The Ducati Monster is unlike anything else in the naked roadster class with its 90-degree L-Twin motor, its tubular steel trellis frame, and its desmodromic valves.
From entry-level mid-sized 400s to water-cooled superbikes that top 160, the Monser line of motorcycles is known as one of the highest performing machines on the market in some circles.
To this day, the Monster line accounts for more than two-thirds of Ducati’s annual production, but are they reliable?
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Here is the short answer to are Ducati Monster’s reliable:
The Ducati Monster is generally quite reliable thanks to its constantly improved L-twin engine, considered by many to be the most reliable in Ducati’s lineup. The bike is popular for customization and modification which can affect dependability. The stock naked model Monsters are the most reliable.
How Reliable Are Ducati Monsters?
Ducati bikes are sometimes labeled as unreliable, however many Monster owners will beg to differ having experienced relatively few issues.
The stripped-down standard models are considered the most dependable due to their relative simplicity, although you can expect good reliability across all models provided they’re serviced per Ducati’s spec and not maxed out all the time.
The Monster is most distinguished by its L-Twin (90°) setup which is inherently the smoothest angle of any twin however its reliability still comes into question, albeit unfairly.
Keep in mind, the first Monster debuted in ’93 and they have been fine-tuned a lot since then and have had a lot of problems smoothed out.
Across online forums like DucatiMonster.org the sentiment is generally very positive; here is what some owners had to say:
“Other than some stalling issues which have been worked out I’ve had no issues with my bike. It is definitely a little more high strung than other bikes I’ve had but after 6,000 miles it has never left me stranded either.”
“The ‘L’ V-twin engine two-valve is the most dependable machine Ducati produces compared to the 4-Valve water-cooled edition. The superbike setup delivers more horsepower but is more complex and less reliable than the standard.”
“As far as reliability goes, Ducati’s fall into a category where they’re “unreliable”, from my experience though there’s no truth to it at all, I drove it from NY to California twice with no issues other than the bearings got destroyed but that can happen to any bike with over 30,000 miles”
Most of the complaints surrounding the more modern Monsters pertain specifically to the water-cooling motors, the safest bet is to stick to the air-cooled L-Twin motor.
However, even the standard Monster models were once plagued by a fuel tank swelling problem, notorious on all Ducati’s with plastic fuel tanks.
No bike is perfect, and the Monster is a hand-built Italian machine that some owners would describe as ‘sensitive’.
It’s not as tight as the robot-built Japanese bikes, which leaves a bit more room for error, but when owners are asked if they would buy another Monster, the answer is almost always a “yes”.
Maintenance is Essential for Reliability
The most reliably performing Ducati Monsters are those owned by responsible riders who pay close attention to maintenance.
You can expect to pay in the region of $600 – $900 for a major service.
- The “L-Twin’s intricacy has much to do with its desmodromic valves, which can be pretty demanding.
- Desmodromic valves require adjustment every 7500 miles.
- Not only is this a difficult adjustment for an amateur or even a pro without a specific Ducati setup, but it’s also a bit pricey.
- Failing to keep up with routine maintenance will critically reduce the bikes reliability
You may also be interested in our article: Are Ducati Scramblers Reliable?
A Ducati Monster will last more than 75,000 miles if its owner services, rides, and stores it according to Ducati’s directions. If a Monster is adequately broken in and the suggested valve-inspection intervals are followed, expect at least 75,000 miles before you need to rebuild the motor.
In cases where owners were proactive with maintenance, they got double that mileage, almost triple in some cases.
But don’t take out word for it, here are some owner’s testimonies:
“1993 Ducati Monster M900, bought new, 265K miles, killed by minivan I advise the following: Ride it as much as you can. Do the maintenance at least roughly on schedule. Be careful about your modifications. Consider what you are doing, and use quality parts. Don’t let it sit and rot. If you have to store it (for winters), prep it decently. Ride it some more.”
“I’ve seen a couple of dozen Ducatis over 100K miles. Mostly ’90’s 2V air-cooled bikes, but a few ST models, and a couple 916/996 bikes. I’ve seen two Ducs over 200K miles, Gary Eagan’s ST4 and my M900 Monster.”
One owner we came across has had a few complaints, but they’re still on track to hit high numbers:
As of today, I have 11,300 miles on my 1200S. I’ve had it since July 2014. Issues:
- A left-rear turn signal issue was a loose connection at the bulb (fixed under warranty).
- One or two unspecific ECU codes were thrown early on (reset and investigated by the dealer and nothing since).
- Around 2,500 miles after each oil change, the bike starts consuming a little oil (the dealer is tracking this and says it’s normal and that I can top it off if it’s looking low) (I now take it in every 3,000 miles for oil and tires.)
- I have a humidity bubble in the display but haven’t complained about it yet.
- And my tank is slightly misaligned to the left (not a reliability thing, but a minor gripe listed here for completeness.
- I’ve experienced three false neutrals at speed, but these were due to lazy or odd shifting in weird moments on my part.
To get the most life out of your Monster, make sure to store it properly and stay on top of maintenance.
We’d also advise researching which Dealership you use for services as some have a much better reputation than others.
What is Considered High Mileage for a Ducati Monster?
A Ducati Monster is deemed high mileage at 35,000 miles on the used market as are most naked roadsters; the odometer reading however has little effect on the longevity of reliability of a Ducati Monster, what is important is the bike’s overall condition.
With a Ducati Monster, the first thing I’d look at is whether or not it’s been customized with aftermarket parts.
Typically, most aftermarket modifications reduce the engine’s dependability by putting extra strain on it in order to boost performance.
Therefore, a stock Ducati Monster with 30,000 miles could be a safer option than a 20,000 miler fitted with aftermarket parts.
Not to mention the type of owner who gets multiple upgrades usually rides more aggressively.
Consider the kind of upgrade; is it an exhaust upgrade for louder pipes or a snappier throttle response?
If they were ripping hard at high-revs, redlining, racing, or stunting on their Ducati, they’re putting more strain on the motor.
A high-mile Monster owner had this to say:
“Overall, mileage is highly subjective. 3000-5000 miles per year is a well-ridden bike for its age. For most modern, relatively stock bikes maintained well and regularly and didn’t see a lot of abuse, 50k should be easy, maybe 100k. Anything over 30k, and you should be asking many questions about maintenance and riding habits. Highly modded bikes with scrapes down one or both sides and a bald rear tire while the front looks fresh have almost certainly been abused.”
If you’re in the market for a used Ducati Monster, here are a few tips:
Make a checklist beforehand: Familiarize yourself with the model and make a list of questions and areas to inspect, if it’s written down you won’t forget to ask.
Request service records: Ask for receipts and docs on anything from overall upkeep to aftermarket modifications and repairs. A log is a bright sign the vendor cherished their bike.
Search the VIN: Running your prospective Monsters VIN pulls any crash information. It also lets you know if you’re looking at purchasing a Monster that’s been stolen–naked bikes are a popular choice for thieves, especially Ducatis.
Take it for a test ride while it’s cold: You’ll probably have to give the vendor some collateral, but a test ride is a good way to examine a Monsters conditions, listen out for any strange noises.
The Ducati Monster 821 and 797 finally conjoined in 2021 to become the Monster+ (Monster Plus) with a redesigned 937cc version of the perpetually cultivated Monster engine, making it the highest performing iteration of the Monster squad to date.
For prospective Monster riders looking for a newer version of a classic.
If you want a newer, more reliable Monster but can’t swing the price tag on 2021, check out the 2017 Monster 797, an improved reiteration of one of the most iconic Monsters around.
The 797 2017 remake was based on the original air-cooled L-twin, integrated with current tech’s advantages like a TFT display, ABS, and a subtle wet clutch.
You’re not absolved from those high-maintenance valves, though; get them adjusted every 7,500 miles.
As far as older Monsters go, the Monster 900 was at its peak between 2001 and 2003.
Its 900 cc ripper of a motor had fuel injection by then, but this is before they transitioned away from being air-cooled and rocking a dry clutch, making it the sweet spot for the OG Moster 900.
Like all earlier Ducatis, the early Monsters weren’t as dependable and, in some cases, needed a rebuild after only a few years.
It’s not a deal-breaker; above, we quoted a ’93 Monster-masher with over 250k.
The issue is that in that first year, Ducati’s valve technology was still new, and many riders didn’t know how serious valve upkeep was on these models.
The Ducati process has improved since then, making the ’93 the least enhanced version of the Ducati Monster.
The electrical system is the first thing to break on a Ducati Monster, particularly on the older models. The wiring harness on old Ducatis would fail, mainly due to corrosion on the connectors or an overheating Regulator/Rectifier. Diagnosing electrical failure on an old Monster is tricky.
If you’re in the market for an older Ducati Monster, don’t fret!
You can get ahead of electrical failure on a Ducati Monster by installing a higher-performance Regulator/Rectifier before failure occurs.
Consult a Ducati technician on the best R/R upgrade to install on your specific year-model Monster.
Ducati Monster maintenance costs more than the average motorcycle service due to the complexity of its desmo valves. Monsters need a technical retune every 7,500 miles that can cost over $1,000, depending on the dealership, although on average you can expect to pay in the region of $600 – $900 for a major service.
There are other general costs, such as:
- Padded Off-Roading Jacket = $200
- Off-Roading Gloves = $100
- Winter riding gear = $200-$500
- Rain gear = $75-$300
- Helmets = $100-$500
- Fuel = $15 a tank
- Storage =$?
- Insurance = average cost of adventure bike motorcycle insurance is $721 a year.
- Follow Ducati’s Spec Service Schedule for your particular year-model Monster.
- Avoid Heavy Customization.
- Avoid Installing Cheap Aftermarket Components rather than Ducati Recommendations.
- Keep Racing and Stunting to a Minimum
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