One million Ducati dreams: Official
Monster 1200S | Testatstretta | Review | Specifications
It's a modern classic. The Ducati Monster. The Bologna factory knows it, and is milking it for all it's worth, and has just given away a prime example of the species to some lucky Italian sod. Why? Because:
"Between 1946 and today we have designed, built and delivered one million dreams that have become reality to Ducatisti."
That's according to Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, and that number represents a huge production run of motorcycles for a "small" manufacturer and is a cause for celebration (we felt much the same way after our one millionth beer, and our one millionth call girl; it puts a drop of moisture in the eyes, ya know?).
The liquid-cooled Ducati Monster 1200S (above and below) has significantly moved along the trellis-framed, minimalist concept. The Monster first appeared way back in 1993 with a 900cc air-cooled 90-degree V-twin lump. Or L-twin, if you prefer. It's said that the Monster represents half of Ducati's production output.
Is that true? How the hell should we know? We ain't accountants. When the numbers get that big, the details and specifics just ain't important.
▲ SUMP WARNING! Do not look at this bike for too long or you might rush out and buy one. This is class engineering with a near orgasmic exhaust roar. The current price is around £12,995 for the S-model, and around £10,695 for the standard 1200. Buy British, we say. But today, we're not yelling it quite as loud as yesterday.
Today, this particular Monster is fitted with the successful 1198cc Testatstretta 11° DS engine borrowed from the Ducati Multistrada. Power is around 130hp @ 8840rpm. Maximum torque is 83.4 lb-ft @ 7260 rpm. And top speed is a little over 150mph.
But wait. What's with the 11° DS engine anyway? Well, that's the valve overlap. On the full-on Testatstretta engine as used in Ducati superbikes, the valve overlap is 41° . However, on the everyday road, it's actually mid-range grunt you need instead of top end shunt. So Ducati dialled that 41 back to 11. Simple. The DS, incidentally, stands for Dual Spark.
And what's valve overlap? Well, that's when both intake and exhaust valves are (briefly) open. The idea is to design the engine so that the gases rushing out of the exhaust help draw in the fresh fuel-air charge. A 41° overlap, with this motor, leaves the exhaust valves open until the absolute last moment (as measured by degrees of crankshaft rotation). An 11° overlap, meanwhile, sees that exhaust valve close sooner. The engine characteristics are, with this setting, very different making it less peaky and smoother/more linear through the rev range.
The S-model is offered with uprated (Ohlins) suspension, improved brakes, and an extra 10 horses between your legs compliments of revised mapping.
But it ain't exactly a lightweight at 401lbs dry (minus battery, oils and coolant). And it ain't exactly frugal at around 35mpg. It ain't exactly short, either, with its 59-inch wheelbase. But it looks pretty good, in a two-wheeled Ferrari kinda way, handles well, has a near unbroken bloodline, and it's earned its place in classic bike heaven.
The ergonomics, mind, have been criticised (too hot on your legs, with various awkward metallic lumps here and there). But few riders are going to turn one of these bruisers away from their garage if the opportunity arises.
▲ Would this help change the way you think and feel about Ducati?
Ducati started out in 1926 making radio valves (vacuum tubes) and other electrical components. This was at a time when radio was king. Antonio Cavalieri Ducati was the driving force behind the business. His three sons helped with the muscle work.
The company's first bike was actually just a bicycle engine, the Ducati Cucciolo (translation: Ducati Puppy). This unit was designed by Aldo Farinelli, a Turin lawyer, and first produced by Ducati in 1946 under licence. The exhaust noise of this pullrod engine (not pushrod, take note) was said to sound like a puppy yapping).
By the early 1950s, Ducati was producing its first complete motorised bicycles (which makes the 1946 "one million Ducati dreams" claim a little disingenuous.
The fortunes of the firm have bounced around like Italian politics, and Ducati has over the years been owned by numerous ambitious parties. In April 2012. Audi paid £708 million, and it committed itself to covering the Duke's debts of £150 million. Audi is part of the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG), and if they don't know nothing about quality engineering and manufacturing, then nobody does.
The word is, or was, that Ducati is merely a "trophy acquisition". A small jewel in a huge VAG crown. And there's a million tons of truth in that. However, for the average guys or gals in the street, it makes little difference—except that Ducati has benefited hugely and manufactures the best motorcycles the firm has ever produced.
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17-inch, 10-spoke aluminium alloy
Rear suspension: Fully adjustable monoshock, aluminium single-sided swinging-arm. 5.9-inch (152mm) of wheel travel
Copyright Sump Publishing 2014