Arguably the true, spiritual successor to the Ducati Monster 900, which created the naked sport bike segment 25 years ago, the Monster 821 is a truly unique and phenomenal machine. A middleweight that now occupies the center and core of the Monster range, the M821 has, since its introduction in 2014, improved upon that delicious Italian recipe that made the original Monster concept so desirable. These words may seem like hyperbole, but as someone whom has had the privilege to ride many motorcycles from various makes and segments, I chose not only to laud the M821 when given the opportunity to review it but to actually put my money where my mouth is and buy one for myself.
Now, Ducati is stepping up its game even further, again solidifying its position atop the pinnacle of the motorcycle industry by elevating the M821 to even greater heights. New features are plentiful for a mid-life cycle refresh, however, I’d like to start with the one which I personally appreciate the most. Though not the most exciting of the new changes, I concede, the new color TFT display along with the expanded data which it conveys strikes me as being the most important of them all.
See, the previous model’s display neglected to exhibit two datums, the first being your fuel level and the second being your selected gear. For an experienced rider like myself, the gear indicator is far from a necessity but it’s a nice feature. The gas gauge, however, that’s another matter altogether. When you’re riding a bike that is as enjoyable as the M821, it’s easy to lose track of time and distance. Rather than unexpectedly being alerted that you’re low on fuel when not within close proximity to a gas station, you’ll have a constant indication of how much fuel you have, enabling you to have much greater advanced notice.
For those looking to squeeze even more out of the already versatile M821, Ducati’s smooth and refined up and down quick shifter, or clutch-less shift, has been made available. Pairing nicely with the aforementioned gear indicator. Sadly, power is down a bit compared to the original M821, but by an amount that I suspect will be imperceptible to rider’s.
A complaint levied by many was the way in which the front and rear foot pegs were connected, making certain foot positions uncomfortable or even impossible. A criticism which Ducati clearly heard and has addressed with the new M821. Now, the front and rear foot pegs are independent units.
Additionally, a new M1200 inspired tank has been added with an attachment clip, as well. Said to further emphasize the “sport naked bike” character, the differences appear subtle and would likely have to be directly compared with the first iteration to be fully valued. The tail too has been modified, in order to accommodate the new rear foot pegs and to showcase with due drama the new Monster 1200 R inspired exhaust canisters.
One change I’m not yet certain as to whether I like or dislike is the new headlamp. Now conforming to the design expressed in the rest of the Monster lineup, it loses me for a few small reasons. One, it robs the M821 of a minor distinguishing feature. Secondly, because the configuration reminds me of the previous generation of Monsters which adorned a plastic strip horizontally across the center of their lamps, like the M796 and M1100, for example. That being said, though it harkens back to a design which I thought the company had progressed onward from, it reimagines it in an unmistakably modern and contemporary fashion. Thirdly, the position of the turn indicators within the new headlamp housing, which moves the signals upwards, disturbs the overall height balance of the M821’s ‘face.’ I doubt that many others will consider the new headlight as anything other than an aesthetic improvement, however. I’m still torn.
The new M821 can be had in three colors, one of which is quite exciting. Of course, classic Ducati Red is always exciting, but Ducati Yellow has returned and will serve to give the M821 an even more commanding and exotic presence. The third color being offered is black, it’s comparatively boring. A Ducati, not unlike a Lamborghini or Ferrari, deserves to adorn a dramatic and fitting color which emphasizes and showcases its unique design and personality, in my opinion.
I know one thing with absolute certainty though, and that is that I am very much looking forward to seeing in person and riding the new Ducati Monster 821. If the famed Italian firm’s recent trend of improving upon its offerings has continued here, the new M821 could very well be perfection.