MOnster Garage: Project 2006 Ducati S2R 1000

MO has teamed up with Pro Italia to create a project bike out of a 2006 S2R1000.

Just about this time last year our man in Italy, Yossef, garnered himself a ride on Ducati's S2R Monster. His review was just short of gushing. Stateside MO staffers got jealous, so we decided to one-up our European-cool-bike-getting buddy by putting on our best pathetic faces and finagling an S2R of our own, but with 189 more cubic centimeters. 

MO has teamed up with Pro Italia to create a project bike out of a 2006 S2R1000. Pro Italia, for those who don't live in Southern California or aren't dyed in the wool Ducatisti, is a small but elegant shop located in Montrose, California and are a leading Ducati dealer in the whole of the U.S.. A relatively small but excellent shop and a relatively small but irreverent motorcycle publication seemed like a perfect match-up to us. Small but irreverent. Pete, not the bike.

The Plan

This first installment in a series of articles is to give our initial impressions of the bike and map out our intentions with this super fun, machine-cum-icon of motorcycling. The second phase of the project will be what we're calling "practical" upgrades. It will focus on making the bike even more user friendly (if that's even possible) than it already is by searching out options for things like mirror upgrades, beefier triple clamps, different handlebars, clutch and brake levers and whatever else we can slip under our jackets while Fonzie distracts Pro Italia staff with the flash on his camera.

Phase three, if everything goes according to plan, will cover more involved upgrades such as exhaust and engine hop-ups. The final leg in this journey of discovery will entail enhancing the bling factor.

We're looking to dip the S2R1000 in as much carbon-fiber, paint and gum ball machine stickers that Pro Italia will let us have.

The Differences

Mmm... A perfectly good bike for MO to try and make even better. Yossef's test was of the equally attractive but smaller displaced S2R. His bike was of the 803cc variety. Our bike is 992 cubic centimeters of law taunting fun. The Monster that he rode had a bore and stroke of 88 x 66 mm and a compression ratio of 10.5 : 1. Our Monster has a bore and stroke of 94 x 71.5 mm and a compression ratio of 10 : 1. The base S2R uses a wet multi-plate clutch while the S2R1000 utilizes the much loved dry noise maker that Ducati's are known for.

When Yossef needed to control his teenage-like enthusiasm, he applied stopping power via two twin-piston calipers that clamped down on 300 mm discs. Our 1000 does slightly better by crushing a pair of 320 mm brake rotors with two four-piston binders. The rear brake system is identical on each bike. What's not so identical is the front suspension. The 803cc bike uses a 43mm inverted Marzocchi, where the bigger S2R suspends the front with a 43mm fully-adjustable, inverted Showa fork. The two S2Rs share the same rear shock, and just about everything else for that matter. The differences fade at this point, as the sibling bikes remain identical in virtually every other aspect, save for paint schemes.

Both bikes have the same frame, dimensions (wheelbase, rake, seat height, etc.) wheels, exhaust, fuel capacity, etc. If you put the two side by side you'd never know that the 1000 model weighs only 11 pounds more according to Ducati scales and has ever so slightly taller gearing than the standard S2R.

Impressions Mmm... A perfectly good bike for MO to try and make even better.

No matter how ethereal or spiritual relationships can become, they all start at the same basic point: attraction. You may not know one iota about the person, but you certainly like the way they look. With motorbikes, that ancient physiological drive may be even stronger. People who have never or will never ride a bike can't deny the sensuality of many motorcycles. The S2R1000 tempts the gaze easily with its exposed L-twin dangling from the tubular steel trellis frame that's color-matched to the rest of the bike. After you take in the bike as a whole, you begin to appreciate the muscular-looking front-end that doesn't seem to clash with the sweeping line that flows from the fuel tank all the way to the tail section. This fluidity is further enhanced if you have the pillion cover clipped on. Before your eye can move away from the tail, it gets stopped immediately by the twin-shooter exhaust snugged up closely to the rear.

The bars and triple clamp are plenty sufficient, but we're going to change them anyway. Although this exhaust can relocation has done wonders for ground clearance and well, appearance, it's left out consideration of the practicality of the helmet lock. With access placed inches from the top exhaust can, there's no possible way of operating it without scorching your digits, not to mention the helmet. Why Ducati didn't relocate it to the other side of the bike is beyond us.

Setting off the whole look of the bike in one stroke, creating the perfect frame for this Italian work of art, are the brilliant white Marchesini wheels.

Of the S2R1000, Gabe noted, "The racing stripes, matching bikini fairing and seat cover all add a classy, finished touch that Monsters lacked over the last ten years." In further adulation of the Monster line he makes the most excellent point by stating, "The bike looks expensive and exotic, even though the price is quite reasonable considering the exclusive nature and hand-built quality." "The racing stripes, matching bikini fairing and seat cover all add a classy, finished touch that Monsters lacked over the last ten years." Unfortunately, when discussing relationships of any nature, you can't skip the old adage that "looks aren't everything." For motorcycles, one aspect of that realization comes in the form of comfort and "ridability." Speaking for myself, I found this Duc to be more livable than I had ever imagined. So much so that I could easily replace my one-time all-around favorite Bandit 1200 with the S2R1000. Except for the ultra-long trip that might require more wind protection, this bike fools the eye and your gut instinct by its overall ergonomic package that quickly creates an environment worthy of freeway mile after freeway, and yet it is completely accessible to everyday commuting or short jaunts across town.

Gabe said it best, "The older models placed the rider in a very odd riding position unlike any other standard motorcycle, with the handlebar forcing the rider to lean forward and stick his elbows out to the side, unless they're a "long-armed Roman pimp", to quote Hunter S. Thompson in his famous article about the 900SS. Instead, there is just enough forward lean to put the rider in a fighting position, ready to attack twisty roads or slice through traffic without putting too much strain on delicate middle-aged backs and wrists."

Both Gabe and myself were basically on the same page when we came to the conclusions about the firm but comfortable saddle and minimalist wind protection offered from the small, albeit stylish windscreen. With plenty of Monster experience under his belt, Gabe made some important observations about the footpeg to saddle relationship, "The footpeg position is improved; they feel a bit higher and more rear-set than my 620 Monster's, for more ground clearance, but the ol' knees don't seem to mind much."

Gabe hit the nail on the head when he remarked, "It's the smoothest and most Ducati's S2R1000 is an absolute must if you find yourself in the Mesozoic Era.powerful air-cooled Ducati motor yet, and will make a Ducati believer out of the most cynical, practical-minded Japanese inline-four enthusiast." How's that for succinct? . I too, was astonished at just how smooth this L-twin is, considering the amount of torque this Monster produces. The amount of mid-range pull that's available, especially above 4,000 rpm, just adds to the practicality of a bike not usually perceived as practical whatsoever. Passing speeds happen immediately (even in top gear) once over that 4,000 mark and it rivals many other bikes that need to click down a time or two to get the same performance. The broad range of torque makes this bike almost idiot-proof in terms of throttle handling skills. One warning about all this twisting power, where some restraint absolutely is needed, is to tread lightly straight off the bottom. With "...power [that] keeps building as the tach needle winds to the right, all the way to the unmarked, top-secret redline somewhere around 10,000 RPM " the S2R's power is similar to most Buells, and an unchecked or ham-fisted twist will have the front-end clawing at the sky.

Getting all that torque and power to the road requires a good tranny and clutch.  I agree with Gabe whole-heartedly when he commented that the shifting has a long throw. He also remarks that it has a "...cruchier feel than Japanese trannys." Crunchy I'm not sure about, but smooth and trouble free was my experience and it lead to easy clutchless up-shifts.

Speaking of the clutch, Gabe's time worn experience with Monsters probably sums up best what so many of you already know, "The hydraulic clutch will make someone used to the he-man grip required on older Bologna twins weep with joy as they toss their jumbo-sized jar of 500 mg Motrins into the trash." I particularly liked the adjustable clutch lever, which suited my style of slipping the clutch a little much easier on some settings than others. "Combined with very excellent Showa suspension up front, the nimble steering afforded by the wide bar and sporty geometry make the S2R a real performer on twisty roads."

One, little-talked about, but very neat feature is the way the starter will continue to turn until the bike fires even though you've long since taken your thumb off the button.

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