Ducati's outgoing Monster 1200 R is a total weapon. Here's our 2016 Ducati Monster 1200 R review. Test: Paul Bailey, Images: Kris Hodgson

Ducati. The word conjures images of red blooded V-twins, engines that shake the ground, riders that dominated racing around the world in every class imaginable, and of course the famous Monster. Ducati’s are one of those rare breeds of motorcycle that people desire and want, the type of bike that many aspire to have in their garage at some point in life.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Unmistakable Ducati styling

Ducati are iconic and desired like few others, yet they can also be hated and loathed by some too. It has a distant cousin in the Americas that has shared the same love-hate relationship with riders and owners. Yet both of these brands are the most wanted and sort after motorcycles in the world today.

They are also the motorcycles that most would-be-buyers press their collective noses up against the window of the dealer to get a better look at – of the motorcycle that they one day will own. This is not a passing fad, but a long lasting desire to have what is truly unique and legendary.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

Ducati has had its times in history when they have been truly magnificent, and they have also had those times when they have struggled to produce competitive and reliable motorcycles. Over the years I have ridden some of those models that left a bad taste in my mouth. But times have changed fellas!

Ducati have now developed motorcycles that have raised the bar of not just V-twins, but also seriously upset the multi-cylinder brigades from The Orient and Germany. Technology, build quality, performance and choice of models are all well and truly there and they are state of the art.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – The R offers the highest spec layout on the Monster 1200, with full Ohlins suspensions

The Monster 1200 R is a perfect example of what Ducati has achieved in recent years and what a superb nakedbike it is. I only had the bike for a week but I have been able to give it a proper evaluation in this time, taking it on a variety of roads and really looking for what the bike is about.

The first very noticeable thing with this bike is just how comfortable the riding position is, it has a lovely relaxed hand and feet position. The ‘bars are wide and comfortable with just the right amount of width to have control of the bike; the footpegs are also placed to offer a relaxed leg position with still plenty of room and high enough to keep the ‘pegs off the road when cornering hard on your favourite piece of road.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – One-piece seat with standard seat cowl, in line with the R’s racing theme

The seat is well styled and apart from looking absolutely fantastic offers good comfort and good support over a couple of hours riding. The relaxed riding position certainly helps to make this bike a great distance rider, I never felt that it was difficult or awkward to ride or to flick into corners or commute in traffic on.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Offering 160hp with the performance tuned version of the 1200cc Desmo engine.

The power of the beast is a 1200cc V twin Desmodronic engine that has far more power than many of us will ever use in the real world riding our real world roads. A claimed 160hp for the 1200 R is very useful when combined with a weight of just 180kg dry.

Add to that the mapping options that are available: Urban, Touring and Sport, all of which are all so easy to switch from one to the other. There is just not a situation that this bike can’t be ridden in.


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The Urban mode is the biggest surprise, it transforms the Monster from a fire-breathing well, monster, into a civilised, well behaved creature. I was amazed at just how smooth the power delivery in this mode is and just how non-Ducati-like the bike was in this mode, it never bucked or jumped around on the throttle, it never complained about being ridden at very slow speed in higher gears, it just did it with absolute ease and with a silky smoothness that would be hard to match from any bike of this size.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Colour TFT with an easy to read display

The Touring mode is similar in that it offers more power and more response but is still so controlled and relaxed that it is still hard to believe I’m riding a 1200cc V-twin, it just delivers the torque and power with such ease, and again it can do it from such low rpm, it defies logic.

Sport mode brings on a whole new game though and with the complete 160hp available the bike is a rocket, the torque is sensational and it just pulls from low revs like a locomotive lofting the front wheel in the lower three gears while the scenery gets more and more blurred. There is such a large torque curve that the top end rush is noticed, but is subtle and just adds to the whole fun factor of this bike.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Sensational torque enables huge fun factor and front wheel lift

In real terms when I was riding this Monster along some of my favourite roads I wasn’t looking to keep it in the last two or three thousand rpm, I was more than happy to keep it in the fat area of the torque curve and just enjoy the acceleration.

Gearing is tall, I found myself using fifth gear most of the time apart from when on the motorways. In fact fourth and fifth gears are where you play when riding fast country roads. Endless torque makes it an absolute delight.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Ohlins rear monoshock, fully adjustable

Of course none of this fun is possible if the bike can’t handle the conditions. Suspension is as all important with road riding as on track riding but what is needed for each is so vastly different that a good suspension system needs to be able to cope with both.

The Monster does it easily, the settings that the bike was delivered with were perfect! A nice change from Ducati and other manufacturers could learn from this. The suppleness of the forks and shock were ideal for the rougher roads around the back of Wallacia and Picton but still gave confidence when I wanted to push harder into and through corners.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – 48mm Ohlins fully adjustable USD forks

The Monster was never flustered by the conditions. Get it onto smooth roads, like Macquarie Pass and the Kangaroo Valley and the suspension, unchanged, coped really well offering good feedback and stability. The stock Pirelli tyres helped here as well, they came up to temperature quickly and gave great control and grip.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Forged alloy Tri-W spoked wheels look the business and are lightweight, complimenting the single-sided swingarm on the rear

Brakes have always been a strong point with Ducati, and the Monster is not lacking in this area. The Brembo calipers, radial mounted, as well as the radial front master-cylinder all work together to give the rider faultless braking with enormous power if needed.


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There was never a hint of brake fade or any inconsistency with the feel or power of the brakes. Again the brakes worked in harmony with the suspension and tyres to give a very high standard of grip and confidence when riding hard. Back the pace off and everything still works in harmony giving trust and control to the rider at all times.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Standard suspension settings were perfect for me, both in the rougher sections and over smooth tarmac

Cosmetically, the Monster just has this presence, even when sitting there on the sidestand, the bike just oozes this look of aggression with style and sophistication in the build. It’s hard to pick fault with the overall look of the bike, paint is perfect, even on the frame and wheels, the seat is a masterpiece with the material used and the way it has been stitched.

The instrument cluster is simple functionality with a layout of digital displays that are just right and so easy to see and use. The wheels are just sexy as, no other comment to make here. My only small gripe with the Monster is that being a nakedbike, you see so much of the engine and componentry  that some of it just looks like it needs to be hidden behind body work.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Oozing presence

I know it’s part of the brief but in my opinion some of it does just look ugly and needs a makeover or a cover up. Of course if you like the mechanical look of the bike and are prepared to spend that little bit of time keeping it all looking clean and fresh then the Monster is for you.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Slide killswitch/starter, no need to worry about forgetting the kill switch is on when the bike won’t start!

The handlebars carry the usual switchgear, which is all in easy reach and sensibly located. I did like the way in which the kill switch slides over the start button rather than just being a toggle type switch – it looks cool and makes sense. The mirrors are also nice, very angular in their style, perhaps just a little too much compared to the curves of the rest of the bike but were very effective in supplying good rearward vision.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Each mode has a significant effect on the bike’s character

Going through all the different modes of the bike was a simple process that even without reading the manual was easy to figure out and remember. The changes in modes are clearly and easily seen on the dash as well. All the usual stuff is there also including trip counters, fuel level warning and kilometre counter when getting low. All well thought out and executed in design.

So, where does the Ducati Monster 1200R fit in the world of motorcycling?

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

It is certainly not the cheapest bike out there at $27,490 RRP plus dealer charges and rego. But is what you get better than a cheaper option? That is such a personal question, we all require certain things to be there with the motorcycles we own. It is certainly very top end and high quality.

We all want them to be able to do certain things, some of us need to commute daily, some commute every now and then, and then others just want the bike for the weekend rides. And some just have to have a Ducati, because it’s a Ducati.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – The premium price-tag is reflected in the amazing finish of the bike, although some aspects of the naked engine were a bit cluttered for my personal preference

The Monster is easily capable of fitting into any of the above categories or situations comfortably. I must admit here that I have never owned a Ducati but I am a lover of nakedbikes and have owned and still own a number of them now. I did find myself, while riding this Monster, thinking of how it would fit into my life.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

I was reliving previous rides on the 1200R, while was also planning new rides where this bike would be so much fun. The Ducati got me! I started to seriously think of this bike as mine! Now that doesn’t happen very often with me with the amount of bikes I test ride each year and how I evaluated them, but, this Monster had me thinking .


2016 Ducati Monster 1200 R – The R left me seriously contemplating adding one of these machines to the shed…

If you have the money and want a superb big bore nakedbike twin, you could certainly be very happy with the 2016 Monster 1200 R.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

If you are a just after a great weekend rider that gives you so much more than a rice cracker can offer, or you like to be a bit more of an individual and ride something that bit more unique, then the Monster 1200R is also the right bike for you. And if the history of an Italian iconic brand plays an important part in your decision making, then the “Italian Stallion” Monster 1200 R is the perfect choice.

I can’t wait to ride the 2017 model to see how it compares.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster 1200 R Tech Talk

The Monster 1200 family is powered by the second generation of Testastretta 11° DS engine, with dual spark plugs and a secondary air system. Dual Spark (DS) ignition uses two plugs per cylinder to ensure complete combustion in a very short time. The secondary air system is similar to that of the 1299 Panigale.

The 1200 R engine version is tuned for power and torque and to be Euro 4 complaint. Engineers increase air-intake, burn and exhaust efficiences in a number of ways.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

The engine breathes better thanks to new elliptical throttle bodies and air ducts 56mm-equivalent, larger than the 53mm standard circular system. The cylinder heads are new too with increased air inlet ducts to perfectly match the different in shape and dimension air ducts. A lower cylinder-crankcase gasket rises the compression ratio to 13:1.

The Euro 4 preparation is completed with engine noise reductions as a dedicated clutch cover and new pistons with graphite surfacing.

The R delivers a wide spread of power and torque with a peak of 160hp@9250rpm and 131.4Nm@7750rpm of torque for great performance and fun. At low, medium engine revs the “R” has a strong responsiveness with the 75 per cent of maximum torque already available at 3500rpm.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – Controls via the left switchblock are logical and easy to work out even without the manual on hand.

The Ride-by-Wire (RbW) system is an electronic interface between the Monster’s twist grip and engine, which configures an ideal power response depending on the riding mode selected.

The twist grip does not have a throttle cable connected directly to the throttle body butterflies, but instead delivers a signal to a control unit, which in turn operates an electronically controlled butterfly.
The RbW system uses three different mappings to regulate power delivery:

  • 160hp* with a sports-type delivery
  • 160hp* with a progressive delivery suitable for touring
  • 100hp* with a progressive delivery for city use
2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R – The standard exhaust still maintains a reasonable tone and matches the bike’s styling

The R engine version is coupled via 58mm pipes to an impressive side-mounted two-into-one-into-two staggered shotgun exhaust that makes no secret of the performance of which the new Monster 1200 R is capable. The engine management system dedicates a lambda probe to each header, providing precise fueling while an electronically controlled mid-section valve optimises exhaust pressure throughout the rev-range.

Scheduled valve clearance adjustment is every 30,000 km, and the oil change interval is every 15,000 km or 12 months, providing greater ease and lower cost of ownership. This was made possible also by the improved combustion efficiency and lower operating temperatures of the new Testastretta 11° DS engine.

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster R

2016 Ducati Monster 1200 R

Warranty: Two-year/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Red, White
Claimed power: 117.7kW160hp]@9250rpm
Claimed torque: 131.4Nm[97 lb-ft]@ 7750rpm
Claimed wet weight: 209kg
Fuel capacity: 17.5L

Engine: Testastretta 11° DS, L-Twin cylinders, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled, 1198.4cc, 106 x 67.9mm bore x stroke, 13.0:1 compression ratio, Synerject-Continental electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle body 56mm equivalent, Ride-by-Wire, 2-1-2 system, twin aluminium mufflers
Gearbox: Six-speed
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate clutch with hydraulic control, Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run

Chassis: Tubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinder head, Aluminium single-sided swingarm, Rake: 24.3°, Trail: 89mm

Suspension: 48mm Ohlins USD forks, fully adjustable, Ohlins monoshock, full adjustable

Brakes: ABS, dual 330mm semi-floating rotors, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc EVO M50 four-piston callipers, 245mm rear rotor, two-piston caliper

Wheels & Tyres: Tri-W spoke forged alloy 3.50in x 17in, 6.00in x 17in, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP, 120/70 ZR17, 200/55 ZR17

Dimensions: Seat height: 830mm,
Wheelbase: 1509mm

Instruments: Full colour multi-mode TFT display with customisable screen options.


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