‘It’s easy to ride, steers naturally, and isn’t intimidating’
The Monster has been a massive foundation of the Ducati range for 25 years now, and this new 821 – launched just two weeks ago, continues the legend.
For 2018 Ducati have played around with the styling: it’s slightly thinner than before, the fuel tank is smaller – 16.5 litres from 17.5 litres – and now comes with a ski-boot style clasp on the tank, which is a nod to the original M900. There’s a new headlight and silencer, and they’ve revised the footpeg assembly – pillion pegs are now separate and neater. The most noticeable difference is the new full-colour TFT dash, now on a par with Triumph’s Street Triple R/RS. Each rider mode has a different display, just like the Monster 1200 range-topper.
The 2018 bike retains the same Testastretta 11° twin engine and chassis also remains the same, as are the three riding modes, threelevel Bosch ABS and eight-level traction control.
The 2018 model feels very like the old model, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s easy to ride, steers naturally and isn’t intimidating, and there’s progressive power throughout the rev range. A very nice little Monster.
Two years have passed since we had our socks forcibly removed by the bonkers Ninja H2, Kawasaki’s game-changing supercharged litre-beater. But while it was sent to wow us, the long game was always about the introduction of production supercharged engines.
And this is the first more massmarket destined model to emerge from the project. Still boasting the Ninja H2 moniker, the key letters here are actually ‘SX’ – denoting its touring intent. While it would logical to assume that Kawasaki have simply bolted a rear subframe to their nuts Ninja, the changes are actually far more extensive. The chassis is new, the engine is new, and the riding experience will be, too.
The substantially reworked engine also boasts a new flavour of supercharger to smooth out the power delivery, and soften the H2’s dramatic punch. It’s also there to allow the 998cc inlinefour to muster 207bhp peak power and 101.3ftlb, while achieving much-improved emissions, and the same sort of fuel economy you’d expect from the less wellendowed Versys 1000. Not only is it frugal, but it allows the SX to run a relatively small 19-litre fuel tank, while still going the distance.
The SE gets cornering lights, and the top-spec dash, which combines an analogue tacho with a multi-function TFT colour dash (the stocker gets LCD), and there are two selectable display modes (Touring or Sport) to allow riders to prioritise what they see on screen.
There’s also electronic cruise control, and KCMF (Kawasaki Cornering Management Function), which uses an IMU to monitor engine and chassis performance throughout the corner, modulating brake force and engine power to get the best transition from acceleration to braking and back again. There’s also traction control, a bi-directional quickshifter, launch control, and engine braking control.
Once surprise is the lack of electronic suspension. Nonetheless, it is fully adjustable at both ends and there’s a remote rear preload adjuster, too.
There’s plenty of competition in the fast touring market, whether any of them can compete with the SX will be one of 2018’s most interesting questions.
O Power 107bhp @ 9250rpm O Weight 180.5kg O Seat height 785/810mm Colour TFT dash is a classy addition
Clean and classic Monster styling
O Power 207bhp @ 11,000rpm O Weight 260kg O Seat height 835mm