The Monster. Often lauded as the bike that saved Ducati from financial ruin. It’s a bike so quintessentially Ducati, that riding one should be a very good indicator of what a Ducati is. If you like riding a Monster, there is every chance you will like riding Ducatis and twins in general. I lived with one for the better part of a month.
First things first, every bike needs music. Play this super-smooth jam as you read. It’s like an audible representation of the Monster’s low-down torque.
Lets start with the bad:
1) No gear indicator! On a near £14k bike. There is no gear indicator!? Beautiful TFT colour screen but no bloody gear indicator! Even in track mode. Stupid.
2) The pillion pegs are part of the frame. This means for people with size eleven feet like me, you can’t ride on the balls of your feet without getting your heels stuck under the frame. Really bloody irritating, and also potentially dangerous if you have big feet. Hopefully, whoever designed that part has been moved to decals. In the month I used this bike I had nearly worn through the toe sliders on my Dainese dancing shoes.
3) Weight: It’s slightly heavier than I thought. Nowhere near say a Tiger 800, and it’s not a problem when moving.
4) No quickshifter. Although, if one was fitted the bike could do with anti wheelie for the unskilled.
The Good Stuff:
1) Looks: It’s lovely. Trellis frame, beautiful pipework on stock exhaust. The only bike I would actually put a tail tidy on (I think they are a massive waste of money) as it would increase your badassery by at least 20%. Sitting on the bike it looks quality and makes you feel warm inside.
2) Noise: The new S1000RR gets people raving about the stock exhaust noise. It cannot be as good as this. You get the thunder, the twin thump, all that drama. When you roll off, there’s crackling and popping galore. It actually makes me laugh like a kid hearing it.
3) Comfort: As comfortable as a pair of M&S ‘everyday trousers’ and some crocs. It’s really comfy. I could ride to London for a macchiato without stopping on this thing. Roomy, nice bar reach and the seat is grippy and perfectly crafted, allowing those with a penis the untold joy of not smashing said penis to bits when braking hard.
4) Fuel consumption: It does 55mpg when spanking the beejesus out of it. With a 17.5L tank I reckon touring you get 200 miles from this easy. I’ll say that again 55mpg!
5) Handling: For a bike that is heavier than I expected it really handles well, probably too well. It is so well balanced it makes slow speed manoeuvring a doddle. The wide bars and the front weight bias make it turn into corners in a quick and predictable manner whilst also giving you tonnes of feedback from the road surface. In multiple trips over Snake Pass and the moors (including throttle corner) it is quiet unreal how stable it feels when going round a corner. It’s almost as composed as some Ducati superbikes. It does shimmy a bit with quick flicks from side to side but, that’s similar to other upright bikes like the S1000R, Street Triple and Speed Triple in my experience. It leans and leans. I was getting my toes down every corner (feet beneath a size eight I’m going to guess won’t have this problem) I also decked out the lower servo motor cover. Did i mention mid corner it always feels composed?
6) The engine: It’s beautiful. It’s so lazy but it packs so much thump and torque it’s hard to put into words. You know that scene in Star Wars when the Millenium Falcon jumps into hyper drive? That’s full throttle in first, second and third gear on the Monster 1200 S. It’s easy to get to silly speeds on this and you get a bit of head-shake under hard acceleration. I would want a steering damper if I took it on track. And a big bucket full of toe sliders. The thump of the torque is amazing. On the 899 Panigale it arrives much higher in the rev range. On this it is just there, everywhere! Crack it open and the thrust is smooth, powerful and exciting. Probably a lot like sex with Idris Elba.
7) Gearbox: It has a slipper clutch! Yes, the bit they forgot to put in the 899. This thing is fun on the brakes because of it. Grab the brakes to pull you out of hyperdrive and it stays perfectly composed and steady. No twitches, nothing, as you stamp down the gearbox. I love it!
8) Suspension and brakes: It has Ohlins front and rear and the ride is lovely and plush. It manages to still feel sharp and be compliant over bad surfaces. I hit a few bumps and manholes that I always avoid on sportsbikes and it hardly flinched. It really is up there with the comfiest of bikes I think I’ve ridden. The M50 Brembo brakes are very good. They do a good job of stopping the snarling mass of Monster and they actually have lots of feel to them. Well-done Ducati and Brembo.
9) Electronics: It has all the electronics of the 899/959 Panigales bar the EBC. It has a Sport mode; Urban and Touring mode. Each knock down the throttle/engine response and turn up the TC and ABS. Honestly, just stick it in Sport, as the other modes are a waste of time. Unless you are learning to ride then use URBAN mode. Sport mode also emits pheromones that make ladies and men look at you longingly in city centres. Either that or it’s the noise.
So would I have one?
No. Not unless I could get a foot reduction on the NHS and whilst I can still physically contort my body on to a sportsbike. I have already found with the toe dragging and general hoonery, that I would over ride this thing. It probably really does have sportbike agility. But, then my feet get in the way of properly finding that out. If I had size seven feet and I didn’t do track days I would definitely have one. This would be my first test ride over the bore fest and visual cock block that many upright bikes offer at the minute.
It is an amazing bike, simple to ride and effortless for tasks such as simply commuting on. It would likely make a great tourer too, and if that was my bag, maybe I would consider it slightly more. It is worth noting that the new 2016 Monster 1200 R addresses my biggest problem with this bike. The 1200 R doesn’t have frame moulded pillion pegs that stop you getting your feet into a decent riding position. The Monster 1200 S is a great bike. It’s uncomplicated, it sounds great, and it feels great to ride. It is expensive. But, well worth it if you ask me.