Ducati Monster 1200 and 1200S | FIRST LOOK

A Testastretta-powered “Mega Monster” revitalizes Ducati’s naked lineup

Now entering its 21st year of production, Ducati’s Monster lineup shows no sign of slowing down with the release of the all-new Monster 1200 and 1200S. Both powered by the same liquid-cooled, Testastretta 11-degree DS V-twin that motivates the various Mulitstrada and Diavel models, this should be a huge leap forward in performance compared to the air-cooled Monster 1100 EVO it replaces. In addition to more motor, an all-new, MotoGP-inspired chassis improves handling, while fully integrated electronic rider aids—including Urban, Touring, and Sport ride modes, eight-level-adjustable traction control, and Bosch’s latest, three-level-adjustable 9MP ABS—promise increased rideability and safety. A high-tech TFT dash simplifies navigating these electronic menus.

[ Ducati has sold more that 270,000 Monster models over the past two decades. The new Monster 1200 represents the third-generation of the iconic platform, highlighted by the addition of the liquid-cooled Testastretta V-twin engine.

Much like the Panigale superbike, the engine is employed as a stressed member with a stubby front trellis frame mounted directly to the cylinder heads to support the headstock. The tubular subframe, single-sided swingarm, and rear suspension unit all mount directly to the rear of the engine. This semi-frameless design contributes to a low claimed curb weight of 460 pounds (401 lbs. dry weight). New styling maintains the Monster’s familiar, less-is-more design, with the traditional round(ish) headlight, low handlebar, and sculpted steel tank. Designed for maximum comfort, the new saddle is two-position adjustable to deliver a standover height of 30.9 or 31.8 inches; a pair of optional accessory saddles are another .8 or 1.6 inches lower than that.

[ The standard Monster 1200 (shown here), with Sachs suspension and Brembo M4 radial brakes, will be offered in Ducati red with black wheels. The upgraded 1200 S will be offered in that same color combination, plus white with a bronze frame and black wheels.

This version of the superbike-derived Testastretta V-twin has been tuned especially for midrange power, Ducati says. Claimed values for the $13,495 standard 1200 are 135 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and 87 pound-feet of torque at 7,250 rpm, with 85 percent of the maximum torque available as low as 4,500 rpm. Special, enhanced performance mapping of the ride-by-wire system boosts peak power to 145 hp and torque to 91.8 lb.-ft. on the $15,995 S version.

In addition to more power, the 1200S also gets a host of other performance-oriented upgrades. Massive Brembo M50 brake calipers—the same as on the Panigale superbike—replace the standard M4s, while fully adjustable Ohlins suspension front and rear substitutes for the standard Sachs components. Lighter, three-spoke, machined aluminum wheels stand in for the base model’s 10-spoke hoops, while a carbon-fiber front fender shaves more precious grams and looks trick, too.

[ In addition to an extra 10 horsepower thanks to more aggressive ride-by-wire programming, the Monster 1200 S also benefits from more sophisticated Ohlins suspension and Brembo’s super-strong M50 radial brakes.

The Monster 1200 is the third of three new models showcased at the EICMA 2013 trade fair in Milan, Italy. The other two new additions belong to the firm’s superbike family: the 899 Panigale “Supermid” and the ultra-exclusive 1199 Superleggera, a limited-production, 200-horsepower, $65,000 superbike with magnesium frame and wheels, carbon-fiber subframe and bodywork, tons of titanium hardware, and a claimed dry weight of just 341 pounds. In addition, Ducati says there’s an unnamed fourth new model coming out early next year. We can’t wait to see what that one is.