Bought for just £500 this M900 Monster was on the brink of death. Nearly three years later thanks to extensive reconstruction... IT LIVES!
Andy Patterson spent £500 on a very rough runner and then 100 years getting it right
Andy Patterson’s M900 project came about simply, and quite understandably, because, as he puts it, “I had to have another Monster in my life”. It is ostensibly – but not wholly – a 1993 M900, the very first of the lineage. It was bought for a ‘monkey’ in May 2015 as a spares or repair proposition from a local man who had to give it up as he didn’t have the money to fix the grumbling engine.
When Andy says ‘another Monster’ he means his fourth. His fascination with Ducati’s stripped-down street twin began in 2003 with a ’97 M900, followed by an S4, then an 1100S (a great bike, but some way on from the purity of the 904cc original). It was when he replaced the 1100S with one of Ducati’s new Scramblers that he knew he still needed a Monster.and £500 for a basketcase was ‘a cheap way back in’.the bonus – and inspiration for a full nut and bolt restoration – was the fact it was one of the first of its type.
Andy’s no stranger to a project. tinkering with bikes had started for him around 10 years ago when he slotted an S4R singlesided swingarm into his S4.the success of that inspired him into a restoration of a Suzuki GT50, that was supposed to be a joint project with his stepson, only the kid wasn’t into it.then came a rareyamaha SS50 variant on the Fizzie which he bought as a £600 wreck from a vendor in Holland.that rolled into a resto of a popsicle purple Fizzie – the same model and colour as the one he owned back in his youth.
And that’s just the tip ofandy’s restoberg. He’s also acquired a Yamaha XT500, in boxes, for £250, that’s now 95 per cent complete. Sitting next to it is a ’70s Yamaha 80 minibike, perhaps for a grandchild? Then there’s the unexplained mint RD250 clinging to the garage wall, and the SRX400 cafe racer project hiding in the garden.all this entertained in the smallest of garages (as you can see over the page).
“Yeah, I guess things have just snowballed,” confesses Andy. “This resto thing, it gives you something to do, you see.” So, back to the Monster (it’s easy to get sidetracked at Andy’s). He started stripping it almost immediately.
“I didn’t dare ride it with the engine making the noise. I knew I had to get the motor out and looked over by a professional to see what the damage was. But if the engine had been a right off I was committed to replacing it, so I continued with the strip.”
As it was, thev-twin lump needed the crank rebuilding as the grumble was coming from shot main bearings. Second gear too had suffered big wear and needed replacing – a £200 part.thankfully the entire engine bill came in at a very reasonable £784 – done by Simon Tong, a mechanic who used to work with Kevin Schwantz, a referral from Proteam Ducati with whomandy’s shared some of the more technical work.
However, as Andy was working on the chassis and Simon on the engine the Monster’s somewhat chequered past revealled itself. Monsters started as a bit of a parts bin special (taking the 900SS motor and slotting it in a modified 851/888 trellis frame) – but this one took Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster ethos a step further.the crankcases were stamped 1995, the barrels 1992 and the heads 1993.The exhausts were a later model too, the frame and wheels weren’t the right colour for the year and eventually Andy discovered the tank – one of the cleanest parts of the bike – wasn’t year correct either.
“The likelihood is that at some point the bike had been in an accident, but at £500 what do you want? Besides it came with an Öhlins shock, alone worth £300. I wasn’t worried if it was going to need another engine, I’ve never been hung-up on the matching numbers thing, but then again I do like things to be year-correct.”
And this can also lead to some comedy with the Monster, as the early ones came with many parts stamped or stickered with Cagiva’s elephant emblem, whereas the post-cagiva era models don’t. So it’s not so
much a matter of rivet-counting as elephant counting.andy says he’s not yet established the full count of elephants on a Monster but it’s probably more than 40...
Meanwhile he was chasing down various parts.the silencers, while proper Monster, were the wrong year, the 1993 ones unique in carrying no chamfer on their lower edge. As often happens, the correct ones don’t always appear exactly when you need them,
“I’VE NEVER BEEN HUNG UP ON MATCHING NUMBERS”
so you effect an alternative solution, only for a sound pair to emerge later. So there are a fair few Monster silencers cluttering up Andy’s already packed garage. Likewise with the switchgear, minor model variations make finding the correct ones tough to find, some come with wires too short, others too long.three purchases later and some more Frankenstein-esque mating of various donor parts, the switchgear is correct.
“The process isn’t straightforward and I think at the beginning I didn’t do things right. I’d post a picture on the Monster UK forum and the guys would come back saying ‘that’s not correct’ – it was a big learning curve.then in 2016 I took a year off from the resto, I got married to Caroline, grandkids came along, I had a family bereavement, life got in the way.when I came back to it in 2017 I decided if I’m going to do it, I’ll do it right, and as 2018 was the 25th anniversary of the Monster then I should finish it for this year.”
Doing things right meant sacrificing the perfectly good but wrong year tank.andy found a thoroughly beaten up original (there’s a unique seam around the front leading edge) for £35, and with the help of a mate they pulled out the dents the best they could before it was sent away for a professional respray.the finished article is indistinguishable from new.
The frame went to another firm for powdercoating. It came back the perfect colour match – for the wrong year. “That prompted me spending an hour and half with a local paint specialist using a suspension loop supplied by a forum friend from a 1993 model with the original paint unblemished.the paint man managed an exact match, so I took the code for the other forum members and a bunch of cans for myself. I rubbed back the powdercoat and painted the frame myself on a warm summer’s day in the garden.”only even then he’s not quite got the desired finish.
“It looked great.and so I started reassembly, so many parts to fit, all refurbished or replaced.then a few months in the paint on the frame started to distress, with micro cracks appearing. I was too far along to want to strip it again, but one day I will. But from now on, when it comes to key items where finish is so important, I’ll leave it to the professionals!”
One element that was in surprisingly good condition was the wiring loom. Italian electrics don’t have the best reputation yetandy found the Monster’s loom to be in good nick, just needing to strip off the odd add-on loop, like for heated grips. But otherwise it was fighting fit.
There’s more to tell. Like the purchase of a swingarm from the US, on account of it being scratch-free whereandy’s had a few dings.the replacement of the clock set because the original dials had an odometer drum stuck between the 4 and 5 digits.the replacement of the exhaust headers where the originals had been flattened, probably by dropping off a kerb.and the vapour blasting and repaint of the various engine parts. Not to mention the exacting one-off fabrication of various brackets neatly done byandy. Then the zinc plating.the brake renovations. All detailed stuff.
Once complete,andy handed his Monster over to Ducati Proteam where boss and top technician – and now good mate –Alec Short gave the Monster a once over and an MOT.
“I was almost too frightened to start the engine again, in case it went bang. But it fired up straight away, only for the carbs to start flooding – the one assembly I’d not stripped as they looked fine.alec sorted those for me quickly and now it’s fine.and completed in time for the Monster Club weekender and 25th anniversary celebration on the May Bank Holiday.and while I’ve only ridden it a handful of miles so far I’m delighted, it feels like the Monsters I love, like it’s sitting up, keen, alert.”
It certainly is a sight for sore eyes: as faithful as a restoration can be, diligently executed, using self-taught skills but with experts brought in when appropriate. But it’s no museum piece,andy says it’s for riding. And in his evenings now?well, there’s the XT500 to finish (for a start). “FROM NOW ON, WHEN IT COMES TO KEY ITEMS WHERE FINISH IS IMPORTANT, I’LL LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS”
“I made it from an old saucepan, just like the factory did”
Ready to rumble – and only its second time out since the build
Öhlins shock worth almost as much as the bike
This is where it all happens, squeezed in round the back
Top: the colour-coordinated bin thing getting out of hand Above: a nice XT, or what will most likely be a nice XT when it’s done
Top: as it came – on a trailer making horrible engine noises Left: and now, making one of the sweetest engine sounds Hard to miss this Yam SS50