The Monster 821 features a steel trellis chassis using the engine as a stressed member, similar to the Panigale Superbike. The chassis is a little more basic than the 1200's, featuring a conventional double-sided swingarm in place of the 1200's single, which is also slightly shorter to quicken the steering. But the 821 is light, the ABS-assisted brakes are excellent, and the adjustable seat works well too. It's forgiving and easy to ride around town, has a light clutch, adjustable brake lever, informative clocks and would be suitable for a new rider moving up to their first big bike. The only annoyance is the lack of space to slide your feet backwards unhindered. When really attacking corners, your heal constantly clips the rear pegs.
The Hypermotard-derived, 8v V-twin doesn't just sound good, it delivers just what you want and need. There's loads of usable low-down torque, which is perfect for city work and darting out of tight corners And when the power builds, it's linear and smooth. There's a slightly lumpy bit low down, but considering it's a fuel-injected V-twin, the fuelling is impressive and the engine has that instant torque and power.
Service intervals are longer on the 821 and you needn't pay any attention to jokes about the reliability of Ducatis anymore - they've really pulled their socks up in recent years and reliability is top notch.
The Monster 821 is not a cheap bike and we could rightly expect higher-spec suspension as fitted to similarly-priced bikes in this segment; the 821's 43mm Sachs shock is adjustable, but the 32mm Kayaba fork isn't. But despite these gripes, you can't help but enjoy the Monster 821.
The 821 is equipped with three-level ABS which can be adjusted on the move with a closed throttle, and even turned off if you wish. It also benefits from a plethora of rider aids which Ducati groups together in the Ducati Safety Pack (DSP). You don't get the fancy colour TFT display from the 1200, which is a little disappointing, instead having a Hypermotard-style mono LCD version. It's informative enough, just a little bland in comparison. It's s shame there isn't a gear position indicator as standard.