had desperately wanted to ride the S4R Monster ever since
I first saw it about a year ago. Fortunately I got a chance to
have one of these stunning bikes from Ducati, but it was over
Christmas and the New Year so the weather sort of limited me to
what I could do with it.
I collected the gleaming S4R Monster from Ducati in Coventry
on a sunny, but cold and icy day. I decided to collect it by trailer,
so first impressions had to wait until I could actually take it
out on the road without falling off! A couple of days later I
got my first chance to go out on a dry day. The roads were good,
they were pretty empty and the once leafy and green Oxfordshire
lanes opened up into the distance - suddenly the Ducati Monster
S4R made perfect sense to me!
I wound the throttle open for the first time, and the most powerful
production Monster yet surged away with enough grunt to almost
bend its fancy new one-piece aluminium handlebars. This is one
seriously fast bike I said to myself, trying to hang on with grim
determination! Seconds later as I changed into 5th gear I suddenly
realised that I had just past the 130mph mark and it was still
accelerating hard! Now this is not surprising as the desmo motor,
until recently, powered the top of the line supersport 996 series
But take a good look around the S4R and you will notice a number
of things that stand out to make this bike something really special.
the single sided swing-arm for instance, in essence very
similar to that found on the MH900e Hailwood bike. It's as stiff
as the old twin-sided version and the same weight, but Ducati
have added this for pure style and not performance. It's a beautiful
creation and is truly impressive to look at, I don't know what
it actually does for the bike, but hey it looks very cool! Go
around to the other side and take a look at those twin stacked
pipes, they look fantastic and actually sound good as standard
to! We have carbon trim all over the place, carbon front mudguard,
radiator side guards, desmo valve gear covers, side panels, etc,
etc. No this bike is not just about a bigger engined Monster,
it's a design statement by Ducati, and a great one at that. The
Monster concept has evolved gloriously over the past 10 years,
and the new S4R is a far more aggressive machine than all its
predecessors put together.
Like the previous S4 and every other Ducati, the
frame is a beautiful colour coded tubular-steel trellis creation,
but now many of the bolt-on bits are new to the S4R. Up front
you now get new 43mm inverted Showa forks with titanium-nitride
coating and better internals, together with a fully adjustable
Showa rear shock. The new footrests have been placed 70mm closer
together to give increased ground clearance on cornering, and
the passenger pegs now mount on separate hangers, allowing easy
removal for track days.
In the engine department the mods have been kept
pretty modest and have been limited to the intake and exhaust.
A larger airbox from the Monster S4 teams up with shorter intake
trumpets to give the S4R even more added grunt. The peak power
is a claimed rear-wheel output of113 bhp at 8750 rpm--12 hp up
on the S4, worlds apart from the original M900's claimed 73 bhp
riders seem to buy the Monster for around-town use as
much as anything else, but here the S4R is far more demanding
and less at home than its lesser powered or more user friendly
stablemates. The S4R has a slightly higher seat height, and higher
footpegs, but the riding position is not uncomfortable in town
due to the higher and wider bars, reasonable steering lock and
its fairly upright riding position. Where it falls down as a town
bike is as much to do with the nature of the engine and it origin.
No one can say that the 996/998 is a good town bike, liken this
to the S4R engine characteristics, and you have one and the same.
The fuel-injected S4R doesn't have an automatic "choke"
(there's a lever on the bar), which in town makes the big Monster
feel a bit hungover from cold or low winter temperatures. The
clutch has to take a lot of punishment and has to cope with shed-loads
of torque and power from the S4R, therefore in town it feels heavy
after a while, this coupled with a little snatchiness at low revs
from the fuel injection makes it a bit hard to cope with heavy
traffic and slow town riding.
you exit the town and hit the open road all those urban
frustrations instantly disappear when you open that throttle wide.
Now the Monster takes on a different guise, suddenly it comes
alive with raw power and torque, that legendary Ducati handling
takes over, and out of those twin stacked cans comes the noise
of a v-twin on song.
The S4R with its extra horsepower and increased
torque charges smoothly through the midrange and on to its 10,500-rpm
limiter without the slighest hesitation. As you gain speed clutchless
changes are a pleasure with this super smooth gearbox (one of
the best I have ever used on any Ducati), and suddenly you find
yourself hitting speeds usually reserved for fully faired superbikes.
The oly problem at these sort of speeds is neckache, that tiny
little flyscreen cowl really does work but its just not enough
to sustain any real speed for long. Still it's worth a few aches
and pains to ride the Monster up there with the fast boys, and
embarass a few while your'e there!!
The S4R is a rev-hungry bike, it loves to be
nailed off the lights, off roundabouts and out of corners, in
fact it just loves to be nailed everywhere!! The S4R is exceptionally
good on average roads and twisty lanes thanks to the super rigid
trellis frame, racy steering geometry and fairly firm Showa suspension,
it cope well with just about everything thrown at it. Weighing
in at around 188kg, the Monster is reasonably light, and with
those wide bars and fairly upright riding position it gives you
plenty of leverage for flicking through as many turns as you can
find. I could not fault the handling on the Monster S4R, on every
occasion I rode it it still surprised me just how capable this
bike was, now if only I can get hold of another one for the summer!!
there is any comparison to be made with any other bike
then it has to be with the Aprilia RSV Tuono, but there lies a
different story. The Monster S4R is in a league of its own when
it comes to styling, performance, handling and sheer street cred.
People look at you on this bike, they listen to the beat and the
rasp of a well tuned V-twin and instantly recognise it as a Ducati.
Like a Harley-Davidson it has an unmistakable sound to it, but
in the case of this Monster, the looks are unmistakable also.
Get on one, ride off on it and instantly you realise you are on
something special, something that has a pedigree and it's a pleasure
every time you do it, no matter how long you have it you will
enjoy every minute of it.
Every time I had the opportunity (considering the winter weather)
to give it some stick, I gave it some, and every time I did it
brought a smile to my face, the S4R was brilliant fun.
If I was to compare it with any other form of pure transport
fun then it has to be likened to a two wheeled Shelby
Cobra. It has a definate presence on the road, hugh amounts
of pure power and torque, unique looks and draws a crowd wherever
it stops, it's true fun whatever the weather!
Those of you seeking a naked bike for commuter
or town duties should probably shy away from this Monster considering
its low-speed manners, but get it out on the open road and the
S4R is far and away the best Monster ever. It provides all the
style and speed you'll ever need, it's a true trackday weapon
and gives you as much hooligan appeal as you want..Oh
and did I mention it wheelies..everywhere!!