Custom Ducati Monster From Japan Is All About NCR Vibes and TT Heritage

10 months, 2 weeks ago - 31 August 2023, autoevolution
Custom Ducati Monster From Japan Is All About NCR Vibes and TT Heritage
Mike Hailwood's comeback at the 1978 Isle of Man TT will forever be remembered as one of the most significant moments in Ducati’s racing history.

The Italian marque paid tribute to this achievement with a couple of different production models over the years – first, the MHR900, and then the limited-edition MH900e which rolled around at the dawn of the millennium.

On the other hand, custom bike builders have often created their own tributes to the NCR-built Ducati race bike ridden by Hailwood on that fateful day. Thankfully, there is no shortage of aftermarket solutions to help them do just that, mostly in the form of replica body kits emulating the NCR look to varying degrees. In 2022, the guys over at Gull Craft in Japan decided to go ahead and develop their own.

Specializing primarily in bodywork fabrication with fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP), Gull Craft is the brainchild of one Kengo Sakuba and his younger brother. The firm they co-founded has been in operation ever since 1990 – you know, back when the Soviet Union and cassette tapes were still a thing. Needless to say, the Sakuba brothers know a thing or two about their trade, and this might just be the understatement of the year!

The bike you’re seeing here acted as a test bed for their NCR-inspired body kit, but it also comes with a number of other cool touches we can’t get enough of. Prior to Gull Craft’s experimental overhaul, it had been a stock Ducati Monster 900 from the first generation, and that’s a pretty legendary model in its own right.

Penned by Miguel Galluzzi, the Monster made its debut at the Cologne Motor Show of 1992, sporting Fabio Taglioni’s iconic trellis frame. Not only would it go on to make the naked bike (or streetfighter, if you like) genre mainstream, but its commercial success quite literally saved Ducati from financial peril. The Monster’s story has been told in detail many times, though, so let’s focus on Gull Craft’s project.

As Kengo and his brother would later turn the FRP bodywork into off-the-shelf parts available to customers, ease of installation was a must. With this in mind, they refrained from making any structural changes to the frame, even going as far as keeping the rear section completely unaltered. It took a great deal of ingenuity to make the NCR-style garments fit, but the Japanese experts pulled it off seamlessly.

The central component of their custom attire is a striking fuel tank, whose shape leaves no room for doubt regarding the inspiration behind it. Looking southward, you will notice a gorgeous tail unit supported by aluminum brackets, which enable it to sit nice and level without the need for any subframe mods.

A plain solo saddle rests atop the tail, and there’s also a full suite of flush-mounted LED lighting goodies out back. Gull Craft fitted a bare-bones license plate holder, too, then they proceeded to tackle the motorcycle’s front end. After taking precise measurements, Kengo came up with a delicious half-fairing and had it secured in place by way of bespoke mounting hardware.

Rounding out the front end is a vintage-looking headlamp, along with a pair of tiny LED turn signals like those found at the rear. Moreover, the motorcycle’s cockpit is a piece of artwork in and of itself, clearly drawing influence from Ducati’s MH900e. A Motogadget Chronoclassic tachometer comprises the only instrumentation, centrally mounted inside a drilled aluminum bracket.

The rev-counter is flanked by CNC-machined fluid reservoirs and aftermarket clip-ons, while a single rear-view mirror is present on the right-hand side. Gull Craft added Ducati Performance rearsets to complete the ergonomic package and appropriately complement the clip-on handlebars. As you’ve probably figured, their makeover only addresses the cosmetic side of things.

All the running gear and engine internals are therefore stock, but the Monster’s L-twin powerhouse did receive some cool accessories on the outside. Among these items are open clutch and front sprocket covers, with drilled details mimicking what we saw in the cockpit. The timing belts were left mostly exposed for visual effect, and the exhaust system received a curvy pair of aftermarket silencers.

By the looks of it, the original front fender is still present, but it’s been trimmed down and embellished with the same drilled detailing we mentioned earlier on. Finally, we arrive at the motorcycle’s color scheme, which utilizes a deep red hue on several key components. These include the trellis frame, swingarm, and every single bodywork item worn by this machine.

Silver accents and thin gold pinstripes adorn the fuel tank and tail, while the former is also home to retro Ducati and NCR graphics. The factory three-spoke wheels have been painted gold, and Gull Craft finished things off with plenty of metal polishing to really drive the point home. Well, it’s safe to say the Sakuba brothers worked wonders here.