Ride Review: Ducati Monster 1200 S

02/23/2014 @ 5:59 pm, by Iwan van der Valk22 COMMENTS


Over the last 20 years Ducati sold more than 275,000 Monsters, and now the Italians introduce an all-new 1,200cc version, which will make it not only the most powerful but also the heaviest Monster of the past couple of decades.

The 461 lbs (wet with a 90% tank of gas) beast will replace the aging Streetfighter 1098, and Ducati hopes it will sell a whole lot better. Mind you, there is currently a fierce competition in the Super-Naked segment so time will tell if they succeed.

We rode the Monster 1200 S model on the press introduction in Tenerife, so it’s worth noting that this bike has $2,500 worth of upgrades over the base model, such as Öhlins suspension, Brembo monoblocs, and lighter aluminum alloy wheels. It also does away with the 10hp restriction of the non-S version, bringing the total output to 145hp.

The 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 immediately makes an impression: the bike looks wide, big, and badass with its double exhausts and rear suspension setup. The curvy rear headers look beautiful, but we fear a scorched right leg in true Ducati tradition.

Climbing on board is different than ever before: the 810mm seat height, and surprisingly high placed, bars make for a very tall bike. The ergonomics feel relaxed but you can still feel the sporting background in your slightly folded up legs.

Shifting into attack mode and moving your feet rearwards (balls of the feet onto the steps) is almost impossible however, with the passenger steps clearly hampering you.

The TFT color screen looks brilliant, but has limited visibility in bright daylight (which is not helped by the ultra small font of the side information text). Even so, Ducati still sets the standard with this very slick and modern dash — other manufacturers can learn a thing or two from this setup.

Switching power modes is a breeze. You flick through the different screens with a simple push of a button, but annoyingly it is the indicator switch-off that will frustrate a lot of bikers: many of us push this button quite often to make sure the indicators are off, but this results in the dash jumping from page to page.

Both the Panigale (similar dashboard) and Multistrada 1200 (motor donor) have a gearbox indicator, but strangely enough this underrated accessory is missing from the Monster 1200 setup.

The fit and finish is good, but typically not 100% up-to-par with the general high class feel of the Monster line: there’s loose wiring and familiar odd rubber flaps here and there. All main components fit snug apart from a strikingly wonky passenger seat cover. Alas, we don’t recommend adding this optional extra.



Setting off on this bike makes for a wonderful, savage growl, clearly audible for rider and pillion, even with stock pipes. In the city we’d choose the nicely balanced ‘Urban’ powermode because both other settings (Touring and Sport) react too nervously on light throttle application and on-off situations.

The enormous v-twin picks up smooth and strong in all gears and over the whole rev-range. Gear changes are precise and predictable, if you are deliberate and firm with the lever. Be prepared to spend some time finding neutral though.

V-twin riders will tell you that engine braking is an essential part of the riding experience, and sadly this is an area where the new Monster is a little bit unpredictable: closing the throttle at low rpm’s results in plenty of deceleration, but this does not happen as much higher up the rev-range.

On a couple of occasions (all of them above 6,500 feet in elevation) it almost seemed that the engine gave us a little extra push after we closed the butterflies. It made us doubt the ride-by-wire system in the mountains.

Surely, a 145hp engine should be plenty for everyone, everywhere. The hefty twin lost some power at higher altitudes, but never did we think that we could use some more go.

The Monster 1200 is not a hooligan bike however: it will not wheelie spontaneously in the first three gears like some other European Super-Nakeds, like the KTM 1290 SuperDuke R for instance. It does put the power down well, and excels at short bursts of acceleration, accompanied by some naughty barking from the silencers — Ducati Monster at its best.



This is not a naked Ducati superbike at all. The new Monster 1200 is not a precision tool made for high-speed cornering, or blitzing a roller coaster mountain road. There is just too much movement and too little feedback from the chassis.

We struggled especially to put weight on the front — until you touch the brakes, that is. The bike then transfers its mass abruptly from back to front, only to jump back quickly when you let go of the stoppers.

Turning in is not easy then, but luckily it gets somewhat better mid-corner: the Monster will hold its line relatively well, but you have to be wary of not running wide.

The 1200 has a longer wheelbase than before and this makes for hard work when chucking from one corner into the next. You will struggle to outrun friends on smaller and much less powerful bikes, but this is not what the Monster 1200 is about. It is all sensory experience, the fight with the bull, taking up the challenge to muscle this beast as fast as you dare over the chosen trajectory.

Coming out of a corner like a bullet from a gun, life is great on a 145hp v-twin, every single time you open the throttle. The Monster 1200 might feel like a bucking bronco, but never aggressive nor intimidating oddly enough. It’s actually quite easy to boss around.



On paper the new 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 seems like the perfect successor to the Streetfighter 1098, and a worthy competitor for saucy Super-Nakeds such as the Aprilia Tuono V4, MV Agusta Brutale 1090, BMW S1000R, Triumph Speed Triple, and KTM 1290 SuperDuke R.

The reality is very different though: the Monster never feels wild nor hooliganesque. It is the strongest, probably the best, and arguably the most beautiful ‘roadster’ in a long line of Ducati nakeds and most Monsteristi will once again fall for this newest iteration.

It will not make you wheelie everywhere, you will not drag your knee over every roundabout, and you will not speed uncontrollably all the time. However, You will look at yourself in the shop windows, and you will be noticed in town. You will love to go for some blasts in the countryside, and to go on weekend holidays.

The deliberate effort it takes to control this big 1,200cc Monster and the effect it has on your senses might just make it feel very special indeed.

Photos: Ducati

A special “dankuwel” to our friends at Testmotor.nl for sharing this article with us, and big thank you as well to Jan DeMan, who translated Iwan’s work from Dutch into English for our readers.

  • ADG

    That thing is ugly. I’ll take my ’01 M900 over that any day. 360lbs after I stripped all the crap off it.

  • ADG

    …and what is up with the “saggy tit” headlight craze these days?

  • Jaybond

    Ducati should have covered those radiator cooling pipes on the Monster 1200 with a mini fairing or something.

  • I sat on one this past weekend and it felt really comfortable. Love the new bar height and apparently the seat height is adjustable too. Although the tank is much more sculpted/scalloped along the sides for your knees, it widens just before the seat which didn’t feel so good on the inner thighs.

  • Richard Gozinya

    For people who want a big, naked bike, seems like there are better options. This pretty much runs counter to everything that made the Monster so popular in the first place. Heavy, lots of electronics, just doesn’t make sense here. And didn’t BMW actually manage to make their liquid cooled boxer lighter than the air/oil cooled ones? Seems like Ducati’s moving in the wrong direction here.

    Oh well, at least the older Monsters make a great platform for customs.

  • Andrey

    Have to agree with RG. Seems like the marketing guys are in charge again. Bike looks pretty good in person but the extra weight and greater power seems to me, to make it a bike for the more experienced rider. I hope they keep some Monsters as entry level bikes.
    And as for the reference to the StreetFighter, it will never be as good. The SF was a killer machine! The Monster is NOTHING like it!

  • Exactly! The SF ia a hot rod Duc, this is a lame successor :(

  • grb

    Im wondering if this test/reviews tell us any useful or true information about the bike, if the tester has not tuned the suspension to his weight and riding style…

  • Gutterslob

    Left-side plumbing = Eeeww, Yuck, Ugh!!

  • Max

    Solid review. I like the honesty and unbiased evenness in it all.

  • Michael

    Screw you Audi! I’ll stay with my 1100 Evo..

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    I was thinking the same things as ADG.

    How long do we need to suffer through these odd styling cues (the melted, saggy headlight, the license plate/tire guard thingy) ?

    …and they nearly burned Terblanche to a stake for the 999? This thing makes anything Terblanche did look like Kate Upton.

  • Bart

    It says in this review that this bike will replace the Streetfighter 1098. Is this stated by Ducati?

    For me a Monster and the Streetfigther are 2 competely different bikes. I prefer the Streetfigther for its aggresive styling.

  • Sam Adams


    The 1098 SF is no more. While the 848 SF remains, it’s probably on its way out soon too. This will leave the 1200 Monster as the only big displacement naked in the Duc lineup. So in that sense, it’s as much of a replacement as we seem to be offered at the moment.

  • You heard it here first. SF848 out, Monster 800 in…to be announced October/November this year.

  • Westward

    The Monster 800 would have to be a lot sexier than it’s Italian friend the 800 Brutale Dragster, or my next bike is going to an MvAgusta instead of a Ducati…

    Also, a spot on comment Richard Gozinya…

  • pmoosh


    especially now that MV actually builds rideable bikes (according to some forum opinons). The Brutales look lovely. Although the exhaust is getting a bit old, as it is on all their 3 cylinder models.

    If I want something ugly – I’d buy a Tuono

  • Jorge

    Was the “saggy tit” comment really necessary? I can’t look at the bike headlight the same way anymore.

    MV has taken the sexy crown for naked bikes. Might have to scope out a dealer this spring.

  • Fish Sticks

    Thank you for an honest review. You told us what some people might appreciate, and some things that we might dislike. Its probably a great machine for many people, but what is clear already is that it is no longer what the Monster used to be for the past 20 years, for better or worse.

    For me, I like the personality, charisma and soul of the air cooled monsters. I appreciate their simplicity, light weight and nimble handling. The performance levels are perfect for me in all riding situations including track. I don’t want too many electronics. Therefore, the S2R1000 and 11100EVO are my favorites.

    Now the new bike is more civilized, practical, higher performing and competitive in the marketplace. Ducati is a leader in performance and electronic aids, to levels some people will be thrilled with and others might not even want anymore. But I think if Ducati stops making quirky bikes there may no longer be any allure.

  • eg

    @westward and pmoosh
    I feel the same way about MV, only that guys remember MV’s are not user friendly and probably the worst after sales support. I ordered an oil-filter which took almost a month to arrive. They also have a lot or foreign looking bits and have a higher learning curve for DIY folks. I have a 2011 990r and have had little bits of electrical issues here and there. fueling at low speeds suck and the new 800’s are ride by wire: good luck with that. all said I love the their looks. Ducati is also heading in that direction and KTM sold the little soul the had left to the Indians. I am honestly regretting the sale of my SF. I’ll wait a few months till all manufacturers release and read all the reviews from new customers then I’ll decide which way to go. I just might go find me a used 2011 1098 SF again, by far the best motorcycle I have ever owned.

  • Roger Watson

    @ eg
    The F3 675/800 and the Brutale 800 fuelling and RbW issue have all been sorted and now match the Rivale and the Dragster. The Rivale was the first bike to be launched with the new maps etc, and the reviews were glowing, then the Dragster was launched and similarly it got great reviews with no issue at all with the fuelling, maps or RbW. The new maps etc have now filtered down and certainly in the UK all the bikes, apart from the Brutale 675 have been invited back to the dealers to get the free upgrade. It took them a while but MV got there heads around the new technology and have nailed it! We will have to wait until 2015 before we see the totally new 4 cylinder Brutale.The future is looking pretty good for MV.

  • eg

    @ Roger Watson
    I am aware they sorted the fueling issue on the newer bikes however the they still have the parts and service problem. The dragster is actually on my list of bikes to get but I am dreading the after sales support. When I say its non-existent I mean its non-existent. MV make amazing bikes and with all the money they are spending on marketing and product development, it baffles me to think they are not looking to fix the lack-of-support problem they have. The company is building and releasing more models each month but lack in the department of after-sales support. This is a fact. Who cares about a free ecu flash at the dealer when i cannot find a dealer to begin with.

    The future is looking good indeed but as the brand waters itself down like the rest (which it will) lets get a good glass to drink it out of. Lets all enjoy the ride and get the parts and support we want when we want it. I ordered an oil and air filter almost two months ago and only one just arrived. I have been told I might need a new starter relay and I cannot imagine the wait.