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

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Jay Groat

Climbing aboard the Mutant, I discovered an improbably comfortable and natural stance compared to most choppers I've ridden. Without any mirrors fitted, the big, wide handlebar looks sleek and swoopy. If the old cliché about "controls falling readily to hand" is applicable here, it's for good reason. "While building the bike, we were fortunate enough to test-ride virtually every production cruiser currently marketed, almost every one of which had some ergonomic fault," says Frisoli. "We realized that the footpegs had to be adjustable front to back, with some variation up and down if need be. Then we tried five handlebars with different lengths, angles, heights and widths."

In spite of the altitude-at 5750 feet, J-burg sees about a 20 percent drop in performance compared to sea level-the Mutant had satisfying reams of power to put to the pavement, and certainly lived up to its superbike stance in chopper country. Despite its massive 200/50-18 front and 300/35-18 rear tires, the bike handled surprisingly well. That's all part of the design: "The tire size is a styling thing. I always wanted to build a very chunky-looking motorbike, and that's what this is with the 200 front tire," Frisoli explains. "But the dynamic advantage we gained by using the 200 was to minimize the offset between front and rear, almost as close as on a normal Ducati Superbike. That's one of the reasons why the bike feels closer to a normal sportbike, unlike many of the others where they only put a big tire on the back."

So that's why the Mutant doesn't collapse onto its side and holds a fine line once you lay it into a corner. The long wheelbase aids stability without making it too hard to ride through the twisties, while the compliant suspension delivers a whole new concept in chopper country called comfort.

Painted in the same Marlboro red as the Desmosedici RR, the Mutant comes with a big 8-gallon fuel tank made from carbon fiber, the weave of which is visible through the checkered-flag imagery on top. The big halogen headlamp comes from Australia, where it's designed for rally cars. LED strips in the seat fulfill the requirements for turn-signals and a taillight.

Perhaps the Mutant's most noteworthy feature, though, is its build quality, for this is an imposing, original package that's exquisitely conceived yet extremely refined in design and manufacture. It's not just a chopper with a big rear tire that happens to have a Ducati engine, but a properly thought-out, well-engineered bike that positions the desmo brand in a market sector it's never been in before. "I knew I wanted to build this bike and offer cruiser riders something different, something that works that's built around Ducati's styling and traditions," says Frisoli. "But I didn't realize how much fun the bike would be to ride. It's an unexpectedly true all-rounder."

Agreed. And the best compliment I can pay Frisoli is that his deviant desmo has the qualities of a factory-fresh product, rather than a limited-edition, hand-built special.

Maybe after the Diavel, Ducati should consider making the Mutant?

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