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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 1999 VFR800 that I think I'll eventually have buried with me. To keep life exciting I think about buying a second bike. I am not motivated by high speed capability, although I do like powerful engines and love the naked bike style. I am addicted to aesthetics, and character, performance, turning, and balance, and being completely in tune with the bike while riding. So a bike with character is important. In other brands I do like the B-King and the Triumph triple. But while these are cool, the Ducati Monster, with the associated trellis frame, is more unique and, maybe offending my VFR pals, is probably the best looking motorcycle there is. This is just posturing today, but I am extremely spontaneous and can see buying a Monster as a second bike. The wife seems open to it, so there are no real barriers. Just opportunity costs to consider.

According to fellow riders, the latest VFR800 is not fundamentally different from my 1999 version. Honda is very careful and is fundamentally opposed to making changes, which has become somewhat of a disappointment. But these naked Monster seem to go the opposite direction: Unlimited choices and unlimited character. Analyzing the line-up of Ducatis, I am finding, is quite challenging. That is why I am here.

The air cooled vs. water cooled is a big choice in itself. Today I am in the city, and my rides around town are 50/50 stoplight/freeway. I always see some stop and go traffic, unlike some of you who live in canyon city. From what I read, these air cooled bikes absolutely cannot handle this, they will overheat. Am I right? Can enough oil cooling make this bike usable around town? I love the idea of this simple bike. I might even find myself begin wrenching on this bike, inspired by the ease of access. (I have a great independent mechanic today and have not worked on bikes, but I admittedly am a good problem solver in IT.)

On the other hand, the pure technological aspect of modern motorcycles got me excited about the sport, and it seems that water cooled bikes are the latest and greatest. Thus the water cooled bikes have a different but equally powerful appeal.

I have been looking online browsing through used bikes. A sweet spot is somewhere in the $6000 range, and an 6-8 year old bike, the more miles the better, along with a good maintenance record. (My perception is it is easier to find a Ducati that has been immaculately maintained than the Japanese bikes which is good.) I know from the VFR that certain parts are falling off the "new parts" map which is a little scary, but parts can still be gotten through research and borrowing from other bikes and such. Also, I will not be putting on significant miles, so I would not wear out the Ducati. If touring/miles pick up dramatically, the VFR can go 200,000 miles and it would get priority. In this era of perpetual recessions, the smart financial aspect of letting someone else take the depreciation appeals greatly, so no new vehicles nor loans for me.

The models that catch my eye include the S4R/S, S2R, 696/796, 1100 EVO. Like I mentioned, the trellis is beautiful, preferable in red, with a white or red tank. :)

So I know that is kind of wide open start here, but I suppose the first big concern is the air vs water debate. If I got an air cooled bike would I melt the valves down to the ground in the first 90°F summer day? With the VFR I go anywhere and do anything. If I got a second street motorcycle, I would expect the same level of utility from it. I rail against barriers in life, if you know what I mean.
 

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I'd say the older you go, the more unique, the newer, the more comfortable. The triumph is also a worthy contender. I like my evo, it does fine in hot weather, and feels better on my worn out parts than the older models. The s2r is a cool bike as well, was a close second for me.
 
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Simple answer: air cooled Monsters have character in spades. Ducati's most successful bike last year (Scrambler) uses the simple but effective air-cooled Desmo design. Unless you live in a tropical and humid climate, the engine shouldn't overheat in stop and go traffic. An Evo is a nice choice, for the electronics and safety package.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Find a clean S4RS with Arrow Pipes... Can't go wrong.
Thanks a lot.

That is the model that has been stuck in my mind lately. I have been looking at one with higher miles and a price in my range. I see this bike is made with the highest quality suspension, brakes, etc. It appears to be an awesome bike!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Simple answer: air cooled Monsters have character in spades. Ducati's most successful bike last year (Scrambler) uses the simple but effective air-cooled Desmo design. Unless you live in a tropical and humid climate, the engine shouldn't overheat in stop and go traffic. An Evo is a nice choice, for the electronics and safety package.
Thanks!

I am in Cleveland. Summers are 85-90° and high humidity. Last summer it seemed every good riding day was 90°F out.

OK I need to go to the largest dealer around and talk to Ducati guys about this issue. Maybe I will make a Saturday morning out of it.

I do not care much for electronics and safety, but a newer bike with all of the incremental gains throughout is appealing.
 

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I have had lots and lots of different monsters... in my opinion then it comes to monsters, the simpler the better, I think the more complex monsters (4 valve engines ect) take a lot away from the purity of the monster (if you want a monster that runs like a superbike, why not just buy a super bike?). My personal favorite has always been the M900, plenty of power, dry clutch, very simple, and very easy to modify.

I do have a 2006 Monster for sale, very clean, service records, with 9k miles for $3000 if anyone is interested...just have to many bikes at the moment. :)
 

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Air cooled Ducatis in good tune don't run that warm . Remember they are actually partially oil cooled by virtue of the oil chambers in the cylinders combined with an oil cooler. So while I wouldn't count them out I would say the water cooled models are probably better in warm situations. You're going to find a lot more air cooled Monsters for sale and a wider price range. While people will point you to an S4RS , they are hard to come by and because of that usually command a premium. An S4 or S4R are easier to find, but IMO the air cooled bikes are better looking and a lot more affordable. None of these bikes run anywhere near as warm as a V-twin such as a Harley, and I don't see any shortage of them in the warmer states.
 
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Thanks!

I am in Cleveland. Summers are 85-90° and high humidity. Last summer it seemed every good riding day was 90°F out.

OK I need to go to the largest dealer around and talk to Ducati guys about this issue. Maybe I will make a Saturday morning out of it.

I do not care much for electronics and safety, but a newer bike with all of the incremental gains throughout is appealing.

Forget about the air-cooled/temp/humidity thing and buy one if you want/like that version. Non-issue. I've ridden mine in 95° + many times. The bike will go all day. I will not.
 
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Dakar winner '90 and '94. With air cooling.

 

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Sounds to me like pretty much any of them will meet your needs, and you should get whatever you like best.
The 4V liquid-cooled bikes are a little more expensive to maintain.
Any of them that have a plastic gas tank can have a problem with that.
Any of those with the more advanced electronics, you have to worry about black keys and red keys and so on.

Other than that, whatever floats your boat.
Get maintenance records if possible; maintenance is critical.
If well-cared for, they can last forever. I've had my M900 since new, 22 years now, and 247K miles so far.
Heat is not an issue for the aircooled bikes under anything like usual circumstances.
If you're stuck unmoving for literally an hour at over 100*F, you can overheat. I've seen that happen twice, ever.

PhilB
 

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M900 all the way for its divine character. IMHO the two valve Ducati engine it the epitome of what a motorcycle should be. The newer bikes have more electronics and more power but the 900 has the best soul of any of them. :grin2:

Marc
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
M900

M900 all the way for its divine character. IMHO the two valve Ducati engine it the epitome of what a motorcycle should be. The newer bikes have more electronics and more power but the 900 has the best soul of any of them. :grin2:

Marc
Interesting choice. I am reading that this engine is a sweet spot in the lineup. As my VFR is similar, good power (not great), perfect balance and can race with the best of them, I can totally appreciate that. But alas I think the M900 is getting a little old.

On the plus side, very good price point. I could buy one now and my wife would not even blink. Although I think among all of the black ones that I see for sale, I'd have to hand-paint the frame red if I did something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I have had lots and lots of different monsters... in my opinion then it comes to monsters, the simpler the better, I think the more complex monsters (4 valve engines ect) take a lot away from the purity of the monster (if you want a monster that runs like a superbike, why not just buy a super bike?). My personal favorite has always been the M900, plenty of power, dry clutch, very simple, and very easy to modify.

I do have a 2006 Monster for sale, very clean, service records, with 9k miles for $3000 if anyone is interested...just have to many bikes at the moment. :)
I can see the love here for the air cooled bikes.

Given the valve adjust on the VFR is an all-day affair, my preference would be to shy away from the complex valvetrains for my next bike, but but alas other attributes may make me stupid again and override that thought. Regarding sensitive 4-valve heads, I must ask, what are these bike makers thinking?

Thanks for putting the M600 on my radar (I think I see yours online, it is a beauty) It is a great value, although I imagine an engine in the next higher class. I gotta say I rail against black bikes. I guess those project a great tough image, but personally I love red for my Honda as well as a potential Ducati :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sounds to me like pretty much any of them will meet your needs, and you should get whatever you like best.
The 4V liquid-cooled bikes are a little more expensive to maintain.
Any of them that have a plastic gas tank can have a problem with that.
Any of those with the more advanced electronics, you have to worry about black keys and red keys and so on.

Other than that, whatever floats your boat.
Get maintenance records if possible; maintenance is critical.
If well-cared for, they can last forever. I've had my M900 since new, 22 years now, and 247K miles so far.
Heat is not an issue for the aircooled bikes under anything like usual circumstances.
If you're stuck unmoving for literally an hour at over 100*F, you can overheat. I've seen that happen twice, ever.

PhilB
Great info.

How about the tank. I have read that I can have it sealed. What is the total project cost to have an independent mechanic remove it, have it sealed, and re-installed? I might want to just add this to the total budget up front.

Or I read there are aftermarket tanks. Is that a good choice?
 

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I own a few and work on them all for a living, I get to choose which ones go home to my garage at the end of the day. Same for you, they are all really good bikes with different plusses and minuses.

Air cooled vs water cooled

Air cooled will take the heat and will be fine, I see many bikes that do Boston traffic all summer and it is not an issue.
Water cooled means plumbing, radiators,hoses and all the extra parts that goes with it. more weight, more ugly bits to try and hide .

Water cooled means Superbike power, we all like more power but unless you are over 100mph an air cooled will be right with a water cooled bike. All monsters are limited in top speed by the fact there is no faring to get behind in 100mph speeds so it is not fun for too long to hang out at 130 or so even though they may have the power to do so.

Hp = heat
Air-cooled bikes and earlier desmoquattro bikes did not have much problem with this but the s4rs bikes and newer do produce a decent amount of power as well as a decent amount of heat. Not bad on a ride but it can get hot if you are in stop and go traffic.

Parts availability
Newer is better but there are exceptions. Soon enough Ducati will not have any more plastic tanks to sell because they will all be bought up and they will not make them any more.There will be aftermarket options (better than plastic) but it will be something to consider on anything with a plastic tank. Exhausts and goodies are harder to find on older models.

Issues
plastic tanks-all
900 - chrome studs,crank plugs
1000-valve guides
Dry clutches do not like stop and go traffic
Brake rotors-stainless steel rotors can heat harden so if they pulse they need to be changed(do not hold front brake at stop lights).

Disclaimer I prefer an air cooled, Mostly for looks and simplicity reasons. A monster of any model will NEVER be a super bike so I simply want it to be a good MOTORCYCLE. One of the great things about the monster line is that you can make it into just about what ever you want. I have a 97 that started as a 750 and it has been a 853,944 and 985 since, it has been transformed into a pretty good track bike / street hotrod. I just finished another last year that was a 944 and now it is a 950 straight up standard monster.

Point is most like to BUILD monsters so do not look at them as finished products when you are shopping, come up with a plan for what you want it to be when you are done................... they never are done. If they are you want to start another one. Keep the build in mind when buying so you do not buy one that has too much spent on parts you are going to change anyway.

You know a monster would make the wife a nice bike too.................. and you get to build it for her.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Dry clutches do not like stop and go traffic
Brake rotors-stainless steel rotors can heat harden so if they pulse they need to be changed(do not hold front brake at stop lights).

Disclaimer I prefer an air cooled, Mostly for looks and simplicity reasons. A monster of any model will NEVER be a super bike so I simply want it to be a good MOTORCYCLE. One of the great things about the monster line is that you can make it into just about what ever you want. I have a 97 that started as a 750 and it has been a 853,944 and 985 since, it has been transformed into a pretty good track bike / street hotrod. I just finished another last year that was a 944 and now it is a 950 straight up standard monster.

Point is most like to BUILD monsters so do not look at them as finished products when you are shopping, come up with a plan for what you want it to be when you are done................... they never are done. If they are you want to start another one. Keep the build in mind when buying so you do not buy one that has too much spent on parts you are going to change anyway.

You know a monster would make the wife a nice bike too.................. and you get to build it for her.
Dry clutch and stop-n-go - do they fade away, aka require the cooling of moving? What happens? Thanks, first time I learned of this.

Build - please expound - are you replacing the motor, ala, there's lots of space there? Or is this all head work? Also new information, I didn't not know this Ducati build culture existed!

Well the ride is my relaxation, aka when I am done customizing computer systems, I just want to get on the bike and go. I don't anticipate engine building. However, I am hoping to get out of IT (I AM BURNED OUT) and if I did, LOL, with the VFR by my side i would have time to play around on a fairly simple engine setup. I never want to predict where I'll be, change is exciting.

Sad story: The wife does not want to own a bike or be in the driver's seat. She really does not want to learn this or have any of the responsibilities that go with it. She simply wants to be a pillion. I anticipate the VFR will be the 2-up and the Monster will always provide personal freedom.
 

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Great info.

How about the tank. I have read that I can have it sealed. What is the total project cost to have an independent mechanic remove it, have it sealed, and re-installed? I might want to just add this to the total budget up front.

Or I read there are aftermarket tanks. Is that a good choice?
A plastic tank can be sealed, but it's not a guarantee. Many people have had that work fine, and some have not. The cost isn't a huge deal -- maybe $3-400.

I've heard lots of rumors of aftermarket aluminum tanks, but haven't seen one in person.

PhilB
 

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Dry clutches can get grabby after repeated stop and go, the clutch will NOT be worn out just a chatter on engagement happens. The stock packs can last 50,000 miles with normal maintenance, plan on clutch noise and the chatter to happen on occasion. Some of us love our dry clutches and would not think of not having them but.... they do not like dragstrip starts.

Building a monster is the customization process and it can be anywhere from a simple cosmetic change, paint or add-ons. To full on chassis changes or an engine build. Now do not get me wrong you can build a liquid cooled monster as well but some of us are quite happy with the air cooled versions. If deciding on power alone be sure to compare HP and torque you will find often the air-cooled bikes will make similar torque to the 4valvers.

For some of us the build process is as much fun (some times more) the having the finished bike. My favorite monster "Chucky" took me a bunch of years to get it close to done and now that it is there I look to the next build more than my favorite. In fact my favorite is always the one I am building at the time or about to build.
Hmmmmm........ Chucky does need a different motor.................... what to do?

Bottom line is to have fun with the process, think of a monster as a journey bike not a destination bike. Yes it will get you there just fine but along the way you can have a great time too.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I am thinking somewhat differently now than before I came here. Very inspirational Ducvet, thank you. I feel a bit like my ten year old self, dreaming of being Fonzie and customizing, fixing, and tweaking my baby. I am a chronic hobbyist, aka I have hopped from different instruments, to photographer, to authoring books, to motorcycling. Not confident to work on my VFR which is extremely labor intensive and having the danger of breaking the fairings, I have still felt some responsibility to try and get to know "the machine". In that vein I think you have pointed out a good mechanism for that to happen. I have seen it before, and perhaps my soul or subconscious led me to the Monster for this very reason.

Thank you all so much. I will keep all of this advice in my back pocket.
 
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