Ducati Monster 1200 test


Naked original 3.0

Legendary bestseller of the Italian brand, the Monster is the archetype of the undressed roadster. Dressed in essentials, the new version of the Monster 1200 inflates its engine performance but commits some oddities.

Who says revolution says reset, renewal, essential. Each of these terms defines the iconic Ducati Mostro. Unveiled in 1992 and marketed a year later, the Bolognese M900 roadster lays the foundations for a new motorcycling style: the naked. Because the choice here is intentional, erected in know-how and not constrained by an accident. According to Miguel Galluzzi, designer of the Monster, everything superfluous is eliminated: "All you need is: a saddle, a tank, a motor, two wheels and a handlebar". In fact, the machine is designed above all for pleasure and to generate sporting sensations. To do this, the machine then relies on a 904 cc L-twin with two-valve cylinder heads, 38 mm carburetor, air and oil cooling and suspended from a tubular trellis frame of the Superbike 851/888. Less radical than the sports cars of the brand, it avoids the limits linked to the "all faired", with in particular a more sensitive piloting comfort thanks to the right handlebars. Equipment and cycle parts appeal to the best, with powerful Brembo calipers and Sachs, Showa or Ohlins suspensions…. A more affordable version, M600 accompanied the icon from 1994 and the M400 (Japanese market) and M750 appeared 2 years later.

Ducati Monster 1200 front

The Italian brand once bought by an American pension fund, the Mostro becomes Monster and benefits from a range expanded over the years acquiring in 2001 the injection (name ie). The Mostro 600 becomes M620 ie then M695 ie, the 750 mutes into M800 ie, the 900 into 900 ie then 1000 ie. In 2000, Ducati unsheathed the S4, based on the block of the legendary 916 then the S4R in 2003 and the S4RS five years later.
The great aesthetic and technical change then took place with the arrival of the M696, M1100 and M796. These novelties, without breaking the original Mostro line, adopt more modern codes. In this movement, the M1200 and M1200 S were revealed in 2013, designed around the Testasretta 11 block, already powering the Multistrada and Diavel. With this genetics, having also, on its own, saved the Bolognese firm from economic disaster, the Monster reinvents itself again in a perpetual minimalism worked.

Frame Ducati Monster 1200


Muscular, sharpened to the extreme, the new Monster does not deny its aesthetic lineage but enriches its spartan lines with lively shapes. Compact, as if ready to pounce, the machine concentrates its volumes on the front. The inevitable rounded headlight with complex reflectors is adorned, laterally, with position diodes, thus abandoning the ugly device blocking its light. Its aluminum support is literally embedded between the triple trees. These are ahead of the uprights of the large radiator that brushed metal plates protect.

Larger, the tank now contains 17.5 liters (+4 than Monster 1100 Evo), sculpted in more marked shapes and the vents of the air intakes disappear. One-piece, the driver and passenger seat, topped with a seat cowl, is framed, finally, by real grab handles and rests on a slender rear buckle. A led light closes this ultra short sketch, clearing the view of the wheel, especially as the license plate holder is mounted on the swingarm. At the front is associated a tubular steel structure more massive but also shorter than that of the old 1100. In fact, this new architecture is anchored on the cylinder heads, thus including the engine as a structural element. Weight saving and better rigidity, but what about the effects on the twin in the event of a fall?.?

Ducati Monster 1200 bottom view

The latter is none other than the Testastrata 11 ° version, already present on the Diavel and Multistrada and derived from the Superbike 41 ° engines of the brand’s sports cars. This L-twin with Desmodromic distribution, double ignition, 4 valves per cylinder and liquid cooling here delivers 135 hp (100.7 kW) at 8,750 rpm and a torque of 11.8 daN.m at 7,250 rpm. (French version: 106 hp. (78 kW) at 8,500 rpm, torque 11.3 daNm at 4,250 rpm). It differs greatly from the air-oil unit of the 1100 Evo which produced "only" 100 hp and 10.5 daN.M. Tamed by a multi-mode piloting electronics and a handle of Ride by Wire type gases, the transalpine boiler knows how to bend, a little, to minimal civilities. In addition, an oil bath and limited slip clutch will curb the Monster’s mood swings during manly downshifts..

Ducati Monster 1200 engine

On the right side, the arabesques of its exhausts lead its furious growls in a double barrel type exhaust. His vocalizations are adjusted by a valve boosting his voice according to the engine speed. Satin-finished, these flutes differ in diameter and improve the aesthetics of the Italian fetish model, also lowering its center of gravity. In addition, it barely conceals the rim with five split spokes supported by a massive single-sided aluminum, in a granite titanium color for the most beautiful effect. Longer than on the 1100 EVO and coupled with an increased caster angle of 0.3 units, or 24.3 °, this data increases the caster by 60 mm. An evolution which testifies to a research of stability of the machine but also of adequacy with the new driving force of the machine…. and its weight: 210 kg. That’s almost 20 more than the 1100 EVO model ….

Tubing Ducati Monster 1200

A Sachs shock absorber, adjustable in preload and rebound, manages the rear oscillations. The steering gear receives a fully adjustable 43mm Kayaba big piston inverted fork. On the top of the straight tube, we will configure preload and compression, the rebound is at the bottom of the sleeves. On these are fixed, to stop the frolics of the monster, two Brembo M4-32 monobloc calipers with radial mounting and four pistons biting semi-floating 320mm discs. The rear receives a 245 mm element clamped by two pistons. The ABS is standard like the DTC anti-slip (component of the Ducati Safety Pack) and both can be deactivated and can be set to several values. Enough to further strengthen the grip of the Pirelli Corsa Rosso II fitting the short legs of the Transalpine.

Swingarm Ducati Monster 1200

Manufacturing, assembly and finishing of the elements are of high standards, making regret a sometimes less qualitative dressing. Right side, the important plastic covers swear with the crankcases. Opposite side, hoses and water pump (very exposed) offer a path a little too visible. However, inevitably laid bare, the Bolognese roadster hardly suffers from these few details as the whole is rewarding. Note also that the Monster is available in a 1200 S version. The Italian wins 10 hp and 0.65 daNm of torque ((145 hp and 12.45 daNm) but above all Ohlins equipment: inverted 48 mm fork and shock absorber both fully adjustable.

In the saddle

From the cockpit, the front wheel, barely covered with a string-fender, seems to be placed under the machine. Rather accessible, the wicked Italian even has a seat adjustable in height, going from 785 to 810 mm by moving a simple plate under the saddle. The older ones will regret not having more altitude. Because the Monster turns out to be narrow for more than one meter eighty. The position is strange. Even disturbing once the feet in place on their support: the excessively massive aluminum plates incorporating the passenger footrests in fact prevent the pilot from placing his boots naturally on his, which is also strongly set back. Legs noticeably bent, the knees then come inwards, resting on the frame bolts. Surprising for a machine with a sporting vocation. This discomfort in the heels reminds me of an identical one on the BMW R 1100 S. But one could remove the annoying parts, something impossible on the Ducati.

Footrest Ducati Monster 1200

Body tilted forward, the hands rest on a handlebar with variable diameter, raised and brought back towards the pilot by 40 mm. Saddles and granite plate fix it on an upper tee displaying the same neat finish. Make way for modernity. The instruments are concentrated in a single color TFT screen (!) Whose display, the amount of information relayed and the assistance settings vary according to your personal choices or the three driving modes available (Urban, Touring or Sport). These also vary the power as well as the predetermined level of anti-slip DTC (0 to 8) and ABS (0 to 3). Urban sets the DTC on level 5 and the ABS on 3. The maximum power is then 100 hp and the response to acceleration more gradual. In Touring, the DTC is in level 3, the ABS in 2 and 135 ch (106 in France….) Are available but with an engine response to the always progressive grip. Sport mode limits the DTC to level 2, the ABS to 1. Power and torque are delivered to the maximum (still 106 so here….), But in a more direct way. You will understand, in France, the difference of 6 ch between the calmest and the most assertive character is very tenuous..

The digital display concentrates the tachometer, bar-graph tachometer (except in Urban mode), engine temperature, speed and average and instantaneous consumption, odometer and two partials, stand indicator light but not the gear indicator engaged and no gauge. gasoline either…. At night or when going through a tunnel, the brightness of the device varies automatically, opting for a black background and highlighted indications.

Ducati Monster 1200 saddle

All this electronics goes to the left stalk via commands that are still too small. The levers are adjustable in spacing via discreet knobs and press radial master cylinders. On the right hand, we find the starting system inaugurated on the Multistrada 1200, with sliding cursor button, to awaken the beast.

In the city

An audible backfire signs the first seconds of starting, the engine speed then stabilizing in a less loud music. The double gun is not there only for the beauty of the gesture and already relays a manly song. Gear engaged, the exhaust valve also ensures a sharper rumble when gas hits. A tip for homologation. Because from the first acceleration, an essential part of the contract is fulfilled: we notice you. The engine approval, both in sound and character, charms in a few moments, undoubtedly THE strong point of the Monster 1200.

Ducati Monster 1200 on departmental

Hardly flexible under 2500 rpm, with a first too short and a second too long, the Testasretta unit does not like to evolve at low speed. This is the better to set off again with force at every street corner. It’s hard to keep a cool head, perched on a barely tamed beast. Easy to take, it can be seen in the city and easily finds a place in traffic for its compact size. Agile, lively, the Monster 1200 bends with good grace to urban exercise. Its turning radius is just correct, allowing U-turns without too much maneuvering in the small streets. Comely, the clutch control is soft but the selection cracks a bit and finding neutral quickly is a rather rare chance. Cramped between the walls, the Transalpine is chomping at the bit. Finally, probably the rear, almost nonexistent. Let’s make sure of the rest ….

Ducati Monster 1200 on motorway

Motorway and expressways

Vociferous, thunderous, the Monster rushes towards the horizon. After 7,000 revolutions, the thrust of the Italian twin grows harshly, but eases on our "horse-less" version, around 9,000 revolutions / minute. After having piled up the reports and familiar with the double hecto-km / h, we return with good grace to the legal motorway. The lack of protection does not allow high speeds to be appreciated for long. Even in sixth, at 5,200 rpm, the raises are powerful and throw the machine into a raging rumble. If the melody of the twin-cylinder delights once again, it does not make you forget a painful position over long distances. To avoid stiffness, you need a little more rhythm than you will find on the secondary network.

Ducati Monster 1200 from above


Here is finally his hunting ground. If we tease the curve gently, the Monster is of good composition, responding obediently to directives and letting appreciate the ardor, even restrained, of its 1200 cc. To accompany the twirling dance of the Italian, her two satin flutes play the score of a cavernous organ. A real treat. However, the windings of the roads inevitably excite our hunter of curves. The pace is racing and it is now necessary to pay in person to take the mechanical animal.
Strong support on the footrests and movement of the body are not a luxury. Increased weight and size, longer wheelbase…. the Monster is not obvious at high speed and requires a certain investment from its pilot to engage in turns. In addition, its light steering sometimes seeks its way on the defects of the asphalt approached on the angle. A steering damper would then have been appreciable to limit oscillations and parasitic movements of the steering gear. We will therefore avoid "goat roads" on board. Especially since its calibrated sport suspensions react quite strongly on rough surfaces. But what a pleasure to enter several gears without locking the rear wheel in exhaust rumbles emphasized by the ebb of sound gases. The Ducati has a soul, a voice.
When the asphalt is more rolling, the Monster finds more serenity, without giving in to ease. By swaying, the fault of oversized plates is less noticeable. Enough to let go of the bridle of the transalpine steed and make the DCT work a little during go-arounds. The grip of the Pirelli Rosso Corsa II is not to blame, only the couple of the twin gently work the rubber. In the event of loss of adhesion, the DCT is relatively abrupt, cutting off the injection quite clearly..
On the intermediates and beyond 5,000 laps, the rough times testify to the intoxicating mechanical life of the Bolognese. To calm his enthusiasm, the Brembo front equipment delivers good progressiveness and a reasonable attack of the discs, without locking the direction. As already mentioned, the sluggish rear device requires a marked pressure to be felt a minimum.

Ducati Monster 1200 on national


The architecture of the Monster 1200 is a classic improved with every mutation. Still more rigid by now integrating the engine as a load-bearing element, the roadster still shows an increasing general inertia. Sensitive to sporting pace, the new size is not too noticeable when driving in a rolled up position.


A strong point of the Italian. The bite of the calipers is progressive, enduring, particularly reassuring in town where reflex braking is numerous. And the ABS ensures the right deceleration anyway. The rear clamp honors the reputation of the naked Ducati family by shining through its relative efficiency.

Brakes Ducati Monster 1200

Comfort / Duo

By removing the seat cowl, we discover that the ultrashort end of the rear buckle hides a passenger seat well, thus confirming the aptitude for the duo suggested by the real grab handles. Finally, a relative aptitude, reserved for the pocket size accepting rudimentary comfort, high-pitched footrests and the mood swings of your mount for a handful of kilometers..
Hardly devoted to ecstatic contemplation, the Monster delivers sporty damping, swallowing most of the asphalt defects but is drier on sharp compressions. The overall comfort for the pilot is correct and the latter will be able to equip his beautiful with dedicated side cases, optimizing his long muscular trips..

Ducati Monster 1200 saddle


7 liters at least is more than 8 in dynamic evolution or angry city car, the full does not hold more than 200 km before reserve. The increase in tank capacity limits that of its consumption (+ 1 to 1.5 liters per 100 km).

Ducati Monster 1200 tank


Ever more essential, ever more sensational, the Ducati Monster 1200 resumes, in force, the recipe for its success: refined aesthetics and muscular engine. The latter is really captivating just like its furious chant. The latest opus features high-end electronic equipment, including the color screen of the instruments testifies to its sophistication. However, the beast shows some faults, including the oversized footrest plates are the most annoying example, at any level of driving. Less incisive on the attack, the Monster shines in fast sinking piloting emphasizing its cycle part, homogeneous at this pace. Finally, in France, the different mapping modes provide little difference between them, all of them making the machine evolve to the legal maximum. However, the throttle response is noticeably sharper in sport mode. Thus, the S version, more powerful in the free world and better equipped but also more expensive, will only attract fans of beautiful pieces..
Offered at € 13,490 and € 15,990 for the S version, the Monster now faces ruthless and sharp competition. We will cite the all-new BMW S 1000 R and its formidable overpowering four-cylinder, associated, as standard, with a convincing electronic offer (traction control-ABS) for a price which is no less: € 12,950. Another sulphurous latest addition, the KTM 1290 Superduke R sets the bar of bestiality very high for a high price of € 15,745. Weapon of massive seduction, the Aprilia Tuono V4R receives as standard the very powerful pack of electronic assistance APRC and the ABS and requires only 13,999 €. Finally, the Kawasaki Z 1000 appears at only 12,590 €, with the ABS option only. The Italian is therefore placed very correctly in price and plays the card of authenticity, facing machines taking advantage of the path cleared by the Ducati roadster. Less powerful than the latter, the Monster can count on its character twin as the best asset to counter its more powerful rivals. An argument of seduction that may not be enough in the face of the last of them.

Strong points

  • Powerful aesthetics
  • Engine character and availability
  • Agility of the chassis
  • Intoxicating sound
  • Equipments
  • Finishes

Weak points

  • Sport driving behavior
  • Improved ergonomics

Monster 1200 technical sheet


  • Red

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