2003 Ducati Monster 1000
If you are a real squid or want to do track days, just fit underseat pipes. Other than that, the Monster 1000 is a superb canyon riding platform. Impudent small wheelies as you exit second gear curves wiggle your bars as the front regains contact, the extreme stability as you deep brake into turns, all in all, good fun without punishing your wrists. Talking about braking, the obligatory Brembos are pretty strong but do not excel in initial bite or feel, especially when cold. Last obligatory Ducati issue that regards mountain roads riding is of course the engine. Just like with the Multistrada, the 1000DS mill lets you stay in one gear and concentrate on your lines rather than on keeping the engine on the boil.
After the photo session, I am left mid-Toscana with plenty of time on my hands to sport-tour or just plain scratch. The hours pass and, still, everything's feeling OK. A comfortable Monster at last? I can still recall the acute burning sensation in my tailbone when I once rode an M900 for a long stretch. Even the supposedly comfier S4's seat mashed my buttocks in no time at all, so I don't really know who to blame but this Monster is long-range comfy and I'm almost sure my anatomy hasn't been altered. There seems to be slightly more seat to footpeg distance and a different cut to the seat foam. The handlebars ends tip down for a more ergonomic hold, and the Showa suspension does a real good job swallowing all sorts of road imperfections (although for really spirited riding I added a few clicks of damping).
So forget about punishing Ducatis, someone in the factory seems to be paying real attention to the small details that count. This road test eventually turned into a full-blown Tuscany tour that showed me this new Monster has indeed a much wider use spectrum. Later on, my girlfriend even found the small passenger seat acceptable, and we even tackled a pretty steep hard-packed trail. Try that with your sportbike.
Before I convince half the world to move on to naked bikes, the genre has its limitations too. Back on the autostrada, it turns out that vestigial fairing isn't much use in low-altitude flight. The engine has no problem pushing the M1000 to 120 or 130 even, but your neck muscles do have some trouble keeping your head from detaching from the rest of your body. Even at 100 mph, my girlfriend was making wild gesticulations trying to slow me down, having trouble staying put with no hand grabs around. Back to 85- 90 cruising it was. At that speed, the Monster is kind of acceptable for longer highway cruising and the engine emmits just a vibrationless and gentle rumble. So where were we? A nice city tool, a mean canyon carver, we had some off-road fun even. Just forget about long to mid range highway droning, as it gets old kind of quick. My large soft saddle bags wouldn't even fit on this one.
When I tested the the 916-powered S4, I was somewhat resentful about the premium price. There is hope now for souls captivated by the essentialist Monster formula; the M1000DS supplies most of the fun of its watercooled brother at a list price that's 20-percent lower. The only thing you'll miss would be the extra top end, but in the context of naked and pared-down-to-their-bones bikes such as the Monster, it just really doesn't matter. Visually speaking, the liquid-cooled Monster can't hold a candle to the classic look of Taglioni's last creation. With its newfound fuel-injected vigor, there is no better frame in which to display this air-cooled masterpiece than the Monster.
992cc air-cooled L-twin, 2v/cyl., desmodromic
Bore x Stroke: 94 x 71,5mm
Compression ratio: 10:1
Power: 62 kW - 84 HP @ 8000 rpm
Torque: 84 Nm - 8,5 kgm @ 6000 rpm
Fuel injection: Marelli, two 45mm throttle bodies
Exhaust: two aluminum mufflers with 3-way catalytic converter (not on USA version) in compliance with Euro1 standard regulations
Gearbox: 6-speed; dry-multiplate clutch
Ratios: 1st 37/15, 2nd 30/17, 3th 27/20, 4th 24/22, 5th 23/24, 6th 24/28
Primary drive: Straight-cut gears; 1.84
Final drive: Chain, 15/39
Frame: Round-tube steel trellis
Wheelbase: 1440 mm/ 56,7 in
Rake/trail: 240/ yes
Front suspension: 43mm inverted Showa; fully adjustable (not adjustable on Dark version), 130mm travel
Rear suspension: progressive linkage with Sachs adjustable monoshock. aluminum swing-arm (steel swing-arm on Dark version), 148mm travel
Front brake: two 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear brake: 245mm disc, two-piston caliper
Wheels: three-spoke light alloy; 3.50 x 17/ 5.5 x 17 in.
Tyres: 120/70-ZR17, 180/55-ZR17
Fuel capacity: 15 L / 3,9 US gal (including 3,5 L / 0,9 US gal reserve)
Claimed weight*: 189 kg / 416 lb
Seat height: 800 mm / 31.5 in
Instruments: Electronic speedometer, rev counter, neutral light, oil pressure warning light, low fuel warning light, high beam indicator, turn signals, immobilizer, LCD oil temperature, LCD clock
Warranty: two years unlimited mileage
Tank colors: Red, yellow, blue, black, metallic grey (Dark version: matt black, silver grey)
* includes battery and lubricants, no fuel...