The Ducati monster launched in 1993 and was an instant hit.
The Monster’s original Pantah SOHC air-cooled V-Twin was initially available in the 600 and 900cc packages.
Over the years, the Monster bike sizes have ranged up to 1200cc, with the most iconic being the 937cc Testastretta Desmo V-Twin and the 1,198cc Superbike version of the same Testastretta concept.
There’s no doubt the Moster is a power-packed machine, and it costs a pretty penny, but what are its common problems?
We’ve listed them below.
Table of Contents
1. Ducati Monster 821 and 1200: Rear Brake Lines Cracks From Heat Damage
In May of 2021, Ducati recalled 1,312 Monster motorcycles in the American moto market alone.
The recalled models included:
- Monster 821 lines manufactured between 2015 and 2021
- Moster 1200 S/STD models manufactured between 2014 and 2021
- Monster 1200R models built between 2016 and 2019.
The reason for the recall was a slew of faulty rear brake hoses predisposed to heat damage.
Over time, the heat generated by the Monsters engine can break down the rear brake hose casing enough to cause fluid leaks which had the potential to cause a crash.
- Once the heat weakens the integrity of the rear brake hoses’ casing, the hose cracks open, allowing brake fluid to leak out.
- As hydraulic brake fluid leaks through the cracked brake line, reducing the pressure within the hydraulic brake system, the hydraulic brakes lose their ability to pressurize.
- If the rear brakes fail to pressurize, the stopping distance time when braking is significantly increased.
- If the rider is unaware of the weakening stopping power in the rear wheel, they may not adjust their stopping and slowing timing appropriately, causing them to crash.
Ducati investigated the claims and found that the material used on many rear brake hoses wasn’t as heat resistant as they initially thought.
Additionally, the placement of the brake line exposed it to the hot airflow generated by the Monster’s robust exhaust system.
If riders leave their affected Monsters idling for a significant time, whether on the side stand, during warmups, services, diagnostics, or when stuck in traffic, the rate of brake hose damage accelerates.
Ducati suggests that all riders conduct a pre-ride examination, including a brake line inspection that can catch any temperature damage that’s taken place thus far. Still, even if your bike isn’t damaged yet, a lengthy bout of stop-and-go traffic could be enough to crack an undamaged hose and cause sudden loss of rear brake pressure while riding your Monster.
- Ducati-engineered replacement brake hoses to be installed at the dealership by Ducati-trained technicians, free of charge.
- The replacement hose has an updated length, making it easier for the techs to move the hose away from the exhaust manifold’s hot bursts of air during installation.
- Ducati offered to reimburse riders who paid out of pocket for a replacement hose before the recall was official so that they could get back on the road asap.
2. Ducati Monster 821 and 1200: Improperly Manufactured Gear Shift Lever
In 2018 Ducati announced a possible recall of the Monster 821 and the Monster 1200 due to potential issues with the gear shift levers. The issue was reported as a manufacturing error causing interference between the gear shift lever and the lever top pin, hindering the shifter’s function.
In 2018, Ducati recalled more motorcycles than any other manufacturer.
In exceptional cases, the factory malfunction could result in the lever pin rattling out during increased riding vibrations, causing a total shift lever failure that could cause a collision, injury, or worse.
Ducati notified the owners of affected models of the manufacturing error, offering to replace the faulty gear shift lever with a revised and adequately functioning part.
Still, not all Monsters stay with their original owners. In fact, there’s not a shortage of affected year models on the used market, many of which aren’t being sold by their original owners.
- If you’re the owner of, or in the used market for, any of the following Ducati Monster Year Models, run your VIN at the local dealership to make sure your Monster was fitted with the upgraded gear shifter:
- 2017-2019 Ducati Monster 1200
- 2018-2019 Ducati Monster 821
3. Ducati Monster 797, 821, and 1200: Air in the Brake Lines
Ducati made an even more massive brake-related recall in 2021 when nearly 6,000 models, including the 2017-2020 Monster 797, the 2017-2020 Monster 1200, and the 2018-2020 Monster 821.
Ducati’s massive 2021 recall spanned four-year model generations of three different Monster lines, among a handful of other Ducati models, all for a brake system defect allowing air to enter the brake lines, reducing the brake pressure within the system, and increasing the braking distance required for a complete stop.
- Ducati reportedly claimed that this time, the braking failure took place on Monsters that had been in storage for lengthy periods without rear brake application.
- Apparently, when affected models go too long without having their brake lever pressed and pressurized, the lines absorb air and lose hydraulic pressure.
Various sources report that the brake performance dips slowly over time and that riders often notice a gradual decrease in brake pressure until the stopping power is dangerously weak.
Still, if the Monster sat long enough without activity, the pressure loss may come as a surprise, and the rider may not realize their brakes need more time to stop the bike, and they risk collision, injury, or death.
Ducati will replace the faulty brake lines with free replacements on any of the affected year Monster models listed earlier. If you bought your Duc on the used market and already replaced the de-pressurized brake lines out of pocket, contact your local dealership to apply for the Ducati Reimbursement plan.
4. Ducati Monster Leaks Oil
Ducati monsters have been known to leak oil from the head gasket, pressure sensor, and oil filter gaskets.
Here’s an excerpt from a Monster owner’s online consumer report describing one such issue:
“Picked up my brand new 2014 Monster 1200s on Thursday. When I pulled over, smoke came from my engine and that awful smell of burning oil. I quickly went home and parked in the garage to look closer. To my surprise, I found an oil leak. The oil was all over the place. All over my right boot, alongside the engine casing. The oil even made its way onto my rear tire.”
Here are the Most Common Oil Failures that Happen to Ducati Monsters:
Faulty Oil Filter Gasket:
The oil filter gasket keeps oil from leaking through the space between your filter and the bike.
The heat and vibration can cause these gaskets to melt or dislodge, allowing oil to leak past. This is especially common on Monsters that don’t get regular filter and gasket services.
Leaking Head Gasket:
Some of the 90s and early 200s Monster bikes were fitted with defective engine head gaskets that would leak oil until they were replaced. Dealerships reportedly fixed it on the house.
Loose Oil Plug Bolt:
Many Ducati Monsters equip H5 Hex key oil plugs, some of which leave the factory with faulty washers allowing the plug to vibrate loose.
Other consumer reports indicate that these crush washers fail due to engine vibrations over time.
Regardless, use a hex key to remove the bolt and replace the crush washer underneath to keep the plug tight; some Monster-riders opt to use gasket sealer.
Loose Oil Filter:
More than a few 2014-2015 Ducati Monsters reportedly left the factory with loose oil filters, which would leak oil until they were tightened with a filter wrench.
Oil Pressure Sensor:
Oil pressure sensors on Ducati Monsters have been notorious for intermittent oil leaks.
In some cases, the O-ring is the culprit, and replacing it stops the leak, but typically the oil pressure sensor itself is the culprit.
The oil pressure wears the Monster’s pressure sensor over time, causing it to leak between the metal and plastic portions of the sensor switch.
Replacing the oil pressure sensor is a cheap and straightforward job to prevent the oil from leaking.
Furthermore, a properly sealed pressure sensor is critical for maintaining your Monster’s oil pressure.
5. Ducati Monster Regulator/ Rectifiers Burn out Early; Battery Won’t Charge
throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Ducati Monsters were known to burn through Regulator/Rectifiers faster than some other bikes in their various classes.
The Regulator/Rectifier is a critical part of your charging system, converting the energy generated by the Monster’s powerful motor into a current the battery can use to recharge while riding.
The R/R also regulates the rate at which the battery recharges so it doesn’t charge too fast and explode.
- The Ducati Monster’s engine is liquid-cooled by a heat-absorbing fluid coursed through it by a radiator.
- Unlike the open-finned air-cooled counterparts, liquid-cooled motorcycle engines like the various Monster builds are sealed to keep the fluid from leaking.
The coolant can’t touch the regulator/Rectifier, but since the Monster’s engine is sealed, the trapped R/R on older models would overheat and burn out. Ducati Regulator/Rectifiers are now more durable; this issue is reported less on modern Monsters.
Ducati Monster Pros and Cons
- Compact and lightweight.
- Easy handling and aggressive cornering capabilities.
- Accessible engine performance.
- Industry-leading electronics package including ABS, traction control, wheelie control, and launch control.
- Three adjustable riding modes.
- Hydraulic Clutch
- Stock Quick shifter
- Constant frame and engine upgrades make each year’s model lighter than the last.
- Expensive considering the specs compared to other bikes in its class.
- Suspension isn’t adjustable.
- Performance is enjoyable and accessible for track beginners, but experienced racers tend to upgrade to something with more power.
- Side Stand Bracket Prone to Failure
- Air Interferes with Rear Brake
- Brake Hoses Susceptible to Heat Damage
- Improperly Manufactured Gear Shift Lever
What Do the Reviews Say?
“Throw a leg over, and you immediately notice the size of the bike. It really is tiny. Not cramped and tiny, but surprisingly compact. How they pack almost 1000 cc of twin-cylinder into these modern packages still baffles me.
The lack of weight is noticeable wheeling it around. It’s super light and easy to maneuver when parking or getting on and off. Usability gets a big tick there. The riding position is good too.
Bar-seat-peg layout is comfortable and quite upright, as you’d expect. The seat feels quite firm and flat. More-so than it looks. So, it’s not designed to be a tourer. Mind you – a range of about 250 km puts a limit on that anyway. I don’t think you’d want to spend more than a few hours in that saddle. My butt was telling me that two hours was enough.
Ease the clutch out, and the first reaction is one of surprise. It’s certainly got some torque for a little bike. What a lovely driveline. Pulls smoothly off the bottom and tractors along just off idle. Fueling is near perfect. Get it up in the meaty mid-range around four grand, and it’s giving you some good shove.
The gearbox is an absolute delight too. The slipper clutch and quick shift are lovely. Great lever feels, and the transition is smooth, positive, and faultless. It doesn’t matter if you’re at closed throttle, part throttle, full throttle, or front wheel up or down – this thing finds the next cog for you and never misses a beat. It’s mint.
All in all, the driveline is nearly faultless. Brakes, too, are terrific. Brembo four-piston monoblocs seem like a bit of overkill, but the pad choice is perfect, and it’s not overly aggressive. Lovely feel and plenty of power.”
What’s the Resale Value of a Ducati Monster?
What are Some Alternatives to the Ducati Monster?
|Ducati Monster 1200 S||$14,995||37.11|
|Indian FTR Rally||$13,999||36. 6|
|Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS||$18,499||33.74|
|Triumph Scrambler XE||$12,000||45|
|Harley-Davidson Iron 1200||$10,249||48|
|BMW F 900 R||$8,995||40.26|