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DUCATI | Monsters in the city

Look Italian.

Look Italian.

Chanced upon a tiny article on the Bulletin about a 2nd National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines and I said really? This was 1996 and there were no motorcycle events of any kind then. If you had a big bike then you hang out in Greenhills every Saturday night. I’d be happy to see a fellow big biker on a working day but there were only Elsinores and DT’s then delivering parcels. Dirt bikes or Enduros were the trend of commuters. There were but a few motorcycle dealers then and most were in the Caloocan area. Only a few importers of liter bikes could be found in the most remote areas of the city. You’d be lucky if you found one with complete documents.

So I joined some guys I met in our neighborhood bike shop and off we went to Tagaytay. It looked like a Japanese motorcycle convention save for 2 Harleys. 95 percent of the bikes were obviously brought in by shady means. As I look over the bikes at the parking lot I see two motorcycles. I stopped dead in my tracks as I stare at two of the most beautiful machines I have ever laid my eyes on. Sure Harleys were show stoppers but Ducati was the most anticipated comeback motorcycle in ages. It was something totally new and revolutionary it changed the mindset. The brand may be ancient but everything else was new. Even the bolts! I have been following their developments since I read in Time magazine that Massimo Tamburini and Miguel Angel Galluzzi were signed in to work for the Italian motor company and I knew then there were to be major changes in the old brand. But I didn’t expect it to exceed my expectations. It was the perfect designs for the new cyber world.



Today we are all familiar with the legend that is the 916 and the Monster. The former has evolved further and keeps its legendary status. The Monster on the other hand, has been the flagship of Ducati. Since its creation in 1993 the Monster has been consistent and just keeps getting better and better. Designed primarily as a naked bike, a ride on it proves it not only as a city bike but a track-worthy bike.

A ride on the first edition M900 made me question my faith. I was accustomed with in-line fours with its comfy buzz and weight aside from the vibey parallel twins but the 90° L-twins was a totally remarkable experience.

I press the starter and the bike practically exploded to life. You do not hear the starter engaging but the loud boom of the Termignoni twin pipes. Its deep resonance triggered all car alarms I passed through, rattled my spectacles, shook my head violently, and made my genitals twitch. I once brought it to a private school for girls where I taught and a nun asked me to drop her off at a nearby supermarket and I’ve regretted doing it since. She always ran to me to check if I had the Monster. She frowns when she sees me on another make. Don’t get me started with the other University I profess in.

Tunneling back 20 years later I am faced again with the monster I feared. Not one but two Monsters: The new 821 and the 1200S. They look exactly alike but a closer look and a ride on it will show distinct differences. For one thing, the trimmings are tapered down on the 821. This model sans the colorful instrumentation that the 1200S has among other things. But both lights up like switching on to a movie’s opening credits. My sons Jack and Max immediately got excited thinking it was a smart phone on wheels. Well, it’s almost there actually. Both possess a Riding Mode switch that will turn the bike from a street sweeper to a track-ready missile. The Touring Mode will soften things up a bit. Not.

More responsive than a woman.

More responsive than a woman.

The Monster 821 is powered by a state of the art Testastretta 11° L-twin, liquid cooled engine with 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder. Fire it up and it will crank out a maximum output of 82.4 KW (112 Hp) @ 9,250 Rpm with 89.4 Nm (65.8 Lb-Ft) of torque at 7,750 Rpm.

The 821 cc engine has an air injection system. A secondary air system similar to the one used on the 1199 Panigale has been introduced in order to optimize operation and reduce combustion cycle variability, without affecting emissions. A controlled flow of clean air is injected into the exhaust pipe, enabling total oxidation of the hot exhaust gases, efficiently cutting hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide levels.

The Testastretta 11° engine fitted to the Monster 821 is an exclusive feature of these bikes and its structure has been engineered to be an integral element of the frame. In addition, the air filter and exhaust system have been designed to provide improved torque at low-medium engine speeds.

One thing I immediately noticed with the new models is the seat height unlike the old M900 where I tiptoed on stops. A lot of riders will be happy to know this. But once fired up, the comfort it gives is a far cry from the original model.

My wife Jana enjoyed riding the 821 but also enjoyed the comfort of being a back rider. The seats are plush, suspensions kind but a sudden twist of the wrist could rip both of our shirts off. After all, they didn’t name the flagship out of a whim.

Monster in the walled city.

Monster in the walled city.

The Monster 1200S on the other hand, is the mother of all Monsters. Its power is unforgiving much like the first model. Riding this unit is more like taming a wild beast but once controlled could be the best standard motorcycle out there. It shoots off like a rocket when hitting 3000 rpm and mid range power that lets you go everywhere without shifting.

But strangely, the brakes on the 821 seem to work better. The front Brembos do have the stopping power but it could be the ABS just doing its job. The rear brake is very helpful in figuring through Manila traffic. Or maybe I should read the owner’s manual. Or my son could do it for me.

The 1200S also features LCD instrumentation and Riding Modes, as well as the Ducati Safety Pack, which lets riders choose from three different ABS sensitivity levels and eight different DTC (Ducati Traction Control) levels. The seat is height-adjustable.

Powered by an 1198 cm³ Testastretta 11° DS engine with a maximum output of 145 hp at 8750 rpm, the bike features a Trellis frame attached to the cylinder heads, and a single-sided swingarm unlike the 821’s standard rockers. The suspension set-up consists of 48 mm Öhlins forks and a fully adjustable Öhlins damper while the front braking system has a Brembo set-up with 330 mm discs and Brembo M50 callipers.

All these provide high levels of pure joy. The popping sounds while on engine brake needs getting used to. Perhaps this is part of the new package. I can safely say this is a true all-rounder. It can rip the pavement and kick traffic ass but I also wouldn’t mind using it as a tourer. You just can’t wipe that smile off your face until the road ends in one of these babies.

Horse and carriage and Monster

Horse and carriage and Monster

2015 Ducati Monster 1200S


  • 1198 cm3 Testastretta 11¢X DS engine
  • Maximum power 145 hp
  • Trellis frame attached to cylinder heads
  • Single-sided swingarm
  • TFT instrumentation
  • Riding Modes
  • Ducati Safety Pack (3-level ABS, 8-level DTC)
  • Fully adjustable 48 mm Ohlins forks
  • Fully adjustable Ohlins shock
  • Radial brake/clutch master cylinders
  • Brembo M50 front brake callipers
  • Brembo 330 mm front brake discs
  • Carbon front mudguard
  • Nose fairing
  • Carbon belt covers
  • Ducati Performance undertail plate holder
  • Height-adjustable seat
  • LED indicators
  • Wheels with Y-shape spoke design
  • Passenger seat cover


Ducati Monster 821


  • 821cc Testastretta 11° L-Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
  • Bore x Stroke 88 x 67.5mm
  • Compression ratio 12.8:1
  • Power 82.4 kW (112 hp) @ 9,250 rpm
  • Torque 89.4 Nm (65.8 lb-ft) @ 7,750 rpm
  • Fuel injection Electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle bodies with full Ride by Wire
  • Exhaust Stainless steel muffler and aluminium and cap; lightweight 2-1 system with catalytic converter with 2 lambda probes
  • Gearbox 6 speed
  • Primary drive Straight cut gears, ratio 1.85:1
  • Ratio 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=28/20 4=26/22 5=24/23 6=23/24
  • Final drive Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 46
  • Clutch APTC slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with control cable
  • Frame Tubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinders head
  • Front suspension Upside down 43mm forks
  • Front wheel 10-spoke in light alloy 3.50″ x 17″
  • Front Tyre 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
  • Rear suspension Progressive linkage with adjustable monoshock. Aluminium double-sided swingarm
  • Rear wheel 10-spoke in light alloy 5.50″ x 17″
  • Rear tyre 180/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
  • Front wheel travel 130mm (5.1in)
  • Rear wheel travel 140mm (5.5 in)
  • Front brake 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo M4-32 callipers, 4-pistons, radial pump with ABS as standard
  • Rear brake 245mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS as standard equipment
  • Instrumentation LCD display
  • Dry weight 179.5kg (395.7lb)
  • Wet weight (KERB) 205.5kg (453lb)
  • Seat height Adjustable 785 – 810 mm (30.9 – 31.9)
  • Wheelbase 1480mm (58.3in)
  • Rake 24,3°
  • Trail 93.2mm (3.7in)
  • Fuel tank capacity 17.5l – (4.6 US gal)
  • Number of seats Dual seat
  • Standard Equipment Riding modes,Power modes, DSP Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), RbW, seat cover passanger handles, ready for anti-theft system and DDA
  • Maintenance service intervals 15.000km (9.000m)/12 Months
  • Valve clearance check 30.000km (18,000m)
  • Emissions and Consumption Standard Euro 3
Talking history after pancakes.

Talking history after pancakes.