Ninja 250R maintenance Schedule

IMG_4597At one point of time, I started to wonder if I had made the right decision in getting a Ducati Monster 1100 Evo. With all relationships, it takes time to get to know your partner well. If the Monster were a woman, I’d say she was hot-tempered, high-maintenance and unforgiving.

And you know, I’ve come to learn that those attributes makes her the perfect mistress. 🙂

If you’re looking for a new motorcycle, and been wondering why would people buy a Ducati Monster for daily city use in Southeast-Asia, here are some things I’ve learned in living with her for six months

I’ve read on forums that the Monster is not suitable as a city bike, but don’t get swayed by those comments. What’s important for any biker is that the bike makes you happy, and I am always happy after each ride with the Monster, despite all the quirks. There are plenty of Monster 1100 Evo technical reviews out there, so this is more of a personal review as a city rider in hot and humid Singapore.

(In the meantime, I’ve also been riding a secondhand Triumph Daytona 675 because I’ve always been curious about a triple engine and whether I could love a pure sportsbike. The Daytona has really helped to put things into perspective for a Monster owner.)

1. Every annoying flaw is overwhelmed by a greater strength.

I don’t see many Monsters on Singapore roads. Most Ducati owners tend to go for Hypermotards or Panigales. I’m not sure if it’s because the Monster has a rep it cannot live down, or people prefer the newer breeds of Ducatis. But I can tell you it has several niggling flaws that are conveniently negated by amazing strengths.

IMG_5363Flaw: It’s a drudge to go slow on this bike, with the sputtering fueling at low RPMs and constant need to half-clutch on a pretty stiff lever. With most bikes, you can do a sharp right turn on small roads on second gear, but it’s usually first gear on the Monster because the engine might just die on you. Travelling within legal speed limits (60-90kmh) means it’s usually 3rd or 4th gear, with the engine grunting heavily as if you are in the wrong gear. Remember, there isn’t any relaxed cruising speed like a normal street motorcycle.

Strength: The engine was designed to hurl you (strongly, but elegantly I must say) from one point to another. Every time I think I should be riding like a well-behaved gentleman, the Monster engine reminds me to forget it, because I’m perched upon a pouncing lion (ok, lioness). While a retro bike like the Triumph Bonneville demands that you ride it with a certain politeness, the Monster insists that you change your riding style dramatically. See that red traffic light there? It’s your start line before the next blazing burst of power.

IMG_5404As said by the late Kevin Ash: “What no (inline) four does is punch like the 1100 when you turn the twistgrip in the engine’s midrange. It fires forward with a force that makes a mockery of the 99bhp output, partly because the bike is very light but simply because this is one of the few bikes that makes most of its urge at speeds normal riders use on normal roads.”

Flaw: The fuel tank is really low capacity at 13.5 liters. That means that with a fuel consumption of 14-17 km/l (yes, it’s that hungry), the fuel warning light will pop up after about 120km or 140km of travel. Luckily for me, my office commute is just about 10km each way, so I don’t have to top up except on weekends.

Strength: The tiny fuel tank does help reduce the wet weight of the Monster, making it one of the lightest literbikes in the world – It’s only 169kg dry, and 188kg wet. Compare that to my old Ninja 250R, with a fraction of the power, but 170kg wet. So while the engine requires a lot of firm handling, reining in the Monster is made alot easier by not having a behemoth kinda weight to push around. This means that the Monster is extremely agile – you just gotta have the guts to lean over if needed, and it goes where you tell it to go.

2. Try not to break the law.

While most superbikes these days can easily hit 100kmh within three or four seconds, it’s how you get there that counts. My Triumph Daytona’s triple engine has a linear torque curve, meaning that it will obediently and steadily accelerate under your control. I would imagine the Triumph Street Triples, which use a similar engine, behave in the same way.

The Monster isn’t just capable of getting to 100kmh easily, it insists that that’s the correct speed to be from the get-go, and after that, all the time. The massive pool of Torque (with a capital T) feels like it’s available at any time and while expert reviewers complain of a RPM redline limit that comes early, hey, I’m not track riding here.

So if you treasure your hard-earned Class 2 licence, you have to really hold it back and let the engine growl harder than one is comfortable with all the time to avoid getting summoned on the roads. That means that while it’s easy to maintain at 80kmh on the Daytona (or at 70kmh in the stuff Kallang-Paya Lebar KPE tunnel), the Monster sounds unhappy all the way, and it does take a while to get used to this character trait. As long as the RPM remains above 4000, I know the Monster’s engine is going to be ok even if it is grumbling loudly.

Of course, you will always find chances to let the Monster breathe hard, but I don’t need to tell you how to. (wink)

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