Who knew that a motorcycle named after the thriller movies of the past would go on to create history. The Ducati Monster not only revolutionized the two-wheeler market by creating an all new naked superbike category but also saved the Italian manufacturer from extinction. Taking this auspicious moment into consideration, let's take a ride through the birth of the Monster to its evolution over the years, in which it has sold over 3.2 lakh units globally, making it the most popular Ducati motorcycle ever made.
It was on October 2, 1992, at the Cologne International Motorcycle Show in Germany, that Ducati introduced the world to a new segment of motorcycles, called the Monster. It not only defied the company’s approach to motorcycles so far but also redefined the approach to designing motorcycles. Designed by Miguel Galluzzi, the Monster proved to be a very palatable design without missing out on the Italian flair and styling.
As history points out, the Monster was initially going to be introduced as a Cagiva. It was, however, the last minute decision which resulted in the naked bike being named as a Ducati. The Monster arrived in the same timeframe as the Ducati 916, which even today is claimed to be the most beautiful bike ever designed. But it was this new naked that kept the cash registers ringing as two-wheeler enthusiasts lapped up the Italian bike. The Monster proved to be a saviour for Ducati, accounting for more than 40% of its sales.
1993 – Ducati Introduces The Monster M900
The first ever production-ready Monster was built around the 888’s chassis and was powered by the same motor that powered the Ducati 900SS. The bike showcased a fairly flat handlebar with slightly rear-set footrests, offering an upright riding posture with a hint of sportiness. Even though the overall design was pretty basic, the Monster truly looked beefy, yet elegant, courtesy of the fluid design lines and the masculine tank that proves to be the centre of attraction. Back then, when traditional telescopic forks were the norm, the Monster proved to be a much more premium offering as it featured USD front forks and high-spec Brembo brakes. Powering this new kid on the block was a 904cc L-Twin motor that produces 68PS of power and 82Nm of peak torque and weighed just 184kg (kerb). Some design elements of the M900 like the contoured fuel tank, trellis frame and the round headlamp have become the DNA for the motorcycle and are still present in the current generation Ducati Monster.
1994 – Monster Becomes More Accessible
The Monster became an instant hit among auto enthusiasts but the high price tag that the M900 commanded also meant that it was inaccessible for most. Keeping this in mind, the company launched a smaller Monster called the Monster 600. The bike was powered by a 584cc, air-cooled, L-Twin motor that churned out 52PS of power and 52Nm of torque. Thanks to this new offering the Monster range was now available from a lower price point of Rs 4.34 lakh, which was Rs 2.17 lakh cheaper than the M900, which even though may not sound like a lot today, made a big difference then. The Monster 600 attracted a lot of young crowd and was not only lighter at 175kg, its lower seat height also made it accessible to both men and women.
1996 – The Monster M750 Is Born
As is said in any rule book, a big gap in the pricing between two products demands a filler. This resulted in the launch of the Monster 750. The bike really didn’t appeal much to audiences as it proved to be lacking when compared to the M600 and the M900, which were more purpose-built. That said, this Monster continued to be on sale till 2003, attracting only a limited number of buyers who wanted something different. The M750 was powered by a 748cc, air-cooled motor that was a bored out version of the M600’s engine.
1998 – Dark and Chromo Models, M900S
By this time Ducati began to realize that the Monster range required a dash of freshness. As a result, the Dark and Chromo editions took birth. While the Dark edition looked meaner with an all-black approach, the Chromo edition portrayed a chrome-finished fuel tank. In this very year, the ‘S’ variant was born, which basically meant sports. Thus, the Monster 900S received a host of upgrades like carbon-fibre side panels and mudguards. The S variant also featured a small visor. On the technical front, the ‘S’ now featured fully adjustable Showa suspension up front and a Sachs unit at the rear. The 900S also proved to be lighter by 2kg, weighing in at 183kg (kerb).
2000 – Say Hello To Fi Tech
The Monster 900 was equipped with fuel-injection and a new name, Monster 900ie. The addition of FI resulted in an increased power output by 11PS, while torque output increased by 2Nm. This also made the bike heavier by 3kg. The M900ie also received the suspension setup from the M900S along with a new, digital instrument panel. The Italian manufacturer later introduced the FI tech on the smaller Monsters as well.
2001– Ducati Monster Gets More Powerful And Efficient
It was during this time that the Italian bike maker took the motorcycle world by storm as it introduced its first ever range of liquid-cooled Monsters, which were named the S4, S4R and S4RS; out of which the S4 and S4R were launched in 2003. The numeric 4 in the name meant four valves per cylinder. The idea behind introducing the new range was to offer a sportier race of Monsters to the world. This new range was powered by the re-tuned Desmoquattro engine which powered the legendary 916, producing 103PS of power and 92Nm of torque.
2003 – M1000 Is Born
Ducati launched the Monster 1000 that showcased a 992cc motor. During this time, the Monster 750ie got upgraded and was badged as the Monster 800, and the Monster 620ie arrived with Ducati’s patented APTC ‘wet’ clutch, which gives a ‘slipper’ type action that prevents destabilizing of the rear-end under aggressive down-shifting and also gives the extra benefit of a super-light feel at the lever, a great benefit in stop-start city traffic or during longer journeys. The 21-plate oil-bath clutch (11 friction and 10 steel) represents a power-enhancing weight reduction over the ‘dry’ system as well as having a quieter operation and requiring less maintenance.
2005 – Air-Cooled Engines Make A Comeback
Ducati introduced the S2 range of Monsters. Basically, this range came with the single-sided swingarm seen on the S4 range but was powered by air-cooled engines instead. The S2R Monster 800 got a bigger sibling in the form of Monster 1000, while the M620 was renamed as the Monster 695.
2007 – Most Manic Form Of The Monster Is Born
Ducati unleashed the S4RS in 2007, which supposedly was the most mental Monster to be produced by the Italian firm ever. The S4RS featured upmarket Ohlins suspension and a 998cc, Testastretta engine that produces 128PS of peak power.
2008 – All New Ducati Monster Range
In terms of styling, there was no change in the way the bikes were designed, except for the way the exhaust cans were placed. The Monsters now featured under seat exhausts instead of the traditional side-mounted ones. The range, which now included the entry-level Ducati Monster 696, also received high-spec equipment, including radial brakes. The flagship Monster then was the M1100. The ‘S’ variant of the M1100 was equipped with race-spec Ohlins suspension.
2011 – Riding Aids Were Introduced
The Monster 1100 EVO was introduced as an addition the EVO series that consisted of the less expensive 696 and 796 siblings. It also came in as a replacement to the Monster 1100 and 1100S. Featuring many Ducati firsts, the 1100 EVO came equipped with Ducati Safety Pack (DSP) that included ABS and traction control (DTC) as standard, Brembo brakes, 43mm fully adjustable Marzocchi forks, and fully-adjustable Sachs monoshock at the rear. The bike also features, adjustable for preload and rebound, and a new lowered exhaust system.
Apart from all the top-spec features, the 1100 EVO was powered by the Company’s most advanced motor back then. The air-cooled, L-Twin, 1078cc Desmodue Evolusione Generated a peak power output of 101PS.
2013 - 20th Anniversary Celebration
The Monster range completed 20 years in 2013, and Ducati celebrated the same by introducing limited edition models with styling and paintwork that resembled the original Monster born in 1993. Visually the 20th Anniversary editions of the Monster 696, 796 and 1100 EVO were dressed in special celebratory colour schemes and revised colour finishes for frames, brake callipers, master-cylinders and key chassis components in addition to many other details including design refinements applied to rearview mirrors and seat cowling.
2014 – Stronger, Meaner Range Of Monsters
Ducati continued to dominate the segment for almost 7 years, with various iterations to woo its fans, but it was in 2014 that the company gave a truly major update to the Monster brand, while staying true to the Monster’s muscled approach of course. This was also the time when the flagship Ducati Monster 1200 and Ducati Monster 1200S was launched. Design updates included lighter wheels, high-spec suspension and brakes, LED DRL’s on the more rounded headlight a shorter tail and a narrower tank for improved ergos. In fact, to make the 1200 more performance focused, the trellis frame was revised, with the engine acting as a stressed member now.
Speaking of the engine, Testastretta motor was the most powerful motor ever seen on a Monster, and it produced a whopping 149PS and 124Nm of peak torque. That aside, Standard list of features included an eight-level traction control, three-stage ABS and three Ride-by-Wire throttle modes and (DSP) Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), all of which could be changed at the press of a button. The smaller, liquid-cooled Monster 821 also made its way during this time, pumping out 114PS of peak power and 89Nm of torque. This was also the era when Ducati’s air-cooled Monsters were phased out.
2017 – Ducati Celebrates 25 Years Of Monster
Ducati introduced an all-new Monster at the 2016 EICMA. This entry-level naked was named the Monster 797. The air-cooled motor made a comeback with this motorcycle, with the 803cc motor producing 74PS peak power and 67Nm of peak torque. It is practically the same engine that powers the Scrambler but is tuned to behave like a Monster should, without being too frantic of course.The less frantic nature of the motorcycle also means that more novice riders can get accustomed to the way the baby Monster behaves. Eventually though, this would result in increasing number of Ducatisti, as this bike is targeted towards enthusiasts who are keen on taking up the Italian way of riding.
With 25 years of strong heritage following the Monster, it remains to be seen how Ducati celebrates the milestone. We are hoping to be surprised by the Italian manufacturer at the upcoming 2017 EICMA.