Twenty years ago Ducati blazed a new trail by creating a high-performance naked bike, the Monstro. The rest is history -- this machine became the most popular Ducati and the brand’s most imitated model. Triumph quickly responded with the Speed Triple, while KTM launched the 640-cc, single-cylinder Duke and then the 990-cc, twin-cylinder Super Duke, while Japanese manufacturers started coming out with naked sportbikes a few years later.
|Ducati has raised the level of the Monster's equipment as well as the sharness of its looks - almost to the level of the Hypermotard, but not quite that of the Street Fighter.
In order to stave off pretenders to the throne, Ducati is offering for 2009 an improved Monster with a 1,100cc engine, arguably the ultimate choice for those after a big exuberant roadster.
Beefed up for our own good
The Ducati Monster 1100
is powered by a typical Ducati engine: L-shaped cylinder configuration, two big valves per cylinder with the company’s signature desmodromic system (spring-less, cam-controlled valve opening and closing) and air cooling (for a simpler, lighter engine). The 1,100cc variant of this proven twin generates impressive torque from 3,500 to 6,500 rpm (with a peak of 79.5 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm) along with 95 hp at 7,500 rpm.
Also in typical Ducati fashion, the sport-tuned dry clutch system requires a delicate touch in stop-and-go traffic in order to prevent bucking upon takeoff. On the plus side, the six ratios in the transmission are nicely spaced out and shifting is effortless; just apply a slight pressure on the lever and it will shift almost by itself.
The significant improvements to the trellis-type tubular chassis confirm the arrival of a new generation of the Monster. An increasing number of aluminum components are now finding their way into the mix for a lighter overall weight and the same outstanding rigidity. The result is a solid, very capable bike.
The adjustable Showa fork and Sach shock (the latter offering preload and rebound damping adjustments), four-piston Brembo calipers and Bridgestone BT106 performance tires team up to deliver a highly-effective yet affordable package. Of course, if you can manage an extra $2,000, the high-end 1100S model ($13,995) comes with Öhlins fork and shock for superior performance and fun on the track.
|The rear suspension does not use a linkage to add progressiveness to the spring and damping on compression. We can see here that a progressively wound spring does add some stiffness to the spring only as the rear suspension does compress.