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Ducati Monster 1200 R | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia

Last time AMCN ran a naked group test it was the Monster 1200 S that joined the party. It was obvious from the outset that the S model was a very different animal than the other supernakeds. With an easier-going temperament and more laidback attitude than the stripped-back racer brigade, it stood out for its alternative approach to what a naked should be: more road than race, more of a cruiser than a carver.

Since then Ducati has added the 1200 R to its Monster family. The R constitutes a marked step to the sports side of supernaked roadsters, yet the Monster still has that distinct Bologna feel about it. This is a good thing, for nobody ever buys a Ducati because they secretly desire something else. It’s a love thing.

Second only to the bat-crazy KTM in terms of peak torque, the Monster R shows its sporty nature by saving its biggest hit until 8000rpm. As it’s a big twin, there’s still easily enough bottom end to ride around all day in top gear if you want to relax, but you’ll have to spin the Desmo donk over 6000rpm to really make it boogie.

Shifting through the gears is done with a mere tickle of the lever such is the short and light action of the gearbox. Short-shifting up to fourth while peeling into Mac Park’s ‘old turn one’ illustrated the finesse of the Ducati’s soft-touch cog swapping. The momentum that carried into and through the fast double-apex right-hander highlighted its soft initial throttle connection and a high standard of chassis balance. In fact, among this generally hard-edged group of bikes, the Monster is like the soft-blow hammer, similar to the Triumph. It’s still capable of belting along at a seriously competitive pace, but in a comparatively delicate and distinguished way.

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All the parts that connect you to the Ducati, whether by touch or indirectly, are top-notch kit. Ride-by-wire throttle, clutch, brakes, ’bars, ’pegs, and switchgear to adjust the Monster’s excellent suite of electronic rider aids, they’re all appointed in the way you should expect from a bike with the Monster R’s premium price tag. Sadly, the recommended price will still be too high for most folk who, like me, will be left to just simply drool over the Ducati Monster’s arguable elegance and ethereal life-augmenting abilities.

This last USP was proven to be more than just a marketeer’s mind-muff by my old BSB teammate Mr Coxhell. What was his priority when choosing a bike for the 600km slog back to Horror HQ in decidedly dodgy weather? Comfort? Cruise control? Weather protection?

No, no, and no. It was the 0.001 per cent chance that someone peering through the mirk and mire would spot his ride, and the matching Ducati Red peekaboo rubber Johnny suit he had stretched over his racing leathers, and think, ‘Mmmm, my my, that dude is way cool.’ Too true.

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Second Ops

Craig Coxhell– The Ducati has some really nice features and sounds amazing. If you want to stand out in a crowd then this is the bike. It turns, stops and goes reasonably well – it’s a good all-round performer. While it may not be the top naked, it’s what I’d choose to ride to Philip Island for a weekend away.

Steve Martin – I rode Monsters many moons ago when I raced and worked for Ducati. But this new Monster is from another planet. It’s got the cool, sleek look, amazing electronic and suspension packages, very nimble handling, and it’s almost effortless in its ability to change direction. Add all that to the old 1200 superbike engine and it equals a whole lot of fun.

Paul McCann  – When I first laid eyes on the sleek and sporty new Monster 1200R, I was smitten. But I found the ferocious power delivery and twitchy handling took too much effort to ride fast – at least for my meagre talents. The baritone note of its massive L-twin engine and its supple hydraulic clutch were both strong points.

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