Ducati Monster – Out With the Old, In With the New

“Ducati Monster” – These two words, even by themselves, evoke a myriad of thoughts and emotions. But put them together and you create a blend of passion, style, history, soul and a little bit of fear. The Monster began its humble beginnings in 1993. Built primarily from existing components of bikes already in production, the Monster was literally “frankenstiened” together. Since then this beastly bike would become an icon, rarely maintaining its stock looks. Almost every Monster you find has been altered or personalized somehow. Somewhere in its DNA, whether evolution or mutation is at work, these machines don’t want to be like other bikes. Starting with dropping its shrouds, the “naked bike” was born. Who needs clothes anyway? Interestingly the mods done usually have nothing to do with shortcomings, but everything to do with a rider looking at it and knowing that it must be somehow tamed. Most common mods are clip on handle bars (giving it a sport bike feel), coring the exhaust to let the exhaust rumble and growl or dual headlights that give you eyes in the dark. Chopping the tail and cutting the back frame get rid of the unsightly “Beer tray” fender that makes your bike look like it’s wearing granny panties. New levers, pegs, sliders, sprockets, removing extra parts, are all easy mods that don’t break the bank, but leave you hungry to personalize even more. Fewer parts to paint allow easy color changes and custom schemes but there’s always the guy who strips off everything except the essentials – leaving a raw bare animal. Even Ducati themselves have answered the mod call by making versions of the bike inspired by famous racers and movies. (The ‘Matrix Reloaded’ version is pretty cool).

In 2007 something happened. Ducati decided it was time to update perfection. How is that possible? There were whispers in the dark and conspiracy theories about the new bike. How could it be anything short of miraculous? This new offering from the gods would surely possess all good things we knew and add wonderful fantastic attributes that we hadn’t even dreamed of. When finally unveiled, it was almost biblical, complete with beams of light from heaven and angelic choirs. Much like Moses parting the Red Sea, there it was – this unholy offering for us mere mortals. And like the sea, Ducati enthusiast worldwide immediately found themselves on different sides. Some instantly fell in love with its fresh styling and thick lines where everything seemed broken and smooth at the same time. It was still formidable and aggressive but now it was modern to its last bolt.

Others found themselves less enchanted. Was it the buildup? Like waiting for Christmas as a kid with stars in your eyes only to find out that your new Superman cape wouldn’t help you fly. Questions like, “What was wrong with the old one?” and “Is that all?” were often heard when discussing the new look.

Looking back was there anything wrong with the old monster with its classic lines and sensual form that was both beguiling and intimidating at the same time? A beauty that demanded worship yet looked like it might charge your ass if you turned your back.

Still not sure which to go for? Here’s a neutral, unbiased opinion.

Everything about the new generation of Monsters is amazing, as expected. Cool new features and impressive technology mark it as a modern beast. As you move up the line of models from the 696, the 796 and the 1100 EVO, it’s going to melt your face off with insane power and speed. These Monsters are true Ducati masterpieces.

But something is different with this latest offering. Since they first rolled out of Italy, these bikes have been gobbled up by enthusiasts. This new generation of Monsters has outsold anything Ducati has ever released and as time goes by they have increased in popularity. As of today, it’s been five years in production. The odd thing is, most new Monsters do have something missing – clever mods. Sure you see new levers or aftermarket exhaust and if you want to change schemes just buy new cowling for the tank. The only consistent mod seems to be a fender eliminator (you don’t even have to cut the frame on these!). So the question is asked, why are these Monsters not being personalized like the old school Monsters? Is it the demographic of customer? Maybe the bikes are still too new and novel. Maybe owners are worried about devaluation. Or what if this new breed got an extra shot of modern, but with a little less soul? Of course, it’s also possible that Ducati has built the perfect Monster, and why would you want to change perfection

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