Upgraded in 2018, the Ducati Monster 821 was joined by a Stealth version in 2019. Not merely a matte black extravaganza with exclusive graphics, the Monster 821 Stealth enjoys technical improvements over the standard version. Our 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth test bike was outfitted with a lively array of Rizoma accessories, plus Termignoni Racing carbon fiber mufflers that are anything but stealth. Those mods warrant a fresh look at the mid-size Monster. So, it’s time to go out on the town, and blitz the canyons.
Functionally, two things separate the standard Monster 821 from the Stealth version. The fork is fully adjustable on the Stealth (non-adjustable on the standard), and there is an up/down quickshifter. There is also a small flyscreen protecting the dash, though it is primarily a fashion statement. Those goodies add $900 to the price of the plain wrap 821.
2. Ducati by Rizoma added plenty of detail parts to the Monster 821 Stealth. While none of them are strictly functional, taken as a whole, they likely shed a few pounds from the motorcycle. Regardless, every single Rizoma accessory gives the Stealth a more exclusive and rich appearance. Here’s the list with the MSRPs, which totals $1935:
The Ducati by Rizoma accessories installed on this motorcycle only scratch the surface of what is available to personalize the Monster 821.3. The Termignoni Racing slip-on mufflers are for track use only. Unfortunately, we forgot that little detail. Sorry, Governor! The carbon fiber pair runs $1664.64. All told, our test bike’s MSRP jumped to $16,495 from $12,895. That’s $1500 more than the standard Monster 1200.4. No doubt about it—the Testastretta 11° L-twin sounds magical with the Termignoni muffler. Yes, it puts out some serious decibels when winding up to the 10.5k redline. However, at lower rpm, it didn’t attract the attention of the LA polizia at a red light as we lane-split to the front of the line. I’m betting the officer liked the hearty burbling. Ducati didn’t say anything about flashing the ECU, and there were no intake mods. Experience tells us that the 821 probably gained a few horses and ft-lbs of torque from the midrange on up. Buy the Termignoni Racing muffler for the sound and appearance, and consider the extra power to be a bonus.5. Don’t get the Monster 821 for urban riding, unless you live in chilly climes. The motor puts out a lot of heat, and the motorcycle is uncomfortable to ride when the temperatures are in the 80s. Slower speeds don’t allow the heat to be dissipated, and your legs will get uncomfortably warm if riding jeans are your legwear of choice. At speed, it is not a problem, even on warmer days. It’s a pity, as the Monster 821 Stealth is otherwise quite fun to jet around town on—especially when you decide to cut loose and let the motor sing an aria or two. Stick with that behavior in urban areas where there is always a din, and keep it on the down-low in the suburbs. Of course, you look great while everyone is admiring the rolling Italian artwork.6. The 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth loves the canyons. The best part about the Monster 821 is that it is willing to do things your way. The motor and chassis don’t have their own agendas that you must bend to. The torquey L-twin is happy to facilitate a smooth riding style that favors momentum and corner speed, or it will indulge you if you are of the cut-and-thrust persuasion, getting hard on both the throttle and brakes. There’s not the least bit of reluctance from the motor to spool up and run in the broad powerband’s upper ranges.7. Light weight, a steep rake, long wheelbase, and Pirelli Diablo Rossa III tires conspire to give the Monster 821 its adaptability. For the darters, the tight 24.3-degree rake is just perfect, and the weight of the Monster 821 won’t hold you back when dropping into a corner. The Rossa IIIs are happy to turn in aggressively and offer outstanding front-end feedback. The roomy 58.3-inch wheelbase adds a touch of stability to the proceedings. Conversely, all of these factors work for the swooping riders. The wheelbase is the star, with the grip offered by the Rossa IIIs making it possible to hold a steady line without drama. The steep rake isn’t a liability, and allows for mid-corner adjustments as needed. Congrats to the Ducati engineers on the chassis.8. The mostly upright ergonomics, with wide bars offering plenty of leverage, work for both cornering techniques. The 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth is comfortable, though not quite perfect ergonomically. Our shorter editor complained that her knees hit the trellis frame rather than the fuel tank, making it difficult to grasp the Monster. Other riders may complain about the guard for the rear cylinder’s header pipe bumping into a leg or boot. Oh, and there’s also the aforementioned heat issues at around-town speeds.9. There are three riding modes, with the Monster 821 remaining easy to ride in the most-aggressive Sport mode. On the highest performing motorcycles, the most responsive mode can be a handful on the street. That is not so in this case. Even in Sport mode, which has direct throttle response with limited traction control and ABS intrusion, the 821 isn’t jumpy or disagreeable—it’s not an expert-only choice. Still, the Touring mode does take the edge off, and flowing riders will find quite a bit to like about it. While you get full power in Touring, the power delivery is more progressive. Traction control and ABS monitoring are increased, though not in a provocative way. Urban mode cuts the power by about one-third, and works fine for in-town riding when you want to stay out of trouble.10. A fun, and functional, side effect of changing power modes is a different data display on the beautiful TFT screen. Urban keeps you aware of your speed, while Sport is more about counting revs and keeping you apprised of the info you need in a track setting. Touring mode splits the difference. The good news is, if there’s a specific display you prefer 24/7, you can prevent the screen from swapping readouts when you change riding modes.11. While it’s great to have up/down quickshifting, I occasionally missed downshifts on the Monster 821 Stealth. There’s nothing more hair-raising than unexpectedly freewheeling when you’re counting on some L-twin engine compression braking coming into a tight corner. That happened to me several times until I became more deliberate in my downshifts. The upshifts are so quick and easy, my foot was lulled into thinking downshifts could be accomplished with a slight nudge—that is not the case. Snick it up, but make sure you push it down. The quickshifter works decently in town, though it prefers that you’re riding aggressively.12. The Brembo brakes are absolutely outstanding. The front M4.32 calipers have that initial soft bite that I prefer, and then ramp up to major stopping power as you pull in the adjustable lever into the radially mounted master cylinder. The Pirellis are certainly part of the braking equation, and the suspension displays no bad manners, regardless of how hard you brake. The Bosch 9.1MP ABS does its job transparently, and you really have to make a mistake to need it in the dry. The rear brake is handy at slow speeds on urban runs.13. I haven’t said much about the adjustable suspension, and that’s because Ducati set it up perfectly at the factory. I hadn’t ridden a standard 821 lately, so I can’t offer a direct comparison. However, the suspension at both ends was outstanding, even on the less-than-perfect roads that plague California, despite astronomic fuel taxes. While I felt no need to avail myself of the knobs, they are there for the outliers and persnickety folks.14. While most of the Rizoma pieces are purely cosmetic, the gas cap is functional. It took me a few tries to master it. Once I did, I enjoyed the semi-keyless system. You use the included tool to push in the latch and quarter-twist it open. Although I can’t say it’s a huge improvement over a standard setup, it is slick. If nothing else, it will prevent premature ignition key wear. All the rest of the Rizoma parts did their jobs of looking cool without any problems.15. The 2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth is an agreeably fast and stylish upright, naked sportbike. The motor is a sweetheart, and the chassis is willing to adapt to your style. The Termignoni muffler sounds absolutely thrilling, and the Ducati by Rizoma pieces add an air of exclusivity to the motorcycle. Although some might turn their noses up at “only” 821cc, this Monster gives you all the performance you’re likely to need on the street, and it does its part to make you a better rider.Photography by Kelly CallanRIDING STYLE
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!