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It’s never been the fastest, but the Monster is one of the most popular bikes Ducati makes. So, when news broke that the 2021 model would lose a characteristic feature, some fans were understandably concerned. But as it turns out, those concerns can be largely laid to rest. Because while the 2021 Ducati Monster has a new look, it’s still got the same heart and soul.

For 2021, the Ducati Monster lost its trellis frame and some weight but gained significantly more

A red 1993 Ducati Monster M900
1993 Ducati Monster M900 | Ducati

The ‘characteristic feature’ mentioned above is the steel trellis frame, which used to be a Ducati Monster signature element. It’s been that way since the Italian company unveiled the first Monster, the M900, in 1992.

But while the naked bike used the trellis frame for decades, Ducati’s racing bikes abandoned it in 2008, Cycle World reports. And because racing informs much of what Ducati does on the street, its high-end Panigale and Streetfighter models ditched the trellis, too. Instead, those bikes use a cast-aluminum frame. And now, a derivative of that frame is found on the 2021 Ducati Monster.

A red 2021 Ducati Monster
2021 Ducati Monster | Ducati

Although it doesn’t look the same, the new frame is stiffer and lighter. Speaking of light, the 414-lb 2021 Ducati Monster weighs 40 pounds less than the outgoing model, Motorcyclist reports. And that’s not just because of the new frame; the 2021 Monster has a lighter swingarm, subframe, and wheels.

The naked bike is also slightly narrower and has a seat height as low as 30.5” with the accessory seat and lowering-spring kit. The handlebars are also slightly closer and the footpegs are slightly lower, MCN notes. And both the clutch and front brake levers are adjustable, RevZilla reports.

A red-clad rider on a gray 2021 Ducati Monster does a burnout on a racetrack
2021 Ducati Monster side burnout | Ducati

While the frame is new, the 2021 Ducati Monster still has a liquid-cooled 90° V-twin (‘L-twin’) engine with desmodromic valves. However, it’s now a 937cc L-twin rated at 111 hp and 69 lb-ft. And the six-speed transmission it’s linked to has an updated slipper clutch and a standard quickshifter, Cycle World reports. Plus, the L-twin is now a stressed member of the frame.

The 2021 Ducati Monster lost some weight and its trellis frame, but it gained some new tech. It offers multiple riding modes, adjustable traction control, launch control, and wheelie control, MCN reports. Also, its Brembo brakes now have cornering ABS. And the naked bike has a 4.3” color TFT display as well as full LED lighting and a USB socket.

It’s “a new era” for the Ducati naked bike, Cycle World says, but it’s still a Monster

For some fans, the loss of that trellis frame will be unacceptable. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the Ducati Monster was always a parts-bin special. Its original frame, for instance, was borrowed from the 888 superbike. The inverted front fork came from the 750 Supersport and the L-twin from the 900SS.

In that regard, the 2021 Monster continues the legacy. Besides the Panigale-derived frame, it has a modified version of the engine used in the current Hypermotard and SuperSport. And the TFT display’s interface is based on the one used by the Panigale V4, RideApart points out. So, rest assured, the Monster hasn’t forgotten its roots.

A red-and-white-clad rider takes a red 2021 Ducati Monster around the corner of a racetrack
2021 Ducati Monster front 3/4 | Ducati

More to the point, the updates the 2021 Ducati Monster brings haven’t changed what it fundamentally is. It’s still “an accessible, user-friendly motorcycle that appeals to Ducatisti as much as it does wannabe cognoscenti,” Cycle World reports. Only now, it’s arguably even more so.

The new frame and lower curb weight make the 2021 Monster easy to maneuver around town and on twisty roads. It’s stable in corners, with “effortless” tip-in and “predictable” side-to-side transitions. And it feels more agile and playful than the old model, RideApart muses. Plus, the narrower tank and tweaked riding position are all-day comfortable, Cycle World reports.

The ride is on the stiffer side and the front forks aren’t adjustable. However, the lowering-spring kit makes the ride plusher without ruining the handling, RevZilla notes. And the brakes deliver both excellent stopping power and confidence-inspiring feedback.

The clutch and brake levers are easier to pull, a boon to newer riders. Another boon? The longer clutch and valve maintenance intervals. Although the 937cc L-twin throws a noticeable amount of heat during urban riding, it’s a smooth and versatile engine with a broad powerband, RevZilla reports. And the power output is adjustable via the riding modes.

Is it worth considering?

For 2021, the Ducati Monster is only available in two trims. The base model starts at $11,895; the Monster+ starts at $12,195. That extra $300 gets you a flyscreen, auto-canceling ‘dyanmic’ turn indicators, and a passenger seat cover.

In comparison, a 2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 with cornering ABS and quickshifter is about $1000 cheaper. And the 2021 Triumph Trident 660 is even cheaper. However, both of those bikes are noticeably less powerful. And while they have most of the 2021 Monster’s electronic features, they don’t have all of them.

A silver-black-and-red 2021 Aprilia RS 660 parked by a concrete ramp
2021 Aprilia RS 660 | Aprilia

As with any motorcycle, ride before you buy. But if you were worried that losing that trellis frame mean Ducati had ruined the Monster, put those worries to rest. As the song goes, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” The 2021 Monster is still a Monster, just one that’s been brought up to speed.

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