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Honda VT250 vs. Ducati Monster 400

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Francisco Perez-Smith, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. Hi all :)

    I've been browsing your forums for the last few weeks, and I've been really impressed by the wealth of knowledge and experience here. You're definitely the people to help me out.

    I have been dirtbiking for 3 years now, and have decided to buy my first street bike. I've narrowed my choices between the "Honda VT250 Spada" and the "Ducati Monster 400".

    While raw power and price aren't really issues, I do care about:
    - reliability
    - ease of maintenance / availability of parts
    - ease of riding / height (I am 165cm and 60kg)

    The riding will be just to work (on nice, dry days), and for mountain roads on the weekend.

    I think that the Ducati's the nicer option, but if you guys think (from your experiences) that I'll drop it at every red light, the Spada might be the better option.

  2. Although I love Italian bikes I would have to conceed that at least anecdotally the Honda is more reliable and am certain that the parts are more widely available for the Honda. For that reason I would probably lean towards the spada.

    In the end though if the Duc is really what you have your heart set on don't let anyone talk you out of it. I've often been told that Italian bikes are unreliable, costly to service poser bikes etc but I've had 3 Italian bikes without any of these issues and jap bikes that have left me stranded.

    Best of luck - let us know what you end up getting
  3. Buy either second hand and it won't matter if you drop it. Put oggy nobs on anyway, just in case. Just make sure it is mechanically sound. I subscibe to the idea that a beginner should buy a Piece Of Shit for their first bike, with the understanding that it will get dropped or crashed, so that there is no emotional attachment and limited financial risk.

    The VTR 250 is incredibly easy to ride, and is therefore a good learner's bike. But any Ducati is still a Ducati, so go for that if you want. Just don't spend a lot of time searching for a pristine one, and then drop it.

    While moderm Ducatis are just as cost effective, or cheaper than many Hondas to maintain, older Ducatis can cost more to maintain than newer VTRs, and that is what you will be looking at if you limit your choice to the above twp bikes.

    If you do decide on a Ducati, get a copy of the manual or talk to a service provider and find out what to look out for on the model you pick. Also search and ask on the Ducati specific forums, as owners will tell you more than non-owners or dealers.

    BTW, isn't the Monster 600, or a version of it, on the LAMS list. If so, why not choose one of those?

    PS: You will have to relearn to ride when you move from dirt bikes to road bikes. I did. The riding is almost completely different, and while dirt skills can sometimes help you in a bad situation, mostly they hinder you, or just hold you back from learning to ride a road bike properly.

    PPS: Fill in your location in your Forum Profile. You will get more help from "locals".
  4. Thanks Roderick and Robbie, that was exactly what I needed to know.

    The Spada I had my eye on was the older VT250 model (as opposed to VTR); as these are 20+ years old, I was afraid of reliability issues.

    As for the Ducati Monster, I have chosen the 400 as I am a fan of the lighter, shorter bikes (because of my small frame); although a LAMS approved 600 does sounds very appealing!

    I think I have unconsciously set my heart on the Ducati, although I am fighting for an great reason to buy the Honda instead. Certainly Roderick, your suggestion that a beginner should by a Piece of Shit bike fits this category.

    I will continue to think while I save the money (the tax-man is beating me with a stick) and let you know what I decide on!

    In the meantime, I'll fill out my forum profile.


    p.s. "Oggy kobs"? I had no idea these existed! I am totally gonna buy some.
  5. Spada is a good bet but an even better option is the vtr 250.
    Your pretty much guaranteed to have no reliability issues with the vtr's, you can thrash them as hard as you want and they just want more, and they are really forgiving and easy (+fun) to ride.
    Good resale value to.

    My 2c is go for a vtr250 (as they look exactly like the monster you like accept are smaller which will probably suite you). Servicing will be cheaper and the bike will be in better nick and won't be a grey import.

    Good luck and enjoy what you end up with, as someone said before at the end of the day just go with your heart :).
  6. get a red Spada or VTR250

    Ducati looks with reliability + parts
  7. Have to agree with the majority here. A VTR is a great bike , excellent in corners ,very user friendly and confidence inspiring for new riders. Light , good saddle height as well.
    An after market pipe will give you the v-twin sound you want , with cheaper parts.

    cheers michael
  8. Get a vtr. The 400 ducs are pretty horrible to ride anyway. All the downsides (older model import, hard/expensive to get parts) with none of the ducati upside (performace in any dept). Especially as you said budget and reliability are concerns go vtr. Theyre great bikes.
  9. I was given a VTR 250 as a load bike while mine was serviced recently. I have to admit, if I was just commuting daily then I would consider getting one of these bikes just for the commute.

    Mine is a bit of hard work in stop-go peak gour traffic, with a heavy clutch (which the 400 may also have) and very wide handlbars. It also puts off horendous heat when stopped in traffic on 35+°C days. I suspect the VTR would be better on hot days, since is it water cooled and runs cooler.

    Get the VTR, then get a Ducati later on. The new Monster 796 has quite a low seat, and goes really well I hear!

    PS: I automatically read VTR instead of VT250. I strongly recommend against an old VT250 SPADA, particularly if it is a grey import.
  10. Looking at your dirt bike experience, have you maybe considered a supermotard instead? A Suzuki DR400sm could suit your requirements.

    I have not ridden the Suzuki but have heard rave reviews of it. My bike is Husky SMR 510 which is a bit more powerful but I have no issues riding it eventhough I had never ridden motorbikes before.

    Best thing is you can drop it and it probably have zero damage. Fast, nimble, great for a commuter, the Suzuki, not the Husky.
  11. I've ridden both, got to say I'd go the VT250, or, even better, if you can the VTR250.
  12. A VTR can be had very cheaply now.
  13. A strange selection you've chosen, if I might say so! I own a Spada...
    If by "ease of maintenance" you mean you'll be doing services yourself, you should know this: To get at the front spark plug on the Spada you need to almost remove the radiator, and even then it's a REAL pain in the behind! They were heavily over-engineered by Honda and as such have been super-reliable, but they are 22 years old now and to be honest, about at the end of their service life. Especially considering they're a "learner's" bike...
    I love mine, but I really recommend the VTR as others have rightly suggested.
  14. Thank you all for your feedback :) I really appreciate it!

    I am leaning towards buying the Honda now and the Ducati later.
    But I'm unsure about a few details:
    - what are the differences between the VT250 spada and the VTR?
    - I know that the Monster 400 is about 30kg heavier; is it's ease of use comparable to the VT/VTR?

    Kelvinc - thanks for the suggestion for the supermotard; they do look like a lot of fun, but I'd like to separate the use of my road and dirt bikes (my cheap chinese dirtbikes have lots of life in them yet!)
  15. both Honda
    VT250 = old model
    VTR250 = current model

    test ride them both and see? at speed don't think 30kg is going to matter, but for slow speed manouvering, test em yourself
  16. VT has slightly more power, a six speed gearbox, and and aluminium frame
    VTR is newer, slower, 5 speed box and a stainless steel trellis frame.

    It's basically a question of age at this point.

    And yeah i've had a VTR250, they are great bikes, but i would not hesitate for a Spada.
  17. I know I've already given my 2c worth but I have some spare change.

    Although the VT/VTR seems to be getting the big thumbs up don't just rule out the Duc (or any other bike) that may fit some/all of your criteria. I made a beige choice once (GS500) and although a top bike I was glad I didn't take advice on my subsequent one (Moto Guzzi Breva 750) It was simply just a better fit all round for me and a test ride melted away any concerns raised by others. Just because a bike is better choice for most doesn't always mean it will be for you.
  18. Good point! I think I should test-ride both of them and see which one feels 'right-er'. It's good to know from the feedback here that I can't really go wrong :)

    Thank you everybody!
  19. Yeah, SPADA was 40-odd horsies while the VTR250 is 34-ish. SPADA's peak power comes in at 14,000ish while VTR250 tops out at 10,500rpm.

    I would imagine that the VTR250's been detuned to have a stronger low end and midrange, less revvy, but I've got no evidence to back me up.

    I learned to ride on the VTR250 myself. I'm probably the only person in the universe who doesn't think the VTR250 needs a 6th gear, and prefers the reduced weight and reduced rotating mass of a 5-speed gearbox on such a light bike.

    Edit: And yeah, ultimately testriding is the best way to go. :)