Ducati Monster 1200S review, test ride
22nd Feb 2014 5:43 am
We take Ducati's new Monster 1200S for a ride in the Canary island of Tenerife. Here's a quick introduction to the most powerful Monster yet.
At first glance, there is no doubt that this is a Monster. For over two decades, the Monster has been the face of naked bikes, with its bulbous tank and trellis frame. The new Ducati stays true to its design heritage, though now it's longer than before. This Monster has gained 63mm and is now 1511mm long. Not for more stability as you might think, but to give the rider and pillion more room. Yes, Ducati wants you to be comfortable on this bike. After all, a 45-year-old male, who is their target, values his comfort. The other interesting dimension of this motorcycle is the seat height, or rather seat heights. The seat height is adjustable down from 785mm up to 810mm. There is also an aftermarket seat available that lowers the seat height by another 40mm! So, whether you’re a five or six-footer, you will always be comfortable with this bike. The large, comfortable seats and big 17.5-litre tank means you can clock a decent number of kilometres before requiring to stop. The only ergonomic complaint came from big-footed riders, who complained about the rear foot peg fouling with the back of their boots.
The most powerful Monster yet.
Powering the 1200S is a 1198cc DOHC eight-valve Desmo motor based on the Multistrada engine. With this engine, Ducati has reverted to liquid-cooling. This latest version of the Testrastretta 11-degree V-twin grunts out 143bhp, just five short of the big Multistrada, but it produces more torque across the range and revs higher too. Throttle response is linear and predictable, making this a comfortable bike to ride and the V-twin roar emanating from the two-into-one-into-two exhaust is glorious. Roll off the throttle and the deep rumble is a symphony for the addict. The bike is happy to potter around at low speeds, and then when the road opens up, all it takes is a nudge of the fly-by-wire throttle to start having more serious fun. Acceleration is instantaneous on the 1200S, as it storms through the speedo riding a creamy wave of torque. The one thing I wished for was a gear indicator, as I often lost count of which gear I was riding in. That didn't matter really though, because whichever gear you are in, this Monster has enough grunt to thunder you through.
Ride it anyway you want it.
This engine does more than just power the motorcycle, being a stressed member of the chassis. The signature trellis frame is bolted to the cylinder head and joined to the headstock. And the motorcycle swingarm bolts directly to the engine's crankcases.
This Monster comes with Ducati riding modes, like those found on the Diavel and Multistrada, all easily accessible via the indicator button. Sport and Touring modes give you the full complement of 143bhp, while in urban mode the 1200S delivers a maximum of 100bhp. There are eight levels of traction control and three levels of ABS that vary with the modes. Each mode gets its own signature display on the new colour TFT dash. So, if you are riding in Urban mode, it's the speedometer that takes up centre stage. In Touring mode, you get added information including fuel-consumption and ambient temperature. Change to Sports mode and the rev-counter claims prominence. All modes are programmable and the bike remembers your settings.
This big new Monster is surprisingly agile, thanks to its well thought-out steering geometry. The wide and flat handlebars enable you to tuck into a comfortable riding position on the bike. You sit just forward enough to let the wind flow over you and yet upright enough to be able to ride comfortably all day long. The oil-bathed and slipper-enabled clutch is light at the lever, a boon in heavy traffic. This package includes sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso II radials and a taut yet compliant enough Ohlin suspension system. And to bring all that heft to an eyeball popping stop, the 1200S is armed with the same Brembo radial calipers and master cylinder as the Ducati Panigale.
The 1200S is going to be an expensive motorcycle when it reaches India, upward of Rs 20 lakh. Yes, that's the price you will have to pay for this Ducati’s exclusivity. Sadly, for the moment it’s hard to recommend the Monster wholeheartedly in India, despite how good the bike feels. Ducati’s bugbear in India remains a lack of sufficient back-end support for their bikes here, which the Italian firm is working to set right, setting up an independent official Indian presence. The day Ducati puts its act together on this front, the big new Monster 1200S, despite its price tag will rank amongst the most perfect big bikes for us.