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Thread: Ducati Monster 1100 First Impressions and Ridden!

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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Default Ducati Monster 1100 First Impressions and Ridden!

    I had received the phone call confirming to get the bike last week. I was apprehensive to say the least about getting the bike, about the feel good factor, about my idea about this image placed on a pedestal going sour, about the whole idea going bad... but I did not say no when I was asked to go to the Ducati guys last weekend and to have some free time in my hands.

    The Meeting

    When I received the keys of this monstrous beast, I had no idea what I was asking for. I walked out in the parking to perceive the Black Monster gleaming in the sun, waiting for me to straddle her. I stood in front of the machine in wide eyed admiration soaking in the pleasure of the Italian beauty, all in black; dominating, intimidating, eager to set challenges, pushing you, almost tauntingly to take it on. I did a walk around. The muscular carved tank with DUCATI Monster written in clear bold alphabets minces no words in how the bike is conceived. Single seat with no grab rails, this is not for the weak-hearted sissy pillion. Single sided swingarm, the prominent cross of the trellis frame, the elegant rear view mirrors, double lamps encased in a single shell of the headlamps, all aspects leading to this beautifully monstrous creation from Italy.









    Once I finished admiring the external aspects of this thing of beauty which was extremely difficult since we all know what that great man said, A thing of beauty is a joy forever! I decided to take it a step forward. This may be a thing of beauty that I can drool on forever. But then this was also a motorcycle. It had two wheels with a motor in between. And thus this was supposed to behave like a motorcycle. And here came the real test. At INR 13Lacs I was wondering that this had better be good.

    I had my apprehensions. This is an L-twin, air-cooled, single valve per cylinder, no forced air-induction engine. How can such a package impress someone who is sold on liquid cooled, multi-cylinder, multi-valve engines pushing out 150+ horses at the rear wheel? I had to see this.

    I pushed the bike out of the parking area and I was surprised at the ease of movement. At 168 Kgs, the Monster feels feather light, with an adjustable turning radius, a simple but effective innovation found on some bikes and does not restrict movement while moving in and out of cramped parking areas though I did not have to deal with it immediately.





    I turned the key and the blue-lit compact instrument console came alive. Some people are loath to appreciate digital displays of the tachometer. I am not one of them. However it took me a while to adjust myself to the console. The kill switch on, I thumbed the ignition. With a slow crank the long stroke engine came thumpingly alive. I have ridden other V-twins and L-twins. But this one sounded different. There is a perceptible difference in the V-vibes character.

    I threw my leg over the eagerly waiting saddle. At 810mm, this is not a short saddle height for the average Indian height. At 169cms height, I was nearly on my toes on both sides. I bent forward and grabbed the handlebars. They were not clip-ons. But the riding stance is not far removed from bikes with clip-ons. There is a strong similarity in riding posture with bikes sporting clip-ons. It is unconventionally aggressive for a naked litre class. But then here we are speaking of the Ducati Monster no less.



    The Ride

    Twisting the throttle gently I was getting myself accustomed to the soulful staccato growl of the Vees! You will not get this character in your regular run-of-the-mill inline twin, four, six or whatever. I pulled in the hydraulic clutch, remembering that this was a Ducati that have dry clutch plates! I engaged gear with the customary thud of such bikes and eased her out of the parking on to the road. Now this is where the Ducati Monster takes over and wins your heart. I had a clear choice of vast open roads and traffic ridden office going roads. I decided to try out both. But first the office roads to see what this baby can do in traffic.

    Monster to Office.

    A marginal twist of the throttle and the Monster moves ahead faster than your body can produce the adrenalin. You are hit by bags of Torque right from the word go leaving behind a trail of blazing used rubber on the tarmac from the 180/55 rear. The geometry of the bike is such that despite such phenomenal Torque and accelerating G-forces and an incredibly light structure, the front end stays solidly planted.

    Soon as expected I found myself rapidly approaching a traffic snarl as is wont in active economic zones like this one. Waiting behind a truck I could see the heat gradually build up. But this was nowhere near intolerable like in our regular highly compact inline fours where the engine heat becomes a deterrent to motorcycling and your good health. On the Monster, waiting behind serpentine queues of trucks and carts and cars and rickshaws was a cool breeze as the heat build-up was nowhere close to the tolerance threshold.

    Inching forward through this dormant jam, I decided to give it the Indian treatment. I easily turned the handlebar and started weaving through this unforgiving third- world-country-immovable public property called rush hour traffic. Slow overtaking is effortless since powerful Torque is available at usable down-to-earth engine revs as low as below 2K. I do not even need to open the throttle. It took the traffic, the potholes, the bumps and the jolts with ease and aplomb. However the rear did feel a bit stiff on the bumps. As I arrived at the traffic light, there was many an eye that turned and looked quizzically at the contraption that I was riding. To the untrained eye, it is difficult to fathom how this thing on two wheels could hold itself together since everything looked out in the open.

    Zipping along not so silently with the plaintive notes of L-twin making itself heard on the NCR tarmacs in the glitzy area of Cyber city, it seemed a fitting locale for such a stylishly built Italian and I could almost see myself sitting on this Monster of a bike reflected on the numerous slanting mirror faades of this booming neighborhood. In my run around town I pulled more eyes towards me than would a supermodel walking in Karol Bagh in a micro mini skirt! Such is the glam and oomph factor of this Italian design.

    To the Wide Open Roads

    Getting out of the deranging traffic took me instinctively towards the broad open roads of the country not so far away with a few twists and turns that finally give some meaning to the expression motorcycling pleasure and to get a real feel of what a motorcycle can do.

    As I saw a lengthy stretch of beautiful tarmac, I whacked the throttle open and I felt the bike overtake my adrenalin once again! I was on 2nd and I was sailing past 120 kmph when the rev limiter kicked in though there is an absence of a red line on Ducatis, I was somewhere around the 10.5K rev mark when the red lights on top of the console lit up signaling the kicking in of the cut-off. I was fast approaching a sharp left hander. I did not bother to slow down. I lightly shifted position and leaned in to the left. The newly reworked trellis completed the trick as the bike went through the arc of the curve in one smooth effortless motion as if I was a trained track racer doing this for a living. It was this luxurious feeling of confidence inspiring dynamics that eventually won my heart over.

    True, I had gone past 180kmph with one gear still remaining on a 1078cc engine delivering 76Nm of Torque with the sweet spot coming at 6000 rpm, the engine giving out 95 horses at 7500 revs with a not so stretched compression ratio of 10.7:1, it was not sheer speed that I was looking for in a naked street bike. I was looking for street performance and street handling from a street bike. That the Monster delivers with lan, flair and style.







    Positives:

    What does this Ducati deliver? Much of everything that one would want in a naked street motorcycle. Riding ergonomics come foremost in mind. You are inclined to the front, but not enough to tire your back and wrists. But this aids in the handling around fast corners. Handling in stalled traffic, on fast straights, around corners and on the narrow back lanes comes with uncomplicated ease. Some find the handlebars a bit too wide. I find them to be really helpful in Indian conditions while dealing with not-so infrequent bad road conditions. The wide handlebars help in keeping the bike gathered while going off the road on gravel and while hitting sudden potholes.

    The bike delivers usable power and torque and at sane accessible engine revs without having to make it scream at the top of its lungs to extract the power. The juices are there for the asking. You just have to gently open the throttle.

    One cannot say enough of the styling. This is an unmistakable eye magnet with the bold new cross trellis frame underneath the muscular tank, the sloping angled single seat, single sided swingarm exposing the carefully carved beauty of the rear alloys and the glitzy headlamps.

    Negatives:

    The biggest negative in the riding factor in this bike I felt was the stiff rear suspension. It is a non-link type mono-shock. For relatively good tarmac and even around corners, it holds its own pretty well. But when the ride gets bumpy, which can happen in India, the rear begins to lose a bit of its feedback.

    This bike is good for long hauls. But going fast for long hours will take a toll on the rider without any fairing what with the wind hitting straight on the chest at 150kmph! I also felt that for a bike of this stature the braking lacked bite and could have been better. And the biggest deterrent however is the price tag. But then is there a price for lifestyle and class! Now that is a rhetorical question.

    Conclusion.

    In 1992, Ducati had come up with a concept that they had been working on and finally unveiled a street motorcycle that went on to become the iconic Monster based on a philosophy of minimalism as far as styling goes and raw grunting power delivered from an L-twin coupled with sweet handling coming from a trellis frame. The Monster has grown and evolved to its iconic status over the decades and has become one of the most desirable motorcycles for bikers around the planet. Would I buy this? Now that is another rhetorical question. Few things on the planet would give me greater pleasure than to become part of Ducatisti!











    Motion of Thanks: A big thanks to Ducati Gurgaon who was largely helpful in my endeavours and agreed to give me the bikes for several hours to work and test on last week and extended a helping hand in everything that was required for the above test and ride.

    Text and Photos: Krishnendu Kes, aka KEN
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    Nice read, coupled with photographs. Thanks for this road-test Ken Da but, what helmet are you wearing!? I have seen ladies wearing better helmets.

    P.S: In the last picture, that red lid would've looked GREAT!
    Last edited by Aryan; 06-03-2010 at 10:11 PM.
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    Good review Ken . 1 question how does the adjustable turning radius work ?

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    Good Stuff! Me, Anurag Ashok and SunilG also test rode it day before yesterday. I liked the torque and it was definitely light. I am not sure of how it will carry all our stuff in 7000kms of the Italy trip, so giving the Multistrada a serious thought.
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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aryan View Post
    Nice read, coupled with photographs. Thanks for this road-test Ken Da but, what helmet are you wearing!? I have seen ladies wearing better helmets.

    P.S: In the last picture, that red lid would've looked GREAT!
    You know how things are. Some things get done, others don't and you do not even realise in the excitement of the moment and the butterflies in your stomach governing a lot of things at that moment...

    Quote Originally Posted by Puneet1 View Post
    Good review Ken . 1 question how does the adjustable turning radius work ?
    That is a very simple innovative feature by putting in a screw on the forks that get blocked and can be loosened and tightened according to your needs.
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


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    Freakin Awesome. Just thinking about people who have the moolah to buy and afford these exotics. Thank You Ken dada for great stuff.
    Why Road Safety campaigns are not impacting people?
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    It must have been a real awesome machine to ride. You lucky guy. Whats the top speed of the monster 1100?

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    Rusted ken cool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
    Good Stuff! Me, Anurag Ashok and SunilG also test rode it day before yesterday. I liked the torque and it was definitely light. I am not sure of how it will carry all our stuff in 7000kms of the Italy trip, so giving the Multistrada a serious thought.
    I would not be comfortable on the Multistrada in India. But if there is a level playing surface, I am game. A bit too high for me... like the GS.

    Quote Originally Posted by inflammable View Post
    Freakin Awesome. Just thinking about people who have the moolah to buy and afford these exotics. Thank You Ken dada for great stuff.
    Hey Alok... welcome back! Thanks.
    The Wheel was a great invention; Two Wheels with a Motor in between was even better!


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    Quote Originally Posted by ken cool View Post
    I would not be comfortable on the Multistrada in India. But if there is a level playing surface, I am game. A bit too high for me... like the GS.



    Hey Alok... welcome back! Thanks.
    Thank You. I have been here only always. Just keep watching things silently. I am on xbhp several times everyday.
    Why Road Safety campaigns are not impacting people?
    To find How I am dealing with it.. Check this - LINK
    Road Safety Video

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    Rusted BANDHAV's Avatar
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    Nice, but somehow i have feeling the photos could have been better.

    Quote Originally Posted by ken cool View Post
    You know how things are. Some things get done, others don't and you do not even realise in the excitement of the moment and the butterflies in your stomach governing a lot of things at that moment...
    Sorry, but such excuse from someone, who is been around for eons, is not acceptable at all.
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