Ten years ago, the world of modified motorcycles was met with some sad and shocking news, the Madrid-based outfit, producers of the coolest custom Ducati’s on the planet had closed their doors. Such was the impact that Radical Ducati had on the world of two-wheels, that major motorcycle print publications around the globe reported their closure. But all was not lost, as we’ve displayed on these pages many times, Pepo Rosell has gone on to do incredible things with all kinds of bikes. But in an accidental way, to mark that anniversary, he has delivered one of the most amazing and truly radical Ducati’s built to date. From the secret lab of XTR Pepo comes this literal Frankenstein’s Ducati Monster, which is also part 851, Testastretta, 999 and a whole bunch of other Bologna beauties, carefully crafted together and appropriately named ‘Tricolore’.
It is hard to imagine today, but Ducati in the early ’80s was nearly no more, until two motorcycles came along and changed the company’s fortunes forever. The first was the 851, the motorcycle that gives this XTR creation its silhouette and along with its later iterations, delivered the company the World Superbike championship in 1990, ’91 and again in ’92. On the back of that racing success, the Monster delivered the sales success that Ducati had struggled for since the ’70s and the new injection of capital literally saved the company. It is the Monster therefore that Pepo has chosen as the foundation of this bike. And to deliver the power, the company’s most successful modern motor, the one that has powered almost everything, the famed Testastretta.
“This bike is a commission from a guy who wanted to race in Classic Endurance races. The rules allowed the use of bikes from the late 80s to the early 90s and the 851 was right there. For a long time I’ve wanted to build an optimized 851 and bingo this guy asked me to make one,” Pepo explains. The rules are obviously somewhat flexible and although Mr XTR had wanted to customise an 851 for years, the idea of taking a grinder to an original was both prohibitively expensive and also would have been an act of blasphemy. Thus, the idea of a parts special was born, after all, it was how the original Monster was made in that same period.
And so there is no donor bike, it all started with the purchase of a Monster 600 carburetted frame. But they were built to be relatively cheap and not handle the horsepower Pepo planned to throw at it. So, using his decades of experience, he has customised the frame to beyond 851 spec, with important strengthening and bracing work carried out in key locations, without disturbing the simple lines. Having completed this work, Pepo then found a genuine race spec 851 aluminium subframe and customised it to suit the Monster’s steel trellis main frame. Then it was into the parts bin again, to find and customise a Monster swingarm to work with the package.
To sort out the front suspension, Pepo then started to piece things together using a set of Ducati Monster 900 triple clamps and stuffed them full of rebuilt ST3 forks, with his own customised clip-on bars and an ST3 front wheel. At the rear end, a custom lightweight linkage and lightened rocker support a YSS shock that was built especially for the bike.
More raiding of the Ducati back catalogue scored a host of Brembo brake components too, that work with Discacciati rotors, Frentubo lines, EBC pads and radial master cylinders taken from a 1098. Then the parts keep coming, with Ducabike rear sets, a 1098 front fender and a custom-made carbon XTR rear unit, which hugs an ST3 wheel and both ends get the best rubber from Continental.
Slapped in the middle of this marvellous creation is the engine from an S4RS, the famed Testastretta, now built to 999 Coppa Bassa specs. Although being Pepo, it goes even further than that, with a fully blueprinted bottom end, slipper-style clutch, TSS lightweight alloy flywheel, a custom-made XTR airbox and 999 superbike injector body that is fed by an external Walbro fuel pump. Those beautiful carbon mufflers are Sil-Motor Roche replicas that are held on tight with custom mounts and run back to the famous narrow heads via a full custom exhaust, built for this crazy contraption.
To get such a wild package to run and run well, Pepo had to get creative with the wiring, and the loom is largely taken from a 998. There is then a pair of ECUs, one that is fully mapped to run the engine to its maximum potential, and another to take care of the more basic functions like lighting and engine fans, which feeds into an Aviacomposity dash.
Now, after all of that incredible work, Pepo could begin to make the bike look like an 851. With his love of endurance racing, he of course had to make an aluminium support, that not only holds the 851 front fairing but uses a Cagiva Mito Lawson replica headlight to get the look spot on. To get the tank how he wanted it, it just had to be an XTR original glass fibre item, with the dry brake filler setup and clear fuel indicator.
The tail section is then from the 851’s updated cousin, the 888, with race glass used to get the solo seat look just right and a set of XTR custom seat pads to finish things off. The paintwork was an almighty job and after the full design had been laid out in virtual form it was over to Artenruta who knocked it out of the park, with race-inspired 851 Tricolore colours and a full suite of custom painted logos and graphics.
Not content, the frame couldn’t be left in standard form, so a custom chrome finish has been applied in powder coat. The finished product is a sensation, a functioning race rocket that weighs just 165kg, packs a powerful superbike punch and serves as a tribute to an era when Cagiva management helped to guide the Ducati brand back to the top. A radical bike only Pepo Rosell could build.
[ XTR Pepo | Photography by Sergio Cardeña ]