2. Ducati Monster 1200
What is it?
Ducati might’ve fallen into the annals of sadly defunct motorcycle manufacturers if not for the Monster series that debuted 20 years ago. The formula of a comfortably upright riding position combined with a sportbike-derived chassis has found more than 275,000 homes over the years, a massive number for a niche OEM like Ducati.
The 2014 Monster 1200 continues the stripped-down theme of its predecessors but adds more displacement and the many-fold benefits of liquid cooling. A V-Twin powerplant based on the Multistrada/Diavel engine bolted to a trellis frame is familiar, but with as much as 145 crankshaft-rated horsepower and a chassis twice as torsionally stiff as the departed 1100 EVO Monster, the latest iteration is endowed with more performance than ever. Making it a bit less monstrous is standard traction control, adjustable ABS, a significantly taller handlebar and extended 18,000-mile valve-adjustment intervals. Riders of various sizes are accommodated by a height-adjustable saddle (30.9 to 31.8 inches), while TFT color instrumentation helps bring the vintage archetype into the modern age. More details can be found in this report from EICMA.
Why are we excited to ride it?
Combine 145 hp and 92.0 ft-lb of torque with a ready-to-ride curb weight of 460 pounds, and the Monster 1200 S ($15,995) will surely be thrilling beneath an exuberant right wrist. The non-S Monster 1200 retails for $2,500 less but makes do with 10 fewer horses, 5 ft-lb less torque and a Kayaba/Sachs suspension rather than the S’s Ohlins components. The extra torque from the bigger engine should counteract a wheelbase 2.4 inches longer than the previous M1100, likely yielding a predictable wheelie machine. The stiffer chassis should keep its wheels in line during aggressive steering inputs. We expect big grins.