Deviant Desmo: Moto Frisoli's Mutant Chopper Beats Ducati To The Punch

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Jay Groat

Until recently, the thought of Ducati building a cruiser would have been akin to Ferrari building a minivan. Yet Moto Frisoli Racing has already done it. The South African dealership's Mutant chopper was rideable when the Diavel was in its infancy on the drawing board, and represents an improbable blend of many of Ducati's trademark design features. It employs a steel-trellis frame housing an air-cooled 90-degree V-twin engine, a single-sided swingarm, carbon-fiber bodywork and Öhlins suspension with the raked-out fork and laid-back looks of a bike that Captain America himself might have ridden from L.A. to N'awlins in that movie.

It's a deviant desmo, and one that's available for sale (www.mfrmutant.com). As you might expect, the price of ownership is high: about $80,000 for a complete bike, or half that for a chassis kit, which includes the frame, swingarm, exhaust, handlebars, wheels, tires, brakes, 11 carbon-fiber parts including the fuel tank and bodywork, a total of 52 CNC-milled billet-aluminum components and a whole lot more.

In spite of its extreme appearance, however, a day spent cruising the High Veldt highways north of Johannesburg revealed that the Mutant ticks all the boxes in combining practicality with style. The undoubted presence delivered by its fat-tired facelift is matched by the punch and performance that Ducati has made its calling card.

The conundrum of how to enter the cruiser segment while staying true to Ducati's sporting heritage has been puzzling management for more than three decades. At one point in the mid-'80s, the factory commissioned a prototype from a U.S. bike builder. But the project was shelved when the costly-to-build bevel-drive engine was discontinued, since when Ducati has only ever made a halfhearted attempt with the ill-fated Indiana. Until now-or rather, until Moto Frisoli did it four years ago.

"I like all types of motorcycles, but the only kind I couldn't get with a Ducati engine was a cruiser," says Dave Frisoli, 48, who runs the dealership with his brother Tony. "The basic brief before we started was to build a Ducati-styled cruiser for customer sale, using as many components and styling themes as possible derived from existing Ducati models."

Following the design in his head, Frisoli constructed his own frame and swingarm that reflect Ducati's trademark technology. The leading-axle Öhlins fork was originally made for KTM's Dakar Rally racers, and measures 3 feet long. There's a full 6.5 feet between those widened 5-spoke wheels, and the forks boast 37 degrees of rake. The bike weighs in at 520 lbs. wet, which is some 200 lbs. lighter than many production cruisers. And then there's the power: The Mutant's Multistrada 1100-based two-valve mill churns out 95 bhp and 85 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear wheel, so no other cruiser apart from the new Diavel comes close in terms of power-to-weight ratio.

Frisoli prettied up the air-cooled Desmodue motor by stripping it down and ceramic-coating the external surfaces. The result looks good, and totally sidesteps the chromed-out appearance of American-style cruisers. The engine isn't tuned internally, but wears an MFR exhaust with twin Two Brothers silencers under the seat.

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