2006 Monster S2R 1000

A Monster Impression

The 2006 Ducati Monster S2R 1000 is not—by today’s standards—a modern machine. Its basic design dates to 1993 when Miguel Galuzzi penned the very first version of a bike that has become one of the best-loved motorcycles in the world. Sure the engine is now fuel injected, the brakes and suspension are better and there’s a swanky single-sided aluminum swing arm, but the basics are all still there. You won’t find radial brakes, underseat exhaust, or even a fancy headlight—high-tech bits that are now so common on bikes that they barely elicit a yawn these days. You don’t even get a full 100 horsepower. And yet…the bike manages something that few other motorcycles can—it speaks to my soul.

From the moment I thumb the starter and feel the engine thunder to life I know this is a special motorcycle—one that faithfully caries on the Monster name. Pulling the clutch in, I shift into first gear and am rewarded with a satisfying thunk as the transmission engages. One last check of the parking lot and I’m off. Once my knees are tucked into the tank I notice a longer reach to the bars than my current motorcycle, a Honda 919, but I’m not uncomfortable. In fact, I feel right at home as my previous bike was a 1997 Ducati-Red Monster 900—a bike that I’ll probably never get over.

At the entrance to the main artery out of town, David, the co-owner of the dealership so graciously providing my test ride, takes the lead. We pull out onto the main road together and as soon as we get to the first traffic light a few blocks up the road, I notice the clutch pull hasn’t gotten any easier—or maybe I’ve just gotten wimpy…er, I mean, used to the light clutch action of my Honda. This latest Monster definitely has a monster clutch pull. I’m grinning already.

As I dodge traffic trying to keep David in sight, I also notice how powerful this bike feels. Intellectually I know it has fewer ponies than my Honda, but the Honda feels so…tame in comparison. The Monster feels caged, ready to surge forward the moment my right wrist opens the cage/throttle even the smallest amount. Of course, this feeling might be attributed to the fact that the S2R I’m riding is equipped with a Termignoni carbon fiber exhaust system and Ducati Performance vented clutch cover—accessories that really bring out this Monster’s true personality.

Finally free of the traffic, the pace quickens and the S2R doesn’t miss a beat, allowing me to easily keep up with David on his Multistrada. A few more turns and we’re out of town and onto some lonely country roads—conveniently located just a few miles from the shop. Now the serious fun begins. My plan was to take it easy, get to know this new Monster slowly, but David isn’t in the mood for slow and I realize suddenly that we’re at triple digits. I should slow down but I’m having too much fun. Every pulse of the exhaust encourages me to go faster. The bike is rock solid. The sudden appearance of a stop sign brings me back to earth—and quickly. These are some of the best brakes I’ve sampled.

Too soon we’re headed back into town. I can’t stop smiling. As I pull into the parking lot I’m sad the ride is over, but inside I know—I must have this bike. A few weeks later, common sense gets the better of me and I decide that I need to get away from bikes that generate BIG SPEED. I decide I should probably just buy a Multistrada 620 and tell my wife that’s what I want. Within a week, she surprises me with a new Multi 620 for my birthday and I’m speechless. It’s a great bike and maybe the most practical Ducati you can buy. But that S2R 1000 still haunts me. It might just be the perfect motorcycle.