THE MOD SQUAD
Want to make the last of the big air-cooled Monsters hairier? Our experts show you how...
How to make a Monster 1100 better
IF THE THOUGHT of a big, aircooled, sporty naked tickles your fancy, then there is really only one bike for you – the Ducati Monster. And considering Ducati have been building Monsters since 1993, you are somewhat spoilt for choice. However, if you want the best of the bunch in terms of performance, handling and modern electronics, then you need to head towards the last of the air-cooled big-capacity models – the fantastic Monster 1100. Or, even better, the S-version with its uprated suspension.
Launched in 2010, the M1100 and M1100S are powered by Ducati’s Dual Spark air-cooled desmo motor which, in true Monster style, has just two valves per cylinder and a single overhead cam. But don’t be fooled into thinking this makes it some weakling: the 1078cc engine thumps out nearly 70ftlb of torque, which is more than enough to entertain on a bike that is pretty waif-like. Add to this quality suspension, a trellis chassis that has Ducati’s racing DNA running through it and a cool café naked look and it all adds up to a brilliant bike for blatting around the back lanes on. But as with all Monsters, Ducati only provide the starting point...
The whole Monster scene is built around customisation and the M1100 is no stranger to extras being added to it. From full-on tuning to simple visual enhancements, there is a smorgasbord of goodies out there for owners to discover and splash their cash on. But what works and what doesn’t? Here is what our panel of experts reckon...
CHASSIS Darren Wnukoski
“I have no idea which roads Ducati use to set their suspension up but I bet it bears absolutely no resemblance to the UK’s. I reckon they just fire the bikes around a smooth circuit like Monza and then kick them out of the factory’s doors as they are always set way too firm and can’t cope with bumps.
“With the S version’s Öhlins you are basically a set-up and maybe a new shock spring away from being sorted, but as standard they are too firm. The forks are good, they just need setting up correctly so don’t need a re-valve, but you need to be careful if they have ever been apart. The air gap is critical and if we see an issue, generally it is due to the forks having too much oil, the air gap being too small as a result, and the end of the forks’ stroke then being too firm. Just check they are using all of their travel if you are unsure.
“The Öhlins shock generally benefits from a softer spring and once this has been fitted we can then set them up with the shock running the rebound a long way out in order to get the compression correct. Basically the damping bleeds through the same hole so you need to get the oil flowing nicely and that means
‘If we see an issue, it is generally due to the forks having too much oil’
winding out the rebound.
“For the standard bike with Showa and Sachs suspension you really need new springs and new oil in the Showa forks and probably a re-valve on the Sachs shock. It is a little bit more costly, but still not huge amounts of money.”
ENGINE John Hackett
“The two-valve air-cooled motor is a beautiful engine and very strong and reliable, so you can treat it to some light tuning work without any worry of unreliability issues creeping in.
“Most Monster owners swap the original pipes for aftermarket items, generally Termignoni. Twins like to breathe, and freer flowing pipes and a quality aftermarket air filter allows more air into the motor and the exhaust gases to escape unhindered, which boosts the bike’s midrange significantly. Don’t worry about
fitting an inline fueling module, just get the Ducati Performance chip instead as it is cheaper.
“A really good mod for the Monster is to lighten the flywheel, which allows the motor to spin up faster. This isn’t something people always think about doing but it is a great modification and not huge money to get done. You need to strip the left hand side of the motor to access the flywheel, but Ducati make an off-the-shelf lighter item that is ready-balanced, which makes it an easier job. A lighter flywheel doesn’t really increase the power much, but the engine feels far more spirited and freer revving.
“If you are chasing power, you can swap the V-twin’s cams for more aggressive items, gas-flow it and even big-bore it, but generally most owners don’t go this far. If you are considering this route, I’d recommend gas-flowing as you are improving how
the motor works and runs and it won’t affect reliability.”
BOLT-ONS John Burrows
“You very seldom see two Monsters that are identical, that’s just the kind of bike they are. Visual modifications are a common part of Monster ownership and we see loads of bikes with tail tidies, smaller indicators, rearsets, replacement levers and the like fitted. Quite often owners swap the bars to bring them in closer to the rider, which is a good mod as long as you check there is enough clearance and you won’t hit the tank on full lock. But this is only the start... “If you want to want to enhance your Monster’s handling you can fit lightweight Marchesini wheels from other Ducati models. The 1100’s single-sided swingarm’s wheel fitment is the same as the 848 and even the 916 (but not the 1098), so you can put a three-spoke wheel in or a lighter Marchesini one from the 848. The same goes for the front wheel, it’s generally just a case of a few spacers – however, always check the discs’ offset as this varies between models and can cause issues. And remember that Öhlins forks have larger diameter lower tubes, so you will need to buy an S model’s bottom triple clamp or get your lower one modified to suit. “The Monster is a great bike for anyone who has an interest in modifying and upgrading their bike, it’s a wonderful blank canvas that responds really well both visually and performance-wise to upgrading.” Next month: Suzuki SV650S – proof that great things can come in small packages...
Simple, pared-back naked fun. But you can really give it teeth
1 STOCK VS S MODEL The standard and S Monsters share an identical frame and air-cooled engine, however the S gains titanium nitride-coated Öhlins forks and an Öhlins shock where the stocker has Showa forks and a Sachs shock. It also has aluminium front brake disc carriers and carbon belt covers, silencer guards and front mudguard. Although its Y-spoke wheels are painted gold, they aren’t lightweight Marchesini items. 2 ABS ABS was an optional extra on both the standard and S model Monsters for the 2010 and 2011 model years before being made standard fitment on the 2012 Evo model. 2 1
Smooth roads are its friend. UK riders need some set-up assistance to get the best from its suspension
S model's Öhlins shock is too stiff as standard
EVO MODEL In 2012 Ducati released the M1100 Evo ABS, which added four-level traction control, a wet clutch and a revised low-level exhaust system (which boosted the bike’s mid-range and added 2bhp to the peak power) alongside new Marzocchi forks. The Evo replaced both Monster 1100 models in Ducati’s range. 4 3 GEARING To celebrate ANNIVERSARY 20 years of the MODELS Monster (and shift stock before it was replaced by the M1200) in 2013 Ducati released a special ‘Anniversary’ version of the M1100 Evo that gained a bronze colour frame and a few other nods to the original M900 Monster. There was also a Diesel link up with the Evo painted in Diesel Brave Green matt paint – or green to you and me... As standard the Monster runs a 15-tooth front sprocket with a 39-tooth rear, but some owners fit a 14-tooth front sprocket to give the bike a bit more poke. You can also go for a 43-tooth rear, but if you go this route it is best to stick with the OE 15-tooth front sprocket or it can all get a bit too wild. DDA (Ducati Data Analyser) is standard fitment in all Monster 1100 models, but to access it you need to buy the software and dongle, or get a dodgy copy from the internet... 3 4 DATALOGGING1100 air-cooled motor presents little in the way of reliability issues
Lightweight flywheel mod will result in a freer revving motor
Owners tend to treat their 1000s as blank canvasses. They are ripe for modding
Termignoni exhausts are one of the most popular choices, naturallyBelow: Three-spoke wheel from Ducati 916 will slot right into the Monster