Let’s get this show on the road!
To get a better feel for how the revamped Monster 1100 EVO works, Ducati invited press to Catania, Italy, a historic city on the east coast of Sicily that is perhaps best known for its access to Mt. Etna, one of Europe’s largest and most vivacious volcanoes. While the volcano is certainly a spectacle (and apparently a popular stop for tourists judging by the number of shuttles making the trek up to Etna’s peak), the time spent in Catania was more about getting up close and personal with the 1100 EVO than the smoldering rock protruding from the earth.
To date, the Ducati Monster has proven to be one of the top naked bikes for the urban assault thanks in part to its aggressive geometry, slim nature and wide handlebar. Throw a leg over the bike and you will notice that for 2011, its comfortable riding position has only been enhanced by a new seat and 20mm-taller bar risers that considerably change the rider triangle and are advantageous for taller riders.
The Monster benefits not only from comfortable ergonomics, but also from its less-is-more lightweight design. And with a claimed dry weight of 372 pounds, the pared-down 1100 EVO is roughly 4.5-pounds lighter than its already wispy predecessor. Thanks to its lightweight design and moderate 31.9-inch seat height, the Monster is effortless to maneuver at parking lot speeds.
Radial-mount four-pot Brembo...
Radial-mount four-pot Brembo calipers bite on 320mm discs and help slow the Monster 1100 easily and controllably. The fully adjustable Marzocchi 43mm inverted fork works flawlessly on rough city roads and at speed when the riding turns spirited.
To say that the roads through Catania are imperfect would almost be an understatement. Of course, what do you expect from an ancient town that has been beaten and battered by its fair share of volcanic action and earthquakes over the past years? Surprisingly though, the 43mm Marzocchi front fork soaks up all the breaks in the heavily trafficked roads with relative ease and the Sachs rear shock does an admirable job of keeping you comfortable. And surprisingly, the relatively soft settings that allow the Monster to soak up all the rough city streets don’t cause the Monster to wallow like an old-school Cadillac when the roads open up and the riding turns more spirited. Instead, the 1100 EVO settles right into high speed corners with little-to-no trepidation and the feel from the front of the motorcycle provides a great deal of confidence.
That smooth feeling is further aided by the Monster’s new slipper-style wet clutch, which makes actuation at the handlebar effortless, and works flawlessly to permit almost zero rear wheel hop — even when you are aggressive with the foot lever and grabbing multiple downshifts.
Even more beautiful is the steering of the EVO, which benefits not only from the wide bars that provide excellent leverage, but also from the improved suspension; steering this bike and changing direction is practically child’s play. And never does stability become an issue with the Monster thanks to the sturdy trellis-frame chassis and single-sided swingarm that is almost akin to that of Ducati’s Superbikes.
Drive out of a corner though and you are quickly reminded that this is no 150-plus-horsepower superbike. That’s thanks in part to the rather tall gearing that has you patting the rear of the motorcycle like a jockey mounted on a worn-out pony if you are below 3500 rpm. Between 4000 and 8000 rpm however, you can really enjoy the linear torque curve of this Monster, which puts out 100 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 76 foot-pounds of torque at 6000 rpm.
If you do by chance find yourself up in the rpm range and grabbing a handful of throttle, don’t fear, because this Ducati Safety Pack-equipped Monster has traction control to help keep the rubber side down and shiny side up. Of the predetermined four levels of interruption, level one is by far the friendliest since it seldom intervenes. If you ride in anything above level two, expect the TC to be working more often than not. If you deem it unnecessary, TC can always be turned off as well, although it seems like most people enjoy riding with it turned to at least level one since it provides a nice safety net. Another plus is that when you turn the bike off and back on, your settings will remain.