Deviant Desmo: 1993 Ducati M900 Monster

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Photo by Kyoichi Nakamura
1993 Ducati M900 Monster

1993 Ducati M900 Monster

  • Engine: 904cc air/oil-cooled SOHC 90-degree V-twin, 2 valves per cylinder, 92mm x 68mm bore and stroke, 9.2:1 compression ratio, 75hp @ 6,750rpm (rear wheel, Cycle World dyno)
  • Top speed: 120mph
  • Carburetion: Two 38mm Mikuni
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Electrics: 12v, electronic ignition
  • Frame/wheelbase: Chrome moly trellis frame w/engine as stressed member/56.3in (1,430mm)
  • Suspension: 41mm upside-down Showa fork front, Boge monoshock rear
  • Brakes: Dual 12.6in (320mm) Brembo floating discs front, single 9.6in (245mm) Brembo disc rear
  • Tires: 120/70 x 17in front, 170/60 x 17in rear
  • Weight (dry, claimed): 408lb (185kg)
  • Seat height: 30.3in (770mm)
  • Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.2gal/40-45mpg
  • Price then/now: $8,950/$3,000-$6,000 (1993 model)

Originality of design is at least as much a gift as a science, especially when it comes to concocting a new kind of motorcycle that nobody else has done before.

The problem is that you never really know if it’s all going to work out right until you’ve translated your ideas into metal, for one man’s flight of fancy can be another’s passport to oblivion — weird, rather than wonderful. Even then, the ultimate judgement awaits: the verdict of the buying public.

On that basis, Italo-Argentine designer Miguel Angel Galluzzi must have been a mighty relieved man after the acclaim accorded to his Ducati Monster as it began to reach dealer showrooms around the world early in 1993, 25 years ago. This came after he was finally able to build the bike for which he’d had the sketches in his mental briefcase for ages, ever since he’d left Honda’s Italian design studio three years earlier to join the Cagiva Group. Selling it to their Ducati subsidiary’s commercial department had been tough, for this was a desmo V-twin-powered motorcycle that was radically different than anything Ducati had ever built before. But eventually Galluzzi got the go-ahead and the Ducati M900, aka the Monster, was born.

Even then, not everyone at Ducati was convinced of the bike’s sales potential. This was reflected in the tentative production figure originally projected for the new bike for its debut model year in 1993: a measly 1,000 bikes. That was scaled up almost hourly when the M900 was launched at the Cologne Show in Germany in October 1992 to a rapturous reception from press and public alike, but the final ceiling of 3,000 machines that Ducati ended up producing the following year left many distributors and dealers round the world crying in their Chianti glasses. They sold more than 1,500 Monsters in Italy alone in 1993, while in the U.K. the original order for just 400 bikes, instead of being doubled, had to be scaled down to half that, all of which were spoken for by eager customers long before a firm price had even been announced. It was a similar tale around the world: Australia, always a key export market for Ducati V-twins, received a mere 40 first-year Monsters. The marketplace verdict on Miguel’s deviant desmo was a decisive thumbs-up.

Road test

The chance to be the first outsider to ride the bike came about in February 1993, six weeks later than originally intended, as suppliers scrambled to come up with the components needed to build the bike much sooner and in greater numbers than originally foreseen. But the chance to spend a day with Monster No. 000001, shipped fresh off the Bologna assembly line to the Cagiva factory beside Lake Varese, where it had been concocted by Galluzzi in the space of a few months with the aid of a single helper, supplied an answer to the final question still remaining in the M900 equation: Did the go match the show?

Order the November/December 2018 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the 1993 Ducati M900 Monster. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.

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