After 25 years of Monsters, over 320,000 bikes sold, and a devoted Monsteristi fanbase around the world, Ducati celebrates the Monster’s silver anniversary with the launch of the 2018 Ducati Monster 821.The newest incarnation of the mid-sized Monster utilizes the same proven engine, suspension components, and trellis frame as the previous model, but is augmented with a few key updates to create a more advanced package with bolder styling.
All the while, it pays homage to the Monster 900 launched at EICMA in 1992 that started it all. And, yes, the original Ducati Yellow color scheme is back as well!Here are a dozen essential facts you need to know about the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 following our first ride in Italy.
The 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is not a next-generation bike, but upgrades bring it closer in line with its 1200cc sibling. A lighter and more muscularly sculpted tank is the most noticeable styling change along with the brushed aluminum “ski-buckle” attachment clasp that gives a nostalgic nod to the Monster pedigree. The tail section is shorter and more streamlined, and is complemented with a new Euro IV compliant 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust that is analogous to that of the 1200. Up front, a new TFT display and LED headlight round out the styling changes, punctuating the aesthetic message that the iconic cult hero from Bologna is continuing to evolve.
The 821cc Testastretta 11° L-twin is a fantastically fun motor. With a claimed 109 horsepower at 9250 rpm and a peak of 63 ft/lbs of torque delivered at 7750 rpm, the powerplant is not overwhelming, yet has enough breath up top for some very spirited riding. With a redline at 10,500 rpm, most of the power is made in the upper-third of the rev range, along with a healthy midrange, which is the sweet spot for a wide swath of riders.
The slipper clutch is cable-actuated and has a nice light pull, but can feel notchy when shifting under high loads. This can be remedied with the Ducati Up/Down Quickshifter as a factory-installed accessory. It eliminates using the clutch or closing the throttle while upshifting, and only requires a closed throttle to downshift without the clutch while braking. This is a must-have item.
While the Monster 821’s suspension is not top-spec, it is setup properly and well balanced. Even over very rough, undulating, and uneven tarmac, the stock suspension setup works surprisingly well. That is good news, as the 43mm Kayaba fork is not adjustable. The Sachs shock has adjustable spring-preload and rebound damping, which is helpful for compensating for heavier riders or two-up riding. At 175 pounds, geared up and read to ride, I felt the suspension is a little on the soft side. However, it is balanced fore and aft. Although I experienced a decent amount of fork dive under hard braking scenarios, it was predictable and didn’t upset the chassis upon corner entry and settled well for carving through the apex.
In tricky conditions, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires offered exceptional stability and grip. Patchy and cracked tarmac can be a challenge, but the Diablo Rosso III’s performed beautifully. Even after reducing the electronic assistance, the front-end feel is there. Edge grip on corner exit is very predictable and consistent.
Dual radially mounted calipers provide good, progressive braking performance. The Brembo M4-32 calipers are mated up to dual 320mm rotors up front and provide a user-friendly initial bite from the axial-pump front brake lever. The feel is very linear all the way to the ABS assistance setting.
Consider the playing field leveled with fully customizable ride modes that are extremely easy to use. Sport mode is my favorite, with full and direct power delivery, but I overrode the default traction control settings of 3 and ABS of 1 and set them both to 1. This allows for moderate power wheelies with soft landings and minimal ABS intrusion—the rear wheel can still lift under hard braking. Touring mode delivers full power with a little more progressive throttle, and Urban mode caps the power at 75 horses. Considering that there are 8 levels of traction control and 3 levels of ABS to choose from, these ride modes can be completely tailored to skill level and road conditions.
If you happen to own a private piece of tarmac, you can have a lot of fun riding like a knucklehead on the Monster 821. Turn off traction control and ABS and turn up the fun! The strong but usable power characteristics of the desmodromic driven engine can add up to endless wheelie sessions, stoppies, and getting rid of the extra rubber on an already-used-up rear tire.
The new TFT screen is very functional and easy to read in all light conditions. The fuel gauge and gear selection are now displayed, and there are three different display screens for each of the ride modes—Sport, Touring, and Urban. Additionally, each one is customizable. There is also a Ducati Multimedia System as an available accessory that includes Bluetooth smartphone connectivity for music player, messaging, and voice calls.
The Ducati yellow paint scheme is only available on the Monster 821. With iconic aesthetics that have left impressions for two-and-a-half decades, the Monsteristi are pleased to have the nostalgic Ducati yellow back in the color palette. If the homage to the bloodline is not your thing, there’s still two classic color schemes to choose from—Ducati Red and Dark Stealth.
All of this comes with a premium price tag. With an MSRP starting at $11,995, the Ducati Monster 821 is pricey when compared to other bikes in its category—it’s 30 percent more than a Yamaha FZ-09, for instance. Then again, the other bikes in its category are not Monsters. This kind of iconic panache comes at a price.
The bottom line, the Monster 821 is incredibly easy to ride, slow or fast. The perfect cocktail of power and agility result in a super-approachable bike that serves up a thrilling ride to entry level riders and advanced hooligans alike. With fully customizable electronics and added accessories such as the Ducati Quickshifter and Multimedia system, the Monster 821 is arguably the perfect every-day bike.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!