Suzi Perry ‘The best bike I’ve ever bought – cool to own, cool to ride’


Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature - Suzi Perry

When it comes to sig­nif­i­cance for both its man­u­fac­turer and a gen­er­a­tion of rid­ers, few bikes can get close to the Du­cati Mon­ster.

The brain-child of Ar­gen­tinean de­signer Miguel Gal­luzzi (now head of de­sign at Pi­ag­gio), un­der the di­rec­tion of the leg­endary Mas­simo Bordi, the Mon­ster was both some­thing of a parts-bin spe­cial born out of ne­ces­sity and a mas­ter­stroke that proved so suc­cess­ful it saved Du­cati.

In­deed, in be­com­ing an overnight best-seller that first M900 not only spawned both a whole fam­ily of other Mon­sters (600 and 750 ver­sions soon fol­lowed) it in­spired a breed of im­i­ta­tors suf­fi­cient to cre­ate the whole naked class and in do­ing so be­came the very back­bone of Du­cati’s mod­ern line-up. To­day, not only does the Mon­ster re­main a Du­cati main­stay, it’s es­ti­mated that in ex­cess of 300,000 ex­am­ples of all de­scrip­tions have so far been built, rang­ing from 400cc novice ma­chines to rip-snort­ing 160bhp track refugees. No won­der, then, the Mon­ster has been so sig­nif­i­cant to so many.

Suzi Perry, EX-BBC Mo­togp and F1 pre­sen­ter now on BT Sport, is among them. “The best bike I’ve ever owned was prob­a­bly my Du­cati Mon­ster,” she told MCN. “I had a 750, and it was a cool bike to own and cool to ride.” In fact, she loved them so much she went on to guest test the S2R 800 for the Daily Tele­graph in 2005.

Nor is she the only one. With the en­dur­ing al­lure of Du­cati and the Mon­ster’s po­si­tion as its long­est-lived road­ster with ap­peal to both novices and hard-core loons alike, the Ital­ian road­ster has of­ten proved the go-to choice for celeb bik­ers. Lewis Hamil­ton was reg­u­larly seen run­ning around on a Mon­ster be­fore switch­ing to Bru­tales fol­low­ing Mercedes’ MV Agusta tie-up. The late Ayr­ton Senna was an­other F1 Du­catisti. While Hol­ly­wood glit­terati Or­lando Bloom, Alan­nis Mor­ris­sette, Adrian Brody, Lyle Lovett and Usher have all helped prove there’s a Mon­ster for ev­ery­one.

Yet it all might have been so very dif­fer­ent – in fact, the Mon­ster might not have been a Du­cati at all.

Cre­ated dur­ing Ca­giva’s own­er­ship of Du­cati and in­tended to be an easyto-pro­duce, high vol­ume ma­chine fol­low­ing the ex­pense and lim­ited suc­cess of bikes like the Paso and 851, Gal­luzzi told years later how the idea first came while he was work­ing at Honda (Europe) and had been idly sketch­ing on a pic­ture of the then new Du­cati 851.

“It was sim­ple, just a tank and a seat. I knew we would never do it at Honda, so I put the idea away,” he said.

Gal­luzzi later moved to Ca­giva, work­ing un­der Bordi, and, in 1990 was al­lowed to de­velop a mock-up us­ing off-the-shelf parts. Es­sen­tially it was a 900SS in an 851 frame with 750SS forks. Given the go ahead it gained the in­ter­nal name of ‘Il Mostro’ and de­buted at the 1992 Cologne Show sim­ply as the Du­cati M900 (al­though right up to the last weeks there was a pos­si­bil­ity it would be a Ca­giva). Soon af­ter, the Mon­ster name stuck.

A leg­end was born, the 900 Mon­ster’s im­me­di­ate suc­cess spawned an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of vari­ants and suc­ces­sors yet, through it all, its sta­tus as the most ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able of all Du­catis has re­mained in­tact. We were sim­ply swamped with reader re­sponses about the Mon­ster, more than any other ma­chine. Here’s just a few of them: ■ “It was my first big bike and I did silly mileage in all weath­ers. Then I had a fight with the mis­sus, went out on it and crashed. I kept the bike and ditched the mis­sus!” Joseph Duffy (M600). ■ “I’m on my fourth Mon­ster since 2008 when I bought my first M600. I then had an S4 then a M796 and I now run a M1100 EVO.” Martin Biggs. ■ “It was my first bike af­ter pass­ing my test. I loved the more up­right po­si­tion over a sports­bike crouch but felt like I got the per­for­mance. I’ve just picked an­other Mon­ster, this time the 1200S.” Emma Shaw (696). ■ ”I’ve just bought a Mon­ster 821 and it’s bril­liant. When it came time to re­place the M600 it had to be an­other Mon­ster.” Chris Man­ley (M821 Dark). ■ “It looked beau­ti­ful, cor­nered great and ev­ery­one loved it.” Dun­can Ross (M1100 EVO).

‘Right up to the last few weeks there was a pos­si­bil­ity the Mon­ster would be a Ca­giva’

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