Galluzzi's Big Gamble: 1993-1999 Ducati M900 Monster

Comparing the Ducati M900 Monster with its primary competitors, the Honda Hawk GT NT650 and the BMW R100R.

  • ducati m900 monster
    Ducati M900 Monster.
    Motorcycle Classics archives
  • Honda Hawk
    Honda Hawk GT NT650.
    Motorcycle Classics archives
  • BMW vintage motorcycles
    BMW R100R.
    Motorcycle Classics archives

  • ducati m900 monster
  • Honda Hawk
  • BMW vintage motorcycles

Ducati M900 Monster

  • Years produced: 1993-1999 (904cc carburetor engine)
  • Power: 73hp (claimed) @ 7,000rpm
  • Top speed: 118mph
  • Engine: 904cc air/oil-cooled SOHC desmodromic 90-degree V-twin
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Weight/MPG: 441lb (wet)/40mpg
  • Price then/now: $8,950 (1994)/$3,000-$6,000

Until 1993, streetfighters were the province of impoverished riders who had low-sided their sport bikes and couldn't afford to fix the busted bodywork, so they made a feature of the naked look. Things might have stayed that way without the inspiration of Miguel Angel Galluzzi. The story goes that then Ducati technical director Massimo Bordi challenged Galluzzi to design a new motorcycle that could be extensively customized with factory or aftermarket options. That implied a minimalist machine without bodywork. Bordi also wanted to minimize development costs while avoiding a proliferation of new parts. It's said that Galluzzi already had the solution in mind.

Galluzzi fitted Fabio Taglioni's tried-and-true 904cc air/oil-cooled desmodue (desmodromic valve actuation) engine into a steel-tube trellis frame adapted from the 750/900SS and 888 Superbike, and with the bare minimum of ancillaries. The result was effectively the first factory streetfighter, and it defined the features and aesthetics of a generation of naked bikes. It was instantly named Il Mostro (The Monster) by the factory team.

As Ducati's best-selling model ever, the Monster has been described as "the bike that saved Ducati," representing more than 50 percent of the output from Borgo Panigale between 1993 and 2014. The instant success of the Monster no doubt helped make Ducati an attractive buy when Cagiva sold the company to Texas Pacific Group in 1996.

The 1993 Monster's engine came in 900SS tune producing 73 rear wheel horsepower. The single crankpin, V-twin engine used one belt-driven overhead camshaft per cylinder operating two valves via desmodromic followers. Fueling was courtesy of a pair of 38mm Mikuni BDST CV carburetors, and sparks from an electronically triggered Kokusan ignition system. A gear primary transmitted power to Ducati's familiar dry multiplate clutch and 6-speed gearbox. As an integral part of the triangulated frame, the engine also carried the swingarm pivot in the rear of the transmission case. Said swingarm was fabricated in aluminum, with a rising-rate linkage to a single Sachs-Boge spring/damper unit with preload and rebound adjustment. At the front was the non-adjustable Showa 41mm upside-down fork from the 750SS. The 17-inch Brembo wheels and triple-disc brakes were from the 900SS.

Equipment was intentionally minimalist (the Monster had to wait until 2000 for a tachometer!), with a single circular headlight and bolt-on handlebars. But it did include a removable seat cowl with a vestigial passenger perch underneath.

Alan Cathcart tested one of the first Monsters for Cycle World in 1993 and concluded, "It's been a long time since I've ridden a street bike which so succinctly encapsulated the fun-factor in motorcycling. This is a red-blooded street rod par excellence." Rider magazine's tester found little to fault except some stiction in the stiff, under-sprung front fork — though that was mitigated by the ease with which the front wheel could be lofted: "Front tire flat? No problem! Just wheelie home!"

12/17/2020 4:03:42 PM

I loved my injected 2000 Monster 900Sie. Too bad about the 2021 model...

11/22/2018 7:28:48 AM

I bought a new '95 Monster and then Guzzi introduced the '97 4V Centauro that was its answer to the Monster. I have to admit after buying one, I found the Centauro was not a Monster - it was and is a BEAST. I still own a '98 Centauro. The Guzzi was a bit of a problem child, but, with proper tuning is a thrilling muscle bike ... RARE.

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