Creating Your Own Cafe Racer Kit For The Ducati Monster
There are few who would say no to a neat looking custom Ducati cafe racer parked in their garages which they could take out for an occasional city or canyon ride. While so, many Ducati Monster owners, or motorcycle owners in general would not favour the idea of their machine’s original subframe being chopped off to create a fully-blown cafe racer that is difficult (or impossible without buying a new frame) to revert back from later. But if you are one who is looking for a perfect cafe racer kit that could come closest to a fully-custom Ducati Monster cafe racer, without actually chopping off the bits, there are a couple of options for you too. Wether you are a long-time Monster owner who needs change or a person who has just bought a used Ducati Monster off eBay, or even the owner of a recently-crashed monster who isn’t looking to go back to stock… these options are a perfect fix for quickly getting acclimatised to the cafe racer realm.
In fact, it’s easier for you to create a unique Ducati cafe racer kit of your own that would get you pretty close to what you are looking for. What one could go for when looking for such a conversion is aim at the primary things that cafe racers are known for – minimal flat bodywork, a lightweight motorcycle that has sportier handling and ergonomics that its original machine. While the Ducati Monster in itself does pretty well in these regards, there are some additional touches that can be given to the motorcycle to create a unique cafe racer kit on your very own.
The fuel tank is probably one of the most important parts of a cafe racer kit, specially when it comes to the styling. This bespoke cafe racer tank created by Redmax not only does to job of making the stock Ducati Monster prettier, but it also serves the purpose of weight reduction. The Ducati Cafe Racer tank from Redmax offers the Sport Classic Styling and is compatible with Ducati Monster / ST range as well as the 916, 888 and Multistrada. Redmax’s tank is also half the weight of the original tank, weighing in at about 2.74kg while coming in at a price approximately 1/3 of the original motorcycle. There’s a bit of drilling and working required to get the tank to exactly fit the specifications of one’s exact motorcycle model, but there is nothing that needs to be done to the motorcycle’s frame at all.
While there are quite a few clip-ons that are available in the market, we found these one made by FastFromThePast quite appealing. These clip-ons come in both high- as well as low-rise designs that are perfect for the rider’s personal ergonomic needs. Further, these clip-ons for the Ducati Monster can be mounted in four different configurations providing great flexibility to work around other parts that mount on the handlebar.
3. Spoke Wheels
Spoke wheels are an important style element of any cafe racer conversion kit. They are the centrepiece of period-correct retro styling that one should not skip unless on a budget. UK-based Alpina Wheels offers some great options that are not only beautifully designed but are also tubeless, which is a great additional benefit. Do be careful while ordering though as these aren’t cheap. Alpina tubeless spoke rims come in a variety of options that fit the Ducati Monster, Sport Classic and the Paul Smart and feature double diameter spoke for a more sturdier build.
Tyres are a personal choice depending on a rider’s riding style. While we almost never would recommend anyone choosing a tyre purely for the treads suit the cafe racer, here are a few good ones for more important reasons. For those who are looking for a more performance oriented option, stock Pirelli Rosso pairs that come with the stock Ducati Monster are perfect for street and twisty roads. They have their disadvantages too though, as they are easy to wear off. So for someone looking for an economical setup that is decent in grip would be dual compound options like the Pirelli Diablo that would last for a longer duration. The Metzeler Z6 a also good mid-way option between a grippy tyre and a long lasting one.
While for most, the stock options would be good enough to compliment their Ducati Monster cafe racer kit, there are a few options for those looking for more adjustability from their machine. Choosing the right set of suspension for getting the perfect handling out of one’s motorcycle could be a tricky task where the motorcycle and rider’s weight play an important role. But if one has to choose a set of fully-adjustable set of suspensions that come from manufacturers like Ohlins and Race-Tech, they have their work cut out for them. While these suspensions are slight more expensive, they provide limitless adjustability which is a great thing. The suspensions can be tuned in a particular setting for daily use and then tuned differently for the weekend twisties.
Accessories are a great way to round up the cafe racer conversion project. Products like custom mirrors, oil and brake caps, handlebar grips, brake and clutch levers, etc. provide the final touches that brings the whole custom project together. One of the best lines of accessories are available from Rizoma, who have universal products as well as special lines for motorcycles like the Ducati Scrambler and Triumph Motorcycles.
For a Ducati cafe racer, a branded exhaust such as the ones from Termignoni or Akrapovic just doesn’t do the trick. What you need is something more personal to the character of the new machine. Ideally what you are looking for is an exhaust that streamlines with the sporty, yet classic look of your Ducati cafe racer. Depending on one’s personal choice, StradaFab provides some beautifully finished products for Ducati motorcycles that are available as full systems as well as slip-on configurations. While single exhaust cans might look good, MCN explains why they aren’t the best options on a V-Twin engine.
For those who are entering the world of custom motorcycles or are the ones who aren’t looking to go all-in on the idea, using the above approach and taking it step by step is a great idea. All the above parts can be bolted directly on to one’s existing motorcycle, and if needed, taken off with the same relative ease. An in case you are looking to go deeper into the rabbit hole of custom motorcycles, then too most of these parts can be used over again with a more detailed custom build. For those who are curious how to start on their own with a completely new cafe racer build, they should read this very elaborate guide on the same topic.
Cover Image: Vance Harper’s Ducati Monster 696 Cafe Racer Conversion.