-asleep would have told you that a £2500 price difference called for a filler Monster model between the M600 and the M900. So arrived the M750 in 1996. Sadly the bike wasn’t that well received due to neither being here nor there kind of a product. But it remained in the portfolio till 2003, economies of production meant the bike was still profitable even in its low numbers. It was powered by a 748cc air-cooled engine, basically, a bored out M600 engine. On the other hand, it had the M900’s single front disc.
1998 – Dark and Chromo Models, M900S:
By 1998, Ducati Motorcycles knew the Monster was getting old and to keep it fresh it brought in two special editions, Dark and Chromo. The new models looked much meaner and bolder than the traditionally red painted Ducati’s. Both had black frames and tank. While the Chromo edition arrived with a reflective tank. That same year the first of the ‘S’ Monster models arrived in the form of the M900S. In a very Ducati style, this new M900S that went parts shopping through the Ducati catalogue had got itself carbon side panels and mudguards. A new small visor and a few extra bits of bling got added to the motorcycle’s DNA. The bikes front Showa suspension also got an update making them fully adjustable. The rear Sachs unit also got a performance improvement as well. The bike made same power figures but weighed 2kg less at 183kg.
2000 – Ducati Monster M900ie:
Ducati added fuel-injection to the M900 resulting in the bike getting a new name, M900ie. Addition of FI increased the power output by 11bhp and torque by 2Nm. The FI also enhanced the bikes mid-range but added extra 3kgs to the standard M900. Ducati also gave the new Monster, the suspension setup from the M900S and a new Digital dashboard. Ducati brought FI tech to the smaller Monsters later, in 2002 M600 became M620ie also gaining around 25cc while the M750ie just got the FI. 2002 also saw the arrival of the M600S.
2001– Ducati Monster S4, S4R and S4RS:
Much to the shock of hardcore Monster fans, Ducati introduced its first water-cooled Monsters models in the form of the S4, S4R and S4RS. The 4 in the name signified four-valves per cylinder. The idea behind the S4 Monsters was to bring even sportier Monster models in the range. It was powered by the re-tuned Desmoquattro engine from the 916 making 101bhp and 92Nm. It was the most powerful Monster till date. In 2003, Ducati motorcycles launched the S4 Foggy Rep followed by the bigger S4R with a 996cc engine. The S4R had a sweet looking single sided swingarm and twin stacked exhausts. Then in 2007, Ducati brought in the madder S4RS with upmarket Ohlins suspension and a 126bhp 998cc Testastretta engine. These were the last of the water-cooled Monsters.
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In 2003, M1000 arrived with a powerful engine having 992cc of power at its disposal. That same year, the M750ie became the M800 and the M620ie arrived with Ducati APTC clutch. The Ducati APTC clutch proved to be a great addition to the range and reduced the traditionally heavy clutch lever action. 2005 saw Ducati introduce the S2 range of Monsters, these had S4’s single sided swingarm but were powered by air-cooled engines. S2R 800 got a bigger sibling in S2R 1000 in 2006 while the M620 became the M695.
2008 – All new Ducati Monster Range:
Brand new design language for the Ducati Monster range was introduced in 2008. While it stayed true to the original bikes figure, it had the exhausts installed under the seat and not side-mounted like previous generation. The whole range was given up-spec equipments with even the entry level Ducati Monster 696 getting radial brakes and a sharp new attitude. The flagship was the M1100 and its ‘S’ version which had race spec Ohlins suspension on offer. The Italian company added electronic rider assist modules to the Monster range in 2011 with the arrival of the Ducati Monster 1100Evo. The Evo had ABS, traction control and a wet clutch. In 2013, Ducati celebrated Monster’s 20th anniversary with the special edition bikes with styling and paintwork that was an ode to the original 1993 Monster.
2014 – New generation Ducati Monster:
After almost 7 years of dominance and various iterations, the Ducati Monster got into its latest generation in 2014. This range brought with it the sad demise of the air-cooled Monster. Stringent emission norms being the main culprit behind the sad demise of air cooled Monster’s. These new Monsters are a far cry from the original penned by Galluzi, but still stay true to the Monster design ideology. The flagship Ducati Monster 1200 and Ducati Monster 1200S feature the top of the line 110 Testastretta heart making staggering 137bhp and 118Nm torque. In 2015 the smaller liquid-cooled Monster 821 arrived with 112bhp and 90Nm on tap. This effectively ended the reign of air-cooled Monsters.
2017 – Ducati Monster celebrates 25 years:
At 2016 EICMA Ducati introduced a new entry level Monster by the name 797. With this motorcycle, the air-cooled Monster made a return. Essentially the same engine from the Scrambler, the Monster 797 makes 75bhp and 70Nm. This means it is a bit more powerful than the Scrambler models. All eyes will be on Ducati in 2017 as we wait to learn how they celebrate 25 years of Ducati Monster history.
Pics Courtesy: Ducati