Love Italian Style

It’s just so civilized when you can agree on exactly the right gift exchange. She gets the Ducati Monster S4R, he gets the Ducati 999R. Simple. And if at times you choose to swap, it just goes to show how truly compatible you are.

The top-of-the-line S4R is the highest-performance Monster thus far, enlivened by a water-cooled, 996cc, 90-degree L-twin producing 113 horsepower. Exquisite touches include 50mm throttle-body injectors, ride-height adjustable rear suspension that includes an attractive single-sided aluminum swingarm and twin silencers, positioned high for a “don’t mess with me” demeanor. To examine the craftsmanship of the exposed Desmodronic engine and Superbike-derived trellis frame is to be grateful that Ducati sent the S4R out sans bodywork. Something this beautiful should run naked through the world.

The Monster is very well suited for smaller riders, who should be quite comfortable with the petite fairing and the knee bend dictated by the footpeg/seat relationship. Better yet, the S4R’s trim 425-pound weight makes it easy to maneuver and provides an inspiring power-to-weight ratio. A twist of the throttle rolls on a thrilling amount of speed, while a gentle two-finger pull on the brake lever is all that’s required to activate the excellent front double discs.

The Ducati 999R may cost more than twice as much as the S4R, but then it’s really two gifts in one; as capable on the racetrack as it is on the road. In fact, the 999R is delivered with a conversion kit for track use only and adorned with a limited-edition numbered plate to declare its exclusivity. As expected with a bike of this caliber, the 999R is bristling with the latest technology, including Brembo brakes with wide-mount discs for improved cooling and radial-attachment, 4-piston, 4-pad calipers. The suspension consists of a fully adjustable 43mm titanium-nitride-treated front fork with top-out springs, and a newly valved rear shock with improved adjustability.

Bred for racing, the big-bore/short-stroke Testastretta engine produces 139 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 80 ft lbs of torque at 8,000 rpm. The wind-tunnel-designed carbon fiber bodywork, Öhlins suspension and forged Marchesini aluminum alloy wheels come straight from the racetrack as well.

Despite its heritage, the 999R is no snob, and should be perfectly content sharing a garage and roaming life’s roads with the pretty and appealing S4R.

Price: Ducati S4R Monster, $13,495; Ducati 999R, $29,995.