Update: Sold. Sad to see her go
**My bike is for sale. Contact me for inquiries ** firstname.lastname@example.org
My 2007 Ducati Monster S2R 800 and the story of how she came to be mine.
Back in 2009, I was looking through Ebay’s motorcycle listings when I saw it: the bike I had always wanted. At the time, I wasn’t as concerned with specs or horsepower, or even the engine size. None of that mattered. It was the Monster with the single-sided swingarm, red with a white stripe and a full Termignoni exhaust system hanging over that lovely, black rear wheel. It was my poster bike. I had to have her.
So off I went to meet the seller and the bike in Bergamo, about 45 minutes east of Milano. Before seeing the bike in person it was already “bought” in my head, which is never a good frame of mind to be in before buying any used vehicle. One needs a keen eye for wear and tear as well as a decent test drive to really pass any judgement. However, there was a slight problem: I had never ridden a motorcycle before.
So, of course, that meant I couldn’t test drive it. Luckily for me, the day I went to see the bike I had both my dad and my friend Matteo with me to act as my consiglieri. Matteo, an experienced moto rider with more than ten years of riding everything from Italian and Japanese liter (1000cc) bikes to off-roaders used in motocross competitions. After an initial inspection, the classic walk around, the seller threw me the key and said, take her for a spin. Flushed with embarrassment, I passed the key to Matteo and said my decision is based on his feedback of the test ride.
After several minutes of awkward silence, followed by small talk, then more silence, Matteo returned with a confident nod of approval. That was all I needed. I forked over the money and that was that. Matteo, of course, had to ride it back to Milano. I can still remember the first time hearing that magnificent sound coming from the Termi’ exhaust as we pulled along side Matteo on the highway.
I spent the next several months learning to ride it. I’d take it just behind my apartment on a one way street that encircled a park. Thinking back, it was more like a Nascar track: straightaways followed by left turns. There, I practiced accelerating and stopping, balancing on the bike while creeping forward and shifting up to third gear and then back down again. I did that until I became confident enough to try turning.
Eventually, I made my way onto the mean streets of Milano where I had to re-learn everything about sharing the road with other cars. But this isn’t a post about me learning how to ride, but rather me learning how to ride on a Ducati S2R. With just under three years of riding experience under my belt, I still consider myself a novice. However, looking back, starting on this Monster S2R made the learning curve that much easier to handle.
For starters there’s the seating position. While not upright like sitting on a Harley-Davidson Sportster or Triumph Thruxton, you’re definitely leaned forward but not as much as on sport bike. And unlike a sport bike, the S2R has a handle bar instead of clip-ons, elevating the hand grips to a much more comfortable height. Besides that, the seat height is a mere 32-33 inches off the ground which means, for a six footer like me, you can easily put your feet flat on the ground when at a stop. I know these all sound like banal benefits but to a beginner, comfort is key.
Then there’s the mechanics. This version is the S2R 800, which means an 800cc motor good for about 80 hp. There’s a six speed gear box mated to an APTC slipper clutch, with its multiple clutch plates responsible for eliminating harsh torque transfer to the rear wheel, making even the most mismatched downshifts go off smoothly. The clutch lever itself is perfectly weighted and can be easily operated with just two fingers. Again, all these features help out a new rider.
Which isn’t to say that the S2R is a bike solely for beginners. Although the brakes and suspension could be improved, a new rider wouldn’t notice this until much later on. The 80 hp motor, while delivering its power progressively, could benefit from another 15-20 hp. Of course, that would mean bumping up to the S2R 1000 or better yet, the hotter S4R version, which was basically a naked 999 with all of its trick parts. But then you’d be moving away from the simplicity of form and function of the S2R. It’s a bike with no anti-lock brakes or traction control. There’s no fuel or oil temperature gauge either. Instead, if you’re low on fuel a light comes on and you have to calculate your remaining distance based on the speed at which you’re traveling to make it to the next service area, or not. It’s trellis frame is light weight, communicative and forgiving. Its essence is pure. And that’s why I still love her as much today as the first day we met.