Ducati 821 Monster
At the time of writing, there was a subtly tweaked 821 being unveiled for next season, with no major changes over this ‘Stripe’ version – part of the 2018 celebrations for 25 years of the iconic Monster range. You can certainly pick out the Italian beauty from the seven on test; only the Triumph carries superior components and swagger, and it has something special in pride of ownership terms over more everyday steeds.
The S4RS and a few exceptions aside, the iconic naked range has always veered towards fashion over form, and the 821 is no different. With the Streetfighter no longer in Ducati’s line-up, and the Monster 1200R taking care of the affluent only, the middleweight Monster has varied responsibilities when it comes to catering for pilots.
There may be 25 years of development behind the Monster, but the fundamental ergonomics can still be traced – including the exhaust fouling your right foot. Fine for those who don’t ride toes-on-pegs but downright annoying otherwise. Big, wide ’bars supply ample leverage, flickability and a sense of control, and the 821 was one of the comfiest (bar that exhaust) throughout longer stints in the saddle.
But chasing the sportiest among this pack on the Ducati doesn’t come easily y. It lacks the fluidity and sharpness of its peers, and takes more effort to hustle with a bulkier presence. It’s certainly no match for the supersport-derived Triumph, Kawasaki and even Suzuki during committed cornering, and feels lethargic up against the MT-07s of this world.
That said, the Monster is very solid mid-corner when the suspension has settled down. It loves a wallow and weave as the ’bars protest at staunch speeds, and I’m not sure the trellis frame’s inherent flex aids outright handling. Most of the Lincolnshire TT’s surface is sublime but the run to Caistor is a real test of springs and damping. The 821’s initial stroke is soft yet well controlled, coping well with mediocre surfaces, but the latter part of the stroke is a bit too harsh and doesn’t respond well to hefty bumps. It feels as though g the Monster could do with another 20mm of travel. And the Monster is all mouth, no trousers in the engine department, with a naughty Euro 4 exhaust/induction growl that exaggerates its 100bhp output. It’s one of the sweetest sounds on test – enticing needless throttle activity – but lacking the grunt or excitement of others around, and a rather flat delivery awaits. It doesn’t even wheelie in first without a wholesome dose of throttle and no archetypal he midrange, fairly linear ks way before dline, though it se the revs with ms. ta 11° is based perbike engine e designed for ivity, not coffee ose au fait with a’s manners will the 821 is lumpy ating below m, which requires ippage and fussy ection in urban dings – we’d a gear position given its chintzy ickshifter may optional 018 but it was ways. well
well and truly missing from this test. The gearbox isn’t notchy, but it is cumbersome with a heavy action that left our toes wishing it wasn’t an optional extra.
Although the Monster is more about cruising than cranking, it still permits a certain amount of playtime with its switchable ABS and TC. I think part of the reason the Monster was regularly the last to be picked is because it doesn’t grab you by the bollocks or do anything special. Ridden in isolation, the 821 is a superb companion that ticks a fair few boxes.
IT DOESN’T EVEN WHEELIE IN FIRST WITHOUT A WHOLESOME DOSE OF THROTTLE.
It really is a monster in the bends...
That’ll do for me... This system will make you rev for the sake of it. The L-twin motor can feel a little breathless. Looks-wise, the Ducati has it nailed.