EB616 - 2012 Ducati Monster 659
Author: Ellaspede Date Posted:30 July 2019
A ‘made for Australia only’ model, the Ducati Monster 659 ABS is just a 696 Monster that's been restricted for the local LAMS (Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme) market. Despite the expensive price tag for a bike in this category, we found the 659 was definitely worthy of a bit more ‘dosh’ when looking for a custom donor.
When launched in 2011 the Ducati 659 was one of the top 3 selling learner approved bikes in Australia. It seems that the lofty price wasn’t deterring new or younger riders from wanting a bike that clearly wasn’t built to a budget like many of the other LAMS offerings. Owner Andrew was in the same boat, so the 659 was an ideal bike for someone on a restricted licence who was looking for unrestricted quality and Italian appeal.
It just so happens that Andrew’s 2012 model was also a Valentino Rossi special addition adorned with his signature fluro yellow 46 number. For a moment the signature Rossi livery was considered, but with Valentino going back to Yamaha in 2013 and the affordable abundance of 659 Rossi panels popping up online it was decided to keep the colours classic Ducati for this custom build.
Although the 659 ticked most boxes for Andrew, it lacked a little of the ‘hyper aggressive’ style that the bigger Monsters and Panigale range were renowned for. The suspension, brakes and handling were already inline with his expectations, but it was the aggressive aesthetic and sound that was left wanting.
Luckily a key to kicking off the project was finding the Paolo ‘Tex’ Design front fairing and bellypan from Italy. With any custom project there are always hurdles and the Tex Design panels were only designed to fit the older and larger Monster models. Despite this, we decided to press on, ordering the panels and getting the bike in to begin the transformation.
Once the bike and new panels were in the shop it was evident how far off fitting it was. All the panels were trimmed and massaged to fit the 659, with mounts modified or made in most instances. A QD Ex-Box exhaust was sourced to match the bellypan profile, but required pipework to match it up with this model. Finalising the panel work was some adjustment of the stock rear cowl to suit.
Continuing the ‘aggressive’ transformation, the top mount handlebars were binned in favour of Woodcraft clip ons. More trimming of the front cowl was required to fit these given it was originally designed to suit the Monster top mount bars, but it was really worthwhile in terms of riding position and overall aesthetic once the work was done.
The 659 has a pretty neat factory gauge, so it was kept and remounted tight and low on a custom bracket. While Rizoma indicators made their way on front and rear to replace the large factory items. A tail tidy out the back keeps the rear end clear of clutter, mounting only the essentials nice and tight under the stock rear light. Under slung bar end mirrors now match the ‘angled forward’ build aesthetic.
With no pillion plans for this bike the one piece rider and passenger peg mounts were cut down and finished in a frame matching powder coat. All the other fairing brackets, custom mounts and some stock parts were also coated to achieve a fresh factory look.
All the panels and pieces were now falling into place. It was time to lay some paint layers that would highlight this bike's Italian heritage and ensure it stands out from the crowd should any other 659 owners cross Andrew’s path.
A classic red and white was the obvious choice, but we wanted to change it up a little and get it ‘leaning forward’ to match the angled intent of the 659’s new bodywork. A classic Ducati logo was painted on the tank, with a Ducati Corse racing logo on the front guard, Italian ‘flag’ stripes wrapping the trellis frame on each side and bold logo letters wrap around the inside of each wheel.
In stock form the Ducati Monster 659 is a great bike (‘apparently’ it’s pretty easy to uncork some extra power via the injector body throttle stopper too). But great bikes can always be improved, especially when you want to make it a little more aggressive then the factory intended for a learner approved ride.
Make no mistake, we would happily ride one of these things with an ‘open’ licence. They tick plenty of boxes and have enough power to get up and go when you feel like channelling some 2011-2012 Rossi vibes. Now though, Andrew’s custom is evidence that sometimes an aggressive Italian ride is only a few mods away, no matter what licence you’re on.
Albums we listened to during the build of this bike:
|1. Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction||2. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow)||3. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman|
|Photos by AJ Moller Photography|
Ducati customBy: Jeff de Witte on 31 July 2019Excellent job guys. Love the paint work.
Thanks Jeff! We love how it turned out.