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A drop of rain fell on my face as I was gazing at the lush green hills that surrounded the lake. The thought of finding a shelter didn’t hit me; after all, this was my first spell of rain after a long, scorching, humid summer. Monsoon — the
season of romance was finally here. But was I the only one who didn’t care if I got drenched? Was there anybody else around who enjoyed the light shower? I looked around to see whether I was alone and saw two silhouettes in the distance.

Fascinated and curious, I walked towards them and as if on cue, it started to drizzle. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of what stood in front of me — An Italian bellissima draped in a bold shade of red. Beads of water trickled down its
curvy body, as it stood there, looking at me with its innocent face. Was it a trick to lure me? It seemed like this one knew exactly what makes men like me go weak in the knees and wasn’t afraid to use it. Thankfully, as I came back to my senses, I glanced at the Japanese lady who was looking at me angrily. Was it because the Italian’s red and black dress did a number on me that I ignored this voluptuous lady in black completely? Honestly, the subtle touches of green didn’t pop up as much as the red on the other one who also happened to flaunt some gold that complemented the dress. Maybe the Japanese one didn’t want to attract all the attention?

Anyways, it was time to break the ice and get acquainted. And to not lose my chance with the lady in black, I went there first. Turned out that this one belonged to one of the most powerful Japanese families — Kawasaki. Perhaps it was this lady’s ‘close ties’ to the clan of assassins that dictated the suave, stealthy dressing sense. A small ‘Z’ trinket on the shoulders and a small tattoo of ‘900’ on one side gave away its name.

The other lady was not so subtle, though. A tiara, two big tattoos on the shoulders and a couple of them on the derriere didn’t leave much to guess. Not only was this one from the respected house of Borgo Panigale, but was a descendant of the ‘Monster’ family that saved Ducati from bankruptcy. And the ‘SP’ tag meant this one was even more special and wilder. Maybe that’s where all the confidence came from. But its predecessors looked quite different, didn’t they? If it weren’t for the tattoos, it was barely recognisable as a Ducati Monster. After all, there’s no trellis frame and it’s all now dainty and not butch as it used to be.

Doesn’t the honeycomb mesh look lovely?

But when this Monster started talking, it only amplified its feisty personality. People would turn around, shocked, listening to what it had to say. It had a sort of confidence, or maybe even arrogance in its tone that I was so smitten with. The other lady was exactly the opposite; it had a loud but gentle tone that I felt listening to all day long.

Clearly, I was torn between the two ladies. But nothing that a little dirty dancing couldn’t solve, right? Gripping the Monster was like wrapping my hands around a lady’s petite waist. And you know what followed, right? Some saucy moves and jealous looks. The SP was flamboyant and encouraged me to be the same, too. All it took was a few brushes with the left hand and I had this Ducati in its ‘naughty’ mode. With the poise of a ballerina, it would lift up the front wheel happily, and downshifts meant silly slides and hops. Oh, also it wasn’t wearing anything underneath to cover its delicates, but it didn’t care, and well, neither did I. It exuded its vivid personality and shamed everyone around who didn’t have one.

With no trellis, engine takes the centre stage

Every time I wanted to slow things down, the constant pops and crackles from the Termignoni cans almost convinced me and others around me to break away from the shackles of civility that we were bound by. The twin Termi exhausts mocked everyone who ‘chose’ to go slow. I swear those pops sounded like the bike was calling me a chicken by mimicking clucking. And yes, I fell for the trap and have no shame admitting it. Going past the 200-kph mark didn’t affect the Monster much, but I had to hold it even tighter, fighting the windblast. Even the slightest hint of generous throttle input lit up the console like a disco. The traction control warning left no chance to show that it was working overtime, and in its own sweet way, asked me to behave.

As much as I didn’t want to part with the Italian, the angry stare from the sibling of Ninjas left me no choice. The Z900 didn’t have to be loud with its moves and voice to attract attention. Young and old alike, people were left awestruck by the Z. It was probably because of its curvaceous figure. Or maybe the sweet voice that didn’t startle or intimidate anyone. With the Z, I was the lead, and I loved taking things slow with it, and it didn’t mind.

A green monoshock would have looked cooler

It was not as easy as the Ducati to make my way through the crowd with the Z because of its proportions, the fact that it carried 35 kg more than the Italian and its low ground clearance. But it didn’t protest. It was well-behaved almost all throughout. Well, it took more than a few strokes of the fingers to get it all wild, but after that, there was no turning back. Unlike the Monster, the Z900’s exhaust whispered sweet nothings in my ears and what followed was a loud and exhilarating chase to the 12,000-rpm mark.

The Monster is not as subtle as the Z900 with its decals

All drenched and tired, it was time for a breather. As I sat back, looking at these two peering into the horizon, I finally had the time to think about which one I could introduce to my family. The Monster grabbed my attention only because
of its special ‘SP’ red-and-black dress. Take that away, and it is hardly recognisable as a Monster. But it was a wild, bold machine that I felt carefree and reckless with. It didn’t care about consequences and made me feel the same, too. That naughty Italian even left a mark on my thigh with all the hotness that was raging inside it. However, with one head of the Testastretta engine right between my legs, I should have seen this coming. But I didn’t mind having a reminder of the raunchy session on my body.

The simpler switch cubes make things easier to manage
Inserting the key is a pain because of the steering damper

The Z, though, left only a lasting mark of its sweet voice and etiquette. I would have loved seeing some more of the Kawasaki green on it, and maybe not share so much of its appearance with the Z650. But does that make it any less special?
No. The Z900 stands out in the sea of motorcycles. Its looks give an impression that it plays hard to get, but it is one of the most welcoming bikes in its class. Is that the reason the Z900 has such a massive fanbase in India? Or is it because it
won’t demand much monetarily?

I feel it is a combination of both. The Kawasaki, while being an easy-going motorcycle, can also scare the living daylights out of anyone who’s not prepared for the abundant torque and the 122 horses it packs. So, I get why the Z900 is so popular and just like many Indians, I was lovestruck with the Sugomi design, too. If I were to take one of these home, the Z900 would have been the ideal one. It looks the part, can gel with anyone and doesn’t demand too much money, too. But the Monster? Even though I know it isn’t as visually appealing as the Z900 or as easy on the pocket, but its uninhibited nature is something I’ll always admire.