When they were unveiled in 2013, one of the first things I noticed about the latest generation of Ducati Monsters was the intestine-like radiator hosing that snaked intensely around the 1198cc Testastretta liquid-cooled engine. Some people said the hoses were ugly, but I thought they were unique and brutally raw.
Ducati obviously did everything it could to make it less prominent – beneath the fiery red tank and trellis frame, the radiator hoses were blacked out like the rest of the plastic parts.
But I was fascinated because the aesthetic way the hoses had been arranged as they emerged from one end of the engine, got channeled through the water pump cover, and entered into the radiator like three snakes poised to attack. Or maybe the Ducati designers were just trying to make sure the hoses didn’t block the trellis frame.
I’ve looked at plenty of other liquid-cooled motorcycles (there aren’t that many air-cooled bikes today) and none of them have cooling hoses that are placed in such a unique or prominent manner, and Ducati actually uses 9 different hoses on the Testastretta instead of the usual 3 to 7 hoses.
Even the Ducati Diavel, which shares the same engine and cooling system as the Monster 1200, has less obvious hosing which is largely covered up by the fairing.
I asked myself – how does one make those intestines even more prominent?
Crazy, I know, given that some M1200 owners are actually embarrassed by “the left side of the bike” where the hoses reside. Then I found out about Samco silicone hoses which are used in top MotoGP motorcycles and F1 cars, and that was the answer. Amazingly, Samco created a specific set of hoses for the Monster 1200 and 821!
While I was looking more for a cosmetic modification, Samco hoses offer real-world advantages – they are made of silicone instead of rubber in OEM pipes, will last a longer time as they are much stronger and stiffer, will allow for the most efficient flow of coolant around the engine and apparently reduce the amount of heat generated by the engine by up to 8 degrees Celsius.
Obviously, this was more beneficial for racing vehicles, given the sheer harsh conditions their engines undergo, but I was also curious if I could see any performance improvements on my commuting Monster.
Here’s an advertorial by Samco and Racebikebitz that covers most of the salient points :
I checked with more experienced fellow bikers and they all agreed that Samco hoses do provide real benefits as advertised. What was interesting was that very few bikers talk about silicone hose upgrades, instead they like to discuss about fueling mods, exhaust pipe replacements and so on… the usual stuff that gets you in trouble with the authorities. The good news is that installation of silicone coolant hoses are allowed by the Land Transport Authority in Singapore.
I later found out that Samco is a common upgrade in many track bikes (obviously I’m not into track races!) but you don’t see the hoses as they’re usually covered up by the race fairings. They’re also commonly used in motorcross bikes (which get banged about a lot, so they need really tough components) and stunt bikes. Very few conventional naked bikes (ie. street motorcycles without plastic fairings like the Ducati Monsters or Aprilia Tuonos) boast of brightly colored silicone pipes.
Here’s a Honda CBR1000RR that’s fitted with red Samcos, but again, hidden under the race fairings:
Samco is a more familiar name with the car-modding crowd. One car-mad friend even told me don’t get any other silicone hose brand because there are many fake hoses on the market that will burst or leak under pressure.
So after mulling for several months, and sharing notes with another M1200S owner in the US who had installed the red hoses on his bike, I ordered in the Monster 1200 Samco hoses from Racebikebitz UK (these guys are efficient and friendly!) and asked the great guys at SBR Motors to help install them.
The Silicone Implantation
Doing visual mock-ups in Photoshop
I must admit this was not a worry-free decision. Like any major mod I do on my bikes, I did many Photoshop mockups before the silicone implant operation and was apprehensive about the dramatic visual changes to my mistress.
Monsters are built to be modded, but very few Monsters sport silicone hoses because most of them were air-cooled models and for the few liquid-cooled models, the hoses can clash visually with the trellis frame. Personally, another visual issue was the white SamcoSport logo that the company prints on two sides of each hose – good branding and self-promotion, but it’s a bit of an overkill given that my M1200S has no white bits.
So anyway, below is a series of mockups I did in Photoshop before the operation, simulating the red glossy hoses and silver stainless steel clamps (also made by Samco, which are designed not to cut into the silicone hoses like conventional clamps).
And below is the actual motorcycle after the Samco installation (with new chrome mirrors too). Not too far off from the mock-up!
I also wondered what the bike would look like if I had chosen the glossy black hoses. Essentially it gives a gangsterish, British bull-dog kind of look due to the white logos and silver clamps:
It took a week for me to get used to the red hoses, and I still think that the rear two external hoses (nearest to the seats) should be black so the hoses don’t look like an extended trellis frame.
But overall, the Samcos have made the Monster look… well, more monstrous, and that’s the point. Another friend said the Monster now looks like the tentacled Sentinels in the Matrix movies.
Do the Samcos actually cool the engine down? I don’t have scientific data, but from anecdotal glances at the dashboard, the engine does seem to take longer to heat up when riding.
It’ll still hit the top temperature of 106 degrees C as with the OEM pipes (that’s the nature of the engine that desires to cook your right thigh) but for general riding it holds steady between 76 deg C and 89 deg C. Over time, I’ll know if this results in any fuel savings as the engine looks like it’s running a little more efficiently than stock.
Should you invest in silicone hoses?
I think the performance benefits are real but more apparent in bikes that run super hot (ie. most Class 2 bikes above 500cc) and for high-performance scenarios (racing, motorcross events etc). Honestly, for street bikes, the real benefit is probably long-term durability of the hoses more than any significant performance upgrade.
And take note that in Singapore weather and in multiple traffic red-lights, your silicone-endowed bike will still hit its maximum temperature when it’s not moving. The benefits should come when you start moving.
Aesthetically, it’s more important to make sure your bike has nicely placed hoses to begin with or the visual result could go awry. Samcos come in many different colors and I’m sure some Ah Bengs will mix and match colors wrongly. You probably won’t go wrong with black hoses but then nobody would notice the difference.
If you own the M1200 or M821, you might want to try the glossy black Samco hoses with silver clamps. They won’t turn dirty-grey like the OEM hoses, and the combined look of glossy hoses + silver clamps will make your left side of the bike look even more rugged. Just note that apart from blue or red hoses, other colors will take several additional weeks to be shipped.
Gallery of other Monsters with Samco silicone hoses
I’m gathering photos from other Monster owners who decided to take the same plunge into silicone hoses like me. Please drop me a message in the comments below if you wish to share your own photos and I’ll contact you via your email address, thanks!
White M1200S with white Samco hoses
By “Monsterly” from Switzerland