2012 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO

Road Test Review

At just 414 pounds with 3.6 gallons of fuel squeezed into its striped tank, the Ducati Monster 1100 EVO is the lightest liter-class bike we’ve tested in recent memory. For that matter, it only weighs two pounds more than the Monster 796, but engine updates like higher compression, refined cylinder heads and a lighter crankshaft help the new Desmodue Evoluzione 1100 L-twin crack the 100-horsepower rating, a first for a Monster. Appearances of those stacked canon mufflers aside, the new 2-1-2 pipe, servo-controlled exhaust valve and larger airbox also make a major contribution to the power increase.

With all of that power on tap, when you’re gunning this velvet jackhammer out of a corner, new four-level traction control helps keep the back tire where it belongs. It’s part of a standard Ducati Safety Pack that also includes non-linked ABS for the giant Brembo triple discs, which have strong radial calipers in front to match the adjustable radial brake and clutch levers. New risers elevate the tapered handlebar, and a reshaped seat and reasonably placed footpegs on this naked sport standard take its comfort level from tolerable to all-day great, along with firm but compliant suspension comprising a fully adjustable Marzocchi 43mm fork and spring preload/rebound-damping changeable Sachs shock.

I can’t remember a motorcycle I was able to squirt so quickly through the canyons, and then roll-off the throttle and ride in comfort the miles back home. A short wheelbase, tight steering geometry and that wide bar make the Monster 1100 the very definition of flickable. The tradeoff for the engine’s incredible sound, power and feel above 4,200 rpm—about 80 mph in fifth gear—is a bad case of the shakes below, so as usual for a Ducati, the Monster 1100 EVO is best ridden in a lower gear than normal around town, even on the highway—those passageways between you and the next canyon road.