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New Motorcycle/Review

Buell X1 Lightning vs Ducati Monster 900

Alexis Bachofen

You see the bike of your dreams pass you by on the opposite side of the road or parked on the street, your mind goes into overdrive, all you can think about it owning that dream machine. Suddenly all the money you've been saving for the past 12 months has a purpose, an outlet you can't wait to spend it on.

There comes a time in all our lives when we need to make a decision. Choosing which motorcycle to buy is one of those decisions that we all debate over for days, weeks sometimes even months. We each have our own favourites and these days there are more great reliable bikes to choose from than ice cream flavours at the local supermarket. If retro styled Muscle Bikes are your thing, you've got around $15-18k to spend and your looking for an Italian or American beast the choice is narrowed down slightly. But which to buy a Ducati 900 Monster or Buell X1 Lightning?

Fortunately for me I'm in the somewhat unique position to have been able to ride both bikes for a week. Not that that made a potential purchase any easier! To cut to the chase I like them both and whilst they are similar they do offer riders many differences. Bare facts: The Buell is faster, tougher looking and certain to put a smile on your face - The Ducati offers sleeker Italian styling, smoother handling and superior braking. Negatives: The Buell has a stiff suspension set-up that may not appeal to novice riders whilst the Ducati needs a little more horsepower installed.

The Buell X1 lightning costs $18,550 whilst the Ducati Monster goes for $15,300. Both have Fuel Injection allowing immediate throttle response and ample power. They are both extremely comfortable for both rider and pillion, offering a very stable and smooth ride. The Buell, with it's larger 1200cc engine has more vibration built in that upon start-up sometimes makes you wonder if it's going to collapse apart around you. They are noisy, guaranteed to wake the neighbours each morning and send local pets running for cover.

The Buell has a smoother gearbox than the Ducati, then again it does make you wonder sometimes if you've actually changed gear. On the open road they are both an absolute delight to ride. The Buell is that little bit faster and will often surprise sportsbike riders through the hills, whereas the Ducati is smoother and a great confidence builder for the slightly less experienced rider.

Value for money you're getting a lot for your dollar. Both bikes have become very reliable machines, with any bugs ironed out through countless upgrades over the years. The Monster is due a makeover and shall soon be available with a 916 engine - called the Monster 900S4 it will be pumping out 101bhp or 74kw @ 8,750rpm.

My personal advise for anyone thinking of buying either bike is to test both and see which you enjoy more. It's a personal thing that may come down to the smallest detail, the weight or the torque delivery. All in all there's very little in it, I'd have one of each but that won't be until I win the lottery, until then I'll keep on dreaming.


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