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Old 19th May 2020, 22:01   #1
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Default The Dream Monster - Ducati Monster 620 i.e.

I have always been a car/bike buff. Ever since my school days, I used to go out and buy the car/bike magazine available in those times and read them cover to cover. The poster on the centrefold would be stuck in my room on the wall. Soon there was no space on the walls left. It had all the boyhood dream supercars like the Ferrari Testarossa, the Lamborghini Countach and multiple superbikes too like the Honda Fireblade, Yamaha Thunderbird and the drop dead gorgeous Ducati 916. The centrepiece of my poster collection was however the Ducati Monster. For some reason the bike connected with me more than any other. The naked cafe racer look, the exposed trellis frame just melted my heart. So started a longing for the Monster in the hay days of the 90s.

Many moons later after moving to the UK and being reasonably settled, the bike bug stuck me again. I found a beautiful Kawasaki Z750 which was selling for cheap so I actually bought it before I finished my license. I got my UK bike riding license (which is no mean feat) and started using the bike. Whilst it was a great bike, especially a very accomplished tourer, it never got me very excited. I found a group of biking friends and used to go on long bike rides with them. One had a Triumph Daytona, one had a Suzuki SV650 and the last one had a red Ducati Monster 625. The Triumph was a beast, the Suzuki was sexy but the red 625 was something else. It got my pulse racing again and rekindled my long lost love affair for a Monster. I decided to sell the Z750 and buy another bike preferably a Monster but after careful consideration of various options. I didn't want a big bike or a superbike so options were between 600-750 cc.

Options considered:
-Kawasaki ER6: Very comfortable and easy to ride bike but too similar to my Z750
-Kawasaki Versys 650: Same engine as the ER6 but setup more for touring. In those days was quite ugly unlike now.
-Suzuki Bandit: This was the bike, I gave my test on so was very comfortable with it but was getting a bit old and didn't have the oomph factor.
-Suzuki SV650: Beautiful machine especially from the rear. Good engine. But riding position was not great and you got wrist pain after riding any significant distance.
-Honda Hornet: Was a great bike and a very good all rounder and was one of my final contenders
-Triumph Street Triple: I loved this bike. It was a hoot to ride. Looked great(I had found a neon green model) and was overall very very good. Only lost out because of the historical love I had for the Monster.

Buying the Monster:
By the time I had decided to buy a monster, Ducati released the 626. This was the first bike with the current design of the monster. Whilst it is beautiful and I liked it, it wasn't the design I had fallen in love with. I might as well have bought the Triumph which I felt was a better bike. So I started looking for older used monsters. Unsurprisingly, none were available in the configuration that I wanted which was a Red coloured 625. I waited for a long time but finally caved in. I found one monster in my budget but it was Black and was a 620i.e. It had a single lady owner before me, was very low milage and in great condition. I paid upfront and bought the bike from a very helpful dealer in Glasgow, Scotland who bought my Z750 in exchange as well.

Pros:
- Timeless design with instant recognition and appreciation from fellow bikers.
- Beautiful engine with great sound
- Engaging riding experience that rewarded you for better riding
- Comfortable and easy to ride with low seat height and light weight.

Cons:
- Not the fastest kid on the block and struggled to keep up with other boys on the highways.
- The low fuel warning wasnít very accurate and more than once left me stranded with no fuel where the screen still showed some distance to go.
- Not great protection from wind
- Not for track days
- Expensive to buy. There were better bikes available for the money.

The Design:
The Monster is a beautiful bike. Even in black. Mine was a shiny black 2006 piece with a single seat visible. The rear seat is covered by a cowl which is removal. It has a big round head light up front. The shape is crouching but the riding position is excellent and fairly upright. The big tank is sculpted very well with good area for your legs. The footrests were adequate and well positioned. The exposed Trellis frame is the standout feature of this bike and in mine it was brushed aluminium in colour which looked really cool. I wanted a red trellis frame but I ended up liking mine better. The other standout feature are the upside down Marzocchi forks. The big 320 mm front disc by Brembo looks imposing as well. It comes with 2 big brushed aluminium coloured exhausts, one on either side. It also has a rear disc brake but it is much smaller at 240mm.

The instrument console is very retro. It consists of two big analogue dials with small electronic lcd screen in each and a christmas tree of warning light in the top half in between the two dials. The left dial is the speedometer and the lcd screen shows the odometer. You can toggle between the trip meter and odometer with a tiny black button between the two dials. The right hand side dial has the rev meter and the lcd screen shows a clock and oil temp which you can toggle with a similar black button to the other side. The right dial also has magnetti marelli inscribed on it. There is a small led light above the two black button which denotes the engine immobiliser. The lights on the top are for the indicators, neutral, high beam and warning light. What I thought was cool at that time was, on turning the ignition on ignition both the needles go to max and return back to zero. My Honda Activa 125 also has this feature now.

The Mechanics:
The Monster 620ie came with a 618 cc 90 degree V twin with SOHC and 2 desmodromic valves per cylinder. It produced 60 bhp at 9500 rpm and around 55 Nm of torque. It came with marelli electronic fuel injection (hence the ďi.eĒ in the name). Power was transferred via chain drive and it rode originally on Bridgestone tyres.

Modifications:
I did not tinker too much with the bike as it was how I liked it. I added a small wind screen to help on the long drives. Crash bungs to protect my legs if I fall off. The most important addition was a Scottoiler which is a auto chain lubing system which was worth its weight in gold in the cold Scottish climate and gritted roads. I did consider changing the exhausts to aftermarket Akrapovic ones but decided I liked how it originally sounded more than the Akrapovic. I did change the tyres to brand new sticky Pirellis when I took delivery.

Riding experience:
The riding position was very comfortable and seat very supportive too. The engine fires up with the most beautiful V twin note that you have to hear at least once to appreciate. Way better than any of the Harley V twins. The gearing was short and the acceleration was instant. It was a bike that made you ride it hard and rewarded you for it. Very punchy ( unlike my Z750, which was very linear and measured) and aggressive. The suspension handled everything that the British roads could throw at it though they were butter smooth most of the times. The big Brembo brakes stopped the bike well and the sticky Pirellis had great grip. Never did I feel out of control on it.

My usual ride was to work and back which was a 8 miles round trip. Sometimes there would be heavy traffic on this stretch and the nimble monster would help me whizz past stuck cars and get to my intended location to and fro almost 30-45 minutes before what I would have taken in a car. There wasnít much scope for high speeds but the Monster was best and in its element during this work run.

My bike group and I would go for long bike rides on most weekends usually in summer. These would be around 100-200 mile round trips and involved a wide variety of roads including A roads(highways) and B roads (smaller roads in the countryside). The monster struggled on the A roads. Whilst it easily could do around 80 mph the wind was bad and I really had to crouch down to avoid that. Plus the weather in Scotland even in summers was pretty chilly and the monster didnít offer much protection from the elements. I have been out in -5 degree where we had to stop intermittently to warm our hands on the engine. The Monster however came alive on the B roads and it was a pleasure flicking in through winding roads with that glorious note from the V twin. Scotland by the way, is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world to ride a bike and people came from all over the world to experience it. I consider myself extremely lucky and privileged to have that in my backyard and being able to fully enjoy it on my bike.

We also did a couple of track days. The most memorable of them was at a Scottish circuit called Knockhill. It is like a mini Laguna seca with a gradient turn just like the famous corkscrew. It was sponsored by BMW and first we got to ride our own bikes for a few laps. The Monster was truly out of place here and it struggled on the technical sections of the track. The others bikes were all superbikes apart from my friendís Monster and 1 Honda Pan American! After our stint was over we got a few laps on the BMW S1000RR which remains to this day the best bike Iíve ever ridden. What a precision instrument that is. I started tentatively but soon was doing triple figure speeds on the very challenging track. Until I saw a Fireblade crash on the mini corkscrew which put me back in my place. But the Monster was definitely not made for this party!

Sale:
I used the monster well and for 4 years. It brought a smile to my face every time I got on it. However, we decided to move mack to India in 2013. We got a container and shipped most of our belonging over. There was even place for the Monster in there. But, it is quite a pain to import vehicles. You have to pay a hefty charge, there are long delays and all of your shipment gets stuck for a long time until the vehicle is cleared. In the end the cons outweighed the pros for transferring the bike. I had a friendly bike mechanic who made enquiries for me and helped me sell my bike on to another lucky guy who got my beautifully maintained sample. I got a fair price for it as well, I think.

I know, there were better bikes for the same money out there but it was a childhood dream come true for me and I totally lived and loved the Monster dream and enjoyed it for as long as I could.

P.S: Mods, I am attaching some photos at the bottom. I haven't figured out how to get them in between the paragraphs yet. Could you help?
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Old 20th May 2020, 14:21   #2
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Default Re: The Dream Monster - Ducati Monster 620 i.e.

You are right, this is a timeless design. Glad you enjoyed it!

I was going to apply for the A license this year but my VISA was just extended for a year, hence I dropped the plan. Not worth it with the amount one has to spend for the CBT, then the exams and then again to satisfy the itch for a big bike, insurance(the list goes on). The used motorcycle market here is so expensive. I am not bitter about it though to be honest.
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Old 20th May 2020, 17:24   #3
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Default Re: The Dream Monster - Ducati Monster 620 i.e.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aghate View Post
I was going to apply for the A license this year but my VISA was just extended for a year, hence I dropped the plan. Not worth it with the amount one has to spend for the CBT, then the exams and then again to satisfy the itch for a big bike, insurance(the list goes on). The used motorcycle market here is so expensive. I am not bitter about it though to be honest.
You are quite right. It is expensive and the license itself is very difficult to get. I failed once at the last hurdle because I kept the indicator on for a half a minute after making the turn. The used bike market is expensive but the bikes are generally in good condition. You can get a cheap car for the same price.

Plus the UK weather isn't great for biking most of the times and it can be quite dangerous as the speeds involved are much higher. My wife asked me to go on the organ donation register before I got a bike. In winters the bike needs to be kept indoors and covered so you need a garage (which I had) or access to a container park where you can store your bike for a charge.

However, all above things considered, in the few summer months when the sun is out, there is no better place for bike rides. Bikers in the UK are great as well and you can easily join biking groups for weekend fun. Track days happen often and anyone can sign up for them. It is great fun!
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Old 21st May 2020, 15:29   #4
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Default Re: The Dream Monster - Ducati Monster 620 i.e.

Lovely thread mate! The monster was my favorite sportbike too, and I too loved the naked version more than the fully faired motorcycles. The black looks stunning too, though its drool-worthy in red or yellow. Some day might just buy it to fulfill my teenage fantasy too, and they are getting pretty well priced in the pre worshipped market in India. Alas, not the first generation which really is an epitome of less is more concept.Thanks for sharing!
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