My chance to ride the pre-production prototype MH900e stamped with number 0000/2000 on the silver plaque atop the fuel tank shroud enveloping a tiny 8.5 litre plastic fuel tank (this was not a bike for long journeys!) came on a freezing cold day in January 2001 with the mercury barely registering above zero, though it did provide me with some welcome surprises. Bottom line first: this was a far more capable road bike than I and probably most other people ever dreamed it would be.
Certainly, the proportions of the MH900e were quite unlike the long, relatively low Hailwood/NCR TT-winner’s, with its rangy riding position and lengthy wheelbase. At 1415mm on the MH, this was a far cry from the original bike’s 1500mm stride, and it also delivered a more close-coupled riding position than the older bikes’ stretched out stance. Also, because of its jacked-up rear end, there was a fair bit more weight on your wrists and shoulders than on the older V-twins. The abbreviated seat with the twin exhausts protruding rearwards was a standout feature, and so too was the pointy-nosed half-fairing blending with the fuel tank, shaped to recall the one-piece seat/tank unit of Hailwood's TT-winner, surmounted by the '70s-style Ducati logo. The intricately shaped single-sided tubular steel monobraccia swingarm was a true work of art, a clever reinterpretation of a modern day Ducati trademark in the materials of the past. For many people this represented the bike's single most admirable component - a masterpiece of tube-bending and metalwork, The MH900e's Marchesini wheels were unique to that model.
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