Review: 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 – Full Test!
Ducati's Monster 1200 was updated in 2017 including chassis, engine and styling refinements. Test by Jeff Ware Photography: BikeReview
The Monster 1200 was heavily revised this year with a restyle more inline with the previous R version. A slimmer tank and seat tail, pillion seat cover, and new headlight update the looks. Mechanically, the Testastretta 11º got more compression, larger throttle-bodies, a new exhaust system and meets Euro 4.
Electronic updates include an IMU and Ducati Safety Pack with cornering ABS, along with wheelie control and the usual Ride Modes remain. The dash is full colour TFT and tyres are Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa. Chassis refinements include a shorter wheelbase, new swingarm, steeper steering angle and shorter trail and new pillion hangars and pegs.
The Ducati Monster History
Miguel Galluzzi designed the first Monster, the M900, based around the 900 Supersport. The bike that saved Ducati, it was released in 1993. Not surprisingly the iconic nakedbike accounts for half of Ducati sales globally, and has developed a cult following, becoming one of the most recognizable motorcycles of all time.
Motorcyclists love them, celebrities pose on them or even own them, they’ve starred in movie cameos and stunts and they’ve been parked up in front of European cafeterias for two decades.
In what was initially only a styling exercise, Galluzzi was instructed by Massimo Bordi to create a bike that was easy to ride, held a strong Ducati heritage and was not a sportsbike. Costs had to be kept low so the M900 was really a parts bin special, with a 900 Supersport frame and engine and 750 Supersport forks and wheels. But it was the unmistakable urban-style muscular bodywork and bull by the horns riding position that made the Monster and instant hit.
From there, it developed into a huge family with dozens of variations over the years, from the 620 to the S4R, S2R, 695 and 696, 796, 1100 range finally arriving where we are today, with the most powerful and high tech Monster yet…
I still remember my first ride on a Monster. It was late in 2002 and I was Staff Journalist at Two Wheels Magazine, which at the time was the top selling bike mag in OZ. The bike was a Monster 400.
I don’t know why I was testing it, can’t remember, or even if it was a model on sale here or a pre proddie bought in from the SE Asian market, but I do know it was a massive disappointment! It was one of the slowest, least exciting bikes I’d ever ridden. I was pissed that I had to ride this 400, when the more senior testers like Matho and Callaghan were out pulling wheelies on the newly fuel injected M900 and the water-cooled 916 powered S4.
I remember Ed Jeremy Bowdler (rip) telling me to be patient and that he had something cool for me in the pipeline… in the meantime I sampled the rest of the range, the proper models, and soon became a big fan of the bike.
Back to the promise and fast forward a few years (long bloody pipeline I know!) and my Editor, true to his word, passed me the key to a new Monster S4R one Monday. The 996 powered beast.
This was the point in my career that I discovered what a super naked was! The S4R was insane, with 115hp and top end brakes and suspension, not to mention stunning dual right side stacked mufflers and a single-sided swingarm. The modern Monster had arrived…
For 2017, Ducati have made some big changes, the major one being to the steering geometry (steeper steering angle, less trail, shorter wheelbase), Rosso III tyres and a new, shorter swingarm. Other changes are more compression, revised throttle-bodies, new exhaust, pillion pegs and hangars and an IMU, allowing the full Ducati Safety Pack including cornering ABS and wheelie control.
Revisions to the styling have come in the form of remounting of the dash (TFT), a new narrower and shorter tail section, narrower tank with buckle clamp (but less fuel capacity), a pillion seat cover and a new headlight.
The Ride: 2017 Monster 1200
I picked the Monster 1200 up from Ducati and headed north for the 100km ride to my place. I have always gelled with the Monster and the 2016 Monster 1200 R model (reviewed here) was fantastic, so I had been eager to sample the revised 1200.
Looking at the bike before I rode away, I’d have been hard pressed to tell the difference to the previous model 1200 S. In fact, it is very hard to see the differences even in photos, but it is fair to say the new 1200 is now updated to the look of the previous S and R, without the small bikini fairing… it looks cool, and it rides just the same…
With Urban mode selected and soft a 100hp on hand (only 13 less than the first model S4R!), the 1200 is a pussycat. The throttle pickup is soft and progressive and the bike not intimidating in any way. Like I’ve said previously in my Ducati tests, I prefer to keep Urban mode for wet weather, as I prefer the extra acceleration of the other modes for getting off the traffic lights. So, a flick over to Touring and a healthy 147hp with a progressive throttle is at my disposal for the busy Sydney traffic.
The Monster 1200 is a pleasure to ride in this situation and although I can’t immediately feel any changes, I have no complaints and like the 15-16MY 1200, the bike fits me like a glove. The seat is low, the position is in the bike, with a relaxed yet purposeful and controlled reach to the wide ‘bars and a smooth clutch and overall extremely comfortable ergonomics.
The mirrors are good but do need a tuck of the elbows, the footpeg position is spot on and the levers and switchgear all fall to hand perfectly. Heat-wise, the plastic guards do a good job for what they are but there is a lot of heat to deal with off the right-hand side of the engine, particularly around the right shin and foot.
Still, you don’t get Euro 4 compliant 150hp and 93ft-lbs without heat and all performance bikes are hot these days… The gearbox is nice in town though and the tall gearing means few changes, mainly first through third…
Out of town and on the expressway, the sensational ever-evolving Testastretta 11º is pure heaven and ticking along at 5000rpm at a dollar twenty has the L-twin humming as smoothly as a 747 at cruise altitude. There are zero vibes and there is an abundance of torque on tap for overtaking or just amusing yourself. The seating position also keeps you in enough of a pocket that you get some protection thanks to wind deflection off the headlight. The seat is comfy and honestly, the bike could be toured on.
Straight roads and traffic restraints aside, hitting the twisty bits is a rewarding experience on the new Monster 1200. It may be super-stylish and packed with technology but never doubt for one crank rotation that this bike is for cruising. Switch it to Sport Mode and go for your life.
Peeling off the busy M1 onto my favourite road, the Monster comes to life. Riding in the 5000-8000rpm range, the smooth engine, stump pulling torque and long gears means the bike lunges from corner to corner with minimal gear changes via the slick ‘box. With 150hp at 9250rpm, the 1200 is no slouch in the top end but the fat torque is the place to be, so shifting at 8000rpm is rewarding.
The throttle response is predictable and intuitive, better than the RbW equipped Multistrada 1200 with the DVT engine, and there are no steps or surprises. Run into turns is fantastic thanks to the slipper clutch, allowing full advantage of the new sharper steering geometry.
The Monster turns in with blinding speed and accuracy yet remains unsettled by bump or undulations on the way in. Despite a reduction on trail there is still the feeling of a large tyre footprint on the front and the ‘bar bend, position and width gives a really controlled feel.
The shape of the tank and seat, along with the footpeg position, gives freedom to move but the option to lock on and the ergonomics really encourage serious riding.
What impresses me the most in the twisties is the standard suspension, which performs amazingly over a range of surfaces – on the smooth grippy stuff it gives support and on the bumpy areas both ends are brilliant, getting better the more I pushed into the stroke.
Brakes? With the Brembo radial pump master-cylinder, M4.32 calipers and 320mm semi-floating 320mm rotors feel and power are going to be perfection, and they are. Great initial bite, intimate modulation and no lever pump or fade. The Bosch ABS system does its job and the entire Ducati Safety Pack gives confidence.
The harder I pushed, the more I felt the bike squirming around on the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs and the more the electronics did their subtle job of keeping things on track and on line.
I was surprised how well I could punt the 1200 along and was very impressed with the steering and overall geometry. It is a bike that is comfortable to ride quickly on, giving the rider a bit up the sleeve for a sudden change of plans, which is a trait that makes a good road bike…
I did not stray from the standard Ducati pre sets in the Ride Modes and didn’t deactivate them at all, I have the theory that if something is there, use it, a bit like a back brake!
If you are in the market for a nakedbike and want something a bit different, with unmistakeable V-twin charisma, go test ride a Monster 1200. Visit Ducati.com.au for more info…
2017 Monster 1200 S Quick Spin
A few weeks after testing the 1200 I had the chance for a quick spin up and down my local twisties on the 2017 Monster S. The S version is quite different to the standard bike, with 48mm Ohlins forks v the 1200 43mm Kayaba and an Ohlins shock. It also has three-spoke light alloy wheels, massive 330mm rotors, top spec Brembo M50 calipers, a carbon-fibre front guard and LED indicators. Price is $24,490 plus ORC.
The first thing I noticed on the S was the riding position felt completely different to the 1200. Where I felt I was sitting in the 1200 and the ‘bars were rolled back and relaxed, the S felt tall with more of an aggressive handlebar position. After some research, it can only be put down to the seat height adjustment (S must have been on 820mm, standard must have been on 795mm) and the position the ‘bars were set to. Amazing what these factors do, as it felt like a different model!
On the move, the brakes were as expected immensely powerful and with even more intimate feel at the lever. Although soft in set-up, the quality of the Ohlins suspension can’t be questioned but the improvement is in the upper limits of riding. Flickability of the bike through the corners was similar and actually I felt better on the standard bike, due to the position of my weight with the lower seat.
On the brakes into turns, and the way the bike instantly settles thanks to the suspension quality means the S is a step higher than the standard bike but if I had a choice, I’d stick to the 320mm rotors. Still, a super high-end Monster that looks incredible in grey and sticks like glue on the Rosso IIIs. The quickshifter is cool, too!
2017 Ducati Monster 1200 Tech Talk
The Monster 1200 engine is the liquid-cooled 1198cc Testastretta 11° DS twin-cylinder, with four-valves per cylinder. The 1198 Testastretta 11° DS breathes through the Ride-by-Wire Mikuni throttle-bodies with oval cross-section with a diameter of 56mm with two spark plugs for each head: the double flame front ensures combustion is completed extremely quickly.
Great attention was paid to improving engine response. The Testastretta 11° DS engine features a side-mounted 2-1-2 staggered shotgun exhaust and the engine management system dedicates a lambda probe to each header, providing precise fuelling, while the vertically stacked silencers carry catalytic converters to provide Euro 4 conformity. An electronically controlled mid-section valve optimises exhaust pressure throughout the rev-range.
The Monster clutch is an oil bath type with slipper function. Thanks to a gradual self-servo system, the spring load increases automatically. When the transmission force is reversed (overload), the same mechanism makes it possible to reduce the pressure on the clutch plates, enabling them to work in slipper mode, which reduces the destabilising effect on the rear end during aggressive downshifting and gives a feeling of greater fluidity when decelerating or downshifting in normal driving conditions.
The RbW system uses three different mappings to regulate power delivery:
- Sport: 147hp for a sports delivery
- Touring: 147hp for a progressive delivery suitable for touring
- Urban: 100hp for a progressive delivery suitable for city use
The design and top-quality materials used for the Monster have allowed wide service intervals. Adjusting the valve clearance is scheduled for every 30,000km and changing the oil every 15,000km, increasing maintenance intervals and cutting running costs. These results were made possible by improving combustion efficiency and cutting the operating temperatures of the new Testastretta 11° DS engine.
The Monster has a frame structure, which is inspired by Ducati sportsbikes, with the engine as the star. The structure consists of a compact Ducati trellis frame, mounted directly onto the cylinder-heads and the engine itself. Even the shock and the rear sub-frame are connected to the engine.
The sub-frame has a classic tubular layout and is further enhanced by the way it is coupled with the exhaust system, the plastic parts and the taillight. The Monster 1200 has a solid die-cast aluminium single-sided swingarm and ten-spoke lightweight aluminium alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 120/70 ZR and 190/55 ZR tyres respectively.
Fully adjustable inverted forks 43mm forks are up front, while the rear suspension is a Sachs monoshock with adjustable preload and rebound, mounted on one side vertically on the cylinder-head.
The front brakes of the Monster 1200 have high-performance, radial pump-activated Brembo monobloc M4-32 callipers, equipped with multi-calibration Bosch 9.1 MP Cornering ABS as standard. The four-piston Brembo front callipers act on 320mm discs, while the Brembo two-piston rear calliper is coupled to a 245 mm disc.
The Monster 1200 is fitted with an adjustable seat (± 25 mm). The standard seat height can easily be adjusted to the lowest (795mm) or highest (820mm) positions.
2017 Ducati Monster 1200 Features
Ducati Safety Pack (DSP)
The Monster 1200, in both the standard version and the S version, is equipped with the Ducati Safety Pack (DSP), which, thanks to the Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) integrates the Bosch 9.1 MP Cornering ABS, the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and the Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC).
The headlight has been completely redesigned for this bike and is now equipped with a double parabola and LED position lights. Adopting this new headlight has allowed a different dashboard mount to be implemented, which is now fixed to the handlebar riser.
Ducati Traction Control (DTC)
Ducati’s DTC gives a choice of eight levels, each programmed with a different wheelspin tolerance value, matched to progressive level of riding skill, and graded from one to eight. A preset level at which DTC intervenes is assigned to each Riding Mode. DTC can also be disabled. The DTC profiles are factory pre-set for each of the three Riding Modes, but can be customised individually and saved in order to best meet the needs of the rider.
The Monster 1200 is equipped with the Brembo braking system with Bosch 9.1 MP Cornering ABS device. This uses the Bosch IMU inertial platform (Inertial Measurement Unit) to optimally adjust the braking power of the front and rear wheel even in critical conditions when the bike is leaning.
The system acts with three different intervention levels. Level 1 offers maximum performance for hard riding; it does not involve activation of the rear wheel lift-up detection mechanism and allows rear skidding during braking by only applying ABS to the front. Level 2 ensures balance between the front and rear without rear wheel lift-up detection but with the Cornering function both activated and calibrated for a sporting ride. Level 3 ensures balance between the front and rear with rear wheel lift-up detection and with the Cornering function both activated and calibrated for maximum safety.
Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC)
The Monster 1200 is equipped with DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control), which can be adjusted on 8 levels. The system analyses bike set-up (wheelie) and subsequently manages the torque and power to ensure maximum acceleration in safety, without impairing the set-up. Like the DTC, it can be adjusted on 8 levels and is integrated with the Riding Modes.
2017 Ducati Monster 1200 Specifications
Price: $20,990 + ORC
Warranty: Two-year/unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 110kW[150hp]@9250rpm
Claimed torque: 126.2Nm[93.1lb-ft]@ 7750rpm
Claimed wet weight: 213kg
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, electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle body 56mm equivalent, Ride-by-Wire, 2-1-2 system, twin aluminium mufflers
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: 23.3°, Trail: 89mm
Suspension: 43mm inverted Kayaba forks, Sachs shock
Brakes: ABS, dual 330mm semi-floating rotors, radially mounted Brembo M432 four-piston callipers, 245mm rear rotor, two-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Light alloy 3.50in x 17in, 6.00in x 17in, Pirelli Diablo III 120/70 ZR17, 190/55 ZR17
Dimensions: Seat height: 795-820mm,
Instruments: Full colour multi-mode TFT display with customisable screen options.
Other: Ride Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack, Bosch Cornering ABS, DTC, DWC, Alarm ready, DDA, LED taillight and park light, USB power socket.