Ducati's entry-level bikes. Many consider the 800 to be the best choice among the lineup, striking a balance between being neither too small nor too heavy. The Monster's essence lies in its balanced performance.
This Monster retains its original bare-bones design, but with a smoother and quieter engine. It also features an electronic tachometer with trip meters, temperature display, and other useful indicators and warning lights that are highly visible day and night due to their deep slots. Additionally, it includes a clock, which is quite convenient. The tachometer cluster as a whole has a sporty, neat, and classic appearance.
One of the first things you notice when riding the Monster is that it feels reasonably compact yet remarkably sturdy. This is particularly evident when navigating high-speed corners, where you might expect some instability.
The bike is absolutely rock solid and incredibly easy to maneuver. It responds precisely to your commands in corners, and it's one of the few bikes that hasn't surprised me in any way. Some bikes tend to lean excessively or require effort to initiate a lean, but not the Monster. If someone has been praising Ducati's handling, it certainly holds true for this model. However, the sharp handling also means that if you find yourself in trouble, chances are you were already going bloody fast.
The 800cc engine output of 73hp may not be jaw-dropping, although this particular example had some modifications, pushing it closer to 80hp. On paper, the figures might seem disappointing, but the power delivery is strong from low revs, remaining consistently torquey and linear. You can confidently stick to 3rd gear and accelerate and decelerate through bends without needing to use the brakes.
While there are certainly bikes with more power, the Monster 800 is no slouch, and its power delivery is user-friendly. When riding it properly, there won't be many riders overtaking you in corners. The 800 desmo engine is quite versatile, although a bit jerky at low speeds, which can make slow maneuvers somewhat tricky. It truly shines when you push it hard—accelerating aggressively or employing engine braking puts you in the bike's sweet spot. On the other hand, slow cruising isn't the bike's strong suit, so it's worth noting for those who prefer leisurely rides. Despite being described as Ducati's entry-level bike, many riders choose the Monster even if price isn't a concern. As a city bike, I don't believe Ducati had anything better at the time. The somewhat upright riding position offers a good field of view and alleviates pressure on the wrists.
Even during longer rides, the riding position remains more comfortable than that of typical sport bikes, allowing you to confidently tackle corners alongside more powerful machines. On the road, you don't really need anything faster than the Monster 800. I've taken a Ducati Monster on both Eastern Creek and Oran Park raceways for an exhilarating spin, and it was only on the straightaways that I felt it was slightly underpowered. If 240km/h isn't enough for you, then you'll need something faster! The clutch lever might feel a bit stiff if you're accustomed to an easy-pull lever, and after a full day's ride, your left hand will definitely feel it. This model of the Monster had a wet clutch, which means it didn't produce the rattling noise of a dry clutch when idling. On the upside, it did have the distinctive Ducati boom - as good as any. Never had an issue with cars pulling into my lane or not knowing I was there.
This model was equipped with a K&N Racing air filter, which significantly enhanced acceleration, sound, and the smoothness of low-end power. It's a worthwhile investment that even a novice can install. Out of the box, the m800 doesn't have the thunderous Ducati roar you might be accustomed to. Nonetheless, it still produces a beautiful deep sound without being overly loud. If you want to be the owner of an attention-grabbing Ducati, you'll need to shell out some money for those enticing aftermarket exhaust pipes. Oh, and don't forget, you'll need two of them! Purchasing a new set of these pipes from your local Ducati Dealer will cost you around $1400 AUD or $1900 with the performance kit. (Note: Pricing information based on the Ducati Performance Brand at the time of writing). In terms of aesthetics, the Monster's design tends to elicit strong reactions—people either love it or hate it. Regardless of personal preference, it's important to acknowledge that the Monster's naked concept has influenced numerous derivative models in other brands.
The Monster has a unique appeal, blending elements of classic, modern, and custom design. It played a pivotal role in establishing a new category of naked bikes. The 800 version is equipped with potent twin Brembo "Serie Oro" brake calipers and front discs that unquestionably get the job done. Initially, they may feel a bit lacking in bite, but with a bit of pressure, they engage firmly enough. The perception of their performance can vary depending on individual riders' familiarity with different braking systems.
The front suspension consists of 43mm upside-down shocks, which, when combined with the Sachs adjustable monoshock at the rear, effectively keep the tires in contact with the road. The ride quality is firm, striking a good balance between comfort and avoiding bone-shattering stiffness often found in sportier rides. The bike we tested had a standard suspension setup that felt perfectly adequate. It offers a pleasant blend of comfortable riding and sporty responsiveness. The Monster excels as an urban commuter and on twisty backroads, but it's not particularly well-suited for extended highway riding due to the absence of any form of fairing. While we don't necessarily complain about the lack of protection on a naked bike, we would recommend it more for warmer months when weather conditions are favorable.
Beneath the rear fairing, you'll find a passenger seat that may appear minimalistic, and indeed it is. However, it performs surprisingly well and is more comfortable than many other bikes we've tested. Additionally, there are rails positioned under the seat, designed for attachments that can serve as grab rails—although they may be more accessible to riders with longer arms.
In terms of fuel economy, it's not exceptional, but with careful riding, you can expect to cover approximately 220 kilometers before the fuel light comes on. The hump-like structure resembling a fuel tank is primarily an airbox, with the actual fuel stored in the shell of the bike.
Overall, the Monster is a fantastic, straightforward bike with remarkable handling and an excellent engine. Isn't that what you essentially need in a bike? However, for those who enjoy customizing and tinkering with their rides, there is a vast array of stunning, shiny, and unfortunately quite expensive aftermarket parts available to enhance the bike further.