The 2022 Ducati Monster Plus gets a fresh new look.
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2022 Ducati Monster Plus: Frankenstein Gets a Facelift

The Ducati Monster took a major evolutionary step in 2021, abandoning the trellis frame that propelled naked motorcycles to stardom over a quarter-century ago. It got its Monster moniker as a reference to the bike’s Frankenstein nature: A parts-bin collection of various engine, transmission, and cooling components are pieced together within the original nest of metal bars. Now, the 2022 Ducati Monster Plus receives entirely new packaging. Here’s a look inside.

The 2022 Ducati Monster Plus has a smoother aluminum truss with styling highlighted by a “Bison” 3.7-gallon gas tank that shifts the overall profile noticeably upward, a serious departure from previous generations. Borrowed from Ducati’s Hypermotard and SuperSport 950 models, a 937cc Testrastretta four-valve twin with cylinder heads attaches directly to the frame and boosts output to 111 horsepower and 69 lb-ft of torque.

The 2022 Ducati Monster Plus gets a fresh new look.
Courtesy Image

The new-to-Monster mill pumps out gobs of low-end torque but still prefers the higher rev range, while excellent throttle modulation throughout allows for a choice between easy acceleration or the gut punch of a hard launch at nearly any moment. A six-speed gearbox provides excellent shift pedal engagement and a new quickshifter function renders the adjustable clutch lever largely irrelevant for smooth up and down shifts while in motion. Tall gear ratios do cause a fair amount of sputtering and lurching at low speeds, though, which leaves the scheming Monster sick of city commuting and longing to claw through the canyons or possibly even head out for some track days.

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But the drivetrain’s sportier inclinations make the new bike’s more upright riding position somewhat confusing. The handlebars are higher and positioned backward, the narrow-waisted seat is scooted forward, and the Bison hump all depart from the original Monster’s exposed sportbike-meets-cafe-racer heritage. Instead, the Monster now hews closer to Hypermotard, Streetfighter, and Multistrada styling—a new design that contributes noticeably to riding dynamics.

Steady-speed cruising on the Monster reveals the two-faced nature, too, as non-adjustable Kayaba forks up front and only preload adjustment for the rear suspension gobble up most larger surface imperfections. And yet, the frame almost feels happier while leaning into a turn than going straight. Perhaps that sensation emerges from the biggest advantage to such an extreme generational redesign: weight savings. At a claimed 366 pounds dry, the Monster sheds excess poundage at nearly every component. The new engine weighs 5.3 pounds less, the front frame saves nearly 10 pounds versus the outgoing trellis, the rear subframe sheds 4.2 pounds further, and the wheels cut out another 3.8 pounds of unsprung weight. Overall, the 2022 model year tips the scales at fully 32 pounds below the outgoing 821cc bike.

The 2022 Ducati Monster Plus gets a fresh new look.
Courtesy Image

Even for Ducati’s second-cheapest (or as Bologna probably prefers, the second most accessible) model, the Monster still packs plenty of tech into the picture. A jam-packed 4.3-inch digital gauge cluster (which borders on convoluted, really) displays multiple drive modes selectable via thumb controls on the left handlebar, including a lap timer, along with the typical readouts for RPM, gear selection, speed, fuel level, and temps. As an entry-level Ducati that nonetheless puts down enough power to satisfy experienced riders, safety features run the gamut from lean-sensitive anti-lock brakes to launch control, traction control, and even a wheelie control function to prevent new or tentative riders from letting their most monstrous intentions get the best of them.

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But the tech never kills the fun of a peppy engine—and the 937cc unit remains the only single option available, at least for now, unlike in previous years when displacement ranged all the way up to 1200cc. Higher-spec Monsters still use the outgoing trellis frame, possibly due to supply chain issues that made 2021 model year base Monsters nearly impossible to find.

The 2022 Ducati Monster Plus gets a fresh new look.
Courtesy Image

Instead of more power, the Monster Plus trim level signifies only the addition of a silly windscreen and pillion pad for the $500 price bump over the “base” bike, which starts at $11,995. For the 2023 model year, a track-tuned Monster SP model will also enter the lineup with Öhlins suspension, an upgraded Brembo Stylema front brake caliper, Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires, and a Termignoni exhaust silencer—all of which contribute to 4.4 more pounds of weight savings, not to mention plenty of style points. Good luck finding an SP from a dealer, though.

For now, all but the slowest rides in traffic or the tightest canyon curves provide a perfect opportunity to unleash the new Monster, if simply to reach high enough up into the power band that Frankenstein’s vengeance starts to stimulate the old lizard brain. But then again, would Dr. Frankenstein’s creation still scare anyone if he got a facelift that hides all the parts ingeniously cobbled together to bring him to life? Regardless, the universal appeal of the age-old story—not to mention a uniquely thrilling ride—still make the new, more modern Monster one scary-fun entrant in the prolific naked bike market.

[$11,995; ducati.com]

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