Ducati Monster 1200S versus 1200R

Is the Monster 1200R worth the extra cash?

There’s a £1700 price difference between Ducati’s Monster 1200S and 1200R.

Often journos mention the price of a motorbike as if it’s a moot point. The £13,550 asking price for Ducati’s Monster 1200S is already up there and the £1700 extra for the R? Well that’s not exactly pocket change. My first three motorcycles all cost less than what you’d shell out to go from an S to an R. 

So if you’re in a position to buy either, well, lucky you but what exactly do you get for your extra £1700? Let’s take a look.


Both Monsters use the 1198cc Testastretta II lump but the pistons in the R are different to the S, the throttle bodies are wider too, up to 56mm from 53mm. The compression is raised, so too is the bhp and torque output, up from a claimed 145bhp and 91.8ftlb to 160bhp and 97ftlb. 


Gear ratios and final drive are the same on both bikes, both use the same wet clutch with slipper action. No extra bling here.


Both the S and R feature Ohlins fully adjustable suspension but the suspension in the R is higher front and rear, meaning the seat height on the R is also higher, 830mm as opposed to the 785-810mm seat height of the S. It goes without saying, these suspension changes also affect the wheelbase, which is 2mm shorter on the R, at 1509mm. Trail is also shorter by 4mm on the R, down to 89mm, while rake remains the same 24.3 degrees on both bikes.

The wheels on the R are lightweight forged jobbies. The rear tyre on the R is a 200-section - the same as a Panigale 1299 - and larger than the 190-section on the S. The tyres on the R are stickier Supercorsa SPs, Diablo Rosso II on the S. 

There’s an adjustable Ohlins steering damper on the R, the first time one’s been fitted to any production Monster.

The R is a claimed 2kg lighter than the S. 


The electronics package; ABS, power modes, traction control is the same on both models.


The eagle-eyed among you will notice the forks are black on the R and gold on the S. You’d think it would be the other way around? The wheel design is also different.

The rider/pillion one-piece footpegs on the S are replaced with (gorgeous) CNC-machined rider’s rearsets and removable pillion footpegs. The rear subframe on the R is aluminium and also slimmer in width, meaning the tail-piece is different and the number-plate hanger is different too. 

The R comes with a flyscreen as standard (you can buy the same one and stick it on your S) and the radiator guards are slightly different colours.

The standard exhaust cans are also different. The swoopy, curved and flowing exhausts on the R are a work of art, they make the cans on the S look like they were in a hurry to get it into production.

In summary

What happened to your extra £1700? You don’t appear to get a lot more for your money; a bit of a fly screen, a steering damper, some aluminium and a pair of lighter pistons but in truth, the difference between the two bikes in terms of what they’re capable of is staggering.

Sure, you could buy an S and make some tweaks to the fully adjustable suspension and you’d get somewhere close to what the R does out of the box on track, but as a package the R is stunning. The engine has been transformed. 

I don’t want to be the guy who brushes off the small matter of fifteen thousand pounds as if it were pocket change so all I’ll say is: if you do go for a Monster 1200S, don’t ride a 1200R. You’ll regret it.


Monster 1200S – £13,550

Monster 1200R – £15,250

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