2015 Ducati Monster 821

First Ride Review

It’s hard to believe the Ducati Monster has been with us for over two decades. The Italian manufacturer continues to evolve the machine, creating a multi-displacement lineup that speaks to a wide range of enthusiasts’ tastes and needs. The newest incarnation—following on the heels of the 1200 launched last November—is the 821. The 821 slides perfectly into the middleweight slot, imbued with a host of technical advancements that bolster the Monster lineage of functionality and ride-ability.

The new 821 utilizes Ducati’s signature trellis frame, which is mated to an 821cc Testastretta 11-degree, 4-valve-per-cylinder, liquid-cooled Desmodromic V-twin engine—the powerplant serving as a fully stressed member. Peak claimed horsepower of 112 arrives at 9,250 rpm via ride-by-wire with the raspy exhaust note of an American muscle car. The 395.7-pound (claimed dry) Monster 821 feels feathery courtesy a torque rating of 65.9 lb-ft (peaking at 7,750 rpm) providing an abundance of low-end. All of this adds up to a beautifully balanced power/chassis package.

Power delivery is exceptionally crisp and managed through three ride modes that are settable on the fly: Sport, Touring and Urban. The Sport and Touring settings ensure the full 112 horsepower—with their own dynamic, individual personalities—while the Urban mode cuts output to 75 ponies for inner-city riding. The three ride mode settings are augmented by eight-level traction control that manages rear wheel spin. These technological advances ensure a performance-oriented delivery of power tailored to individual preference and riding conditions.

A Bosch ABS system is mated to dual, radially mounted Brembo 4-piston calipers and 320mm rotors up front, with a 2-piston caliper and single 245mm disc on the back. Stopping power on the 821 is impressive and the bike maintains its composure even under strong braking applications. A 43mm Kayaba fork handles the front suspension while a single Sachs shock unit is fitted to the rear. The 6-speed gearbox is flawless, and downshifts are dramatically smoothed out by the wet slipper clutch.

Manageable power is the 821’s strong suit which, when coupled with the neutral handling and planted mid-corner feel, provides a healthy degree of confidence and comfort. Steering is exceptionally responsive and completely free of the twitchiness that plagued earlier Monsters. That said, hitting bumps while leaned over mid-corner can unsettle the 821 a bit.

Perhaps the only negative I found on the 821 was the cramped area around the footpegs, with the passenger peg stanchions catching my heel and preventing me from getting my toes up onto the pegs. This may be due the fact that I wear a size 11 boot, but nonetheless, it was an annoying situation that reared its head each time I set up for a corner and automatically tried to go to my toes.

That one complaint aside, the 2015 Monster 821 is the embodiment of fun and function on two wheels. The bike will keep a professional rider fully engaged with an abundance of potential, while serving as a comfortable platform for less experienced riders.