The Bike That Saved Ducati

And It Wasn’t Always Called The Monster

By Marc Cook, Photography by Kevin Wing, Motorcyclist Archives, Ducati

By the summer of 1990, Galluzzi was not overwhelmed by work at Cagiva. “I went back to Bordi and asked if I could start the Monster as a side project. He said okay. ‘You can go to Ducati and get some parts and see what you can do.’ But at the time, it was more important to create the next Paso. That’s where the energy was going.”

Galluzzi began the work alone but, after meeting with Cagiva boss Claudio Castiglioni, was given an assistant to develop the prototype Monster. “They gave me a guy who was used to hammering aluminum. We were nearly done with the mockup, but we made a lot of little things out of aluminum, little covers and even the front fender. We worked in a small workshop, and eventually management wanted to see what I was doing. You know, they were worried that I was working on something, spending a lot of time, and all they had seen was a sketch.” Soon after, Cagiva brass gathered in the tiny workshop and saw the mockup of the Monster. “They looked at it,” says Galluzzi, “and said, ‘Is that it?’ I said yes, that’s all there is.”

Detailing was incredibly important to the Monster’s designer. “I wanted everything just so. That’s critical when you have so little body. You can’t hide anything. There is an interesting story on the headlight. I wanted a big look, a round, classic headlight. I knew a guy who collected old motorcycle parts and he let me into his shop. It was filled to the roof with old parts. I found an old headlight from a Laverda, made by Bosch. It was perfect.” It was meant to be. In later research for production, it emerged that this very headlight design had been used by Ducati before, on the Pantah. In fact, Ducati still had a few of the originals in stock. “I had no idea,” recalls Galluzzi. “But it was good luck.”

By the end of 1990, Galluzzi had finished the prototype. But Ducati, he says, “told us, ‘Thanks, but we don’t need it now.’ We were supposed to get some pictures taken and that was it.” For the moment, it appeared that the Monster was on hold. It would not be for long. “I convinced Castiglioni to bring the bike to Ducati during a big importers’ meeting. That was the first time we presented it.” At the end of the meeting, Castiglioni told the importers that he had one more thing to show them, and that if they liked it, maybe Ducati would consider building it. The response to the Monster was, Galluzzi recalls, overwhelming.

Ducati, recognizing a good thing, was then ready to push ahead with production. “But we had a lot of work to do,” recalls Galluzzi. “When we started, we didn’t know if the bike would go very far, so we used only existing parts. The frame was pure 851. We thought we could change the subframe to make it work, but that was all we did at the time. Many details were unresolved, and the bike would change quite a lot from the first mockup through prototypes and into production.”

Galluzzi was more than just the Monster’s original designer, he was the protector of the essential concept. “We had lots of discussions,” he says. “The engineers had different ideas, and I had to convince them to stay with the main concept. But it wasn’t that difficult. I think anyone who saw the prototype Monster understood what it meant without having to be told.”

In Galluzzi’s mind, a motorcycle with minimal bodywork needs to have precisely the right bodywork to pull it off. “But, you know,” he says, “I didn’t really do a lot of different sketches for the Monster. What we made just seemed right. We tried for some nice detail, like the raised edge around the fuel filler, but tried very hard just to keep it simple.”

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