Ducati and Harley motorcycle owners have at least one thing in common, they enjoy the distinctive sounds their v-twin engines broadcast and the superb torque they deliver. To maximize these simple pleasures, our first order of business on our 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 S project was to upgrade the exhaust system.
We searched the market for a high-quality system that would provide reliable bolt-on performance and add to the bike's distinctive look.
There were many obvious exhaust systems and although many manufacturers provide well-crafted pipes, we wanted something that not only worked well but also had a fresh look. Our search led us to FMF Racing, who for 35 years has produced American made, industry-leading off-road motorcycle exhaust systems.
Despite their limited exposure to the street-based Ducati market, nevertheless FMF were in the process of launching a new line of APEX exhaust systems for not just Ducati, but also many other late model street applications.
The FMF guys are all genuine motorcycle enthusiasts, and the Southern California based factory is filled with high-quality raw materials, extensive equipment and personnel carefully hand-crafting each system. From the sheet metal that is rolled and bent into the tubing, to the presses that create the forms, to the high-tech CNC machines making the detail parts, everything is produced in-house. The level of effort put into the street bike APEX systems is substantial, and the massive off-road operation is extremely impressive.
After the tour, we first ran the Monster on the dyno with the stock pipes and then removed and weighed the stock cans which came in at just over 14 pounds for the pair. We then weighed the fresh off the production-line FMF APEX slip-ons, and found that at just over 7 pounds for the pair, they saved a dramatic 50% or almost 7lbs over the stock system! Installation of the new exhaust was a simple bolt-on procedure and it required no additional modifications to the electronics or the air box.
Back on the dyno, the new FMF Racing APEX slip-ons performed well. Both power and torque increased noticeably across the entire rpm range. The air-cooled 2-valve motor's brawny torque has always been its strong point, and the Apex system improved on that. Between the very drivable 3500-to-6000-rpm range-the meat of the power band-the system increased engine torque by nearly 5 ft-lbs.
Out on the track, our Monster performed as expected. Although the air-cooled motor's top-end power does not compare to the water-cooled motor (now only available in the 2010 Streetfighter) nevertheless the increased mid-range torque was very useful. Maximizing the torque of the Monster and then riding it to take full-advantage of that extra muscle allowed us to get our best runs through the transition sections and the tightest corners of the track.
We really liked the APEX system's angular diamond cut shape. Compared to the original tubular trumpets the carbon cans not only look more aggressive, but they sound more aggressive than the stock exhaust. Although FMF offers street-quiet inserts and the ability to retain the stock heat shields, we actually preferred the look without the shield and the sound without the inserts.
Seeing the FMF company founder working un-staged in the factory, after 35-years in the business, best demonstrates the passion that goes into each system.
Stay tuned for more Ducati upgrades as we continue our Monster Project Bike through out the year.