I’m a huge fan of the Ducati Monster, as you may know from this piece. And the pinnacle of the air-cooled Monsters was the Monster 1100.

And the best air-cooled Monster 1100 was the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO.

Ducati Monster 1100 models are more common, but the EVO is less common, and the EVO from this generation was rare as hen’s teeth.

A monster 1100 EVO
Ducati Monster 1100 Evo inspected.

I went and checked one out a couple of weeks ago. Didn’t buy it — with some regrets (it was a good deal at A$8,000 — maybe $1,000 too expensive for me to pounce on it without a second thought) — but I thought I’d extend on my piece on the Ducati Monster by writing a little more about why I love the Monster 1100 EVO so much, and why I’d get one.

I now see Monster 1100 EVO motorcycles listing for $10K+ and I kind of really do regret not picking it up!

Are you obsessed with motorcycles?

Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)

Why the Ducati Monster in general

Ducati Monster M900 - original 1993
A red Ducati Monster M900

Let’s start with the assumption you want a Ducati Monster. If you don’t, you may as well close this article down (or go read about why get a Yamaha R6).

People like me, who grew up in the nineties, grew up with the Monster as being the naked bike to get.

It was the bike that inspired the venerable Suzuki SV650 (see my buyer’s guide), a fine motorcycle that’s perfect for people who want something that does a lot of what the Monster does at a lower price point and that they won’t cry as hard about crashing at the track (it’ll be sad, for sure, but the plastics are cheaper to replace).

The Monster also re-defined what a “naked” bike could be.

Before the Monster, there were of course motorcycles without fairings. Fairings were a relatively modern innovation.

But the Monster was more of a sportbike without fairings. They have a natural forward-leaning position so that even with bars you’re in more of a crouch than you would be on a Bonneville, for example.

The Monster also had a V-twin engine. Most motorcycles other than Harley-Davidsons did not. Even if a few did, they did not have air-cooled V-twin engines.

So that’s what the Monster is in general: A naked sportbike with a lightweight v-twin engine and very little visual fuss.

Why the Monster 1100 EVO

In a nutshell: The Monster 1100 EVO is an a Ducati monster with ABS, ride modes, and traction control, Ohlins suspension, but retaining an air-cooled motor.

ABS comes standard on the Monster 1100 EVO. So while it’s sometimes called a Monster 1100 EVO ABS, I think that’s redundant.

If I had to own just one Monster forever… I’m not sure which one I’d pick. Right now, I have my eye on a few, but I’m moving garages and so trying (desperately) not to pick up additional stock, ignoring all the best deals out there!

As I described in my article on the Ducati Monster, there are a few specific characteristics that are the essentials of the Monster.

For me, the non-negotiables are: a naked design, a torquey v-twin engine, light weight for its class, and a trellis frame.

The thing is — these requirements of fundamental Monster-ness have evolved over time.

Once upon a time I’d have said “Monsters must be air-cooled”. But there are some terrific water-cooled machines, including the really well-balanced 821 on which my own Hyperstrada is based (for me, 100-120hp is my sweet spot).

Another time I’d have said “you don’t have to have a single-sided swing-arm to be a Monster”. After all, the very first Ducati Monster M900 had a double-sided swing-arm.

But when Ducatis look as good as they can with only one side on the swing-arm, why not!

So the non-negotiable characteristics of a Ducati Monster are

  • Naked design
  • Trellis frame
  • V-twin motor (I bet I’ll eat my words when they release a V4 one!)
  • Mid-high revving, usable power-band in the engine
  • Dry clutch

But the extras are

  • Single-sided swing-arm with exhaust over the wheels
  • Air-cooling only
  • Termignoni exhaust system

Those things are what make the Monster 1100 special.

The Monster 1100 EVO adds to that with ABS, traction control, and ride modes. Many of them also come with the Termignonis, as owners invest in their expensive machines.

The only strike against the EVO is that it let go of the dry clutch and replaced it with a wet clutch.

Thus, the 1100 EVO became the first large-size Ducati Monster to have a wet clutch. The next in line, the Monster 1200, made the wet clutch standard across the entire line.

There’s nothing technically wrong with a wet clutch — in fact, the vast majority of motorcycles have them. The only thing I don’t like about a wet clutch is that it’s a bit more annoying to replace (every 25-50,000 kms when you have to replace them) because you have to drain the engine of oil, and have to seal the case a bit better.

But for many, the “clatter” of a dry clutch is what makes a Ducati quintessentially a Ducati.

What’s the “EVO” about?

A few Ducati motorcycles came out with an “EVO” designation.

EVO is a trademarked term (which is why it’s capitalised… it’s how they write it). But in principle it’s shorthand for “evoluzione” which is Italian for “evolution” (if I may state the obvious).

“Evoluzione” is a reference to the fact that the engine is “evolved” slightly. It’s still a two-valved engine (as opposed to the Testastretta Evoluzione on the 848/1098 Superbikes).

It’s a bit hard to find what exactly is different about the EVO engine in the Monster 1100 Evo vs the regular Monster 1100 and Monster 1100S, but here’s what I’ve found

  • Total power output is 100hp on the 1100 EVO vs 95hp on the 1100/1100S
  • Lighter flywheel, similar to that in the 848 EVO
  • Better exhaust system
  • Redesigned inlet ports and combustion chamber shape
  • More “extreme” camshaft profile with more valve lift
  • New pistons with higher compression profile (11.3:1 vs 10.7:1 on the 1100)
  • Improved head cooling and lubrication system

Outside the engine, many of the components of the EVO have been lightened to reduce the overall weight.

As I mentioned, ABS comes standard on the EVO Monster. But it doesn’t come at the penalty of extra weight: The ABS system means that the Monster 1100 Evo ABS is the same weight as the standard Monster 1100 at 169kg dry. (It’s 1kg heavier than the 1100S, but I think 1kg is an almost unnoticeable price to pay.)

In a nutshell, the Monster 1100 EVO is my pick of the litter because it’s the last of the air-cooled monsters, but has enough technology to keep me upright.

Buying a Monster 1100 EVO today

These days (2020+), buying a Ducati Monster 1100 EVO is getting quite difficult. Prices on old air-cooled Ducati Monsters are going up, especially for those with ABS, and especially as a result of supply shortages in 2020/2021.

One possible alternative is the modern Ducati Scrambler 1100. These use the same engine base but have more advanced electronics. It’s not as high-revving, but it makes more torque down low. And with a performance exhaust and tune, you might just get closer to the same horsepower levels as the Monster 1100 of old. But you’ll also have — for better or worse — rider aids like traction control and a six-axis IMU.

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13 Comments

  1. Hey Dana,

    Let me start by saying that you’re articles are great. They are thorough, humorous, and smart. I had been looking at getting a Monster for a while, a used one that is, and had been scouting the web in hopes of finding the right one. And it did appear in the shape of 2012 Monster 1100 EVO. After reading your study on the Monster family tree and the preference on the 1100 EVO, I decided to check it out. It was love at first sight and the bike with only 3,600 sunny Florida miles and no mods, was a no-brainer. I ended up buying it and am very happy with it. It was in a big part influenced by your writing, so thanks.

    All best,

    Alex

  2. Purchased my 2012 1100EVO in Dec.2011. 20,000+miles later it’s still the most entertaining bike I’ve personally owned. Lightweight, V-twin torque output, good suspension, excellent build quality, fit and finish. It could possibly be a collectible Monster in another 10 years ? Best Air Cooled Monster to date.

  3. Great article. I bought my first M1100 EVO in 2014. Road for a few years. ‘Upgraded’ to a 1200 Monster. While it was technically a better bike it did not have the that raw Monster feel. Sold it and bought another M1100 EVO. Perfect mix of raw Monster and tech. Corners are a hoot. Torque is perfectly placed.

  4. I’ve owned my Evo for 3 years putting 10k miles on her, hugely involving ride for our majestic, twisty roads here in West of Scotland…..BUT….be aware that out of the crate the Evo has some “compromises” that need ironing out, mostly to do with all the emissions/ noise control junk , but also the suspension responds to getting some ££££s thrown at it.
    1st up, though, is get the ECU Rexer flashed, it makes the dreadful town riding much, much better, it also takes the exhaust valve and Lambdas out of the equation, it’s a £250 essential fix. After that ,junk the standard progressive shock spring , it’s way to hard and lastly invest in getting a K-tech type upgrade to the forks…..it’s now, without doubt the best ever air-cooled Monster…..ENJOY !!!

    1. Just looking at buying an 1100 EVO (2013) which has been RexXer remapped and with Lambda delete. I’m trying to understand why the previous owner would have done that? – Improved low rev fuelling / throttle response when cold or after hot starting maybe but concerned that this process can mess with emissions to fail annual UK MOT tests or new flash map may mess up Traction Control or ABS or trigger error messages….. I don’t want to buy a bike that’s been optimised for track use so if these mods are common to improve road usability, then ok… Rear shock is now Ohlin TX46 and front forks have been upgraded with Wilber progressive springs. Previous owner came down a tooth on the front sprocket too – 15 -> 14. Not clear what ride advantage that would deliver apart from increasing inter corner acceleration v top speed. Thoughts? Thx

      1. Can’t speak for the owner but yes, I presume the owner removed the lambda sensor when doing a remap because the new map didn’t take inputs from the oxygen sensor – i.e always runs in open loop. This would mean better low-end response as the bike doesn’t have to bounce in and out of closed loop mode. But it comes at the cost of fuel efficiency and possibly emissions if it’s running too rich down low (but not necessarily). Going down a tooth on the front sprocket would be sacrificing top end speed (and highway gas mileage) for mid-range thrust.

  5. I’ve begun looking for another naked bike recently. My first thought was “I’ve had two Speed Triples so let’s go for a Street Triple his time.” Then I came across an EVO for sale today. Hmm, I thought, I haven’t owned a Ducati and have always admired Monsters from afar. So now I’ve gone down a rabbit hole reading on them and found this page. Thanks for the concise information and differences between versions. I’m going to go look at it after the holidays and see if it’s in as good condition as I’m told. If it is, I’ll probably bring it back home with me.

  6. I bought a 2013 Monster 1100 EVO in May of 2020, so been riding it for 2 seasons and getting ready for the third. It’s such a fun bike to ride with just the right amount of hp. The only fault I would give it is the desmo service, coming from a Japanese bike that required very little maintenance, the desmo is a financial shocker and being in Canada the dealer network is poor, meaning I have to haul it 3 hours up the road to get it serviced. I am constantly getting comments on what a nice bike it is, and likely will not give it up anytime soon!

  7. Just bought a 2012 evo 1100 Now the amusing bit. I haven’t passed my test yet ! That’s 14 th October.
    I obviously need to respect this bike but it does have a lot of safety features. Black. Sports exhaust. Paid £5760 with 8500 miles. One owner. All keys present. Think i got a good deal. Any thoughts?
    Roll on October! 🙃
    Mark. Brighton. Uk

    1. I think that sounds great! Yes, you do need to respect it, but I’m sure you’ll be fine! If it’s your first Ducati, I’d just spend a little time in a parking lot getting used to the brakes and throttle, doing low speed stuff, basically doing the practise you need to avoid stalling in a parking lot and lane filtering with ease. Enjoy, really special machine.

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