Ducati 821 Mon­ster

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

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.

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