Community Commentary Lieback’s Lounge: Ducati Monster 25th Celebration Resto Goes Custom

Lieback’s Lounge: Ducati Monster 25th Celebration Resto Goes Custom

Happy Birthday, Il Mostro. Here’s another memory for ya…

Twenty-five years ago, the motorcycling landscape changed due to a creation by the iconic designer Miguel Galluzzi that combined minimalism with power.

The bike was the Ducati Monster 900, and it returned pure simplicity to motorcycling at a time when fairings were various shades of fluorescent colors and the mullet was, um, fashionable.

Galluzzi’s plans were genius and extremely simple; he took the 904cc air-cooled, 90-degree L-twin, two-valve Desmodue engine from the 900SS, and mounted it in the 851/888 superbike’s trellis frame. Galluzzi also used a fork from a 750SS. This new creation was basically built from the Ducati warehouse parts bin.

Ducati Monster 900 S i.e. custom restorationVarious celebrations of Il Mostro’s 25th anniversary were planned, including from Ducati and one from me personally—the finishing of my resto project, a 2000 Ducati Monster 900 S i.e.

I wanted a 1993, but had no luck. I also planned completion of my M900 S project on March 5—the day the first Monster 900 rolled off the Bologna assembly line in 1993. That obviously didn’t happen, but not due to bad luck; rather, it was lack of parts.

My Monster 900 arrived home after a long line of trades. It began with Monster 620 that needed a wiring harness. I purchased back in 2014 for $800 on eBay.

This was set to be my wife’s first motorcycle, but something was brewing within—our son Enzo. She decided to table the debut riding experience for obvious reasons. Plus, I don’t think she liked the yellow.

I had no intentions of trading that M620, considering I typically buy and never sell motorcycles. I’m kind of a hoarder in that way. But someone I knew from Facebook offered me a yellow 748 for the Monster.

I thought the guy was nuts, although he was legit. The 748 had 22,000 miles, and is obviously not a quick supersport in 2018 standards. I’m a sucker for the styling (who isn’t?), and traded.

I ran the bike for a few weeks, and decided over that summer that I was going to blow the engine up. The reason was simple—I wanted a project for the winter, and an 853 big-bore kit would keep the mind relaxed from workflow and lack of riding due to Northeastern snow.

I tried and tried, but that little Desmoquattro would not blow up, even after multiple track days and purposeful beatings. Thankfully so, as I met another wrencher in fall of 2016 who was searching for a 748 to restore, and was honest with him about my “blow and build” goal. No worries—he had a rebuilt engine and was basically looking for a chassis. And he wanted to trade.

The bike was a 2000 Monster 900 S i.e. with around 13,000 miles. Everything was in great condition except for the gas tank, which had rust inside.

The goal was pure restoration, until I couldn’t find a tank. As I searched, I ripped off the top of the engine, and cleaned the throttle bodies, put on some fresh drive belts, and completed some major cleaning.

I couldn’t find a tank anywhere, and then a full Ducati-issued carbon fiber tank popped up on Craigslist. These typically went for $2500+ or something back in the day. I got that, and the rear-seat cover, for $300. It needed clearcoat and reinforcement due to a nickel-sized spot of heat damage on the underside, and I had to do some fabrication for a solid fit.

I wasn’t initially crazy over the full carbon tank until I finally got everything assembled a few weeks ago and took the bike for its first rip under a moonlight May sky around midnight. I was quickly reminded about how much I loved the simple character of the bike, and the attraction I had for custom Monsters over the years.

Emotions escalated, and the restoration mentally scheduled for the Monster’s anniversary was sidelined. Joining the carbon fiber gas tank and tail cover is now a set of carbon-fiber Slomotors Exhaust, which I’m designing custom brackets for clean mounting. A Monster Tail Chop is also headed my way, which will be followed by rearsets, mirrors, and possibly a conversion to a 696/796 headlight. And wheels are a must—carbon, possibly?

Each custom motorcycle has its own story, and so does this one. The initial intention was a full restoration back to factory specs to celebrate the Monster’s 25th Anniversary, but that changed quickly after one ride.

I guess it’s time to start searching for a true restoration project. Maybe a Ducati 916; isn’t next year its 25th anniversary?

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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