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Ducati Monster SP (2023) – Review

BikeSocial Road Tester



2023 Ducati Monster SP Review Price Spec_14
2023 Ducati Monster SP Review Price Spec_01
2023 Ducati Monster SP Review Price Spec_20


Price: £13,995 | Power: 111hp | Weight: 166kg (dry) | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Ducati’s first Monster arrived 30 years ago, back in 1993. I remember seeing it in magazines for the first time, a refreshingly simple and classy naked with that familiar trellis chassis and an air-cooled V-twin engine. It was minimalist and in essences just a collection of bits from the Ducati parts bin – but it worked. This was good news for Ducati, as the Monster helped Ducati through difficult financial times.

Over the years the Monster has evolved from 600 to 1200; air-cooled to water-cooled; dark and basic to sporty limited. There's even been Foggy and 916 and 999 powered variants.

I've been lucky enough to have ridden almost every incarnation and rode my own early Monster 600 to Italy when I was young enough to know no better.  

Now all those trellis frames and air-cooled engines are long gone because Ducati only produces one Monster, an entry-level naked that was launched in 2021 that uses the 111hp/82kw 937cc Testastretta V-twin. At least it was until now, and the much-anticipated arrival of the Monster SP.

At times it seems that Ducati can't help themselves; can't resist the temptation to take a relatively restrained model and pimp it into premium SP spec.

SP Ducatis have always equated to something a little special, though, and still do today. The usual process involves taking the base model and adding premium suspension and brakes and reducing weight – which is precisely what they have done with the Monster SP.

It doesn’t get lighter wheels like other SP models in Ducati’s range but it does benefit from Öhlins suspension at both ends, improved Brembo Stylema brakes, a reduction in weight that's mainly due to a lighter lithium-ion battery and road legal Termignoni silencer, which, incidentally, doesn’t improve performance and is simply added for aesthetic reasons.

Power remains the same as the standard Monster, but there are other small but significant tweaks such as new steering damper, and Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV rubber instead of Rosso III. There's also exclusive styling, including a small fly screen and that attractive SP only livery.  


  • Sportier than before, with lighter handing and improved ground clearance.

  • Improved suspension and stopping power.

  • Unique styling, adding to the desirability.

  • Expensive compared to the competition.

  • Down on outright power compared to similarly priced competition.

  • Dash lacks bling for the price.

2023 Ducati Monster SP - Review

New 2023 Ducati Monster gets Öhlins suspension front and rear, plus a reduction in weight and a striking new livery.


Review – In Detail

Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension
Comfort & Economy
Second Opinion


2023 Ducati Monster SP Price

How much is the Ducati Monster SP? £13,995

There is no hiding the fact the Monster SP is an expensive middleweight ‘entry’ into the SP Ducati family. Just shy of £14k is considerably more than the sporty competition provided by the KTM 890 Duke R (£11,599) and Triumph’s new 2023 Street Triple RS (£11,295).

But there is a counterargument; namely that the SP is £2700 more than the ‘base’ Monster, which means you are getting fully adjustable Öhlins suspension front and rear, Stylema brakes, Termi exhaust and all the other goodies for under £3000, which isn’t bad. Furthermore, Ducati’s alternative, the Hypermotard SP, which shares the same engine, is £15,995! You could also argue that the Ducati is far more desirable than the competition, and you become a member of the exclusive Ducati ownership club who won both MotoGP and World Superbike last year.



2023 Ducati Monster SP Engine & Performance

Despite the addition of the Termignoni silencer, power and torque remain the same as the standard Monster at 111hp (82kw) @ 9250rpm, with 93Nm (69 lb-ft) of torque at 6,500rpm from the 937cc Testastretta liquid-cooled motor. The gearbox and gearing are the same as the standard Monster, but the reduction in overall weight, a claimed 2kg in running order, now just 166kg dry, means it feels a little livelier than the standard Monster.

The on-paper performance figures may not impress your mates with 200bhp plus superbikes, but the real word on-road performance feels greater than its 111hp peak promises. This is a lively bike that really punches out of corners. You don’t have to chase the revs to have fun. It’s refreshing to jump on a Ducati twin and rely on that mid to low down punch which the brand is famous for. The Euro 5-approved Termignoni silencer adds welcome bark, too, which amplifies the feeling of a sportier and faster bike.

Given the quality and pure sporty enjoyment of riding a KTM 890 Duke R or Triumph Street Triple R or RS, I was a little concerned the SP might feel a little under-clubbed. But turn off the wheelie control, head out into the twisties and the Monster comes alive. There's a liberating sense of being able to use all of it, not simply tickle the margins of its ability. It's not a toy exactly but you, the rider, are definitely the boss. On a closed road, it loves some one-wheeled action and because the power delivery is smooth and easy, it’s not intimidating when you decide to do so.

The SP can also be restricted for A2 licence holders, who can experience sublime agility and handling without ever feeling overawed. Even in its full-fat format the SP's fuelling is sweetly soft and the carefully packaged riding modes – Sport, Touring and Rain – plus a plethora of Ducati rider aids help keep you safe.



2023 Ducati Monster SP Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

This is where the SP's extra £2700 make a difference as the SP features Öhlins 43mm NIX30 forks instead of KYB units up front and a fully-adjustable Öhlins shock instead of a Sachs unit at the rear.  

The SP sits a little higher, with the seat height increased by 20mm to 840mm. Sitting the bike slightly higher should, in theory, increase ground clearance, allowing a greater lean angle. Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV rubber replaces the Diablo Rosso III tyres on the standard Monster.

Ducati is claiming an overall 2kg weight reduction thanks to those Öhlins forks, which are 0.6kg lighter, and new aluminium flanges for the 320mm brakes discs (0.5kg lighter) as well as the lighter lithium-ion battery. However, adding a (non-adjustable) steering damper must have put little weight back on.

A two-kilo weight loss isn’t a particularly significant change, but on the road it feels like one. The SP is so flickable and easy to throw around that it feels smaller and lighter than it is. It implores you to have fun and turns noticeably quicker and easier than the standard bike, which is by no means a reluctant corner taker itself. The taller riding position gives the Monster an aggressive edge, too.

The feeling from the Öhlins is exceptional. The ride quality is plush and comfortable; sporty without behaving like a near-rigid sports bike on the road. Even bumpy B-roads at speed don't faze the suspension. Usually, light quick-steering bikes feel a little nervous at speed and on dodgy surfaces, but the Ducati feels sure-footed at all times.

Ducati claims to have improved ground clearance, and although we had dry and warm-ish conditions I can’t categorically comment on how far. Same with the new rubber: I’m unsure how much more the Rosso IV delivers compared to the older Rosso III, and only a track day in summer will only tell us for sure. And, for the record, I am willing to put my hand up for that onerous task.

The standard Brembo M4.32 Monster stoppers are quality items, but Ducati have gone one step further with the SP adding Stylema calipers. Race spec brakes on a lightweight naked bike results in enormously potent stopping power – supported by Ducati’s excellent cornering ABS.

On the road you only need one finger on the lever to haul up this lightweight firecracker, and at slow speeds they are not too aggressive either. Equally, take the SP on track, turn off the rear ABS and you will be stunned by how late you can brake. In fact, with race-spec brakes, quality Öhlins forks and so few kilos to slow, the SP will embarrass a few sports bikes on the stoppers this summer.



2023 Ducati Monster SP Comfort & Economy

The added fly screen is simply a token gesture, more a styling exercise than anything else, as it offers little protection. The Monster is on the small side, and I can see riders over 6ft tall opting for the taller seat in the accessories catalogue.

The Monster was never designed for serious touring, but the riding position is relaxed, especially when compared to earlier Monsters, which were a little more radical. I’d take on a long day in the saddle without out too many concerns. You’re never going to have endless hours in the saddle, anyway, as the 14-litre fuel tank and fuel consumption of around 50mpg will empty that tank in around 150 miles, and you’ll be looking for fuel at 110-120miles, depending on how badly you've been behaving.  

The new Öhlins suspension offers more refinement and a plush, non-fatiguing ride. It’s also easy to adjust, should you add a pillion or ride on especially rough terrain.

The 4.3-inch TFT dash is the same as found on the standard and SP Monster and is clear and easy to navigate. For £14,000, or near as damnit, I wonder if some newcomers to Ducati might expect a larger, more engaging display, certainly one with Bluetooth connectivity.



2023 Ducati Monster SP Rivals

The new Monster SP is up against it in this competitive class. The Duke is down on power at 111bhp, but is in the ballpark when it comes to real word torque and matching the lightest of bike for quoted dry weight. The group test is going to be interesting and competitive. The only real issue the Ducati SP has is its £13,995 price, which is a financial step above the cheaper competition.


KTM 890 DUKE R | Price: £11,599

Power/Torque: 119bhp/73lb-ft | Weight: 166kg (dry)


Triumph Street Triple RS (2023) | Price: £11,295

Power/Torque: 128bhp/59lb-ft | Weight: 166kg (dry)


Yamaha MT-09SP | Price: £11,300

Power/Torque: 117bhp/68.6lb-ft | Weight: 190kg (wet)



2023 Ducati Monster SP Verdict

The Monster SP turned out to be a nice surprise. Actually, it was much more than nice. I thought that it might feel a little flat compared to the harder-punching competition but was delighted to discover the Monster SP will be a genuine match for the other middle-weight sports nakeds.  

On the road it’s pure fun and comes without trace of ego or intimidation. It’s not over-complicated and delivers meaty V-twin power as well as a little more bark from its Termignomi pipe. It’s so light and flickable; it stops, turns and then goes so instinctively that you can just jump on and have fun.

There are excellent rider aids there in the background, which new riders will love, but as the mechanical grip and feedback are so good, you could argue that, aside from the smooth quick-shifter, they are not needed.

Ducati has taken the excellent standard Monster and added even more appeal and versatility, with improved lightweight handling and stopping power, whilst at the same time, adding even more desirability. The only downside is price. At £14,000, the ‘entry-level’ Monster is more expensive than the competition, with similar spec and greater power. But, for many, the competition simply will not have the desirability and kudos of the Ducati.



Second Opinion – Michael Mann, Content Editor

The current Monster had a remodel taking on its current alternative guise in 2021 which managed to split opinion between the traditionalists (trellis frame fans) and those looking for something funkier and more modern from Ducati. I rode it and was just ‘whelmed’ (neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed) – there were good bits and bits that you’d not expect from a Ducati. Grotty-looking lambda sensors, strange split front brake lines and a massive design error by not including a belly pan were unusual for the Bologna marque. Two years down the line and this SP model is only mildly more aesthetically pleasing because of the Termignoni pipes, fly screen and SP colours which help accentuate the visuals, and I am a big fan of that solo headlight too. The downside is those glaringly obvious issues still stick out.

If you can ignore them, then the key ingredients in making this Monster SP stand head-and-shoulders above its standard model stablemate by adding an element of la dolce vita is the combination of Ohlins suspension, better Pirelli rubber and Brembo brakes. Together these components make a ride so much more sublime. The chassis has been unlocked and the bike all of a sudden has a real strength: a lack of outright power is more than justified by its lack of weight and gorgeous handling. It’s lively and very easy to manage at any speed – even pushing it around or performing a U-turn, it’s a doddle to move and has a great turning circle. The superb and well sprung suspension were working overtime on the test route allowing this 14.5-stone pudding a smooth passage over Northamptonshire’s crappiest of roads. It allows for very direct steering, sometimes too good meaning you have to readjust mid-corner (if you’ve just stepped off a Streetfighter V4S, for example!), there’s a sharpness about the Monster SP which reminds me a cheetah chasing its prey in the opening sequence to one of those TV nature shows. When riding you sense the bike is alert and lithe with sharp reactions that are controlled not twitchy, which actually belies the riding position which is fairly neutral. Narrow handlebars and plenty of footpeg clearance also allow for decent lean angles, as do the tyres. The handling has really been tightened up on the SP.

One of the more basic TFT screens in Ducati’s stores has been fitted which could be down to cost-cutting, or attracting riders with more simplistic ambitions from their screens even, the Monster SP has no need to overcomplicate with just enough rider aids to keep you out of mischief.

As with the base model, the SP also looks unfinished without the belly pan, like a monster from a children’s book has taken a mouthful from behind the front wheel. If it went head-to-head with Triumph’s 2023 Street Triple, only the true Ducatista would opt for the Monster SP. As the more premium model among its main competitors, it doesn’t demonstrate £2000 worth of difference to the Yamaha, Triumph or KTM. A lack of Bluetooth connectivity among them.

Overall, the SP offers a dynamic ride worthy of a test ride, though the price tag is a little steep, it needs a belly pan, and there’s a couple of bits need tidying up. It’s the kind of bike that you’d go out on a Sunday aiming to do 50-miles and end up doing 150 such is its addictiveness.



2023 Ducati Monster SP - Technical Specification

New price

From £13,995



Bore x Stroke

94 x 67.5

Engine layout


Engine details

Testatretta 4V per cylinder Desmo, liquid-cooled


110bhp (111hp) (82 kW) @ 9,250 rpm


69 lb ft (93 Nm) @ 6,500 rpm


6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift up/down

Average fuel consumption

Claimed: 53.3mpg

Tested: 48mpg

Tank size

14 litres

Max range to empty

150 miles

Rider aids

3 rider modes (Sport, Tour, Urban), cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, launch control and an up/down quickshifter


Aluminium alloy front frame

Front suspension

43mm USD Öhlins NIX30 forks

Front suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Öhlins monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Fully adjustable preload, compression and rebound

Front brake

2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radial-mount Brembo Stylema monobloc 4-piston calipers, radial master cylinder Cornering ABS

Rear brake

245 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calliper, Cornering ABS

Front wheel / tyre

Light alloy cast, 3,5" x 17"/Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV, 120/70 ZR17

Rear wheel / tyre

Light alloy cast, 5.5" x 17"/Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV, 180/55 ZR17



Seat height



186kg (kerb) 166kg dry


2 years, unlimited miles


9000 miles, 24 months

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated



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  • An ignition immobiliser system

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