The importance of the Monster family of models to Ducati’s balance sheet can’t be overstated. Indeed, the only reason the Italian sportbike manufacturer stayed in business long enough to eventually be acquired by the VW/Audi Group two years ago was because back in 1990 designer Miguel Galluzzi converted a factory 888 Superbike into the ultimate in-your-face Streetfighter. And with that the Monster was born.
Now some 295,000 examples in various guises and performance levels have hit the marketplace since its 1993 debut – and it’s a motorcycle that has not only established itself as a style icon, it’s also one that has provided the financial platform to carry Ducati to 14 World Superbike Championships and an upset 800cc MotoGP World Championship. Since it has represented over 50 percent of the company’s total production for the past 21 years, it really is a case of no Monster, no money for racing. And no sportbike’s supreme like the 916 and its successors.
So when Ducati launches a new Monster platform, its arrival has ramifications way beyond the obvious. Thus the debut of the all-new 1200 Monster last November was at the EICMA Show and was, commercially speaking, just the antipasto to the main course – the new Monster 821. The 821 is the downsized version of that statement of intent that represents the real roll of the dice for the Italian company’s management, who are counting on it becoming the best selling model of any across its six-platform lineup (Panigale, Diavel, Hypermotard, Streetfighter, Multistrada and – Monster).
Indeed, think of it as the Monster family’s equivalent of the Panigale 899 versus its 1199 big brother - complete with the same cost-cutting twin-sided swingarm versus its sibling’s single-sided design statement, but otherwise near-identical chassis layout, just with less high-spec hardware.
At $11,495 it’s well priced in a Ducati context and it’s practically a bargain against the Hypermotard in which the new bike’s liquid-cooled 88 x 67.5 mm 821cc Testastretta 11-degree engine debuted 18 months ago.
In Monster guise this delivers a claimed 112 hp/82.4kW at 9250 rpm, 2 hp more than in the Hypermotard and a massive 25 hp up on the 796 Monster, plus 65.9lb-ft of torque peaking at 7750 rpm, and as a 135-mile day riding out from Ducati’s home city of Bologna proved (initially spent ultimately unsuccessfully trying to dodge thunderstorms before the sky cleared and the roads dried), this delivers a significant step up in performance and handling from the 15 percent less torquey desmodue 796.
To read more of our 2015 Ducati Monster 821 first ride in Issue 29 of Cycle News, click here