Playing the angles: an angry custom Ducati Monster 600
A few years It used to be that a cafe racer was usually a classic bike, modified with sleeker bodywork, a tuned engine and a chunky solo seat. If you had a mental picture, it was most likely a 1970s Honda CB or an 1980s BMW.
But while mainstream factories dress up their bikes with fairings and clips, many builders are moving on and ditching the classic vibe. They are moving to more modern machines and blurring the lines of what a cafe racer should be.
This smooth Ducati Monster 600 from England typifies the change. The café racer spirit is still there, but the retro aspect is toned down.
Called “Ghost”, this machine comes from Manchester-based builder Antony Ruggiero, a man who is comfortable with a grinder in one hand and an iPad in the other. A designer by trade, he runs For The Bold, a workshop with a top YouTube channel showcasing his building process.
Antony’s decision to work on a monster came from a desire to challenge himself.
“My YouTube channel was doing well and I had just finished a build for the Prostate Cancer Foundation,” he says. “But my last four projects were what I would call ‘simple’ builds. A bit of frame mod, tank and seat change, and clips. I wanted to push myself further than I had done before.
Like us, Antony is also fascinated by the changing definition of what a cafe racer should be. He decided to modify his own 1994 Monster 600, turning it into “a retro but modern version” of a cafe.
He also wanted to test the limits of classic style elements – and techniques such as clay modeling – by incorporating modern ideas and materials.
This meant an injection of carbon fiber, a gravitation towards angular lines and a neutral color scheme. And a spotlight shone on the iconic trellis frame.
“I started making the foam shapes, following a 2D sketch on my iPad, before molding the rest in clay,” Antony tells us. “I’ve always been in awe of the method used by traditional car designers. And I find that I can bring ideas to life better when I can shape them with my hands.
Antony used a split mold to make fiberglass prototypes of the angular body. Once all went well, the final casts were made using ultra-lightweight carbon fiber. “Achieving symmetry was tricky – I was determined to do it by eye.”
The wheels required a bit more conventional measurement. Antony used Yamaha XS650 hubs from Dime City Cycles and matched them to custom drilled Excel rims. The tires are Avon Trailriders, a 90 percent on-road and 10 percent off-road compound chosen for an aggressive look.
Rebuilt forks are anodized black, and custom spacers line the wheels at both ends. Antony also made custom brackets to fit the rear brake and a custom sprocket that pairs the XS650 hub with the Monster’s 520 front sprocket and chain.
There is a lot of 3D design on this machine. The printed plastic parts include the fairing vents, some supports and the lower part of the body; 3D files were also used to CNC cut aluminum for the tail unit, cam belt covers, a triple tree and the tank strap.
Antony shortened the rear end of the frame to tighten the side view, but he lengthened the tank length by four inches, creating a sportier riding position. The new reservoir sits about three inches lower than the stock item and hugs the air cleaner closer.
Directly behind is the custom seat, upholstered in black Alcantara with orange stitching to complement the bright color of the trellis frame. Hidden below is a TFX monoshock, with an external reservoir mounted discreetly to the frame.
The unusual exhaust system is from the Italian manufacturer QD. Called the Ex-Box, it conceals multiple acoustic chambers tuned to limit decibels without impeding gas flow and is tuned low to avoid cluttering the overall lines.
With new controls, a Domino throttle and compact LED indicators all around, this Monster 600 is now ready to hit the road.
It’s hard to get angles to look good on a bike, and many attempts are hit or miss or too “busy”. But Antony has what it takes here, with excellent visual balance and an understated paint job that lets the frame do the talking.
If this is a glimpse into the future of cafe racers, we’re all for it.
For bold industries | Instagram | Photograph by Tom Law, taken at THG Studios