2008 Overland Motorcycles Terra Mostro 695 - First Ride

A New-Generation Ducati Scrambler, Made The American Way

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Kevin Wing

The Terra Mostro is not the first Ducati-based dual-sport motorcycle. There were single-cylinder Scramblers in the mid-'60s and V-twin powered Elefants 20 years later. The Terra Mostro story actually begins with the Elefant. Overland Motorcycles President Blaine Dehmlow has owned six such machines over the years, and absolutely loved the booming V-twin's abilities both on road and off. So when Dehmlow set out to construct his version of the ultimate dual-sport, he started with his favored Desmodue motor and worked from there. Now he's ready to sell you one, too.

Working together with partner Kent Harle, the duo built the first Terra Mostro (Italian for "Dirt Monster") prototype in 2006 from a salvage Ducati M750 and a pile of Triumph, Husaberg, Cagiva, Honda and KTM parts-"more Mad Max than Massimo Tamburini," Dehmlow says. The bike worked, though, and over the next two years the pair spent thousands of miles refining their creation. Now they have begun production as far from Bologna as you can get, in Brentwood, California.

We sampled Terra Mostro #4 on the roads and trails of Marin County, high above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. This was the first regular production bike, based on a brand-new 695 Monster and retaining the Ducati chassis, engine, EFI, fuel tank, headlamp, dash and wiring loom. Overland adds a longer, extruded-aluminum swingarm (stretching the wheelbase from 56.7 to 60.5 inches), longer-travel suspension front and rear (over 8 inches at both ends), 21-inch front/18-inch rear wheels and various other aftermarket dirt bits, including an Acerbis front fender and enduro bars and triple clamps from Applied Concepts.

The Terra Mostro is quite a bit heavier than the stock 695 Monster (a claimed 395 lbs. dry, compared to 370 lbs. stock), though the front/rear weight bias is an acceptable 48/52 percent. Most of the extra pounds come from the heavy-duty wheels that consist of Takasago Excel alloy rims laced with heavy-duty stainless spokes to Grimeca hubs. It's not too much trouble for an average-sized rider to throw a leg over the 35-inch-high Ducati Performance seat, and a wide, tapered-aluminum handlebar contributes to a very comfortable cockpit. Generous, 11.25-inch ground clearance allowed Overland to reposition the rearsets lower and farther forward for a more enduro-style stance that further increases control.

Though the chassis is completely reconfigured, the 695cc Desmodue engine is mostly as Ducati intended, except for the custom Bassani high-rise headers, DMC silencer (with a USFS-approved spark arrester) and a Dynojet Power Commander remapped to suit. Lower overall gearing (14/48 teeth) further enhances power delivery compared to the notoriously overgeared stocker (15/42). A broad, easy-revving power spread makes the engine relaxing on the road and easy to control on the trail.

The Terra Mostro is surprisingly sure-footed in the dirt, where light, precise handling and smooth power delivery make this a great ride, especially for inexperienced off-roaders. The dirtbike-inspired chassis geometry makes it easy to stay on track, the long-travel suspension is plush and forgiving and the IRC Trail Winner dual-sport tires give unexpectedly good grip on all surfaces.

The single, 300mm Brembo front disc brake retained from the original Monster could do with more aggressive pads-you won't risk locking the front wheel in a panic street stop, but it also won't catch you out in the dirt. The smaller, 245mm rear disc actually has more bite than the front, which is as it should be off-road. We were less than impressed with the Ducati APTC (Adler Power Torque Clutch). This wet, slipper-type clutch offers very light but somewhat unpredictable action, engaging only at the very end of the lever travel. This abrupt, grabby action made it hard to smoothly pull away from a stop, but this was hardly Overland's fault.

The Terra Mostro is sold exclusively over the company's website, for $16,590-a considerable increase over the Monster 695's $7995, but a relative bargain when you consider the effort it would take to build your own. Dehmlow says he is considering making a kit so customers can convert their own Monsters, as well as a 19-inch front wheel option for riders who spend more miles on pavement.

Overland is also pondering development of a second, two-passenger dual-sport, tentatively dubbed the Telluride and based on the GT1000 Sport Classic. That will wait for the future, however, as demand for Terra Mostros is presently occupying all their time. Ten bikes have been delivered to date, and the company is now building the next 25. Sounds like Dehmlow wasn't the only one who wanted a proper Ducati dual-sport.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!

*Please enter your username

*Please enter your password

*Please enter your comments
Comments:
Not Registered?Signup Here
(1024 character limit)
Motorcyclist
  • Motorcyclist Online