Now, three decades later, Ducati again is headed in the direction of the cruiser market with the 2011 Mega Monster, a fat-tired, low-seat muscle cruiser recently seen undergoing development testing on public roads in Italy.
These spy shots were revealed by MotoBlog.it, with the images of two Mega Monsters shot from a moving car. Itís unknown at this point whether the photos were randomly captured by a civilian or if it was a setup orchestrated by Ducati. It seems odd that the riders in the photos are wearing Ducati-branded gear while riding a top-secret test bike, doesnít it?
However, there is nothing imaginary about the Mega Monster itself. The spy shots reveal two fully functioning motorcycles.
Weíve also learned that Ducati has shown a Mega Monster prototype to a consumer research panel in SoCal several weeks ago.
More evidence for the Ducati Mega Monster is a photo of a clay model of the bike recently published in Englandís Motor Cycle News. Although the clay-model stage is a very early part of motorcycle development, this photo is valuable because itís the only image of the MMís front profile view.
The MCN spy shots reveal a number of interesting features.
Note the absence of a radiator in front of the engine. Instead, Yamaha/Star VMax-style scoops ahead of the fuel tank inject cooling air to side-mount radiators.
Also of interest is a rear shock mounted horizontally below the swingarm, clearing critical room for dropping the seat height perhaps as low as 27 inches. This has previously been impossible for modern Ducatis because of the room required for the vertical shock and the rear-cylinderís exhaust plumbing.
The image of the clay model also shows a round headlight surrounded by a sloping flyscreen, plus a belly pan.
The majority of the bike looks typical Ducati. A trellis steel frame is at the core of the Mega Monster, holding what is likely a hot-rodded version of the new Multistradaís liquid-cooled 1198cc V-Twin. This Testastretta Evoluzione has radically altered valve overlap compared to the 1198 superbikeís configuration, making the engine much more responsive at lower revs Ė perfectly appropriate for a muscle cruiser meant to compete with a Vmax or Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle.
The spy shots of the Mega Monsters on the road reveal the fattest rear tire ever fitted to a stock Ducati, appearing about 240mm wide. Menacingly large mufflers are mounted shotgun-style on the right side, while a license plate holder comes off the left side of the single-sided swingarm.
Although the Mega Monster might not immediately appeal to rosso-blooded Ducatisti, Ducati obviously feels the need to expand its lineup into a cruiser-ish segment. It will be interesting to gauge the reaction to this Italian muscle cruiser. We expect to see the finished product at the annual EICMA show this fall, or perhaps even sooner.