W/E 25th September 2016


No work on the Laverda fleet to report – been fettling my daughter’s Ducati Monster and out riding with her.

The ’94 Ducati is one of the very first Monster series. Catherine’s bike has a good service history and just 34,000 miles on the bores. The downside is poor paint on the frame, footrest hangers and engine. It’s been interesting to compare the Monster against the Atlas which runs a similarly ‘soft’ motor unlike the 650 Zane which is its contempory.

The Ducati engine has more torque but the small valve head seems to stop it revving out at the top end. The Atlas is therefore quicker flat out but in the real world for these bikes which is in the 70 mph zone the Ducati is stronger. The Ducati reminds me of my old British 650 in terms of its physical size and the way it delivers power and how easy it is to work on. It made me smile to myself to find that the Ducati has a dynojet kit (remember those) and that running the standard silencers put the carbs in conflict with the exhaust. Fitting the Bos carbon cans immediately liberated 10% more speed:-) Similarly a change from Champion to NGK plugs cured a minor misfire at high revs. Simple, schoolboy mechanics and quite refreshing.

The Atlas on the other hand feels more Japanese with the little 8 valve parallel twin howling away and even in this soft state of tune requiring revs else it will bog down (mind the Ducati similarly needs to be in the right gear). Where the Atlas also runs up short is the quality of the cycle parts. The Ducati benefits from being from the 90’s not the 80’s in this regard – it feels like it is looking forward to the next era in terms of suspension and frame. Again the Zane alternative addresses this whereas the Atlas feels like a cheap build blinged up with gold wheels and swinging arm. The brakes are cheap as are the plastics and instruments.

So I’m a bit smitten by the Ducati, especially as they can be found cheaply (a 750 Monster would be ideal) and seem to have a strong owners club. If I was starting out again then my guess is I’d be likely to buy a cheap Monster as my way into Italian ownership (which is how I came to own a Jota at just £1250 in 1987). Laverda unfortunately has become a defunct marque and the ever increasing prices work against attracting younger riders who someday might grow into a 3CL or an RGS. It makes me think who will want to buy all my bikes once I’m too old and need to pass on the baton…? How are we growing the next generation of Laverdisti?

Back in the garage next week I promise.

Nick 🙂

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