Back in 1993, Ducati mixed and matched parts it had laying around to put together and called the creation Il Mostro, or Monster, no doubt because of the Frankenstein nature of its construction. The creators couldn’t possibly have predicted the success of the Monster line, or that models under the family umbrella would come to make up over two-thirds of Ducati’s worldwide sales, yet here we are in 2017 and the Monster experiment is still very much alive and well.

Although the Monsters have come with a variety of engine sizes over the years, and Ducati also currently offers an 821 cc version, today I wanted to focus on the base-model Monster 1200, the souped-up street racer “1200 S” and the tracktastic “1200 R” models. So without further ado, let’s check out this most-popular bike from one of the world’s most-recognized brands, and see what this current generation has in store for us.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Monster 1200, 1200 R and 1200 S.

  • 2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
  • Year:
    2015- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    1202 cc
  • Price:
    16699
  • Price:

Design

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 650082

Little more than a frame with a seat, an engine, two wheels and some lights, the Monster is the epitome of the “naked” genre. Naturally this is by design, and one could even argue that the Monster family has even helped define this modern equivalent to the classic “gasser” and “bobber” concepts that saw street bikes cut down to the bare minimum to save weight, and extraneous equipment stripped away for the sake of performance.

This leaves the Monster 1200 feeling narrow and nimble with a curb weight right around 460 pounds. The foot controls come in the jockey position, and the handlebars pull the rider forward into a suitably aggressive, head-forward riding position.

Seat height is reasonable, and adjustable at 30.9- or 31.9-inches off the ground on the base and “S” models, but height is fixed at 32.7-inches tall on the “R.” Plus, accessory seats are available that can slam seat height down even further if needed.

A well-rounded and voluptuous fuel tank serves as the only real sheet metal to speak of, and the subframe tapers off to nothing well short of the back of the rear wheel, with the “R” carrying a wind-tunnel tested subframe that is tweaked upwards just a bit for improved laminar flow and reduced drag at the trailing edge. All three of the 1200 models have a distinctive all-up-front look, like a sprinter crouched at the blocks.

Chassis

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 650090

A plainly visible, tubular-steel Trellis frame serves not only as the skeleton, but adds a bit of an edge to the visual impact of the Monster range. All three models share the same stressed-engine frame, so naturally the 24.3-degree rake is constant across the board. The base model and “S” runs a nimble, 3.7-inch trail, and the “R” is even shorter at 3.5 inches, so given their light weight, all three should be capable of quick flicks and reversals.

The factory used sport-tastic, inverted forks across the board to reduce unpsrung weight and resist the torsional forces placed on the front end. A set of fully adjustable, 43 mm, usd forks buoy the base-model front end with a preload and rebound-damping adjustable Sachs monoshock springing the single-side, aluminum swingarm.

The “S” and “R” models come with an upgraded suspension that includes a set of fully-adjustable, 48 mm Öhlins forks and monoshock. Front suspension travel is constant across the board at 5.1 inches, but while the base and S models come with 5.9 inches of rear suspension travel, the R boasts a total of 6.2 inches of travel for the most aggressive cornering maneuvers. Forget dragging the knee, this thing is built so you can drag your elbows if you have the testicular fortitude for it, that is.

We see some divergence in brake equipment between the three as well. Again, the base model carries the least of the gear with a still-impressive pair of 320 mm discs and dual, four-pot, Brembo M4-32 Monobloc calipers to bind the front wheel. The “S” and “R” run even bigger 330 mm discs with the four-bore, Brembo evo M50 Monobloc calipers. A 245 mm rear disc and twin-piston caliper binds the rear wheel on all models, and ABS comes as standard equipment across the range. This rear brake seems to be toward the weak end of the scale, and you really have to stomp on it to get to a point where the rear ABS needs to intervene. Pirelli Diablo Rosso II hoops cap the 17-inch cast rims on the base and “S” models, while the R gets the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP rubbers on forged, 17-inch rims.

Drivetrain

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 674920

The Monster 1200 range shares a common engine with the Testastretta 11-degree DS engine tending to the propulsion duties. As usual, Ducati uses its signature Desmodromic valvetrain to actuate the four-valve heads, and a split-ignition for positive flame-front propagation.

A Ride-by-Wire (RbW) throttle control and elliptical throttle bodies manage induction and enable the use of the rider modes and the traction control system. The rider mode function comes with three separate power-deliver settings; “City” mode that limits the engine to 100 horsepower with a progressive delivery, “Touring” mode that unleashes full engine power but still with a progressive delivery and “Sports” mode that completely unfetters the engine and provides a crisper, more aggressive throttle response. Best of all, you homegrown tuner geeks out there can tweak the presets to their personal preferences, or set them back to the default setting if your little experiment gets out of hand.

Ducati’s traction control monitors wheel speed and intervenes by retarding the spark to limit engine power when slippage occurs, and it can be turned off altogether for raw, unprocessed riding. This suite of electronic features means that you can tune the bike to your personal skill level, and adjust it as needed. In short, this could be the only bike you will ever need to buy since it can so thoroughly be detuned, and retuned.

So, here we have three separate models with three different sets of performance numbers. This is achieved through the use of different programming to provide different power curves across the range. As you might imagine, the base-model Monster 1200 comes with the lowest numbers of the three with 135 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and 87 pound-feet at 7,250 rpm. The “S” model programming gives it another 10 ponies at 8,750 rpm and a total of 91.8 pounds of grunt at 7,250 rpm. Last, but certainly not least, the “R” version cranks out 160 horses at 9,250 rpm and 97 pounds of grunt at 7,750 rpm. Bear in mind this is all on a sled that weighs in under 500 pounds soaking wet, so even the base model with its lower performance numbers should prove to be more than a handful to all but the most experienced sportbike riders.

Price

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 650081

As usual, price increases with performance across the range. I haven’t seen 2017 prices yet, but for 2016, the base model Monster 1200 rolled for $13,995 MSRP in the Ducati Red sheet metal. A bit higher on the scale is the “S” model that came in red or Star White for $16,395 MSRP. At the top of the food chain, powerwise and pricewise, the Monster 1200 R came shot in red-and-white racing livery for $18,695. Even naked, this is a lot of bike for the buck, especially at the bottom end of the range.

Competitor

2015 - 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S / 1200 R
- image 674565
2015 - 2017 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R ABS
- image 670796

The Monster enjoys a stellar reputation as a solid naked bike and is a real Golden Goose for Ducati, so I needed to find a really solid competitor for my head to head here. In order to keep apples vs apples, I picked the 1290 Super Duke R Special Edition from KTM to go up against the Monster 1200 R.

In spite of the stripped down nature of these bikes, there is enough sheet metal to generate vastly differing finishes. The Super Duke still carries vestigial evidence of KTM’s dirt-bike roots, and the color choice and angular body panels bring to mind race day at any given dirt track the world over. Ducati, on the other hand, comes off looking like pure sex-on-wheels with more of a curvaceous flow that hints at the refinement inherent with the Monster.

Gadgetry is fairly consistent across the board with traction control, ABS and variable rider modes represented on both rides. KTM comes out of its corner with 1,301 cc for a slight edge over the 1,198 cc Testastretta mill, and this edge carries right on over into the performance figures. While the Duc ain’t no slouch with 160 ponies and 97 pounds of grunt, KTM comes out a little bit meaner with 177 horses and 106 pounds of grunt. No doubt a skill differential could overcome the Super Duke’s advantage here, but with that variable removed, the Super Duke definitely enjoys a bit of an edge. I would point out that for 99-percent of the riders out there, this difference will likely never become apparent. Brakes, suspension and drivetrain all come track-ready, with top-notch components all around but little in the way of any advantages to either side.

Though at $18,695 the Monster R is significantly more expensive than the base model Monster, it still manages to stay below the Super Duke SE’s $19,499 sticker. Given the similarities between the models, this price difference is unlikely to buy Ducati any business away from KTM it would not have already had, and certainly not enough to keep potential buyers who are on the fence from crossing over to “The Orange” for that extra little bit of power. As for myself, my vanity demands the aesthetic appeal of the Monster over the angular Super Duke, performance be damned.

He Said

“Man, I can’t get enough of the Monster family, and the 1200 line just takes the cake. Good looking, aggressive, just an all-around sexy ride. I really got to hand it to Ducati, even with so little to work with, they still manage to give the bike some nice lines and aesthetic appeal. Performance is solid enough for any situations you could find yourself in off a closed-circuit track, and although the “R” sticker is a tad lofty, the base model is reasonably priced for the performance you get out of it. In short, the price tag isn’t quite the firewall it could be to keep new riders off of it, but at least the bike can be detuned a bit to make it safer for Newby MacNooberson when he hits the highway.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I think no other bike says “Ducati” quite like the bad-boy look of the Monster. Low range is a little soft, but mid and high range are strong; and let’s face it, that’s where this beast wants to be anyway. My only compliant is the instrument display. I prefer analog because, for me, it’s easier to read at a glance. The digital display on the Monsters are hard to read, especially in strong light.”

Specifications

Model: Monster 1200 Monster 1200 S Monster 1200 R
Engine:
Type: Testastretta 11° L-Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled Testastretta 11° L-Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled Testastretta 11° DS, L-Twin cylinders, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1198.4cc 1198.4cc 1198.4cc
Bore x Stroke: 106 x 67.9mm 106 x 67.9mm 106 x 67.9mm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1 12.5:1 13,0:1
Power: 99.3 kW (135 hp) @ 8,750 rpm 106.6 kW (145 hp) @ 8,750 rpm 117,7 kW (160 hp) @ 9,250 rpm
Torque: 118 Nm (87 lb-ft) @ 7,250 rpm 124.5 Nm (91.8 lb-ft) @ 7,250 rpm 131,4 Nm (97 lb-ft) @ 7,750 rpm
Fuel injection: Electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle bodies with full Ride by Wire Electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle bodies with full Ride by Wire Synerject-Continental electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle body Ø 56 mm equivalent with full Ride-by-Wire
Exhaust: Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminium mufflers Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminium mufflers Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminium mufflers
Transmission:
Gearbox: 6 speed 6 speed 6 speed
Primary drive: Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1 Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1 Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Final drive: Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 41 Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 41 Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 41
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run Wet, multi-plate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinders head Tubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinders head Tubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinder head
Front suspension: 43mm fully adjustable usd forks Ohlins fully adjustable 48mm usd forks Ohlins fully adjustable 48mm usd forks
Front wheel: 10-spoke in light alloy 3.50 x 17 Y shaped, 3-spoke in light alloy 3.50 x 17 Tri-W spoke forged alloy 3.50" x 17"
Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17
Rear suspension: Progressive linkage with fully adjustable monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Ohlins monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Öhlins monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear wheel: 10-spoke in light alloy 6.00 x 17 Y-shaped 3-spoke in light alloy 6.00 x 17 Tri-W spoke forged alloy 6.00" x 17"
Rear tyre: 190/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 190/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/55 ZR17
Front wheel travel: 130mm (5.1in) 130mm (5.1in) 130mm (5.1in)
Rear wheel travel: 152mm (5.9in) 152mm (5.9in) 159mm (6.2in)
Front brake: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo M4-32 callipers, 4-pistons, radial pump with ABS as standard 2 x 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo evo M50 4-piston callipers, radial pump with ABS as standard equipment 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc evo M50 4-piston callipers, radial pump with ABS as standard
Rear brake: 245mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS as standard equipment 245mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS as standard equipment 245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper, with ABS as standard
Instrumentation: Colour TFT display Colour TFT display Full-TFT colour display
Dimensions and weight:
Dry weight: 182kg (401lb) 182kg (401lb) 180 kg (396,8 lb)
Wet weight: 209Kg (461lb) 209Kg (461lb) 207 kg (456,3 lb)
ABS wet weight: N/A N/A N/A
Seat height: Adjustable 785 - 810 mm (30.9 - 31.9) Adjustable 785 - 810 mm (30.9 - 31.9) 830 mm (32,7 in)
Wheelbase: 1511mm (59.5in) 1511mm (59.5in) 1509 mm (59.4 in)
Rake: 24,3° 24,3° 24,3°
Trail: 93.2mm (3.7in) 93.2mm (3.7in) 89 mm (3,5 in)
Fuel tank capacity: 17.5l - (4.6 US gal) 17.5l - (4.6 US gal) 17.5l - (4.6 US gal)
Number of seats: Dual seat Dual seat Dual seat
Standard Equipment:
Standard Equipment: Riding modes,Power modes, DSP Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), RbW, passanger handles and seat cover, ready for anti-theft system and DDA Riding modes,Power modes, DSP Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), RbW, Performance Package, passanger handles and seat cover, ready for anti-theft system and DDA Riding modes,Power modes, DSP Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), RbW, seat cover
Warranty:
Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage 24 months unlimited mileage 24 months unlimited mileage
Details:
Colors:
2016: Ducati Red Red with Stripe Livery Ducati Red, Thrilling Black
2017: Ducati Red Ducati Red, Liquid Concrete Grey Ducati Red, Thrilling Black

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Image Source: ducati.com, ktm.com

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