It’s 25 years since Ducati released the original M900 Monster. And if there’s one thing the Italian firm has learnt since 1993 it’s that, when evolving iconic models like the 916 or Monster, it’s vital not to mess with the basic shape. That’s what they’ve done with the revamped Monster 821, which gains a subtly more retro look while also moving a little closer to the Monster 1200.
The larger-capacity Monster donates its headlight, fuel tank and tailpiece, including the tank’s ski-boot style catch at the front, inspired by the original M900’s similar feature. The 821cc, liquid-cooled Testastretta 11º V-twin engine and steel-framed chassis are retained, as is the riding position, although the DOHC desmo unit’s maximum output of 109bhp @ 9250rpm is a few horses down on the previous model’s, mainly due to a new exhaust system required to get the bike through the latest emissions laws.
Other updates include the new TFT instrument panel, whose smartphone-like display is almost identical to the Monster 1200’s. It comes to life with a burst of colour, changes its display according to which of the three rider modes is in use, and incorporates a fuel gauge and gear indicator. The ride-by-wire engine’s three modes (Sport, softer Touring and reduced-power Urban) each have dedicated eight-way traction control and three ABS settings, which can be adjusted via the TFT display’s comprehensive menu.
Ergonomics are unchanged, apart from the rear footrests now being on a separate bracket (some riders had trouble with their boots getting tangled with the old bracket). The seat is sufficiently low to give most riders no problems in town, in conjunction with a reasonably generous amount of steering lock.
Fuelling is very crisp and accurate both in Touring and the more aggressive Sport mode, which isn’t actually very different. (The softer still Urban mode cuts power for town or bad weather.) Understandably, the 821 can’t match the 1200’s low-rev grunt, but it’s usefully flexible. Maximum torque arrives at 7750rpm but there’s a healthy 70Nm or more all the way from 4500rpm to the limit at 10,000rpm.
Combined with its lively low-speed acceleration and crisp throttle response, the 821 has the ability to cruise long-leggedly at 90mph plus, or head on towards a top speed of about 140mph. The eight-valve V-twin feels slightly flat at the top end, but the Monster certainly has enough straight-line performance to keep most riders entertained and holding on tight against the wind.
It also has a chassis to match, although the non-adjustable, 43mm Kayaba forks are fairly basic. Despite that the Monster has a taut feel and good ride quality, especially from the Sachs shock which, like the 1200’s, is adjustable for preload and rebound damping. Pirelli’s Diablo Rosso III tyres give plenty of grip and Brembo Monobloc M4.32 front brake calipers make sure there’s no shortage of stopping power.
Monsters aren’t known for practicality but the 821 makes a very decent all-rounder. Its TFT display shows fuel consumption and range to empty, incorporates a lap timer and shift light, is adjustable for brightness, and can be linked to a smartphone, via Bluetooth and Ducati’s optional Multimedia system. Tank capacity is reduced by half a litre to 16.5 litres, but owners should typically average about 50mpg, giving a range of about 150 miles.
One thing that hasn’t got smaller is the price which, at £9895 in red or £10,095 in yellow or matte black, is on the high side for a naked middleweight. Then again, the Monster never has been cheap, going all the way back to the original M900. And after 25 years and over 300,000 sales, the 821’s air of premium-brand Italian style and charisma is another vital aspect of the Monster format that Ducati was never remotely likely to change.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled 90-degree DOHC 8v V-twin|
|Bore x stroke||88 x 67.5mm|
|Maximum power||109bhp @ 8500rpm|
|Maximum torque||86N.m @ 7750rpm|
|Front suspension||43mm inverted telescopic Kayaba, 130mm travel|
|Rear suspension||Single Sachs shock, 140mm wheel travel, adjustment for preload and rebound damping|
|Kerb weight||206kg (tank 90 per cent full)|
|Fuel tank||16.5 litres|