Many a Ducatisti bid a sad farewell to the air-cooled Monster when Ducati introduced the liquid-cooled 1200 and 821. Those same traditionalists might be happy to learn Ducati is developing a new Monster using an air-cooled engine.

2015 Ducati Monster 821 Review – First Ride

Spy photographers spotted a couple of test mules in Italy that show what looks to be the Scrambler engine in a new-design trellis frame. The new model appears to use the same engine and swingarm as the Scrambler as we can see from the animated overlay below:

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The new air-cooled Monster appears to have borrowed much from the 803cc Scrambler, including its exhaust system and rear suspension. New aluminum wheels replace wire-spoke wheels, and suspension travel looks to be slightly less.

Aside from some engine covers, the V-Twin motor appears outwardly similar to the one in the Scrambler. It’s likely Ducati may have hot-rodded it somehow to yield a bit more power than the 70 rear-wheel horsepower in Scrambler tune. The trellis frame is a departure from the Scrambler’s and much longer than the truncated one found on the liquid-cooled Monsters, continuing rearward alongside the rear cylinder. From the rear angle shot we can see the red steel tube subframe connecting to the rear shock and continuing up through the tail and peaking out from under the passenger seat.

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The liquid-cooled Monster 821 had a wet weight of 453 pounds, only eight pounds less than the Monster 1200. Hopefully, an air-cooled Monster using the 803cc engine will have a wet weight closer to that of the Scrambler’s 410 pounds.

A dual-disc brake setup replaces the Scrambler’s solitary rotor, with modern radial-mount Brembo calipers. We can assume the electronics package includes traction control, ride modes and antilock braking.

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Also new is the headlight, an evolution of the current Monster’s headlamp with the addition of Euro-4-mandated daytime running lights in a strip of LEDs running across the lens.

Its price will likely fall between the Monster 821 and the high-end Scramblers, so we’ll guess an MSRP of about $11,000. Full details will be revealed at this fall’s motorcycle shows.

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  • Born to Ride

    Very happy to see the return of the Air Cooled Monster. Begs the question of why did they drop it in the first place if they could get it to pass emissions? Also, I very much hope that the monster falls more in line with the scrambler icon pricing, further diversifying their entry level offerings. Otherwise it’ll be incredibly close in price to the 821.

    • denchung

      … or just replace the 821 with a larger engine: http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/ducati/2017-ducati-monster-939-spied.html

      As for why they didn’t do this in the first place, the answer is the Scrambler. Ducati clearly put a lot of resources into developing and marketing the Scrambler and it looks to have paid off. Putting out a Monster too close to the Scrambler, using the same engine, could have hindered those efforts.

      Also: the Scrambler claims a peak output of 75 hp while the Monster 696 claimed 80 hp with a smaller engine. How well do you think a new Monster with a larger engine and less power would have done at the time?

      With the 821 now out, and expected to upsize to a 939 next year, Ducati created a new hole in its line-up for a smaller, less powerful Monster where this could work.

      • Born to Ride

        Very astute assessment. I didn’t think about the 939 bump, but it is the obvious progression. the Hypermotard has always received the engine updates that trickled down to the monster the next year. I agree that pulling the monster line and producing the scrambler was a stroke of marketing genius that has paid off well for them, but why bring it back now if there is concern that it would detract from the scrambler success?

        As far as engine outputs go, Ducati may have claimed 80hp for the 696, but it consistently dynos in the 65-68hp range. The scrambler puts down over 70, just a few shy of what the 796 using the same motor used to produce. I know I know, marketing and such.

    • Robert

      because everyone was traded in right before their first valve clearance check.

      • Gabriel Owens

        How much does one of the valve clearance thingies cost on an average modern ducati?

        • Robert

          I have heard between 500 and 1,000. The air cooled Ducati engines get valve clearance about every 7,000 while the water cooled get them between 12-15,000.

          • Born to Ride

            Also incorrect. It’s 7500 for the check, 15000 for the timing belts and adjustment. And I’ve never been quoted over 500$ for the job on any of my 3 air cooled ducatis.

          • Robert

            Notice I said about 7,000 doesnt that give the ball park of exactly 7,500? Wow, way to call me out. And thats great that you have never been quoted more than 500$. But I have talked to dealerships that do charge more than that. It depends on where you live and your dealer. I don’t care what you say a ducati will cost more to maintain than a jap bike. So maybe you can do it your self really cheap and thats great for you but I am talking about taking it to a dealership to get the work done. Its funny how I have to prove that I didn’t say anything incorrect when in fact I didn’t say anything incorrect. Thanks for playing.

            So yes the maintenance is higher due to the timing and valve clearance checks on these bikes. Like I stated before these bike are the only ones that don’t use valve springs so they require special servicing that can usually only be done at a Ducati dealership. So if you don’t mind dealing with this and having a bike that is less reliable than a jap bike. Then go for it. The service intervals will depend on the specific bike you have and whether its an air cooled or water cooled bike.

          • Born to Ride

            Only called you out because you’re responding to someone’s legitimate question with hearsay and common misconceptions. Also, if you have never owned a Ducati, how would you know anything about the reliability or serviceability relative to Japanese bikes. GSXRs are known for valves moving around a lot too. I don’t know because I’ve never owned one, but a friend of mine said so.

          • Robert

            No I didn’t. What I said was true. Just like I what I said about the valve clearance checks, which I was right about and you seem now not to want to argue the point. If you look at manufacture reliability the big four (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki) are at the top above Ducati. Oh and I sold Ducati’s and all the other bike to include Harley. So of course manufacturers are going to have specific models that have issues. But as a whole all the jap bikes are more reliable than any other motorcycle manufacturer. Do you need me to prove that to you as well?

          • Born to Ride

            Sigh… going against my better judgment… You said “Ducati don’t have valve stems”. Wrong, they do not have valve Springs. You said because of that incorrect statement that “only a Ducati technician can work on them”. Wrong, the air cooled Ducati motors are very easy to work on and if you call around you can find people other than the dealership that will work on them. Additionally you said “I would get a water cooled because the air cooled is the most costly bike to maintain”. Wrong, even if you service your bike at the dealership, two valve adjustments on an air cooled Ducati will cost less than the average water cooled major service at approximately the same mileage depending on the model. As far as reliability goes, I know people that have fragged Japanese SS bikes before 15k miles, and I have personally encountered a dozen or more air cooled Ducati with well over 50k. You are regurgitating things that have been said to you over and over with no actual experience on the matter. Good day sir.

          • Robert

            Yes that was a typo I meant they don’t have valve springs. Yes there are some people who work on Ducati’s but for most people who buy them they will have to take them to a Ducati dealer, not the local Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Harley dealer. I said that I would buy a water cooled Ducati because its valve clearance check is double that of a air cooled ducati. And of course some people will have jap bikes that crap out before a Ducati, but that does not mean that as a whole, jap bikes are not more reliable. Because in fact the they are most reliable motorcycle manufacturers on the road today. If you don’t believe me than look it up. Consumer reports did a study on Motorcycle manufacturer reliability and found the 4 jap bike companies as the most reliable. Do you actually do research?

          • Born to Ride

            I said good day sir!

          • Robert

            Wow look at that. I just went on the Ducati website and it says the valve clearance intervals on a monster 1200 are 18,000 miles. Wow thats basically what I said a water cooled ducati motor valve clearance interval was. It feels so good to be right and not even a Ducati. :)

        • Robert

          Most modern bikes have longer valve clearance checks than the air cooled ducati. My ninja 300 is an exception because it deadlines at 13,000 it does also get valve checks every 7,000 miles. But the valves are hardly ever out of spec. In fact most mechanics say they only need valve clearance checks around 50,000. Valve clearance checks on Ducatis are very different than on any other bike because it does not have valve stems and can only be done by a ducati tech if you don’t do them yourself. For example an air cooled triumph bonneville gets valve checks every 12,000 miles. A Honda CBR 500R is 600 miles for the first valve check then not due again until 16,000 miles. In summary, an air cooled ducati engine bike will be one of the most costly bike to maintain. If I were to get a Ducati I would get one of the water cooled bikes with much longer valve train interval checks. Or I would buy a triumph or japanese bike. I love my ninja 300. I think my valve clearance check cost me between 200-250$

          • Born to Ride

            I’m sorry but that simply isn’t true. Look up a YouTube video on the air cooled valve check. You can do it with a set of feeler Gauges and a screw driver once you get the inspection plates off. There are only 2 valves per cylinder as well. Additionally, after the second valve adjustment, assuming you don’t install upgraded collets at the first adjustment, they really don’t move very much at all. After 15k, you can pretty much count on adjusting them every 15k. Also, most Ducati dealers charge 300-400$ For a valve adjustment on an air cooled bike. Much less than the 1000-1200$ major service on the water cooled ducatis

          • Robert

            Nothing that I said was wrong. I said that air cooled ducati need valve clearance checks about every 7,000 miles and I said that water cooled ducati engines need their checked somewhere between 12,000 and 17,000 miles depending on the bike. All that is correct. And then I gave examples of modern motorcycle that need clearance checks way less often than an air cooled ducati and that they would be cheaper to maintain. All correct.

          • Tim

            Ninja 300! That bike should almost never require any maintenance due to the fact it has no power! Chains and sprockets has to last almost for the life of the bike if kept clean simply due to the complete utter lack of torque of that mill. CBR500, another dog of a bike. Slow bikes are fun, just as long as you don’t mind not being able to enjoy acceleration as an attribute! The brakes and suspension on those Ninja 300’s are total crap as well, but maintenance free. Enjoy it!

          • Robert

            And a dual over head cam motor that redlines at 13,000 rpms. Yes very low on power compared to most ducatis but they still need maintenance and they need valve clearance checks more than most bikes its size due to the redline. But all in all and very useless post by you to basically tell me my bike has no power. Well it has no power for big overweight people or people who think that a faster bike makes them look more cool. It can outrun my civic and thats enough for me.

  • JMDonald

    Like a moth to a flame I am drawn to this new Monster. It is in my new top five. I need it. I want it. If it weighs in somewhere around 400 lbs. I will have to have it.

    • Born to Ride

      Why not buy a 796 for 6-7 grand with like 5k miles on it? Same motor, similar aesthetics, and a single side swing arm.

      • Kevin Duke

        Metzeler and Michelin, too. Why the hate for the 60 series, just limited availability?

        • Born to Ride

          Oh Michelin finally came out with tires for the 60s? If they have PR4s in 180/60 now, then I rescind my hateful remark. When I was looking at the monster 821 those two pirellis I mentioned were the only thing available. Didn’t seem that long ago.

  • Robert

    ya, expensive valve clearance checks. Great fun. If you must buy a Ducati get liquid cooling. Much better valve clearance intervals.

    • Born to Ride

      Valves are stupidly easy to check on the air cooled bikes. All you need is a screw driver and feeler gauges. And if you are the type that doesn’t like to get your hands dirty, my dealership only wanted 390$ for the job. The same facility wanted to charge 600$ for the valve adjustment on my triumph. Also there is a valve collet upgrade offered by a company called MBP that can greatly extend the service life of an adjustment. Compare that to the north of 1000$ service at 15-17k on the Testastretta and you’re still ahead.

      • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

        I agree the air cooled engines are super easy to work on. The dealers insist on it bing a black art. Sure there are opportunities to make mistakes but its not difficult. Time consuming but not difficult.

  • schizuki

    Does it still have the ethanol-allergic plastic fuel tank?

    • Born to Ride

      Not unless they brought them back for old times sake.

  • Gabriel Owens

    With a nice set of rearsets the clearance on the bike is gonna be fuggin stadanky

  • QuestionMark666

    More poorly differentiated product from the muddled marketing that is Ducati. Too many similar models has diluted the brand identity and confused consumers. The air cooled Monster is a weak idea in the soft Scrambler market. You have the similar Hypermotards, Look at dealer’s inventories, demand for that Scrambler line peaked last year. Too many models means breaking no new ground just reseeding the same fields over and over again. 7 scramblers, 6 Monsters, 3 Hypermotards all complete in some venn diagram type look at the markets.

    • Born to Ride

      I agree with you except for the hypermotard bit. I don’t know of any Ducati customers that cross shop the hyper and the monster. Very very different bikes. The only similarity has been the motor.

      • QuestionMark666

        I work with euro brand retailers, the Multistrada even enters the picture with the Monster 1200 and the new Hyper is right in there too. A manufacturer’s job is to sell retailers bikes we sell to consumers. More models means the dealer has to hold more inventory.