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Enticed by power and style and the magical mountain roads just a few miles away from the coast, an intrepid Monacoian might think the biggest Monster would make a perfect fit parked in the garage next to a Ferrari.
Get the Flash Player to see this player. At its bottom end is the new Monsterwhich harkens back to the original air-cooled Monsters with a punch rated at a modest 75 horsepower.
At the upper end are the liquid-cooled Monsters, which are the most powerful unfaired sportbikes Ducati produces. Just a minute ride up the hill from Monte Carlo. A reshaped fuel tank and slimmer tailsection deliver an attractive makeover, and a bright new headlight leads the way.
The Monster has a slimmer butt foralong with new Euroapproved mufflers and a redesigned headlight. The new tank reduces fuel capacity by 1 liter to 4. Note the area ahead of the fuel cap that now features a ski-boot-type buckle — a classy retro touch for those who remember a similar latch on the original Monsters and period SSs.
The removable seat cowl is standard equipment. The cockpit is familiar but updated with the addition of a prominent gear-position indicator and fuel gauge added to its vivid color TFT gauge pack, strange omissions in the previous version.
As before, a tapered aluminum handlebar places a rider in a slightly forward lean for a sporty stance and strong leverage. The seat is adjustable for height Quality hand levers are adjustable over a wide sweep. Hitting the recycle bin are the former aluminum castings that joined passenger and pilot pegs in one piece, now replaced by separate peg mounts and alleviating our biggest gripe with the previous big Monster.
There are a couple of ergonomic quibbles for legs. The previous Monsters were given different power outputs, with the S model rewarded with 10 bonus ponies at horsepower. Now, with new cylinder heads and ECU tuning, both are claimed to deliver metric hp hp in our imperial measure while meeting Euro 4 regs.
The motor is amazingly friendly for a mill that punches so hard at wide-open throttle, responding cleanly even from below rpm and building through a thrusting midrange to an I-dare-ya peak at rpm. Brembo M50 calipers have never failed to impress us, and that holds true with the setup in the S.
Ducati was smart to fit them with less-toothy pads than in its Panigale brother, which provided a wide latitude of pressure to confidently judge precise braking even during changeable road conditions. I began the ride in Touring mode, which delivers a friendly array of settings for throttle response, traction control, ABS and wheelie control.
Ducati deserves kudos for allowing customization of each parameter independent of ride modes.
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As such, a rider can exactly dial in the control desired. For me in Sport mode, I reduced TC from 3 to 2 and switched off wheelie control to attain personal electronic bliss.
The TFT instrumentation is crisp and remained clear during our sunlit ride. Seen here is the display in Sport mode. The Touring and Urban modes have their own arrangements of info. Navigating the menus via pleasing switchgear is only frustrating the first time through them. The mountain roads we sampled were often wet in shady areas, and it was comforting to have the security of knowing we could use the brakes aggressively in corners if conditions required it, as the system can briefly release brake pressure if traction is reduced while leaned over in corners.
ABS is customizable to three settings, including one that switches off rear ABS for hooligan-style corner entries if desired.
Cornering ABS Motoring machines, even pricey ones, are never flawless, but my day aboard the Monster S gave me so little negative to consider. Power output is way beyond adequate, brakes and electronics are as good as they get, and it now cuts a more dashing profile.
Strafing a twisty mountain road on a Monster S nears the verge of motoring perfection. Not at all bad; just not perfect.
It functions best at full rip, preferably on a racetrack. The busy left side of the Monster 12 makes us pine for the uncluttered look of the air-cooled original Monsters. The liquid-cooled price of performance progress. There, now get your sandy feet off my yacht!Not your Dad’s Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
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