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DUCATI MONSTER 1200 (2014-on) Review

Published: 22 April 2020

Updated: 22 April 2020

With grunt, character and comfort, Ducati’s Monster 1200 is a sporty roadster rather than a naked superbike

Ducati Monster 1200 left side

With grunt, character and comfort, Ducati’s Monster 1200 is a sporty roadster rather than a naked superbike

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

A polite, distinguished, well-dressed gent in a crowded class of frantic, lunatic supernakeds. The 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 stands out for the fact that it isn’t a stripped-down superbike, making for a calmer character than the Yamaha MT-10, BMW S1000R, or Aprilia Tuono V4. Instead the Monster is built as a more considered, civilised roadster, intended to offer the same cool and class as its air-cooled predecessors, but with added punch, comfort and practicality.

This isn’t the first water-cooled Monster: the S4 (916 engine), S4R (996 engine) and S4RS (998 engine) had all come and gone long before the 1200 arrived in 2014. When it did, the Monster 1200 replaced two of Ducati’s large-capacity nakeds – both the simple, stylish two-valve Monster 1100 Evo as well as the ferocious, focused 1098-powered Streetfighter. As a result, the 1200 sits squarely between those two extremes, with more power and tech than the 1100, but a more relaxed riding position and a less-aggressive attitude than the Streetfighter.

There are two versions of the Monster 1200, with subtle but noticeable differences between them. The first-generation bike, which ran from 2014 to 2016, is the slightly easier to ride and more practical of the two, thanks to its larger 17.5-litre fuel tank and more substantial pillion seat (including a pair of standard-fit grabrails). The second-gen model arrived in 2017 and brought a much sportier set-up, with crisper steering, extra power and smarter rider aids.

Ducati purists may point out that the 1200 lacks the visual simplicity that made air-cooled Monsters so appealing, while adrenaline junkies and track addicts will scoff at the Monster’s lack of savage silliness and fast-group pedigree. Both are fair points – but if you stop comparing it and just view the Monster 1200 as its own thing, there’s loads to love about its rich, vibrant engine and welcoming, engaging ride.

During 2014 MCN ran a Ducati Monster 1200 on our long-term test fleet, and found it to be savagely quick and capable. 

Ducati Monster 1200 right bend

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The Monster 1200 prefers to roll steadily into turns, rather than snap quickly. On the first-generation model, handling is defined by its rearward weight bias (52.5% of the bike’s mass sits on the rear tyre). Ducati had been so keen to create this low, lazy centre of gravity they even moved the battery down to an odd spot on top of the swingarm, near the shock. That relaxed, stable nature extends to its lengthy wheelbase (1511mm) and a riding position far more upright than previous Monsters (handlebars sit hands 40mm higher than the old 1100).

While the 1200 handles easily and naturally at first, up the pace and you’ll notice how it steers from the rear wheel, sort of like a '90s sportsbike. There’s a similar touch of reluctant understeer if you start to push it hard, too. In part, that sense of the 1200 riding low at the back is also a result of its reasonably accessible seat height.

The second-generation Monster has a sportier setup. For 2017 a new swingarm chopped an inch out of the wheelbase, while a longer shock nudged seat height up by 10mm, reduced rake angle by a whole degree and tipped weight balance forwards. You can sense its more up-on-its-toes stance, from the faster turn-in, to its more neutral behaviour mid-turn and the clearer feedback from front tyre to fingers. If you want to ride, let’s say "enthusiastically", this is the model to go for.

The later model is also a better bet because it provides more room for feet to move around. The original Monster 1200 is fine if you ride with your heels on the pegs, but on the balls of your toes you’ll find your heels hit the pillion footpeg hangers. And because they’re cast in the same part as the rider’s footpegs, they can’t be removed. From 2017 the pillion pegs were redesigned to give more room for a rider’s feet and could be unbolted – though some riders find their boots then rub on the swingarm instead.

Both S versions use fully adjustable Öhlins forks and shock, which are set up fairly firmly for the road. Look in the owners manual and you’ll find Comfort settings detailed, with big reductions in compression damping front and back – worth trying if you prefer a plusher ride. Brakes are Brembo’s exceptional M50 calipers, so there’s no shortage of stopping power, though some owners prefer aftermarket pads for more bite.

Engine 4 out of 5

A fantastic, engaging and flexible road engine. Ducati’s 1198cc V-twin had previously been used in the 1098R, 1198, Multistrada 1200 and Diavel 1200, but was detuned notably for the Monster. Where it made 170bhp in the 1198, 150bhp in the Multistrada and 160bhp in the Diavel, the Monster 1200 S claimed 143bhp (and 133bhp for the non-S model). On the surface, many saw that as disappointing – particularly given it was replacing the 153bhp Streetfighter.

But beyond the headline figures there’s no shortage of speed. With narrower throttle bodies than the Multistrada, the Monster actually made more power and more torque from tickover to 7500rpm – meaning it also hits harder in the midrange than an 1198. And that’s where this motor is at its best: thundering from mid-corner with as little as 3500rpm on the colour TFT dash. The rev counter turns orange at 6000rpm, shortly before a whopping 92ftlb of torque is served up at 7250rpm. Sounds fantastic too – a rich, bassy boom that’s noticeably noisier than the later Euro4-compliant model.

While the second-gen bike is slightly down on sound, it’s up on power. Ducati went back to the Multi’s larger oval throttle bodies, but boosted the motor’s overall performance with a higher compression ratio. Power (for both standard and S versions) rose to 148bhp, with torque up to 93ftlb.

Equally impressive is that no harm was done to bottom-end power, throttle response, fuelling or manners – the Monster doesn’t hiccup or hesitate even in its most aggressive Sport mode. There’s also a Touring setting, with the same peak power but a more measured throttle response, and an Urban mode that caps power to 100bhp. If you like electronics, it’s also worth noting that the 2017-on S model comes with a two-way quickshifter, which means you don’t have to touch the clutch lever for either up or downshifts.

Ducati Monster 1200 right side

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Generally very good. If you think ‘Ducati’ means a steady stream of mechanical and electrical issues, you might be disappointed to discover that most Monster 1200 owners report little to no serious problems. Some find their bike reluctant to find neutral, which can be a clutch issue – sometimes the system needs bleeding; less frequently the hydraulic pressure needs checking or adjusting, which is a job for a dealer.

Speaking of bleeding, weak rear brakes get mentioned too, and the caliper can be a pain to bleed properly. Rough engine running could be a throttle position sensor issue, or could be a consequence of fitting an aftermarket exhaust (de-cat systems are popular) and/or air filter without remapping the ECU.

The 1198 motor was fairly well established by 2014 and its (relatively) soft tune in Monster trim means it’s not highly strung. In fact, it can manage up to 9000 miles between oil changes, and up to 18,000 miles between valve clearance checks. Those aren’t the kind of distances a manufacturer slaps on a product unless they have confidence in it.

A full Ducati service history is well worth having, as the service schedules are a fiddly mix of both time and mileage. Franchised dealers are more likely to have completed any occasional service bulletins too, which often get missed by home mechanics. Also note that cambelts need replacing every five years at most – so all early models should have had the work done by now, no matter how low their mileage.

One last thing to check: in late 2018, an official recall was announced covering almost a thousand Monster 821, 1200 and SuperSport machines to have their gearshift lever checked and potentially replaced. To check, you can put your VIN number into a page on the Ducati website and see whether there are any outstanding safety campaigns on your bike.

Ducati Monster 1200 trellis frame and engine

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

The Monster 1200 S was never built, intended or sold as a ‘budget’ choice. Even back in 2014 it cost over £13,000 new, with 2017’s updated model bumping that to around £14,500. Today it’s £15k – serious money.

Used prices start around £7000, with non-S versions only a few hundred quid cheaper. If you want the sportier 2017-on version, they start around £8000, though many are still asking for more than £10k. That’s still decent money, though roughly comparable with a similar-age Triumph Speed Triple R.

Ducati UK has its own Approved used-bike scheme, which comes with 12 or 24-month warranties. Naturally, it’s not the cheapest way to buy a used Monster 1200, but worth considering for the added peace of mind.

Running costs are a mixed bag. Fuel economy isn’t too bad for a whacking great booming V-twin – owners report a fairly typical 45mpg. Service costs are considerably lower than Ducatis used to be but remain above-average, with an annual service costing around £270, and a valve clearance check likely double that.

Insurance premiums are fairly typical – roughly comparable to a Triumph Speed Triple. One benefit to the Monster’s slightly more restrained character is that it’s likely to attract fewer hooligan riders than, say, an MT-10, Tuono or KTM Super Duke, with that difference reflected in premiums.

Ducati Monster 1200 wheelie

Equipment 4 out of 5

The ‘S’ model means standard spec is pretty high, with its Öhlins suspension (instead of Kayaba forks and Sachs shock on the non-S bikes) and quality Brembo one-piece calipers. First-generation S models also came with LED indicators, a carbon mudguard and smarter machined wheels. The colour TFT dash looks natty, but annoyingly doesn’t include either a gear position indicator or a fuel gauge.

The newer S model has a slightly higher electronic spec, including its two-way quickshifter, plus an inertial measurement unit (IMU) which allows for cornering ABS, lean-sensitive traction control and separate anti-wheelie settings. The 2017-on bike gets a gear indicator and fuel gauge too. All models have three riding modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) which adjust throttle response, traction settings, ABS and dash layout.

One small but pleasing detail is that the Monster 1200 has an adjustable seat height – in fact, it was the first Ducati with such a system. Pop the seat off, remove four plastic parts and reposition a rubber-mounted metal bar, then refit the seat. On the original bike it adjusts height between 785mm and 810mm; on the second-gen it’s 795/820mm.

Used bikes will invariably have aftermarket pipes fitted – perhaps Ducati’s official Termignoni exhaust, perhaps not. Whatever the brand, they don’t add value. if anything, use it as a haggling point if the owner doesn’t have the standard silencers too.

Ducati Monster 1200 in mountains

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2014
Year discontinued -
New price £11,995
Used price £6,500 to £19,000
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 143 bhp
Max torque 92 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 54 mpg
Tank range 197 miles
Specification
Engine size 1198cc
Engine type 4-valve, liquid-cooled, twin-spark L-twin
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
Seat height 795mm
Bike weight 213kg
Front suspension 43 mm Kayaba fully adjustable USD fork
Rear suspension Progressive linkage with Sachs fully adjustable monoshock, aluminium single-sided swingarm
Front brake 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc M4.32 callipers, 4-piston, radial pump with Bosch cornering ABS
Rear brake 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper, with Bosch cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2014-2016 Ducati Monster 1200

Road-focused, well-mannered naked is the most powerful, practical and polite Monster yet built. 1198cc V-twin makes 133bhp in the standard bike, or 143bhp in the S model. Engine also forms the core of the chassis, with a short steel trellis frame joining cylinders to headstock, and single-sided swingarm mounted to the crankcases. Loads of bottom-end punch, decent service intervals, upright riding position, rear-heavy weight bias and slightly lacking footroom make this far more at home on the road than on the track.

2017-on Ducati Monster 1200

A longer shock and a shorter swingarm give the second-generation Monster 1200 a sportier stance: taller, sharper, with more weight over the front end. Power rises to 148bhp for both S and non-S models, without compromising bottom-end or midrange thump. Smarter IMU-informed rider aids, a two-way quickshifter, and more info on the clocks. Redesigned pillion pegs improves rider’s footroom slightly. Fuel tank drops by a litre, while pillion seat shrinks and grabhandles disappear.

Other versions

Ducati Monster 821

Less powerful (107bhp, 63lb·ft) thanks to a smaller 821cc motor. But less expensive too (£10,141), thanks to cheaper components such as the twin-sided swingarm and less-flash suspension. Launched in 2014 and updated slightly in 2018. Nice and easy to ride, but lacks the dynamic drama of the 1200.

Ducati Monster 1200 S

Slightly upgraded version of the standard Monster 1200, featuring Ohlins and a host of styling tweaks.

Ducati Monster 1200 R

Launched in 2016 as a track-ready, ultra-premium version with 158bhp, longer suspension to raise the bike’s centre of gravity, lighter forged wheels and wider, stickier tyres. Still not a natural track bike compared to other supernakeds, however.

Owners' Reviews

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Photo Gallery

  • Ducati Monster 1200 left side
  • Ducati Monster 1200 turning left
  • Ducati Monster 1200
  • Ducati Monster 1200 static
  • Ducati Monster 1200 trellis frame and engine
  • Ducati Monster 1200 front brake
  • Ducati Monster 1200 rear shock
  • Ducati Monster 1200 dash
  • Ducati Monster 1200 rear light
  • Ducati Monster 1200 handlebar
  • Ducati Monster 1200 turning right
  • Ducati Monster 1200 wheelie
  • Ducati Monster 1200 on the road
  • Ducati Monster 1200 right bend
  • Ducati Monster 1200 in mountains
  • Ducati Monster 1200 seat
  • Ducati Monster 1200 right side
  • Ducati Monster 1200 tank
  • Ducati Monster 1200 later model dash
  • Ducati Monster 1200 headlight
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