The Ducati Monster. Launched in 1993, the Monster leaped onto the scene naked-as-the-day-you-were born and immediately turned heads with its real-world performance levels and a superbike-derived chassis, kicking off the naked sportbike craze as we know it.
Nearly 30 years after that momentous occasion comes another pivotal turning point for the hailed series in the form of the essentially all-new 2021 Ducati Monster. A whopping 40 pounds lighter than its predecessor, more power where you need it, and sharper handling, the 2021 Monster is a whole new beast.
I packed my bags and headed to San Francisco to see what the Bologna-based brand had unleashed from the cage. Now, let’s get on with the Fast Facts.
- Monster—just Monster. Two Monster models will be available this year; the standard Monster and Monster+. The two models are identical from top to bottom, save for the flyscreen and passenger seat cover included on the Monster+. We also learned that the Monster 1200 will be phased out in 2022, making the singular Monster name carry a little more weight.
- The 2021 Ducati Monster’s 937cc L-twin engine is just right when it comes to performance. Armed with more displacement than the outgoing 821, the updated Testastretta 11° mill is just what Naples-born Dr. Frankenstein ordered with its 111 horsepower at 9250 rpm and 69 ft-lbs of torque at 6500 rpm. A nice dose of welcoming tractable torque greets you off the line, but this new steed hits its stride around 4500 rpm, giving you access to a wealth of midrange power that doesn’t quit until you’re a couple of thousand revs away from the redline. It’s light, playful, and packs a wallop in an instant.
- Its peppy personality is by design. Ducati engineers sourced the Euro 5 compliant engine from the Hypermotard 950, Multistrada 950, and SuperSport 950. Consequently, its updates create an experience between those three models—not too hyper, yet sporty enough. Aiding in that eager-to-rev charm is a list of lighter components, including a redesigned cylinder head, new pistons, updated connection rods, a more lightweight gear drum, plus a new clutch and cover that have saved 5.7 pounds.
- Ride the bike, not the dyno. Interestingly, the bump in displacement and higher 13:3.1 compression ratio has only netted an additional two horsepower and 1.2 ft-lbs of torque compared to the 821 Monsters. There will be naysayers that expect, nay demand, more power! And they do get it, with the ’21 Monster boasting far more puff across the entire rev-range. Well, my derriere dyno reports that the Monster hits the sweet spot for power. It delivers a usable midrange punch that a rider graduating from a lightweight machine can enjoy, while offering everything that an experienced rider could want for some proper wailing.
- Six speeds and an up/down quickshifter—what more could you want? Making the Monster more mannerly is an updated slipper clutch that goes from a six-spring design to a three-spring unit, which reduces the effort at the adjustable hydraulic clutch lever. Once in motion, you might as well forget about the lever because the up/down quickshifter is buttery, letting you gently tap through to the next gear with ease and enjoy everything that raspy exhaust howl has to offer.
- No trellis frame is no problem. The new Panigale V4-inspired front-frame design and fiberglass-reinforced polymer subframe save a little over 14 pounds. The new swingarm trims 3.5 pounds, and the cast-aluminum wheels save another 3.7 pounds. To be clear, this is huge and has a positive impact on handling. Beyond that, Ducati doubled down on the Monster’s nimble qualities with a short wheelbase and steep rake.
- This little Monster can move. The result of the tight geometry and a light 414 claimed wet weight adds up to a much more agile Monster that is as quick on its feet as it is stable, whether you’re in the canyons or trawling the city streets. You can put the Monster right where you want it, and while it feels sharper when cutting through in the canyons, it doesn’t feel like you’re riding on the knife’s edge. Here’s the critical part—this chassis offers confidence that intermediate riders can grow with and veterans fully exploit.
- Suspension on the 2021 Ducati Monster is tuned with the everyday rider in mind. To help keep costs down, the Monster is equipped with a non-adjustable 43mm fork and a spring-preload adjustable shock with help from the linkage. While the lack of adjustability is a bugbear for me—I would have liked to slow the rebound damping a hair and add a bit of spring-preload to the fork—the suspenders do a great job of gobbling up San Francisco’s well-used pavement, shielding me from all but the harshest of hits. The setup does lean towards the firmer side and truly shines when you get rolling in the twisty bits of road.
- All-day ergonomics await. Ducati strikes a good balance with the ergos, bringing the handlebar back 2.6 inches closer to the rider, plus nudging the footpegs 1.4 inches rearward and nearly a half-inch lower, creating a relaxed and upright riding position. But stick your elbows out, and it’ll go for a tussle in the canyons with ease. That front-frame design allows the Monster to have a waist slimmer than most runway models, making the plushy seat’s 32.3-inch feel much lower than it is. Ducati is taking things a step farther for shorter riders, offering a low seat (31.5 inches; $160) and a low seat and a suspension lowering kit (30.5 inches; $300).
- But wait, there’s more on ergonomics. Heck, this one needed its own paragraph because complaints about narrow lock-to-lock steering are well-documented with prior Monsters. The svelte new Front Frame accommodates a seven-degree wider steering sweep, which makes whipping the Monster around at low speeds a treat.
- A full suite of top-notch electronics is standard. Loaded to the gills with tech lifted from the Panigale V4 superbikes, the Monster features three throttle maps (Sport, Touring, and Urban), three-level cornering ABS, eight-level traction control, three-level wheelie control, launch control, and an up/down quickshifter. Cruise control isn’t offered, which is disappointing given this bike’s street focus. Each mode is fully customizable, and I enjoyed the crisp throttle response of Sport with WC set at 1 and TC on the lower end of the spectrum. That allows some controlled front-wheel lofting while exploring the winding roads through the redwoods.
- Brembo four-piston M4.32 calipers and 320mm rotors offer loads of feel and power. Riders can expect plenty of power from the front brakes and a brisk initial bite to slow things down, with the bonus of an adjustable lever. In the rear, the Brembo two-piston caliper and 245mm rotor are great for correcting lines or navigating urban sprawl.
- Tailor your electronics from a 4.3-inch full-color TFT dash. It seems like manufacturers are in a dash-measuring contest these days, proudly peacocking their colorful TFT displays at the dealer. Well, I am a man of modesty and enjoyed the Monster’s proportional instrument panel. It’s visible in the light, easy to navigate, and can be read at a glance.
- The styling is a new direction for the Monster, but the same classic cues. Ducati designers hold the minimalistic design ethos of the Monster at heart. The prowling posture of the smaller 3.7-gallon fuel tank, along with the classic LED headlight, teases out the Monster silhouette that we all know. It is harder-edged visually these days, which matches its more energetic personality and seems more contemporary. If that isn’t enough, owners can also jazz up their beasts with accessory graphic kits for the plastics. However, if you’re a diehard trellis frame fanboy, you are out of luck.
- Welcome to 2021 and the Monster of the Future. The 2021 Ducati Monster represents a huge step forward for the famed series, thanks to the 40-pound weight savings, advanced electronics, and spunky L-twin engine. As different as the new Monster is, it has always been greater than the sum of its parts. It still fills a crucial role in Ducati’s overall lineup with fun yet accessible power and a sweet-handling chassis. The ergonomics improvements and advanced rider aids are just more incentives for those looking to bathe in Ducati Red to finally take the plunge.
2021 Ducati Monster Specs
- Type: Testastretta 11° L-twin
- Displacement: 937cc
- Bore x stroke: 94 x 67.5mm
- Maximum power: 111 horsepower @ 9250 rpm
- Maximum torque: 69 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 13.3:1
- Fueling: EFI w/ 53mm throttle bodies
- Valvetrain: Four desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ up/down quickshifter
- Clutch: Assist-and-slipper, hydraulically actuated
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Aluminum Front Frame
- Subframe: Fiberglass w/ polymer reinforcement
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 43mm inverted fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted spring-preload adjustable shock; 5.5 inches
- Wheels: Cast aluminum
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.5
- Rear wheel: 17 x 5.5
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 320mm semi-floating discs w/ radially mounted Brembo M4.32 4-piston calipers and axial pump
- Rear brake: 245mm disc w/ 2-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Cornering-aware
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 58.0 inches
- Rake: 24 degrees
- Trail: 3.7 inches
- Seat height: 32.3 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
- Curb weight: 414 pounds
- Colors: Ducati Red; Dark Stealth; Aviator Grey
2021 Ducati Monster Price: $11,895 MSRP