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It took me a while to adapt to the Monster when I first bought it, even though I had owned a dozen other bikes before it.

What I find interesting is that it took me about four months and 1000 miles to fully adapt to the ST2 after riding the Monster for six years. That's how long it took me to feel like I knew exactly what it would do under all circumstances. And the two bikes are very similar, with the same wheels and brakes, very similar engine, identical controls, but different weight and riding position. Now that bike just feels right to me. (The 888 doesn't feel completely natural to me yet, though.)

You really need to put in a few thousand miles before judging a Ducati.
 

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It sounds like you're getting it practice is the key to feeling confident around the slow speed turn. I find on my Monsters, one of them is an S2R, that being in 2nd gear and keeping the clutch in the friction zone is much smoother than trying to get into first gear in order to get through the turn. We're talking slow speed where you think you should be in 1st gear but 2nd will actually work better once you get it down and it doesn't take much to get it.

I find one way to help avoid the 1st gear downshift clunk is to not go down to 1st unless I'm coming to a complete stop like at a traffic light. Clutch lever is in and in the last ten feet before stopping I downshift through the gears to 1st just as I'm coming to a stop. That seems to work for me.
 
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