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2009 Ducati Monster 1100 First Ride

Monday, October 20, 2008
2009 Ducati Monster 1100
The Italians know a thing or two about mating function and form. The 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 is almost as fun to admire as it is to ride.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say. So what's beauty in the eye of this beholder, you might ask? Floating one wheel in the air, completely effortlessly, while soaking in a breathtaking view of the French Rivera. Hard to argue with that! And the perfect bike for such an act: Ducati's new 2009 Monster 1100. It's just that easy. It's just plain beautiful.

Now Boarding

As expected, Ducati hasn't gone and reinvented the wheel with their new Monster 1100. But why would they? It would almost be sacrilegious to completely deface the motorcycle which singlehandedly kept the Italian manufacturer in business through the tough early-90s. So rather than re-invent, they re-vamped. Smart move, if you ask us.

Designed to be the big brother to the very successful Monster 696 released last year, the 1100 changes start from the outside and work their way in. Most noticeably, it now features a single-sided swingarm, similar in design to which the 1098 has reverted back to, mated to their patented steel trellis-type frame. Only now that frame features new, more aggressive geometry (different steering head angle) and connects to an integrated cast aluminum subframe, similar in design to the one first seen on the Desmosedici D16, though not expensive carbon fiber.

Suspension sees its share of tweaks, now longer in length both front and rear, the front featuring an all-new, fully adjustable 43mm Showa fork. This, plus new 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear sized tires, means the entire motorcycle sits much higher, some 40mm (1.57 inches) above that of the Monster 696. Keeping rotating mass to a minimum are lighter, Y-shaped 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels. A reshaped, 10mm wider seat rounds things out with improved ergonomics in mind.

The improved chassis and single-sided swingarm inspired a ton of confidence while cornering.
The improved chassis and single-sided swingarm inspired a ton of confidence while cornering.
Sitting atop the updated chassis is a reshaped, larger volume tank that is more aggressively styled and far more sloped than the previous unit, now featuring mesh-covered side inlets that feed cool air into a larger volume airbox. A new, more aggressive "triple parabola" headlamp design compliments this, as well as updated instruments, mirrors, turn signals and an LED taillight. Hello 21st century. Think the old Monster but now more metro sexual, as only the kings of style (Ducati) could do.

Equally as noticeable to the naked eye are new twin-can mufflers resting on either side of the reshaped seat cover, sitting at the end of an electronic-valve-controlled 2-1-2 system that begins at their tried and true 2-valve, air-cooled V-Twin engine; the same from the previous incarnation, only put on Jenny Craig and massaged for some added torque. As if lofting the front end wasn't easy enough already?

This reduced mass is a result of new, thin-walled crankcases that tip the scales 3 kg sub those on the previous big-bore Monster. This is the first time the vacuum die-casting process responsible for the reduced weight has been use in one of Ducati's 2-valve engines. Other updates include a stepper motor for easier cold-weather starting/automatic idling, and an oil-cooler. The result is longer service intervals - now every 12,000 km (7440 miles), like the rest of their lineup.

Price and colors, you ask? The 'S' will be available in either pearl white or red with a red frame and gold wheels. The three options are: Silver with a red frame; gloss black with a matte black frame; and the traditional red-on-red livery Ducati is famous for. The standard models come with silver wheels, will be available at dealers come late December, and retail for $11,995.

As has become customary for much of the Ducati brotherhood, an "S" model will be available for an addition $2K, receiving the customary Ohlins suspension treatment front and rear, a dashing of carbon fiber (belt covers, front fender, muffler heat shields) and aluminum front brake disc carriers. It's available only in traditional Ducati red with gold wheels, but unfortunately, no such model was available for our thrash... err, testing.

Wheels Up

One wheel up in the air  an Italian twin vibrating beneath you  and the deep blue of the Mediterranean over your shoulder. Is this nirvana  or what
One wheel up in the air, an Italian twin vibrating beneath you, and the deep blue of the Mediterranean over your shoulder. Is this nirvana, or what?
Throw a leg over, thumb the starter button, and instantly she purrs to life with a muffled roar. The sound is very familiar, not too far off the Monster of yesteryear; too be expected considering how little of the engine was changed. But drop it in gear and the differences become much more apparent the second you start moving.

First and foremost, it's lighter in every way, shape and form (they claim a dry weight of only 371 lbs, easily the lightest in class). From picking it up off the sidestand to parking lot turnarounds to high-speed switchbacks, it does it all with what seems like half the effort as before. The wide-spread handlebars and this agility equals one easy-to-ride, very small feeling motorcycle. One would think the price to pay for this is undoubtedly high-speed stability. But one would be wrong.

No matter the speed, 20 mph to 120 mph, not so much as the slightest chassis wobble or suspension shimmy greeted us during our spirited ride along France's Southern Coast. The lack of wind protection caused for some interesting direction changes at triple-digit speeds, but this had little to do with the bike's chassis and more to do with the human sail my body was making. We humans are not very aerodynamic by nature, ya know. Can we say "arm pump?" Only a small price to pay for the loads of fun generated at those speeds, though.

Once set into the corner, handling is vastly improved over the previous model, the new suspension and chassis translating the contours of the road directly to the rider's hands as if he or she were physically skimming the road with their palms. You'd have to kneel down and lick the pavement to get more detail.

Equally as impressive are the brakes, the result of new Brembo radial-mount front calipers that grip 320mm dual front discs, fed via a new Brembo radial front master cylinder. A tough combination to beat on any two wheeler, but mated with the feather weight of the Duc, things come to a screeching halt with rapid haste and very little lever effort. Be careful though; a bit too much lever pressure and the rear wheel will be dancing with the devil as unwanted stoppies are easily attained.

The claimed "added torque" from the engine isn't nearly as noticeable as the reduced weight, but that's not to say it lacks in any way. Could they have given the engine a total revamp (for the first time in 15 years) with loads more power and torque? Sure. Did they need to? Not really. For the job at hand it does very well, quite easily lofting the front end in any of the first few gears with nothing more than a quick stab at the right grip (due as much to the light weight as the added low-end). Plus, if they gave it too much power what would all those old Ducati tuning shops be used for?

Our only complaints: Fuel injection is still a little rough down low, burbling below 3000 rpm like its fellow Ducati family members, and once up in the rpm is still slightly jerky, requiring a well-trained hand to maintain one's desired speed. Nothing a quick stop at the local dyno and a Power Commander couldn't fix, though noticeable nonetheless. The seat isn't exactly made for the IronButt Rally, either, but then again, neither am I.

Final Approach

The tagline of Ducati's press presentation was "less is more - less is Monster," and as cliche as it may sound, it really does fit. Weight Watchers and a Glamour Shots Makeover did wonders for the new, more aggressive Ducati Monster 1100, and in the process may have just set a new standard for the naked bike world.

What I really love about this bike is it looks brutally scary, but it won't eat you alive. It's what you might call, a rare breed.

Can you say Hooligan Shootout '09? The planning has already begun, so stay tuned.

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2009 Ducati Monster 1100 Specs
Ahh  the beauty of Italian engineering.
2009 Ducati Monster 1100/1100S
Engine: 1078cc, air-cooled, V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 98.0 x 71.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection, 45mm throttle body
Transmission: 6-speed, dry-clutch
Chassis: Tubular steel trellis
Front Suspension: Showa 43mm fork, fully adjustable/Ohlins 43mm fork, fully adjustable
Rear Suspension: Sachs single shock/Ohlins single shock
Front Brakes: 320mm Dual Discs, Brembo radial calipers, Brembo radial master cylinder
Rear Brake: 245mm Single Disc, Brembo caliper
Tires (Front; Rear): 120/70 ZR17; 180/55 ZR17
Dry Weight: 373 lbs
Wheelbase: 57.1 in.
Seat Height: 31.9 in.
Width: 28.1 in.
Fuel Tank Size: 3.8 gal.
MSRP: $11,995/$13,995
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Giovanni -Top speed is too much... :o)  January 6, 2011 12:14 PM
The top speed is over 200 Km/hr I have reached about 220 km/hr on the speedometer, which probably means about 200 Km/hr but there was still something left... The bike is very-very-very fast from 0-100 km/hr, it is fast from 100 to 150/160 it is ok from 160-180 an then it start to be slow, after 190 it is definitively slow. This is a problem in the track but on the road it is not. The bike is very nimble and on a twisty country road it is perfect, I believe better than many a lot more powerful bikes including the streetfighter. So I confirm my opinion The M1100 is a not good for the track but it is a great bike for the real word. For the people that thinks it would be better a faster bike I have to say that after one year I had to give my driving license for 5 months plus some money because I was caught by an autovelox 72 Km over the speed limit... :o( so, I concluded the M1100S is even too powerful for the real world, and on top of it it is addictive... I will have back my driving license by the spring... when I will need to be careful to do not get too wild with my M110S. On real roads forget the top speed it is the last think you are going to need.
Romit Mankame -Top Speed issues  November 17, 2010 02:06 AM
Heya giovanni whats the top speed of the monster 1100. Mine is still in the run down.
ILTim -Review or spec sheet?  September 14, 2010 01:41 PM
Oh my god, what is this crap? I've read more interesting technical engineering manuals, did anyone ride the machine? Enough science and marketing already....
Giovanni -one year after...  August 27, 2010 08:48 AM
OK now it is over one year I am using the Monster 1100S I have put on about 11'500 km everything is fine not one problem. For the ride: I believe that on twisty roads with hairpin turns and 300m -400m between turn to turn (eg up to the alps or on Elba island) the Monster 1100S is the fastest bike ever. If these are your roads the Monster 1100S is the right toy.
AB -Next to perfect.  July 5, 2010 11:28 AM
Ive had this one for a year now, and its so fracking awesome. Termis add a growl that is a pure sinister yet sweet. This bike is incredibly comfortable. The rider stance can be either aggressive or relaxed. Very little vibration, perhaps from the use of aluminum under the seat. The engine is quite friendly despite the fearsome power. No sudden surprises in the linear powerband (A product of most twins). This a highly highly rideable bike that manages to provide performance and friendliness (comfort, stance, etc) It is wonderful, comfortable, everday Litre-sized 373 lb bike. Nothing is perfect. In order to provide some useful feedback, a few negatives: 1. Drive with a passenger and get a pure 'Nutbuster' experience because of the two slopes, tank and seat. (If this is a concern at all for many of you). 2. More importantly, it gets hot in slow traffic. An extremely tight engine area prevents airflow away from under the tank without encouragement from speed. Compare it the Hypermotard or MTS which both have an 'airy' engine space. In my strong opinion, this bike needs a increased seat height. And, it would benefit from looking more 'enginey' like the HM or MTS. 3. A normal hit on the rear signal lights lead to a broken tailpiece, not a broken light stem. Poor design. (Replace with a designwerkes which is the cheapest / lightest alternative). 4. The large and rather useless passenger pegs are integrated with the shifter/brake and cannot be easily removed which might save...5lbs. for those weight freeks. I would only allow the above to stop you if you have to spend time (more than 1/2 hour) in stop and go traffic, it will peeve you off more than usual. For that, get a HM or liquid-cooled bike f course. Despite those points, riding this bike is a profound experience. Thank you Ducati.
Romit Mankame -Top Speed  May 26, 2010 06:08 AM
I really liked the new Monster 1100. What is its true topspeed?
Nick B -Mr  February 3, 2010 12:50 PM
Have ordered a 1100s Monster, when I first saw it I thought it looked great. Have added crash bobbins (although I don't tend to crash!)
stitch -m1100 or street triple r ??????  January 3, 2010 10:28 PM
Is there anyone out there who has ridden both the m1100 and the street triple r?? they are both beautiful. the headlights bug me a little on both but i'm sure i can live with either. so if you could tell me of your experience and be objective, that would help me quite a bit. thanks.
btw - i can't have another nut buster and i am looking for comfort as i don't want to be leaning over. i am also 5'7 if that helps...thanks again.
Giovanni from italy -The M100 is good as it is just add the carbon termi's  October 5, 2009 05:11 AM
I do not think that Ducati should put more CV on the monster and the 2 valves is perfect because give all the torque at low RPM. To evaluate a bike is very important to ask to yourself what you want to do with it. As I wrote before the monster 1100S is can you to work like a scooter and I believe it is the best tool to have fun on a twisty mountain road or a nice coastal "like the 1 from St Luis obispo and monterey in CA or the french riviera...". on these roads you do not need more than 100CV but you need to have them and all the torque at low RPMs, you also need a great chassis, top brakes, and suspension. This bike is the monster 1100S! A bike with more valves and CV needs liquid cooling hence extra weight, thess engines have less low torque and the extra CV are available only at RPMs that are impossible to reach on the twisty roads we are talking about. Therefore you are getting extra weight to get CV that you will not use on a twisty road just because from turn to turn there is not the space to go much higher than 8000 rpms. To me the problem is simple if you use your bike on a mountain road or a coastal the monster is the best bike, if you use it on the track than stay away from the monster and any naked, for the track you need a superbike. Ideally a desmosedici.
Snake Plisskin -Very well exacuted but more power please !  October 4, 2009 09:16 AM
I've ridden and owned so many different bikes over the years,(kawi,suz.yama,honda,buell,harley,ducs & more) and the Ducati 1100s is where I wanna be next however Ducati needs to decide to grace us with a 4v Monster, be it air or water cooled with abit more power,(120-140) off the floor.
Giovanni from Italy -the monster give its best on tight corners  October 2, 2009 04:32 AM
I have to disagree with AB. I do not think that the Hypermotard is more agile and fun in the sub-130 kmb zone and on tighter curves. as I said in the Monster you sit into the bike the position give you more control than on the hyper which is like and enduro... the engine is the same just lighter on the monster, the only plus I give to the Hypermotard compared to the monster is that you can go outroad, but on the road the monster is always better from 0 up to 230 km/hr. The brakes on the moster 1100s are top.
Brian - New choice  September 26, 2009 02:12 PM
Just ditched a 696 2009. Needed a replacement- loved it but was a little power deficient...Rode Street Triple R, Daytona, StreetFighter and 1100s. The M1100s wins...Street Triple has a really great engine but lacks the grunt and the brakes and chassis is not quite there.Streetfighter belongs on a track. Ducati's blend of race tech and Italian feel is unbeatable. BTW, I had the 696 on the track and the thing was flickable as hell...now with more power....HaHaHaaaaaa
AB -More Monster  September 25, 2009 10:16 PM
I would add, a very balanced machine. Possible to ride without hands for ages (under compression). A simple shift of weight will promote turning in the light bike. Interesting idea with a throttlemeiser. Also i fail to see the point of 14T and 42T sprockets on it unless for preventing 0 to 20kmh shugging and tooling around town. The bike has enough torque to accommodate even higher gearing, not smaller. It more shifting in the low end. Probably more difficult for pulling the front-end. Damn, I'd like a 7th gear. It quickly gets hot after 4500rpm.
AB -SEX MONSTER!!!  September 25, 2009 09:44 PM
I love this Monster. Very friendly and easy to ride despite its huge power. It makes Japanese bikes seem like a YZ125 in need of ritalin. The Monster is super light, agile and very quick to throw around the curves. Handles lean worse than superbikes. However, seating position is excellent and reassuring, easy to jump from side to side out of the seat. One can 'feel' the road and therefore understand the needs of a road. It comes alive around 120 kmh. In contrast, the Hypermotard is more agile and fun in the sub-130 kmb zone. The Motard is best for going 90-130kmh zone on tighter curves usually a road less travelled running up to a ski lodge--and way better in the city! The Monster is for those into the 125-150 kmh zone on standard highways and roads through the mountains. Its tough above 170 and needs a bigger screen for constant 150+ speeds. 200 is easily done in terms of power, but not in terms of wind. Make sure to have a smaller helmet with less windage. The hydraulic clutch is very easy to shift almost unnecessary to use sometimes. But difficult to hold in at stoplights. Fortunately the neutral is easy to find, after a while without looking for the N signal. The Motard is 'buzzy' in the seat and makes an ass numb in short time; Monster has little high-toned vibration perhaps due to the softer aluminum frame under the seat; so its fun for hours. Both bikes attractive considerable attention. The Monster is a beautiful looking, sexy bike. The Hypermotard is 'hot' and 'cool' but not so sexy. The Monster is a busty Angelina Jolie, Zeta-Jones bike. The Motard is that nutty but very hot leggy blonde in Transporter 2 or maybe that idiot Paris Hilton (heaven forbid). Brakes are better on the Motard; Its possible to overestimate the brakes on the Monster-and probably combined with under-estimating the speed. Negatives: Anglina Jolie is e a nasty nut-buster because of a very fore-slanted seat; with a passenger you may as well take up castrato in the opera. It gets fracking hot under the seat without cool air rushing past the tight engine space. Its unbearable in stop-and-go traffic. Hypermotard is fine because of the airy engine space. Rear signal lights crack off easy because of very poorly fixture in the tail section. Its heavy so chuck it and make the bike weight even less! Overall, a very very good machine.
Giovanni from Italy -best bike for mountain rides ever  September 11, 2009 04:49 AM
Ok I have got a Monster 1100S I put on the bike about 800 km mostly on mountain roads. On this roads you use mostly second and third gear and occasionally the forth. It is also difficult to need to exceed 8000 rpm. As stated in the review the very cool about the bike is that it is very easy to handle! It is extremely light for a bike with so much torque it is very easy to corner and it is amazing in fast change of directions. the position of the rider also help you have the feeling of sitting in the bike and not on it. The bike is also rigid and short which help a lot to be fast on mountain turns. I do not know about the standard M1100 but the Ohlins suspension are just perfect (I caught a nasty bump uphill in third gear with the trottle full open and all went sooth). For the people that think 95 CV are not sufficient just think that all the torque and CV are between 3000 rpm and 8000 rpm which is what you use on a mountain road, I do not know what other bikes have to offer in the same rpm range. the bike explode out of second gear corners than you put the third at the straight you reach 150-160 km/h (on the display) and then you brake with the perfect brembo brakes before cornering again. Of course since the engine revs only up to 8000 rpm you do not need a liquid to cool it which help to keep the bike light. My feeling is that if you use the bike for mountain roads or the twisted roads of the french riviera as in the review the M1100S is the best bike on the market, if you want to buy a bike for the track than you might want more CV and more rpm... than you want the desmosedici. I hope this could help
Glenn Puckeridge -Kostantin Your Wrong - The Monster Lives!  August 30, 2009 11:46 PM
Sorry, I can't agree with you Konstantin. I have ridden your S4RS and the new monster and I'tt take the newby thanks! I love the water cooled motor on the S4RS but the bike lacks the balance of the new one. To me the new one encapsulates the real Ducati - a light, torquey machine that will show that lots of power is not what makes good sportbikes, it is the synergy of the whole package. To each his own I guess.
Kostantin - from T.O. -Not the pepp I was expecting  August 27, 2009 07:41 AM
Hmmmm, what to say. 1100 CC 2V motor. Did someone say gutless. I own it's predecessor, the S4R, and the new 1100 is a much softer bike. As for comment just under mind, I must agree, the Speed Triple will eat this thing for breakfast, no question. It's a decent bike, no doubt, but Ducati has lost it's character. Ducati,have accomplished what they set out to do. Mass produce in large quantities (for profit, and not spirit)...the king is dead.
cornWallis -killed 'em all?????  August 18, 2009 04:24 PM
shawn, you sure you test rode the speed triple? doesn't sound like it. unless of course you did, but couldn't make it to the corner before having to change your underwear and decided on something a little more civilized. i eat 1100s on weekends.
nutty -696 vs 1100S  August 2, 2009 12:59 PM
have been running a 696 for 7k miles. just bought a new 1100S. do these testers actually ride in cities? both bikes suffer from horribly high gearing (no doubt due to euro 3 emissions). i lowered the gearing on the 696 by putting a 14T front sprocket, but have ordered the 42T rear to replace the stock 39T. and does nobody really complain about the stock seating on this bike? the DP touring seat is a must for both bikes. love the 1100S, but a much harder to bike to run in on stock gearing than the 696 in my opinion. and there is of course the ducati performance accessories catalogue...
Giovanni from Italy -I will get one soon  July 22, 2009 04:21 PM
I just said to my my wife that I need a bike to commute because with the car it is too difficult to find parking spot... all excuses to buy this toy... It looks to me as the a great "real roads" bike... it is beautiful, it sounds good, it rides great and has all the power and torque you need to have fun on a cool road with a lots of turns... a most powerful bike (e.g. the streetfighter) it is probably better only on a track or on straight boring highways... still the Monster has sufficient power for jail/hospital/cemetery speeds...
ultra -monster 1100  June 27, 2009 11:41 AM
Instant love at first sight, I gotta have this bike after my wife's approval:)
Trading up... -Great review  April 27, 2009 03:55 PM
I love my 696 but always felt it needed (I want) more power. Adding the Termis, chip, filter., helps, but after reading your review of the new 1100, my mind's made up: no replacement for displacement. Keep up the good work.
Shawn -love my 1100  April 22, 2009 07:35 PM
went to the dealr to buy a Triumph Speed Triple / test rode 5 bikes and the Monster 1100 killed 'em all. It's light as a feather -sounds great even with the stock exhaust, and is way too easy to wheelie. in the immortal word of Ferris Bueller - 'if you have the means, i highly recommend picking on up' ; )
Gary Garibaldi -Monster 1100S  April 15, 2009 10:17 AM
Got mine a week ago in Sunnyvale CA. It is as great to ride as it is to view. I was in New York last week and the Ducati shop in Manhattan had just installed a full set of Termignonis. The sound was beautiful. The fender eliminator made a huge difference in the overall shape of the bike and the bike screamed cafe racer. Been watching the dealer contest to customize this Monster with interest and there appears to be no limit to the tweeks that seem to polish the bike to an even higher luster. You gotta get one.
Terry Bell -Ducati 1100  April 4, 2009 01:07 PM
I took delivery of my 1100 S about three weeks ago. Due to infuriatingly cold, snowy weather I've had less time to scoot it than id like, but so far your review of the bike is spot on. I've ridden other, more powerful iterations of the breed but I'd give this new Monster S higher points for overall performance balance and poise. I've yet to slap on a set of Termignonis on the beast and am now having second thoughts about doing so. I'm finding the stock noises superb and they're not so loud as to have the neighbors show up on my front lawn with torches and pitchforks. ( : Thanks for the fine writeup. terry bell
Julian -Demo'd this bike yesterday  February 22, 2009 09:01 AM
I was lucky enough to ride a 2009 Monster 1100S yesterday and loved it! I was thinking of getting a Triumph as my next bike but I'm seriously considering this bike instead. Now if I could just convince my wife to let me buy it.
Kenny MAC -Monster 1100  November 25, 2008 02:55 PM
Wowser, I have been thinking about buying a Triumph Steet Triple or the Duck 696 Monster. Then comes along the Ducks SEXY sister. Guess I'll have to save my lowly CDN Cunuck $ for a while longer. How much longer depends on which one the 1100 or the 1100s. AWESOME review STEVIE~ Keep up the good work Ducati
Ken -Well done!  November 14, 2008 10:54 PM
I like this Ducati! Now THIS is a slick bike with simple yet effective styling and power to match (without over doing it). THIS is the bike Ducati should have dubbed their "Streetfighter" instead of the track-spec bike they mistakenly chose for that name. This bike has all the classic lines of the Monster (which is an icon), AND great streetable power! Well done Ducati!
arslan zia from pakistan -BIKES  November 11, 2008 01:55 AM
Amazing, you do'not even how much i love bikes
Craig -Gold Broker  November 3, 2008 10:04 PM
I just saw this bike at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in Phoenix AZ. I'm 5'7" and the bike fits me, the rider triangle is almost perfect, a slightly higher bar would suit me....the price appears reasonable for a Ducati, didn't get to ride it though, there was or is only one in the US right now. "bummer" I just bought a new bike for my 51rst birthday in June, I'll figure out a way to justify this one though, I want one.