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2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S Review MC Commute

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Ducati’s Monster motorcycle jump-started the naked bike segment (and the Italian company’s balance sheet) when introduced in 1993. Fast-forward 27 years and the 2020 Monster 1200 S ($17,695) is the tip of the spear in Ducati’s sport naked bike lineup. Last updated in 2017, today’s Monster is slimmer and more in line with the original Miguel Galluzzi-drafted design, pairing clean, muscular lines with modern Italian tech.

For 2020 Ducati's Monster 1200 S wears special gloss black on matte black livery.
For 2020 Ducati's Monster 1200 S wears special gloss black on matte black livery. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

The Monster 1200 is powered by Ducati’s legendary 1,198cc Testastretta 11 degree DS L-twin. Born from superbike competition, this liquid-cooled eight-valve torque monster has been steadily refined over the last decade. Dual-spark ignition and valve overlap techniques boost torque delivery while elevating fuel efficiency and overall engine smoothness.

Full of plastic and peculiar-looking plumbing, the Monster 1200 appears cluttered when viewed from the left side.
Full of plastic and peculiar-looking plumbing, the Monster 1200 appears cluttered when viewed from the left side. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

Maintenance intervals have been stretched too, with suggested oil service every 8,000 miles (following the 600-mile break-in service). Recommended valve adjustment is listed at 19,000 miles.

Conversely, the right side of the motorcycle is more tidy. We appreciate the Monster 1200 R-sourced tail and exhaust.
Conversely, the right side of the motorcycle is more tidy. We appreciate the Monster 1200 R-sourced tail and exhaust. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

How Does The Monster 1200 S Perform On A Commute?

The Monster 1200 S get 10 mm-larger-diameter brake disks (versus the standard Monster 1200) pinched by heavy-duty M50 calipers from Brembo. Cornering ABS functionally helps mitigate skids during braking, even at lean.
The Monster 1200 S get 10 mm-larger-diameter brake disks (versus the standard Monster 1200) pinched by heavy-duty M50 calipers from Brembo. Cornering ABS functionally helps mitigate skids during braking, even at lean. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

Ducati’s contemporary electronics suite allows the rider to tune the powerband from mild to wild. Of the three combined engine/throttle maps, we prefered the “high” power setting, though throttle response remains overly sensitive—especially during more dedicated throttle application (i.e., wheelies). Adjustable wheelie and traction control help less experienced riders remain in control, however we preferred riding with these countermeasures disabled.

The Monster 1200 S get 10 mm-larger-diameter brake disks (versus the standard Monster 1200) pinched by heavy-duty M50 calipers from Brembo. Cornering ABS functionally helps mitigate skids during braking, even at lean.
The Monster 1200 S get 10 mm-larger-diameter brake disks (versus the standard Monster 1200) pinched by heavy-duty M50 calipers from Brembo. Cornering ABS functionally helps mitigate skids during braking, even at lean. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

Although the exhaust note sounds tinny at idle, with speed it delivers a rhythmic thump—that makes riding motorcycles pleasurable. Ample torque, in excess of 60 pound-feet above 2,700 revs equate to a fun sporting character that is classic Ducati. If you enjoy riding high on waves of Pirelli tire smearing torque, then this powerband will suit you well.

Taller folks will appreciate the added room between the handlebar and the seat.
Taller folks will appreciate the added room between the handlebar and the seat. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

Yet, this twin is just as ready to play at higher rpm belting out just over 129 hp at 9,250 rpm. A color TFT display keeps tabs on the engine’s vitals and is loaded with trip information. However, it could be larger in size. The handlebar-mounted switch gear and menu system could be slicker and we wonder why Ducati doesn’t opt for a touchscreen like some of its competitors?

The Monster 1200 S adds Y-spoke alloy wheels versus the standard model's 10-spoke rims.
The Monster 1200 S adds Y-spoke alloy wheels versus the standard model's 10-spoke rims. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

Handling-wise, the S model’s premium Öhlins suspension strikes optimum balance between sport road holding and around-town comfort on rough stretches of pavement—a pleasant surprise based on past experiences with older Monster 1200 iterations. Both suspension components offer full suspension adjustment and we value the twist-knob-style compression and rebound adjusters on the gold shock body.

Monster fans will appreciate the return of the ski-buckle-style latch at the forward portion of the 4.4-gallon fuel tank.
Monster fans will appreciate the return of the ski-buckle-style latch at the forward portion of the 4.4-gallon fuel tank. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

More nimble than we remember, the 2020 version is more apt to play yet retains steadfast stability. The cockpit, below the waist, remains tight for taller than average riders, however the seat height can be raised or lowered, in nearly an inch increment. Conversely the space between the seat and handlebar is more spread out—a boon for taller riders. Bold LED lighting helps riders stand out and the headlamp illuminates the road superbly during night rides.

The 2020 Monster 1200 S borrows the outgoing Monster 1200 R's svelte tailsection.
The 2020 Monster 1200 S borrows the outgoing Monster 1200 R's svelte tailsection. (Ducati Motor Holding/)

The contrast between gloss and matte black finishes adds a degree of class to the 1200, not to mention a visual slimming effect. The sleeker 1200 R-sourced tail and Y-spoke alloy wheels are other nice styling touches. Keen eyes will note the signature Monster ski buckle allowing the 4.4-gallon fuel tank to be lifted for service needs.

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S Commute Review Verdict

Leaner and certainly meaner, the 2020 Monster 1200 S is more adept at putting smiles on naked bike riders’ faces than it has been since fully moving to a water-cooled platform. Yes, it’s fast, yes it’s fun, but the hefty MSRP makes it less palatable when measured against the excitement it delivers behind the handlebar.

Gear Box

Helmet: Shoei RF-SR

Jacket: Alpinestars Oscar Charlie

Gloves: Alpinestars Winter Surfer Gore-Tex

Pant: Alpinestars Copper 2 Denim

Boots: Alpinestars Oscar Monty

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S Price And Technical Specifications

PRICE $17,595
ENGINE 1,198cc liquid-cooled desmodromic L-twin; 8-valve
BORE x STROKE 106.0 x 67.9mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 13.0:1
FUEL DELIVERY Fuel injection, 56mm oval throttle bodies
CLUTCH Wet multiplate slipper clutch; hydraulic actuation
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Steel-trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION 48mm Öhlins inverted fork, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Öhlins gas-charged shock, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKES Radial-mount Brembo Monoblock 4-piston calipers, 330mm discs w/ Bosch cornering ABS
REAR BRAKE 220mm disc w/ single-piston caliper
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Die-cast aluminum; 17 x 3.5-in. 17 / 6.0-in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Pirelli Diablo Rosso III; 120/70-17 / 190/55-17
RAKE/TRAIL 23.3°/3.4 in.
WHEELBASE 58.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.3–32.3 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.4 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 465 lb.
WARRANTY 2-year, unlimited miles
AVAILABLE January 2020

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