Ducati Monster 1200: the rivals

It's red, Italian, and has enough useable torque to drag a whale without going near the redline. But can it be beaten?

Ducati Monster 1200

Like the S1000R and 1290 Super Duke R, the Monster 1200 is new for 2014. And while it might have less peak power than some of its rivals, like the BMW, the Ducat's 1198cc Testastretta engine has more torque, at 87lbft compared to 82.6. The Monster 1200 S has even more, at 92lbft.

It’s also got ABS, traction control,three riding modes, and it's a Ducati. 

The Monster 1200 is a serious contender.

Engine: 1198cc V-twin

Weight: 182kg dry

Power: 135hp (Monster 1200 S: 145hp)

Price: £10,695 (Monster 1200 S: £12,995)

First ride: Ducati Monster 1200S review

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

A 1301cc V-twin making 180hp and more torque at 2,000rpm than the original 990 Super Duke makes at peak. The 1290 Super Duke R sounds like a bit of a maniac, doesn't it? Unfortunately, after months of teaser videos with the slogan 'Unleash the Beast', KTM has reigned it in a little too much with traction control that doesn't allow wheelies and a softened ride-by-wire throttle response.

The result, although not quite the Beast we'd anticipated, is a very useable, tractable, well-fuelled road bike. Unfortunately for KTM, the Monster 1200 is all of those things too, and costs a lot less. 

Engine: 1301cc V-twin

Weight: 189kg dry

Power: 180hp

Price: £13,999

First ride: KTM 1290 Super Duke R review

BMW's S1000R is so good it's like a new argument for being a motorcyclist. It's got the engine from the class-leading S1000RR superbike but tuned for more torque almost everywhere. It's got cutting-edge electronics, with traction control, ABS, riding modes and, if you opt for the 'Sport' edition, electronically adjustable suspension. And it starts at £9,990, less than a Monster 1200. And certainly a lot less than some of its two-wheeled rivals.

We concluded our first-ride review of the BMW by saying it made it difficult to justify buying any other super-naked. That was before we rode the Monster 1200S. The fact is, they're both amazing in very different ways.

BMW S1000R specs

Engine: 999cc in-line four

Weight: 207kg wet

Power: 160hp

Price: £9,990 (£11,390 for Sport edition)

First ride: BMW S1000R review

Triumph Speed Triple 1050

It may be down on horsepower but it has a healthy amount of torque at 81.8lbft. The Speed Triple does everything well but, unlike the Monster 1200, doesn't have a fancy electronics package with riding modes. You do get ABS though. The higher-spec Speed Triple R has Öhlins suspension front and rear and Brembo Monobloc brake calipers. It remains a convincing contender.

Engine: 1050cc in-line triple

Weight: 214kg wet

Power: 135hp

Price: £9,599 (Street Triple R: £10,999)

First ride: 2012 Triumph Speed Triple review

Triumph Speed Triple R review

Review your Triumph Speed Triple

Review your Triumph Speed Triple R

Aprilia Tuono V4 R

The benchmark of mental super-nakeds has Aprilia's APRC traction control system, three riding modes, ABS, and more peak power than the Monster 1200. It's a persuasive package and costs less than the S edition of the Monster 1200. 

Engine: 999cc V-four

Weight: 183kg dry

Power: 170hp

Price: £12,432

Review your Aprilia Tuono V4 R

Kawasaki Z1000

Some had hoped the 2014 Z1000 would get the 200hp engine from Kawasaki's flagship sports bike, the ZX-10R. Instead the firm has settled for suspension, brake and styling changes along with engine tweaks boosting power slightly to 142hp. With all the new competition springing up, it's questionable whether that is enough. 

The Z1000 has no ride-by-wire throttle or riding modes and by the time you've added ABS, it's not that much cheaper than the Monster 1200.

Engine: 1,043cc in-line four

Weight: 220kg wet (221kg with ABS)

Power: 142hp

Price: £9,499 (£10,099 with ABS)