To those who accept Ducati's Monster as prima facie _evidence that simplicity makes a better motorcycle, the S2R 1000 is Exhibit A: a 992cc two-valve twin cast in the spirit of Dr. T's original _Pompone. No Radiators. No water jackets. No quartet of cams. Just the essentials: two Desmodue cylinders sending 87 gloriously useable horses to the pavement at 8750 rpm, with all but one of those cavalli on deck at 7500. After opening for business from 2000 rpm, it makes more power from 3000 to 6000 than the 118-horse Testastretta in an S4RS, sprinting from 0-60 mph in a credible 3.4 seconds-one tick ahead of that marital aid in the Lamborghini Diablo.
The supporting cast appeals to those of us who would rather ride than recite specs. At 436 pounds topped off with 3.6 gallons of super-unleaded, it's 10 lbs. lighter than an S4RS. The 43mm Showa fork and Sachs shock are less composed in fast bends than the upscale Monster's Öhlins tack, and axial-mount Brembo front calipers require a firmer grip than the S4RS's radial-mounts. The dry clutch is high-effort as well, and turns irritable in stop-and-go traffic, but modern materials make it more durable than earlier versions.
In the plus column? Half as many valves and air/oil cooling make the elemental engine much less expensive to maintain than its more powerful brothers. Inside, beryllium bronze seats help valves maintain proper tolerance, and the 94mm pistons seal against cylinder walls with nitride steel rings that help cut oil consumption. According to Jeff Nash, preeminent desmo doctor and owner of Advanced Motorsports (www.advancedmotorsports.com) with shops in Alvarado and Dallas, Texas, the Dual Spark 1000 is one of the most reliable Ducati engines yet, but don't buy one with a sketchy service history. It's allergic to blatant neglect, and runs rough if those 45mm throttle bodies come out of sync. A bad temperature sensor can wreak havoc on the fuel injection's enrichment circuit, making the Monster ill-tempered and hard to start, but installing a new one is easy. Worn cush-drive rubbers can make the driveline feel sloppy. Also, make sure you get all three keys along with the pink slip: two black ones and a red one. _Especially _that red one, otherwise known as the code key, and the only way to program a replacement to cue Ducati's electronic immobilizer circuitry if the others go missing. Lose it and you'll spend $2800 on a new ECU and dash. But as long as you can keep track of the original set, everything else is simple.
Nimble handling, prodigious midrange thrust and timeless Italian style.
Lacking legroom, basic suspension and brakes.
Revisionist service history, faulty engine-temp sensor, missing code key.
A friendly Monster for $3700 less than an S4RS.