THE LATEST & GREATEST MONSTER
2016-present Ducati M1200R
The R version of the current 1200 is the ultimate Monster, the most powerful Monster and at £15,250 the most expensive Monster. To justify that price it has arm-ripping power and torque, plus the very latest electronics to keep both wheels in line (three rider modes, eight-way traction control, and changeable ABS). Add to that list the latest Öhlins suspension front and back, lightweight wheels and unique R bodywork design and you start to see why this Monster carries such a salty price tag. Comparing it to the original M900 on performance alone is like comparing a speed boat to a barge.
Ducati have played some clever tricks to make the new bike at least appear like the original, not least the retention of a small trellis frame. The new bike, however, uses its engine as a stressed member with the shock and subframe bolting directly to the rear cylinder. And though the tank may appear the same it is actually a dummy plastic tank.
On paper both the original and 1200R weigh around the same, but at a standstill the new bike feels much larger and slightly heavier. The new R version is 2kg lighter than the slightly lower spec S model, but ever-tightening EU regulations have clearly added kilos to the Monster franchise.
On the move the 2016 bike is so much quicker than the original that it takes me by surprise, and it steers with so little effort too. The wheelbase is considerably longer on the new bike but the rake is much steeper, which makes the new 1200 Monster feel nervous; good job they’ve fitted a proper Öhlins steering damper.
On the old bike you’d have to be travelling at Tt-racing speeds to get into any real trouble because it simply doesn’t have the power, not for an experienced rider, but the latest bike is in a different league.
It revs so quickly and, though it is much more rounded and mellow than a Panigale, isn’t far off the rangetopping superbike in terms of punch. You can change the rider modes on the move so you always feel in control, but switch everything off and let her loose and it becomes a big fanged and angry Monster, not the nice little furry one like the original.