When Ducati launched the Monster more than a quarter of a century ago it instantly became their top-selling range and the Monster 1200S is the pinnacle of the popular breed.
It may now have been usurped by the upcoming Streetfighter V4 with its ugly winglets to keep its front wheel on the ground, but it is still one of the prettiest and most rideable high-powered naked bikes on the market.
When we picked up the Monster 1200S for test from Brisbane Motorcycles, dealer principal James Mutton warned us we may not want to give the keys back.
And he was right.
Not because the Minster 1200S was a track weapon. It most likely is (although we didn’t take it to the track).
Not because it was enormous fun riding through the twisties.
But because it can do all that and with a top box on the back it could tour and be a competent commuter.
It is a bike you could live with for the rest of your life with its low weight, moderate seat height, handsome looks and usability.
Aussie rideaway pricing for the Monster range:
Monster 1200 $22,990
Monster 1200 S Red $26,990
Monster 1200 S Liquid Concrete Grey $27,190
Monster 1200 R Red $30,190
The “S” adds a race braking system, three-spoke Y rim wheels, a carbon front guard, Daytime Running Light and fully adjustable Ohlins suspension front and rear.
Our test bike was also fitted with an aftermarket Termignoni exhaust which added a haunting howl to the already golden tone of this bike.
It’s quite a hefty price hike for the S, but it’s worth it, just for the Ohlins.
Being fully adjustable you can dial it for track work or adjust it to take luggage and pillion and cope with our cruddy back roads where it’s “firm but fair”.
All are powered by the liquid-cooled 1198cc Testastretta 11° DS L-twin with 108kW of power and 124Nm of torque that comes in low and flattens throughout the rev range.
It is a highly flexible engine that doesn’t require a lot of finesse to gain the most from its prodigious resources.
Just roll on and off the throttle for smooth progress through complex corners almost without having to swap cogs.
Just as well as it’s married to a six-speed transmission that can be a little notchy and difficult to find neutral.
At the same time it will grab the odd annoying false neutral between fourth, fifth and sixth gears, even when using the Quick Shift.
This L-twin is a lumpy unit with a lot of character and enormous pull.
Thankfully the top-spec Brembo race brakes on the 1200S are up to the task of hauling its momentum to a halt.
The brake lever has plenty of initial bite, good feel and progression with no fade even when worked.
The rear brake felt a little wooden, but was fine for tightening your line through a corner if you went in too hot.
Riders can adapt the power and throttle as well as cornering ABS, traction and wheelie control levels through the three customisable Riding Modes (Sport, Touring and Urban).
While many manufacturers now provide engine modes, this is actually usable, customisable and convenient.
Urban mode calms the throttle a little for traffic, but the fly-by-wire throttle and fuel mapping are so smooth in Touring and Sport, you don’t even mind the sudden snap of power as it is well and truly controllable.