New Ducati Monster ridden
‘ This isn’t your typical splash-of-paint update’
Ducati have given their big Monster a seriously thoughtful refresh for 2017. It gets an extra shot of power, redesigned tank and chassis, a bunch of styling tweaks and posh electronics.
It might not sound earth-shattering – but when you consider how good the outgoing model is already, it’s extra treats like this that push the bar even higher.
Ducati’s engineers say their goal was to make the V-twin sportier and more agile. And, after a full day of riding around Monaco, I’m impressed.
They’ve employed the latest, Euro4- compliant version of the Testastretta 11° DS powerplant, which is near-identical to the one used by the range-topping Monster 1200R. This sees power pumped up to a claimed 150bhp at 9250rpm, 5bhp more than the outgoing S (and 15 more than the outgoing stocker).
Rolling through the hills around Monte Carlo that extra power is unneccesary, but still appreciated. The Monster surges out of corners with more than enough low-down grunt, and rails round bends with complete precision. It’s helped along by some gold Swedish control, courtesy of Öhlins, with the fork being slightly tweaked and the rear shock given a little more length. It’s well damped, making it perfectly stable on the straights, and compliant in sweeping corners.
The Monster also retains its traction
control system and three rider modes (Sport, Touring and Urban), along with beefy twin 330mm discs and Brembo M50 calipers. But the set-up is now complemented by Ducati’s Wheelie Control System and the increasingly ubiquitous Bosch cornering ABS.
Ducati have also added a bi-directional quickshifter allowing effortless up and downshifts as you link corners with aggression. They reckon they’ve also made the Monster even more agile and improved the handling by shortening the wheelbase and swingarm and raising the seat height by 10mm (seat height has two easily adjustable settings). The riding position feels near-perfect, and despite the power increase this Monster is well-tamed and smooth, especially lower down in the rev range. The throttle response is refined, making it an easier bike to ride than the outgoing model.
The tank has lost a litre from its capacity and the tail unit has been shortened for a sportier look. It’s altogether more compact and sleek.
Our biggest gripe with the old model centred on the pillion peg position, which obstructed the rider’s heel. But Ducati have separated the rider and pillion hangers, and pulled the pillion ones back – giving the rider’s feet more room. We’re now treated to a fuel gauge and gear indicator on the freshly updated TFT screen (better late than never) and the 1200S gets the premium R model’s exhaust. But it doesn’t stop there – there’s also a new headlight with daytime running lights, LED side lights, and a carbon-fibre front mudguard. One thing’s sure: this isn’t your typical ‘give it a splash of paint and let’s call it an update’ job.