QUICK FANG: Ducati MH900e – Lust in Translation

27 August 2013
Where were you when the world welcomed the New Millennium? Were you hiding in the cupboard with a torch, tinned rations and your pennies ready for ‘The Millennium Bug’ or were you dancing for 15 hours straight?
While most of the world was feeling silly, a select few sacrificed the biggest party in the history of humanity and excitedly sat on the edge of their chairs, glued to their computer screens in the middle of the night. While that mightn’t sound, ahem, unusual, the on-screen action was nonetheless very, very erotic.
Ducati was selling its first ‘retro bike’ to the world – the highly anticipated MH900e – and all 1000 examples were exclusively available via the Italian maker’s website for 15,000 euros, or $A26,000. All were sold in a matter of hours, outraging many empty-handed Ducatisti, so the company built another 1000 as soon as it could.
Each features a build number plaque on the tank and comes with a boxed plaque of authenticity for proud display in ‘pool rooms’.
Designed by Pierre Terblanche, the MH900e was an ‘Evoluzione’ of Ducati’s Mike Hailwood Replica (MHR) of the early 1980s, a bike that celebrated the British racer’s successful career.
And what a beautiful bike the MH900e is with its jaw-dropping presence and distinctive, V-twin aural delight, all backed by an air of exclusivity. You don’t need to know a damn thing about bikes to know this is something special.
It’s hard enough typing with two hands about its styling: the single-sided swingarm, the integrated half fairing and tank, the classic pressure-gauge-like tacho and those exhaust pipes. Oh, those pipes.
This is a Ducati. This is a sportsbike. Comfortable it is not. Triceps will burn, wrists will be heavy and leg muscles you didn’t even realise you had will ache from tapping the steeply placed gear lever. But none of this matters compared with the overbearing pain you’ll endure from smiling so hard. At least you’ll get regular relief from stopping at every servo, thanks to its woefully small, 8.5lt tank.
Free from gridlock and weaving through the drizzled, mountain blacktop, everything on the MH900e comes together: its meaty mid-range, usable, linear power delivery, responsive steering, balance, agility and strong, Brembo brakes. Still, it’s far from a cutting-edge sportsbike but, then, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, it oozes good old-fashioned character.
Fact is, only 70 examples were sent here and most have been squirrelled away to the pool rooms of a lucky few.