Having extensively ridden the Ducati Monster 695 in the RRMC "Ladies Choice" story (June/July 2007), toured through a corner of the Colorado Rockies on an ST3 S ABS (August/September 2007), and taken a few spins on the Hypermotard 1100 S, I love Ducati at least as much as the next gal. When the Monster S2R 1000 showed up in my garage, I was eager to check out the bike and see what the larger Monster could do.
The red test unit we received featured a bold, off-center white racing stripe along the tank and fenders--it's no wallflower. This is a "Look at me!" bike that turns heads of motorcyclists and civilians alike. Who can resist? Ducati does, however, offer the bike in two other less-exciting color combinations--black with a white stripe and silver with a black stripe. But, seriously, this bike is designed to be red. Do you really want the Fashion Police after you?
After admiring the bike from all angles (the single-sided swingarm and radical dual mufflers gaining special attention), and stroking its graceful tank, it was time to throw a leg over and make its acquaintance from the cockpit. My first impression was that this wasn't any different from the 695. The machine is slender, and the weight so nicely balanced that the additional 22 pounds isn't noticeable. The 1.2-inch higher seat height was also negligible, as the Monster series is not a particularly tall breed, and I only stand 5' 6".
The first few minutes of riding up the narrow, curving road from my house did not immediately reveal the extra power of the larger motor, but I did feel that the suspension was firmer, without being harsh--the combination of a Showa fork and Sachs rear shock is magic. Of course, I hadn't yet begun to put the bike through its paces. I was just enjoying the sheer fun of leaning into familiar turns on a bike that handles so smoothly that it feels as if it's an extension of my body. Handling and chassis specs for the spectacular red trellis frame are similar to the M695, though the S2R's rear tire is wider and has a sportier lower profile.
Even more than its smaller sibling, the S2R's power rolls on effortlessly. The gearing is nicely spaced, so it's difficult to find yourself in the wrong gear. There's plenty of power at low rpm to pull when exiting tight turns. I tend to downshift more often than brake--left over from my dirt bike racing days--but the S2R has a heavier clutch pull than the M695, so I gave my left hand a break and took advantage of the never-fail low rpm torque.
Returning to tight turns for a moment, I love the confident turn-in on the S2R. The front end never hunts--it just goes where I point it without protest. It felt neither precariously light nor fatiguingly heavy. If I misjudge a turn, it is as happy changing lines as it is holding a line. Only when tackling parking lots at ultra-slow speeds did I feel uncomfortable on the S2R. The handlebars argue with the otherwise beautiful tank, making maneuvering in tight quarters difficult.
Out on wide sweeping roads, one is inspired to twist the throttle and see just how fast this machine can go. And here, the extra 22 horses become quite apparent. The bike pulls away sure and strong and just keeps going. It's tempting to leave the throttle all the way open and let it run, but it has so much bottom end power that short-shifting makes more sense to me than redlining.
The triple disc brakes are spot on--the 4-piston front calipers are an improvement over the M695's 2-piston grabbers. Whether zipping through the canyons or mixing it up with the local traffic, a squeeze of the right lever immediately and smoothly slows the bike, contributing to a feeling of complete confidence.
While I probably don't need the extra horsepower of the S2R 1000 to have a blast in my local stomping grounds, there was little about the bigger machine I didn't like. Ducati's superb handling and smooth power make the bike a pure pleasure to ride. There's an ever-present list of "things to do" in the back of my mind that is constantly reminding me to keep the ride short whenever I'm suiting up, but the S2R's seductive allure of one more road, one more hill, and one more turn, silenced any internal self-nagging.
Photography by Don Williams
Helmet: Suomy Spec-1R Extreme Flowers
Jacket and Pants: Ducati Old Times Lady
Gloves: Ducati Smart
Boots: Alpinestars Stella SMX-4