It’s fair to say that if there hadn’t been a Ducati Monster, there’s a chance we wouldn’t have any Ducatis at all today. Because the naked roadster was largely behind the firm’s massive success in the 1990s, thanks to its huge sales figures. The money generated by the simple naked 900cc V-twin bike gave a new financial stability to the Bologna firm (then owned by Cagiva) when launched in 1993.
That in turn supported the launch of the legendary 916 a year later – both in terms of providing the R&D funding to develop the superbike, and also backing the firm’s race efforts. Massimo Tamburini designed the 916, Carl Fogarty rode it to amazing WSB success, and Miguel Anguel Galluzzi’s Monster provided the cash by selling in the tens of thousands. That turned the firm around, and helped put it on the path to where it is today.
So it’s no surprise that the modern Ducati company still holds the Monster in high regard – and this new Ducati Monster SP underlines that devotion. There’s an argument that the Monster could be edged out these days, between the low-performance high-fun trendy Scrambler model range, and the high-end Streetfighter V2 and V4 super nakeds.
And if it were less of a legendary name, that might well have happened. As it is, Ducati has dropped both the smaller 600-700cc and larger 1200 variants in recent years, leaving just one Monster, powered by the 937cc motor used in the Hypermotard 950, Multistrada 950 and SuperSport 950 models.
This new SP version of the Monster sticks with that same Testastretta liquid-cooled engine, which puts out around 111bhp, with an aluminium ‘front frame’ chassis design.
But there’s a neat upgrade of the chassis running gear, first with fully-adjustable Öhlins suspension all round, 43mm NIX30 USD forks up front and monoshock out back. There’s also a new steering damper, by Sachs.
The brakes on the standard Monster are great: Brembo M4.32 Monobloc calipers. But the SP gets an upgrade in the form of a pair of Stylema calipers, first seen on the Panigale V4. These are lighter and have higher performance than the M4.32 units, and also look very smart indeed.
The final visible performance upgrade on the SP comes with the exhaust, where a natty dual-can Termignoni silencer replaces the stock part, saving a bit of weight.
Hidden away are another two improvements: a super light weight lithium-ion battery, and a new ‘Wet’ mode on the premium IMU-assisted electronic riding aids programme. The battery, together with the lighter forks, saves 2kg over standard, giving a kerb weight of just 186kg, while the ‘Wet’ riding mode cuts peak power to 75bhp, softens the power delivery, and turns up the traction and ABS interventions.
A neat set of upgrades then – and Ducati’s rounded off the SP with a sweet race-inspired livery. The graphics echo the logos used on the firm’s MotoGP bikes, and the red seat and Italian flag on the seat cover complement the special ‘SP’ logo.
The new Monster SP costs £13,995, and will be in dealers in January. More info: www.ducati.com