Ducati's Monster 821 provides an exceptional value mid-weight machine... Here's our Ducati Monster 821 review. Test: Kris Hodgson
First impressions of the Monster 821 were what we’ve come to expect from Ducati, with exceptional build and finish quality and an L-twin donk that’s capable of hooning duties around town or out on the open road.
Priced at just $16,490 plus on roads, it’s easy to see that the Monster 821 is aimed at discerning middleweight buyers looking for plenty of performance without compromising on all the additional features that are becoming an expectation on the top end machines. The dual sided swingarm and cable clutch are really just sensible options for this kind of bike and help keep maintenance costs down in the long run too.
Ducati’s electronics are present of course, with the Ducati Safety Pack providing ABS and Ducati Traction Control, with Riding and Power modes allowing the choice of Sport, Touring or Urban to vary power and delivery for a more enjoyable ride in the varying road conditions you’re likely to face, particularly for an everyday ride.
Power delivery is strong down low, with Urban mode ideal for stop and start city traffic, or commuting at lower speeds but feeling noticeably more restrained and a little laggy at higher speeds when opening the throttle wide to take off. Urban mode does however reduce power to an easily manageable 75hp from the peak 112hp and does double duties for a wet mode in really poor conditions.
Sport on other hand is noticeably more lively with much more instantaneous throttle response, especially higher in the rev range and when moving at speed, while Touring caters more towards the safety aspects, without hindering overall power too greatly, instead using the RbW system to soften the connection between throttle and engine.
The APTC slipper and self-servo wet clutch also come into play, ensuring that rolling off the throttle doesn’t unsettle the 821, with more aggressive downshifting possible and producing additional excitement through the wicked exhaust note it produces. Shifts are easy via the cable-operated clutch and much lighter than many of the hydraulic clutch systems I’ve used, while the gearbox itself is positive but relatively clunky.
The brakes are also top notch, with Brembo M4 radial Monobloc calipers providing plenty of stopping power on the front end and backed up by ABS, while on the rear a two-piston Brembo caliper grasps a 245mm rotor for additional control and providing a good level of bite and stopping power for a rear brake system.
The stainless steel mufflers are tasteful items and dual cans in black really stand out from the plain stainless sheathe they protrude from. They are also surprisingly noisy for a stock system and Ducati seems to be one of the few brands bucking the trend of releasing bikes that almost sound electric, so quiet and restricted are the exhausts! The Monster 821 system on the other hand absolutely growls at idle and roars on song, with earplugs a necessity for longer rides, especially if you’re thrashing through the twisties.
Suspension is an adjustable Sachs shock on the rear which does an exceptional job and didn’t need any tinkering for my 70kg weight, while the non-adjustable 43mm front forks were also incredibly good for my weight, including over the really rough roads around Rapid HQ and during general commuting duties.
The bike handles very well for your regular road use, feeling planted and tracking well through the twisties even at fun speeds but reaches its limits when pushed hard. The level of control and confidence the bike inspires for general riding is however impressive.
Of course the torquey twin is a nakedbike rather than a sportsbike and has a definite slant towards a slightly more relaxed, if still hoonish, riding style with comfort a major consideration and backed up by plentiful torque.
The ergonomics of the bike are great apart from the exhaust shield cutting into your leg when at a stop with your foot down supporting the bike, while reach to the bars is easy and natural and the adjustable seat height provides for those of shorter stature. In the summer weather heat was also a consideration if not quite a problem.
Overall I was highly impressed with the Monster 821, with the bike’s looks, particularly in white catching plenty of eyes, and complements. The double-sided swingarm and cable clutch are both advantageous when it comes to maintenance, with the bronzed swingarm matching the engine covers and to a lesser extent the exhaust headers to great effect.
If you’re considering a middleweight bike, particularly a naked, give the Monster 821 a good hard look, the value this bike offers is hard to beat, especially in such style!
The 821 Monster has the engine from the latest Ducati Hypermotard, with the 821cc Testrastretta 11 L-twin engine tweaked for an additional two-hp and incorporating a secondary air system similar to that of the 1199 Panigale. The vast majority of torque is available from just 5500rpm, with power delivered strongly and joined by a slipper function in the wet clutch that allows aggressive downshifting and a smooth transition on and off power. Peak power is 112hp, just 23hp lower than the Monster 1200, with torque 89.4Nm at 7750rpm.
The Monster 821 features a trellis frame mounted directly to the cylinder heads and the engine for greater torsional stiffness, with both the shock and trellis sub-frame also mounted to the engine. The 10-spoke wheels are lightweight aluminium offerings, while brakes are high spec Brembo monobloc M4-32 radial calipers with 320mm rotors and ABS as standard. 43mm USD forks combined with a Sachs adjustable monoshock were chosen to balance performance with cost, with the double-sided swingarm also helping keep costs down without sacrificing handling.
Styling is a personal thing but hard to fault, with a streamlined design that is iconically Ducati, from the trellis frame and contoured tank, to the aggressive tail and exhaust. The headers twine past the engine, with a guard ensuring the rider doesn’t contact any heated areas. The exhaust note drums away louder than you would expect but instantly reminding you that this is a Ducati, while the overall finish quality on all components is flawless. Ducati call it minimalist and they’ve done a great job.
PRICE: $16,490 + ORC (Dark – 15,990 + ORC)
WARRANTY: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
COLOURS: Star White Silk, Red, Red with Stripe Livery, (Dark Stealth)
CLAIMED POWER: 82.4kW[112hp]@9250rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 89.4Nm[65.9ft-lbs]@7750rpm
WET WEIGHT: 205.5kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 17.5L
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, Testrastretta 11 L-twin, Desmodromic four-valves per cylinder, 821cc, 88 x 67.5mm, 12.8:1 compression, 53mm Mikuni throttle-bodies, APTC slipper clutch, RbW, DTC, Riding Modes, Power Modes, stainless steel muffler
CHASSIS: Tubular steel Trellis frame
SEAT HEIGHT: 785-810mm
SUSPENSION: USD non-adjustable 43mm forks, fully adjustable progressive Sachs rear shock
BRAKES: ABS, dual front 320mm rotors, Brembo M4 Monobloc four-piston calipers, 245mm rear rotor, two-piston caliper
WHEELS & TYRES: 10-spoke light alloy wheels, (F) 120/70 – 17, (R) 180/60-17
INSTRUMENTS: LCD display