The arrival of this early 1994 900 Monster at Benzina Towers coincided with the release of an updated Monster Bible by Ian Falloon, courtesy of Kim at Veloce publishing. Perfect. After years of running Desmoquattro Monsters the visceral, pared back, thrill of the original model is refreshing - and for me the looks haven't dated a day. Our 17 year old lad loved the 900 the instant he spotted it, despite usually being completely nonplussed by my obsession with Italian motorcycles. He was blown away to discover that it's 20 years old: even older than his big sister; that's, like, really ancient.
Despite being one of the first UK bikes the frame number of this Monster is surprisingly high (though unsurprisingly I'm not posting it online): Ian's book points out that production was delayed because of problems sourcing components, without mentioning that this was because there was no money to pay for them. It seems that bikes were built up and stored without brakes and fuel tanks and, when the Castiglioni’s finally found the money to pay for them, the last bikes that were put into storage became the first to be completed - so frame number one might even have left the factory well after frame number 2000. Having said that the first 1500 or so all dissappeared into the Italian market; as ever with Ducati history, The Truth Is Out There. Just bloody difficult to nail down.
Maybe Ian doesn't want to recall this stuff because he has such a good relationship with the factory. After all, we all know how upset Italians can get if you doubt their finances/parentage/manhood and pretty much everything else. Otherwise the book has plenty of useful information and even stuff I didn't know - such as the Monster's frame being all new: based on the 888, but not identical as usually assumed. The only obvious omission is production numbers, which are listed in Ian's standard catalogue of Ducati motorcycles. But who can blame him and the publishers for wanting to sell us two books rather than one?
As usual with Ian's books, this one's a must have. The Monster is the bike that made Ducati and, having sold over 250,000 of the things, the Monster is the best selling Italian bike of all time. Honda have only just passed the 100,000th milestone with the Fireblades that was launched at around the same time as the Monster. Given that the average age of a Fireblade buyer is now 47, there seems little chance of it ever getting close to the Monster's production run.
The book includes the new Monster 1200, although inevitably Ian missed out on the latest Monster 821. The latter is a bargain stonker, and now the entry level Monster given that the Scrambler's going to take over the role of the 696. As Pierre Terblanche pointed out in his interview in Benzina 13, there isn't a sportsbike in the top 100 selling motorcycles in Italy any more: the Monster was the start of that sea change, not just in Ducati's fortunes, but the entire nature of the motorcycle market
£35 25x20.7cm • 176 pages • 197 colour pictures