By Alan Dowds
WELL, normally this is the sort of thing that happens very early in the season. The Ecstacy of the Moto Hack at the Annunciation of the Long Termer is a movable feast, but like Easter, it generally arrives in late spring, rather than late July. Never mind – with the moving of our good friend and erstwhile colleague Simon Greenacre to Green Pastures New, it falls to me to look after his Ducati Monster 1200S. Every cloud and all that.
I’ve actually done a couple of hundred miles on her already. I used it during the Visordown litre bike test a month or so ago, riding it all the way up to Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire and back, and was impressed by the tech and performance. I’d also ridden other Monster 12s in the past – and while it’s not as bonkers as the KTM Super Duke 1290, it’s still got plenty of cojones (once you work out how to loosen the electronic leash a little.) So when I rode the Ducati back home from Simon G’s place, it was all quite familiar and easy.
Simon loved this bike, although he clearly showed his devotion more in the spiritual rather than the temporal sense. It’s had miles of tough love, and when I picked her up, she was a bit grubby and worn round the edges. The tyres have had a good going-over, and while I’ve not checked closely yet, I’m willing to bet that the brake pads might need a little refresh. The chain’s been well lubed (the inch of black gunge coating the luscious single-sided swingarm confirms this), and I’ve got the owner’s manual out to check the stock suspension settings, to undo Simon’s blithe fettling.
Of course, we should check the oil, as everyone always does at least weekly (don’t they?). Ah. The big clear sight glass shows nothing on the side stand of course, so I tip the bike upright. Nope. Bit more? Nope. Are we deffo at 90 degrees? Well, yes, and finally, I can just about see a little meniscus of lube creep into the bottom of the glass. Hmmm.
So – time for some TLC. I’ve got some fresh unguents from the good folk at Bike-It (http://www.bikeittrade.com), who import the Liqui-Moly (LM) range of oils and bike care produce from Germany. I’ve got a full gallon of oil for a proper oil change in the next month or so, but I snaffled some for a top up first. Bike-It also sent me a very useful long-reach filling funnel, which saved me pouring 10W40 semi-synthetic all over the patio. Half a litre of oil into a small jug, and poured carefully down the funnel, and the sight glass showed we were right on the top line with the bike held upright. Sweet.
Next up was a good old clean. Proper motorcycle cleaners like the Liqui-Moly one are designed to squirt on, work into the grime, and then just hose off. Similar products from firms like Sdoc100 work a treat, and this LM one seems pretty good as well. It smells nice and is fairly ‘clingy’ when you spray it on, so it doesn’t just drip off straightaway. Give the grubbiest places a good drench with the cleaner, let it sit for five mins, then agitate with a brush. Spray some more on if needed, let sit again, and finally rinse off with the hose.
It worked a treat – although the rear swingarm needed something stronger for the chain lube gunge baked on near the sprocket. The can of chain cleaner did the job, skooshing the sticky residue away in no time.
So – there we have it. A clean Monster, with the oil topped up, tyre pressures checked, chain checked and cleaned, and suspension settings at standard. What’s next? Well, I have some new 2017 tyres to try out on here first, and I’m thinking about some crash protection (you can’t be too careful…) And what big twin is complete without a loud aftermarket pipe throbbing away? Ducati does a good line in Performance accessories, and I’ll be seeing what I can try from there. Watch this space…
Tested: Ducati Monster 1200 S
Price: £14,495 (or £14,295 in red)
Engine: 1198.4cc Testastretta 11° liquid-cooled L-twin
Power: 150hp at 9,250rpm
Torque: 93.1lb/ft at 7,750rpm
Suspension: Front - Ohlins 48mm full-adjustable upside down fork / Rear – Fully-adjustable Ohlins monoshock
Brakes: Front – Twin Brembo M50 monobloc calipers and 330mm semi-floating discs / Rear – Single two-piston caliper and 245mm disc
Weight: 185kg dry / 200.5kg wet with no fuel
Tank capacity: 16.5 litres
Seat height: 795mm - 820mm