The last time I was in a country for a while I faced a few difficult motorcycle buying choices.

This time it's no different. Locked in quarantine after arriving on a plane in a small apartment until I'm definitely COVID-free, I am forced to spend my time window-shopping for the ultimate motorcycle.

Which of the following do I get? Please tell me.

UPDATE: Surprise addition β€” I bought a 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada for A$5,900 from Brisbane Motorcycles. It needs a kit to make the clutch less grabby β€” but otherwise, I'm in love.

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The Gorgeous Fixer-Upper: 2006 Ducati Monster S2R800

Ducati Monster S2R800 with Arrow exhaust

I always start with Ducati Monsters. It's the motorcycle I miss most in the world.

But they're unreliable and need a lot of servicing β€” that's why I sold it. It worked for a brief period, so it had to go!

This motorcycle is listed for A$5,000 and I probably could get it for as little as A$4,500. It's fairly standard except for

  • Arrow pipes (looks like it still has the cat)
  • Bar-end mirrors
  • ... and I think that's it. Not even a tail tidy or different turn signals.

It has 54K kms (33K miles). The current owner says he's an aircraft mechanic, but says that the valves do need servicing.

What I really like about the S2R800 is that it's a basic motorcycle. No complicated electronics (other than fuel injection) and easy enough to service myself.

The best part about this one is that aesthetically, it's perfect! So all I'd need to do is the valve job, which would keep me occupied at home and off the streets anyway.

It's well-priced. I think I'd get it for $4K, factoring in that it needs a valve job.

The Well-Priced Hoon β€” 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 S

 Black Ducati Monster 1100S with Termignoni exhaust
Ducati Monster 1100S

This bike is from a dealer at A$7K with 45K kms (30K miles) on the odometer. It's well-priced, just a decent deal from a dealer.

It comes with a Termignoni exhaust system, which adds about $2K in value. For me, I'd almost never buy a Ducati unless it came with an aftermarket exhaust.

The 1100S is well-known for being one of the lightest Monsters out there β€” just 170 kg (370 lbs) dry! That's lighter than a modern middleweight like an SV650.

Part of the reason the Monster 1100 so light is that, like the S2R800 above, this is a bare-bones motorcycle. No rider aids, no ABS, nothing β€” just you, 95hp, and the open road.

What I like about the 1100 is that it's a torquey motorcycle that isn't overpowered like later, higher-revving Ducati Monsters with 100+ hp. It'll do wheelies and have a lot of fun without making you feel like it's begging to go 150 km/h.

The other reason I like Monsters is I can sell them easily. I just have to put an ad up on my page that gets 100 views a day and it'll move (if I want it to).

The downside? The Monster 1100 is a little hard to handle in traffic. It needs to be kept burbling. It gets hot, too. So that'd make it a bit frustrating as a daily driver.

Also, because I'd be buying it from a dealer I'd have nothing to do. Working on a motorcycle is part of the fun, which moves this to lower priority.

The Ultimate Classic Bargain β€” 2006 Ducati GT1000

Ducati SportClassic GT1000 (not the actual photo)

The GT1000 is the best everyday bike from the Ducati SportClassic line. They typically sell for $15,000 or more. But this one is priced at $9,000... but with 69,000 kms (about 45,000 miles, do your own math goddamn it!) on the clock.

It is otherwise in very good condition. It does look like it has been bumped on the left hand side exhaust, but that's it.

This is a CLASSIC motorcycle. The prices for them just keeps going up. Usually for the lower-mileage models, though. That's the risk β€” this one is getting up there in miles. Anything above 80,000 and people will likely turn the other way rather than buy it second-hand.

And that's the downside to this. I'd feel bad about riding it long distances, knowing I'm putting miles on, taking it closer to the next valve service and possible death.

Which is why I think of having something "sensible"...

The Sensible, Safe Hoon Machine β€” 2016 Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha XSR900 - a sensible choice.

This Yamaha XSR900 is a sensible choice amidst a bunch of ridiculous choices.

This is priced $10,500 from a dealer with less than 20,000 kms on the odometer (about 58,000 feet. Who cares about miles)

It does an easy 110+hp from its in-line triple engine. It comes with a custom exhaust, a bunch of options (like that cool little cowl), and it really screams!

I've ridden an MT-09, which has a very similar engine but just doesn't look as cool. It was lightweight, fast, and very fun to ride.

What's appealing about the XSR900 is that it's a very modern motorcycle with a lot of safety features. It comes with ABS, traction control, and electronics that are meant to help you avoid death.

It's reliable as hell, very easy to ride (doesn't always need to be revved), and I'll never worry about it breaking or the exorbitant service costs. (And on the downside, not having much to do to service it disconnects me from the machine a bit.)

I've spent time with a few motorcycles in this class (multi-cylinder upright standards), and really enjoy how comfortable they are to ride.

The thing I don't like so much about the XSR900 is it's... a little boring. It's a Yamaha, after all. I don't think this is a "classic" that will appreciate over time, for example.

The other thing is that they're frankly a bit too fast. This engine was designed for going over 120km/h. I'd prefer an XSR700 β€” but those are impossible to come by in Australia.

Still, a motorcycle should stop your heart when you look at it β€” so this isn't it.

The Gentleman's Monster β€” 2013 Triumph Scrambler

2013 Triumph Scrambler - fuel injection, retro looks

I've had a Triumph Scrambler before (a 2014 one I rebuilt from a salvage auction), and I loved it. I sold it because I had to leave America.

Man, I miss that Triumph Scrambler so much. It was a beast. I've always thought I'd get another one. Is now the time?

The Scrambler has a measly 55 hp but it absolutely ROARS. For some reason, it didn't feel slow unless you tried to rev it past 7,000 rpm. So it wasn't frustrating, but also never felt like it'd kill me β€” even though it comes with no electronics.

What I like about Scramblers is that they're a very easy format of motorcycle to repair. They're a parallel twin that's naked. I can get at every component. And I've worked on them before so they're not scary.

Plus, the Scrambler looks the business.

The one I'm looking at is a 2013, black, EFI, with 14K kilometres on the odometer (that's less than 10K miles), an aftermarket exhaust, for only $7,950.

This is priced probably $2-4,000 less than what it could sell for again today. So β€” may be a good buy.

Actually, I need to get over there and look at it pronto...

The Practical Non-Classic β€” 2014 Ducati Monster 821 Dark

2014 Ducati Monster 821 Dark (not actual pic, the ad's pics are terrible)

The 2014 Monster is more expensive at $10,000. That's a fair price that I'd pay, especially at just 16,000 kms (10,000 miles)

But you get MUCH more for the money.

This one has been always serviced and comes with lots of aftermarket parts, including a full Termignoni exhaust system that has an appropriate dyno map, cleaner indicators, a tail tidy, steering damper.

It comes with a rear wheel stand and all original parts, too.

This Monster makes 115hp. It's FAST. People reviewing this motorcycle say it's so powerful it takes you to illegal speeds much too quickly β€” it's just easy to do 130 km/h on it without thinking about it.

Ducati Monster 821 for sale
Another Monster 821 listed with Termignoni exhaust and a bunch of add-ons for $10,500

On the other hand, the Monster 821 comes with a lot of safety options including the full Ducati Traction Control package (including ride modes) plus of course ABS.

The 821 is a great motorcycle, but it is such a modern machine that it doesn't scream "classic" the way that many other older ones do β€”Β or indeed, the way many modern ones do, either.

Which one should I get... all of them?

At this stage I'm seriously considering getting two of these β€”Β maybe the oldest Ducati Monster S2R800, and the Scrambler. I'll work on the Monster and ride the Scrambler.

Life is short. Let's see if they'll take an offer.