The Ducati Monster 1100S adopted top-end streetfighter looks and Ducati headed back to its heartland with two-valve technology. Cred and cool without breaking the bank, right there.

In 2009, when thinking suggested that any bike with sporting pretensions had to feature huge horsepower numbers to be taken anywhere near seriously, it was refreshing to note Ducati’s return to two-valve configuration for its Monster range.

The 1100 used the same engine as that of the Multistrada and Hypermotard, with a capacity of 1078cc. That’s right, a two-valve.

It’s true, that a bike powered by an air-cooled, two-valve, V-twin had no hope of matching multis with four-valve engines when it came to outright grunt.

Ducati Monster
The Monster in its habitat – the twisties.

You’d be hosed in a straight line by just about any four-valve litre bike, simple as that. Fair enough. But, I ask, how much cred is there in being quickest between lights? Did you answer, ‘none’? Couldn’t agree more…

Yes, there is much, much more to engine performance, and in my book, Ducati’s modern two-valves were very sweet engines. They came alive in this type of motorcycle – trellis frame, streetfighter stance – and add to the quality minimalism that was the original Monster’s calling card.

I applauded Ducati at the time for leaving the four-valve configuration to its all-out sports offerings and opting to go this way with its Monster range – the M696, M1100 and this, the hero 1100S.

The power was delivered in a linear fashion, rather than in one huge gush. Considering the V-twin set-up, this made for a very smooth ride and contributed to a sophisticated and efficient feel at the bars. The rev limiter made its appearance at 8500rpm, but, with the bike’s gearing, was never intrusive.

As far as keeping up with those ‘everyone-has-one’ multis, a huge plus in the Ducati’s favour was the superb upgrade from Showa (front) and Sachs (rear) suspension on the standard M1100 to the top-end Ohlins gear that graced the biggest Monster. You were right in the hunt in the stuff that really matters – the twisties.

Ducati Monster 1100S
Ohlins, Marchesini, carbon fibre guard… We got your attention yet?

You see, The Monster 1100S came with a swag of high-end goodies. Cop this lot…

At the front there was that Ohlins 43mm fully adjustable USD fork with TiN treatment, at the rear a preload and rebound adjustable Ohlins monoshock, lightweight aluminium front disc carriers and carbon fibre timing belt covers, front fender and exhaust guards. Don’t forget that you paid $3500 over and above the ‘cooking model’ 1100, but handling was well-enhanced and the extra bling of the carbon fibre added a large degree of exclusivity to the package.

Brakes were four-piston, radially mounted Brembos gripping twin 320mm rotors at the front and a single 245mm rotor and twin piston caliper at the rear. Stopping power was a highlight with typical Brembo feel at the lever. Top notch.

At 168kg dry, the bike was eminently ‘flickable’. The Marchesini wheels were very light and the steering geometry quite aggressive.

Ducati Monster 1100S
Gone were the poetic swoops of the earlier Monsters, replaced with more angular and aggressive styling.

With the Ohlins correctly adjusted (it always amazes me how many people do not seek advice as to setting up such a finitely tuneable suspension package as this), grip and feel from the front-end was delightful.

Brake late, drop the bike into a nice line, nail the gas just about as hard as you like and as soon as you hit the apex and… well, buyers soon forgot that they owed the bank an extra $21,995.
Yep, this was Il Monstro’s strong suit.

In short, if you wanted to throw a red-carpet motorcycle party and impress your friends you could do far worse than invite Messrs Brembo, Ohlins and Marchesini. You’d be up late and dancing with the best of them.

Gearing was surprisingly tall for a bike of this ilk and I really would have liked to see it dropped slightly (there is a 42-tooth rear sprocket option available).

As it was, the bike got out of corners very well indeed, but the opportunity to make it a slingshot in such circumstances was missed a little. In its favour though was a very nice torque curve off the bottom and this negated any sluggishness when looking for a slick getaway. Shortened gearing would have made this thing unbeatable on a mountain pass, instead of ‘very competent’. Opt for the 42-tooth rear sprocket.

The Monster 1100S featured another Ducati staple with its dry clutch (although the little brother 696 had a wet clutch).

Ducati Monster POV
Reach to the bars is not extreme, but you’ll be out in the breeze.

This type of clutch arrangement can often offer a jerky response, but the 1100’s action was light and nicely progressive. It made that clunky, gritty sound that Ducatisti will recognise immediately.

I have to admit to not being a fan of that sound, it’s all a little agricultural for my liking, but that’s just personal taste. As mentioned, it worked well and that’s what matters.

The instrument cluster was hard to read with sunglasses on, a whinge I’ve had forever with digital readouts, but they became the norm so I got used to it. Of course, TFT technology has fixed that little pecadillo and I for one am rapt.

At least this one was comprehensive in its data delivery, displaying – speedometer, rev counter, clock, scheduled maintenance warning, oil temperature, trip fuel, air temperature, lap time, warning light for low oil pressure, fuel level, fuel reserve, neutral, turn signals, overrev, and immobiliser.

The seating position was very nice indeed. There was a decent, but not excessive, reach to the bars and while the seat was canted forward, you never felt stretched.

1100S dash
A lot of info in a small space. Nice, but hard to read.

There was a 15 litre tank capacity and this was only just adequate. I would have loved to see 18 litres aboard – one of my pet hates is stopping for fuel on a long trip.

Of course, it’s probably unlikely that the M1100S buyer was looking to tour on the bike, but they should have. It’s long-legged set-up was perfectly tuned for mile-eating. Don’t be discouraged on that front, Monsters have long been underrated in this area.

Fit and finish was first class, as you’d expect from a semi-exotic European. The looks were neat and tidy, but gone was the sexy, rounded shape to the tank and this bike really broke from the distinct look of the earlier Monsters.

It was much more modern and angular. It was probably time for the Monster to move from its styling, it had been around for a long time, but I liked the older look and am not as keen on this one. Still, there will be many that disagree.

Ducati Monster 1100S
The stocker at left and the S at right. Chalk and cheese, really.

So…

It’s a very user-friendly and sexy bit of kit. I’d be opting for the louder Termis, but the standard note is quite nice. You’ll love the bike’s superior handling, and the buckets of brand cred that Dukes command.

It’s not especially cheap used buying and the standard 1100 is no slouch, but you got more than just an extra ‘S’ on the tank for the extra spondoolicks. Over to you.

Molto Bene…

  • Lovely two-valve tech
  • Great brakes
  • Comfortable seating position

Non così buono…

  • Hard to read instruments
  • Geared too tall

Ducati Monster 1100S 2009-2013
You’ll pay: $8500-$11,000

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