Shocking as it may sound, it’s nearly a quarter of a century since the mould-breaking Ducati M900 Monster and Triumph Speed Triple 900 were launched at the end of 1993 to go on sale the following year. Their immediate success, plus the host of imitators they inspired, effectively led to the creation of a whole new hooligan class – nakeds – which today remains one of motorcycling’s most popular and competitive.
Yet throughout it all, the big Monster and Speedie, through innumerable regenerations and re-inventions, have managed to remain the definitive examples of the breed – and, it’s important to note, quite different from super-nakeds such as BMW’s S1000R or Aprilia’s Tuono which are effectively unfaired superbikes.
Furthermore, their enduring popularity means they’ve also become hugely important to their parent companies. The original Monster and its spinoffs, after all, famously saved Ducati from collapse in the mid-’90s. The Speed Triple, meanwhile, has not only always been one of Triumph’s best sellers, but it also set the Hinckley marque on a whole new charismatic path. All of which makes these latest, wholly updated versions of each hugely significant, and raises some obvious questions.
Does Ducati’s virtually all new 1200 Monster have what it takes to both live up to its forebears AND continue its reign as the definitive Italian naked? And how does it compare to that enduring, naked yardstick, the updated-last-year Triumph Speed Triple? We took the top spec versions of each, the new Monster 1200S and the Speed Triple R, on a side-by-side test through sunny(ish) Sicily to find out… Read the full test in the February 1 issue of MCN.
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