Test Ducati Monster S 4
Change of leadership
No longer a dream, but reality: a monster with a 916 engine. The S 4 should replace the 900 i.e. take the lead in Ducati’s monster gang.
Cagiva and Ducati, it is a bit like Max Biaggi to Valentino Rossi. The two are the fiercest rivals and, as is known, have absolutely nothing to say to each other, preferably communicate, if at all, via the Italian tabloid press.
No matter how often Ducati claim, the idea of marrying off a monster with a 916 engine has absolutely nothing to do with the Raptor. The fact is that the competition from Cagiva was a resounding slap in the face for Ducati. So for the Bolognese it is a question of honor. And when it comes to pasta, Ferrari, football and the subject of honor, the otherwise fun-loving Italian has absolutely no fun. Ergo, the Raptor must have been the initial spark for the Bolognese.
Although at Ducati they did not accept half measures or lazy compromises. So don’t take the potent, water-cooled four-valve engine of the 916 from the parts shelf, into the frame of a Monster 900 i.e. plugged in and the S4 was ready. No, no. Too much was at stake for that. For example, loss of driving stability. Therefore Ducati chose the frame of the touring athlete ST 4, which compared to the 900 i.e. caused the steering head to be one degree flatter and the wheelbase ten millimeters longer.
An extremely trust-building and practical decision for the 916 four-valve engine with a nominal output of 101 hp in the S 4. Its adaptation into the artful tubular steel mesh can be described as very successful. The engine looks anything but carelessly muddled in, the hoses of the water cooler, for example, nestle gently against the V2 instead of dangling around in the area. In general, the technology of the monsters is presented very elegantly. Purists may be bothered by the relatively wide build and therefore unfortunately in danger of falling, but they have to admit that it does not disturb the appearance of the monsters. In addition, the part is indispensable for the correct heat balance of this engine.
That goes well beyond the given target? not uncommon at Ducati. The twin presses a whopping 112 hp and almost 100 Newton meters of maximum torque on the dyno roller. MOTORRAD benevolently records this fact under the heading “positive series distribution”. A measurement of one of the first customer motorcycles as soon as possible will provide clarity. All that remains for all future S 4 owners is to wish that they too can enjoy such exuberant performance.
If horsepower is presented in such an appetizing and at the same time well-dosed manner as with this S 4 engine, there is an acute risk of addiction. However, only above engine speeds of 3000 rpm, below that the two-cylinder shows its rough side. He acknowledged the desire for low-speed driving with strong expressions of disapproval; reluctantly the monster jerks through the country. The whole thing is accompanied by a mechanical background noise that cannot be ignored. However, what happens above the magical 3000 limit for this engine deserves the greatest respect, especially since the annoying vibrations are noticeably reduced.
The V2 catapults the Ducati forward from 3000 rpm with emphasis, but always nice and controllable. It never really needs speeds over 8000 rpm, especially since the twin loses some of its temperament on the top. A good recipe against a front wheel that is constantly emerging under full load: the far forward-facing, but not uncomfortable seat position, in conjunction with a long selected first gear and secondary gear. Gears two to five of the gnarled, but precisely to be shifted transmission then follow briefly, the sixth tends to lower the engine speed in the direction of overdrive. A successful compromise that certainly contributes to the good consumption values. Just over six liters of super on brisk country roads are a respectable figure.
Rapid movement, that’s what she likes, the monsters, that’s what she was made for. And equipped with an adequate chassis. Only at the impressive top speed of 234 things is a slight stirring around the steering axis noticeable. On the other hand, it does not sweep as easily as a Monster 900 i.e. through the curve labyrinth. The S 4 requires an active pilot and wants to be encouraged to change direction with more emphasis. On the other hand, she doesn’t mind a violent tugging on the protruding handlebar halves. The tubular handlebar, which ensures a more relaxed sitting position, is reserved for the smaller monsters.
The biggest monster follows the desired orbit precisely and stably, acts confidently even on lousy road surfaces, can be steered neutrally into an inclined position and does not frighten the driver with undue uprighting moment when braking into curves. She prefers the wider, softer lines. And would like to be moved around corners under tension. In this way, the load change reactions that tend to occur due to relatively large play in the drive train are successfully prevented. Once you have adjusted to this peculiarity, it suddenly becomes child’s play to hurry through tight turns quickly and without tipping, even in first gear. At the exit of the bend you can turn the throttle violently, because the Monster behaves neutrally even with a lot of load on the rear wheel and does not stand up suddenly.
Then it’s time to enjoy the powerful pressure and the beguiling sound of the twin and look forward to braking into the next corner. Great, this Brembo system: not too snappy, stable and great to dose. The fork should respond a bit more sensitively on hard heels, but overall the fully adjustable front suspension does its job well and inconspicuously. The same applies to the Sachs strut in the rear. What is also noticeable during the happy cornering: The lean angle is too little to the left, because it is not the footrest, but the arm of the side stand that touches down hard. Too bad. The Pirelli Dragon Corsa, with which the test S 4 rolls, could offer significantly more grip reserves.
A.l such a motorcycle that is not perfect in all respects. But without a doubt an amazing naked bike. The Monster S 4 can look forward to the comparison with the Cagiva Raptor and the like. He follows subito in MOTORRAD 24/2000.
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