In the eyes of motorcycle enthusiasts, the lives of motojournalists may appear to be wholly enviable. Perhaps one day in a future Duke’s Den I’ll submit a cranky soliloquy about the ways the job is taxing, but that’s not how I’m currently feeling. After all, how down on your luck could you feel after riding a scintillating Italian naked sportbike in the south of France?
Ducati’s Monster is the O.G. of naked sportbikes, first bursting on the moto scene back in 1993 with an air-cooled 904cc V-Twin engine. The liquid-cooled 1200 Monster debuted in 2014, and already it has received several worthy updates to make it more appealing to riders looking for svelter Italian style mixed in with extra power and state-of-the-art technology.
The Ducati Monster 1200S didn’t do so great against most of the other players in last year’s Super Naked Street Brawl, but mostly because two of the other four were our Motorcycle of the Year KTM Super Duke R and the BMW S1000R, which came within a whisker of overcoming the incredible SDR. The Monster suffered more in the track portion of that test than on the street, though, mainly let down by a lack of ground clearance when leaned into Chuckwalla’s endless high speed turns – a non-issue on the road. Back on the street, il Mostro was a highly pleasant thing to ride – as nearly all motorcycles are that deliver 84 pound-feet of torque. The 132 horses up top are like having your burrito wet.
In the track version of our Super Streetfighter Smackdown, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R won over the BMW S1000R by the narrowest of margins. Which is all well and good for the small percentage of riders who’ll actually take these bikes to the track. For the greater population, riding these motorcycles on the mean streets of America, the streetable personas of these two and the Ducati Monster 1200S and Kawasaki Z1000 ABS are far more important.
What we have in these five bikes: BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS, KTM Super Duke R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, is an assemblage of pretenders to the throne. What throne? The literbike streetfighter throne upon which Aprilia’s Tuono V4R APRC ABS has comfortably resided since its introduction in 2012. Truth is, two of these five have a real chance of dethroning the reigning champ on-track, so once we’ve identified the most worthy contenders in this shootout, first and second place will get a chance to meet the Tuono on the field of battle.