Road Test: Ducati M600 Dark V M900 Metallic

It might be called progress by some. But in a world where more and more motorcycles are becoming increasingly refined and civilised, others might feel the traditional character of bikes is being lost.

Posted: 19 April 2008
by Chris Moss

For those sorts of buyers Ducati's Monsters are a welcome relief.

The first Monster, the 900, caused a stir when it was launched back in 1993. Quite apart from its attractive and alternative chic Latin style, which set it apart from the Japanese masses, it had several virtues to satisfy the tastes of the more traditional biker - features which until then had seemed to be on the way out.

To these purists, a level of rawness and basic engineering made the Monster more endearing. Fans of Italian iron liked its simplicity, mechanical noise, vibration and quirks, which gave it some essential personality. And the slightly unfinished look provided by exposed wires and cables added to the appeal. To them it was more of a real bike than most of the opposition could offer. The Monster was something they could have a relationship with, rather than just ride.

Performance wasn't a priority and instead of keeping up with the bhp Joneses, Ducati concentrated on other virtues. It considered more real world issues like making the Monster easy to use and have fun on, especially around town. And included a level of flair and style to make it stand out. It quickly became a cult bike with the city set.

The 80bhp air-cooled 90¡ V-twin motor, taken from the 900SS sportsbike did have a fair turn of speed. And the use of a chassis, including a frame from the 851 Superbike, gave it respectable handling. But at the end of the day this was still a bike designed more for show than go.

It was a gamble that paid off, and the Miguel Galuzzi-designed Monster became an instant hit in the showrooms. Though it has to be said, its success was for more evident in Europe than here in the UK, where its sales were far more modest.

A year later the 600 version was introduced. It had significantly less engine power, with a claimed figure of just 53bhp. This made its straightline performance fairly weak, and it was lucky to break the ton on a good day. But its light weight and manoeuvrability made even easier to ride than the 900, and popular with those who wanted a bike which they could use to the full and not feel intimidated by.

Since then Ducati has made a 750 variant, and introduced lots of different versions of the three basic models in the Monster range. Their appeal is obvious and has helped the bike become Ducati's best selling model. We've chosen two of them to give you an idea of just what's on offer in the world of Monsters - the cheapest one, the 600 Dark. And the 900 Metallic, the most expensive of the air-cooled models.

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Discuss this story

Why are all road tests based on how fast a motorcycle is and the 'claimed' bhp figures. Read any review by an actual owner and you will see the 600 is loved by all, 0-60 is still quicker than anything bar a super car, and 0-80 is the same too, still easily quick enough. The long gears and low torque means effortless drive and it'll happily sit at 80 all day on motorways. Your road test paints a picture of a dreadfully dull bike when in fact it is one of the best, easy to live with, easy to service bikes ever made. Belt changes are 15-20 minutes work at home with a couple of Allen keys. It's so simple.
Try reviewing a bike properly and not be so judgmental just because it makes 53bhp.

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 15:56

Totally agree with everything Phil w 6 said.

If you wanted all out speed you wouldn't be looking at a monster anyway of any kind. It's just not what they're about.

I've had literally 20 odd jap bikes of all sizes and types over a 5 year period and none have captured me like my 600 Monster has. I sold a ZX9 for my Monster and i wouldn't go back. Not for a lot. Let's not forget these bikes handle phenomenally well with their decent suspension and Brembo Brakes and that L twin engine, its hard to put your finger on it but it talks to you unlike any other bike ive ever experienced. It's got an incredibly pleasing individual mechanical sound. Even other v twins don't sound like it.

Riding a Monster is a very rewarding ride too, it doesn't matter it's not the fastest thing out there, not by a long shot, but it gives you something while riding it, something that I'm yet to feel on any other bike.

They also make excellent road bikes for someone that wants that little something a bit more special and are very easy to ride.

I am by no means a professional mechanic but armed with a Haynes manual and a basic set off tools have performed both valve adjustments & cam belt changes with minimal fuss.

If your not obsessed with speed and care more about just getting out on your bike and riding than taking tenths out of your lap times at Brands then give the little monster a look. I did and I'm very happy, very happy indeed...

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 22:17

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