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I’ve bought some seriously rubbish bikes in my time, so I’m well qualified to talk about this Monster. When I first saw it in the car-park I thought to myself: A monster for a grand? That’s too good to be true.
And it was. From 10 feet away, it looks presentable, tidy even. Those classic Monster lines take your eye off the corroded engine casings, the leaky fork seal and suspicious amounts of engine oil oozing from the front cylinder head. But, as a first bike these are just minor details, merely exciting things that might go wrong and give you a story to tell. However, when you’ve owned your fair share of shonkers, and spent an unhealthy amount of time taking your bike to pieces on the hard shoulder, the novelty of spannering your own steed is well and truly lost.
It was only when I sat on the bike to fire it up that I noticed the pin that holds the front brake lever on was missing, but that was ok, because it had been replaced with a cable tie. What could possibly go wrong?
I fired the Monster into life and it promptly stalled. It took three efforts and it wouldn’t hold onto its revs so I spent an uncomfortable minute holding the revs up to warm the engine. A satisfying amount of smoke came out of the exhausts but it was nothing more than an excess of WD40 that had been liberally squirted into every nook and crannie.
Despite its starting issues, the engine felt fine in the lower rev range. It didn’t stall when we sat at the lights and - for a remarkably slow bike – the Monster was quite eager to get away from the lights, it pulled ok to 30mph but after that it just sort of gave up. It was by far the slowest bike in the group.
On the motorway we sat at a sedate 65mph, a gentleman’s agreement to not to push the boundaries of physics and to make it to our location without the help of the RAC. At 65mph the Monster was a hive of activity, the bars had a gentle weave – which could have been tyres, head bearings, a bent frame – it was amusing more than unnerving. The engine note wasn’t a classic lovable twin, more like the muted sound of roadworks outside your house.
Handling-wise, this bike was the worst I’ve ridden. It felt like you were riding a bicycle with a bucket of water on each handlebar. Tipping into a roundabout required effort, but then the Monster would drop in with the severity of an impending lowside only to right itself with a gentle wobble. The tyres weren’t the best but the front forks had next to no rebound so once compressed, they struggled back with all the gusto of a fat asthmatic getting up out of an armchair, giving it handling that some might call interesting. I’d call it lethal.
On the way home, I took the Monster over 65mph, up to 90mph infact and the gentle wobble turned into slightly more severe weave. I backed off, went to exit the motorway and the Monster gave up. The engine died with little warning other than the previous 500 words you’ve just read. Considering all that, this was possibly a very overdue death. I thought it could be fuel, so I fiddled with the tap, pulled the clutch and tried to fire it into life again. Nothing, so I coasted up the exit ramp and onto the hard-shoulder. The bike had reached the limits of its performance and five minutes later, standing next to a bike half in bits, I’d reached the limits of my mechanical ability. It was check-mate. After a few minutes wait and a few choice profanities, the Monster eventually started, I don’t know why, I didn’t question it, I just wanted to get home.
I can see why you’d fall for this Monster, especially as a first bike because you’d overlook every obvious sign that this was a carefully wrapped box of disappointment and just gawp at the Ducati badge on the tank. As a winter hack then you’d forgive its shortcomings, but if you’re looking for fun, you’d have more fun spending £1000 on balloons and if you’re looking for cheap transport, well, £1000 buys a lot of train tickets..
Posted: 29/11/2011 at 13:29
Posted: 29/11/2011 at 14:35
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