1993-2007 Ducati Monster | SMART MONEY

Monsters are surprisingly friendly beasts. The low seat and foot pegs, combined with the chest-level handlebars, provide a sporting, yet comfortable position for riders of any size. They’re classy commuters that can still carve up canyon roads on Sunday mornings. Throw a flyscreen and soft bags on one and you can even take your Monster touring.

All Monsters of the long first generation, pre-2007, feature Ducati’s desmodromics with either a two-valve air-cooled or a four-valve water-cooled mill. Displacement ranges from the 600cc M600 mini-Monster to the 998cc S4RS Testastretta beast. Fuel injection appeared on the M900ie in 2000, along with a minor styling update across the board. Ducati mixed and matched components like crazy, so that the smaller, cheaper Monsters got lower-end brakes and suspension, while the bigger bikes received the better stuff from Brembo, Marzocchi and Showa. High-end models got standard Öhlins kit.

Monsters respond well to certain modifications. Keihin FCR flatslides instead of stock CVs will make your carbureted Monster more aggressive. An aftermarket exhaust from Remus or Termignoni will change its bark from Rat Terrier to Rottweiler. Lighter aftermarket wheels from Marchesini or Carrozzeria will allow it to samba through the switchbacks.

Early bikes had some issues: excessive wheelies and exposure to potholes can crack M900 and M750 frames at the steering head and engine mounts. M900 slave cylinders fail regularly. Dry clutches get notchy. Also, check the four exposed nuts on each cylinder. If one spins freely, a cylinder stud has broken—an expensive fix. Later bikes addressed these problems.

There’s no reason to be afraid of Monster maintenance. Two-valve Ducs are pretty tame and capable of running strong after 100,000 miles. Service on the four-valve engines is more involved and expensive, so be sure to get a copy of the maintenance history.

For fully depreciated thrills, try a late-1990s M750—it may be the best value in Monsters, under appreciated in its day. For a more vivacious experience, find an S4, featuring the 113-bhp motor from the Ducati 916. No matter which bike you choose, a discerning rider will easily discover the benefits of having a well groomed Monster hanging around the garage.

Ferociously fast fun.
Ducati mechanic not included with purchase.
Watch for
Cracked frames. Expensive service.
Il Mostro Perfecto
1998 M750 | $2700
2001 S4R | $5500
2008 S4RS | $11,000

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