2023 Ducati Monster SP road and track review

The Ducati Monster SP ridden at Silverstone

Having already tested the 2023 Ducati Monster SP on the road, The Ducati UK Silverstone Trackday gave me the chance to now sample it on the track

SILVERSTONE is, in my experience anyway, either the coldest or the hottest place on earth, with seemingly no in-between Goldilocks zone. That all changed for my test of the Ducati Monster SP as I was greeted with a slightly overcast sky and a temperature of around 15 degrees.

But I wasn’t there to audition as a meteorologist, but I was here to ride a bike that I’ve been itching to ride since we tested it on the road earlier this year. The 2023 Ducati Monster SP is the top of the Monster range and a bike that’s graced with higher-spec components that make it a viable option for riders who want a road bike with some on-track ability. The SP is 2kg lighter than the other Monsters in the range, and its chassis is blessed with some deliciously good Öhlins NIX30 43mm forks and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock. A steering damper is also added, as are punchy Brembo Stylema callipers, and a Termignoni exhaust. It’s also shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa IV tyres instead of the Rosso IIIs that are found on the other Monsters in the family. All in all, you’d have to admit that should you be looking to head to the track on a Monster, the SP is the one you’d go for.

Slotting into the advanced group on the trackday I was initially a bit worried I’d just be spending my day getting beaten up by Panigales on the long straights and then shuffled down the order by the event organisers. Thankfully that didn’t really happen, and in the first session, the pace was steady enough for me to hold my own and even catch some of the slower riders on faster bikes. Really, session one was a chance to reset my braking and turn in points, as the last time I’d ridden the GP track was on the Ducati DRE Racetrack Academy, and everything was very different. 

I did have one point of note though, as toward the end of the session, while I was pressing on to try to catch and pass a Panigale V4 a little further up the road, I very nearly got bitten on the exit of Luffield. It’s a funny corner, one that seems to go on forever, and you’re basically just waiting to get on the power to maximise your exit onto the next straight. I seemed to be carrying too much lean angle and just pushed the rear too hard, causing it to kick out before being scooped up by the traction control. The resulting catch from the electronics was enough to throw me out of the seat and see me land on the fuel tank, with my head basically above the headlight of the bike. It was also enough to trick the bike’s tilt sensor into thinking we had actually had a crash, and I had to make my way back around to the pits with the bike in limp mode! With this fairly loud warning heeded, I notched the bike’s lean-sensitive traction control up two notches ready for the next session.

Session two was a nice affair, thanks in part to a rise in temperature (it was now hovering just below 20 degrees) and partly because I find that the time between sessions is when you subconsciously digest what’s happened and make a plan for your next outing. That seemed to be the case and it quickly became apparent to me that the Monster SP’s superpower on track was its brakes. You can brake so wickedly late on it, and take great chunks out of the entry to the corner knowing you have some seriously advanced electronics keeping an eye on things. 

Everything else I’ve ridden here would have me getting on the anchors so much earlier, like at the end of the Wellington Straight for instance. I’d normally be hitting the brakes as I get to the escape road just after the bridge on the right-hand side of the track. On the little SP though I could brake after I’d fully passed the escape road and still get the bike stopped and hustled through the apex. The great thing about this is that you could pip other bikes on the brakes and then unleash the Monster SPs nimbleness through the change of direction into Luffield and begin to make a gap. That gap was sometimes just enough to see you still ahead as you tipped it into Copse and from there you are only a short squirt from Maggotts and Becketts, and, again, the corner speed of the SP would mean it actually could hold its own with bigger bikes even on this, the fastest GP circuit in the country. I really didn’t expect that coming into the day. I knew the brakes were going to be a strong point, and the way it changes direction is mind-blowing, but I genuinely assumed that once the apex had gone I’d be a sitting duck on the next straight.

For the rest of the day, things were very much like that; chasing bigger bikes and generally making a pest out of myself in braking zones. That was until the penultimate session. This was the first time I’d started to feel the Pirelli tyres moving about under braking. The temperature had now risen further and the humidity was higher, and it was a carbon copy of what I experienced on the launch of these tyres, then at the Mugello circuit in Italy. After multiple sessions, the edge grip of the tyre would begin to wane, and you’d be able to carry less and less brake into the apex of the turn. I mentioned this in my video review from the trackday; these tyres would likely be fine if you ride in the novice, or the bottom end of the intermediate group. If you are an avid trackday rider you might opt for a set of Super Corsas, and if you’re especially experienced, you might want to set your sights a little further up the Ducati range!

Overall though, the 2023 Ducati Monster SP was a delight to ride on the Silverstone GP circuit, a venue that is, let’s face it, not the first choice for a bike like this. Cadwell, Oulton, and even Donington Park would all be much better suited to its particular box of tricks. But the little Ducati did it all, left me hugely entertained and was a bit of a nuisance along the way! I think the biggest credit it can give the SP is the bikes I overlooked so I could stick with it throughout the day. I love the Panigale V4 S; for me, it’s everything I will ever want in a sportsbike. I’m also a big fan of the Streetfighter V4 S and the smaller Streetfighter V2, and I’ve been lucky enough to ride them all on the road and the track. 

At the Ducati UK Trackday, I had access to a garage brimming with all of these bikes and more; I had the pick of the lot and not once did I consider trundling down the pitlane on anything else.

Big thanks to Ducati UK for sorting the trackday invite out. You can find out more information about them on the official website.

This review was originally published on February 15th 2023, the original page can be found below.

IT’S a chilly start to the launch ride of the new 2023 Ducati Monster SP, with lingering fog and the temperature hovering around five degrees. We were there to try out Ducati’s latest, greatest naked, and some chilly conditions weren’t about to put a stop to that!

The 2023 Ducati Monster SP is the latest evolution of one of the most iconic motorcycles ever built. The Monster is widely regarded as being the bike that saved Ducati, as a sales slump in the mid-1990s bit hard. It’s simple, with timeless styling, a punchy delivery and playful demeanour. Those traits quickly made it a firm favourite, with Monster models making up half of Ducati’s global sales by 2005.

2023 Ducati Monster specs and pricing

The modern-day Monster comes in three flavours, the standard Monster, Monster + and new Monster SP. The plus gains a quickshifter, flyscreen, and seat cowl, while the SP gets a more comprehensive smattering of parts. First up there is the Öhlins fully adjustable suspension front and rear, and powerful Brembo Stylema callipers that are matched to radially mounted master cylinders. The SP also gains a steering damper and a very attractive Termignoni end can. The paint on the SP is inspired by Ducati’s MotoGP bike, and a seat cowl and flyscreen come as standard. The stock bike will set you back £11,295, while the ‘Plus’ comes in at £11,595. The top-spec SP, which - let’s face it - is the one to have, comes in at £13,995.

While that does mean there is a sizeable jump in price between the top and bottom of the range, you are getting quite a bit of big-name kit to adorn your garage with. It might also cause a slight quandary for potential new owners, as the top-spec SP is just £2,000 less than the Ducati Streetfighter V2. It also means the SP sits right at the top of the middleweight naked tree based on price alone, and is around £2,500 more than the latest Triumph Street Triple RS.

2023 Ducati Monster SP engine

At the heart of the new SP is the incredibly good 937cc Testastretta V-twin as found in the Multistrada V2, Hypermotard, and DesertX. In this bike it produces a claimed 111hp and 69lb-ft of torque. Prod the starter button and you’ll be greeted by that trademark Ducati symphony, as the motor belligerently turns over before spluttering into life. Typical of the marque, the engine has all that rattle and pop we’ve come to expect of the Italian naked machine.

As the sun is beginning to creep through the fog, we decide to hit the road, and with a heave of the industrial-feeling clutch lever, we head off into the Northamptonshire mist. With cold tyres, and even colder roads, the gutsy delivery of the engine easily has the back-end squirming, and the traction control lights flashing like a pervert at the park. In this world of 200+bhp super nakeds derived from sports bikes, it’d be easy to dismiss a machine with only 111hp as somewhat below par, but there’s something deliciously naughty about the way the Monster gets down the road. Bury the throttle to the stop and it’ll dig in, drive hard from low revs and shriek excitedly towards the 10,000rpm redline. At the other end of the straight, roll off the throttle, jab the quickshifter down a couple of gears and you are rewarded with a delightful burble from the stacked Termi’ pipe as great dollops of fuel make good their escape. Whether you want to ride the low and mid-range torque and be lazy with your gear shifts, or dance around the ‘box, the Ducati Monster SP is more than happy to oblige.

Like the DesertX we rode a couple of weeks back, the bike is blessed with a beautifully set-up electronic throttle; it really is a joy to use. There are no fluffs, glitches or issues, you simply get the precise amount of power that you ask for. (Not something that can’t be said for lots of other Euro5 bikes using a ride-by-wire system.) Like the throttle, the quickshifter on the bike works well, matching the revs both up and down the box nicely. The gearbox is joined with an assisted slipper clutch, which does its best to help when downshifting aggressively. There were a couple of downhill sweepers that had the Pirelli Rosso Corsa IVs slithering about, but overall the bike [or ‘the Monster SP’, up to you] worked well in the greasy conditions.

2023 Ducati Monster SP suspension brakes and handling

As mentioned at the top, the main difference between this and the other bikes in the range is the chassis hardware that’s used. The front end is supported by a set of Öhlins NIX 30 43mm forks, while the rear gets a fully adjustable Öhlins shock with a progressive linkage. Unlike some of the older generation Monsters, the 2023 edition gets a double-sided swingarm, something that will no doubt irk some traditionalists out there. Another upgrade for the SP is the move to Brembo Stylema callipers and radially-mounted master cylinders for both the brake and clutch. The front brakes on the bike operate on 320mm floating discs, and the entire braking system is governed by an IMU system, meaning lean-sensitive traction control, ABS and wheelie control.

On the sometimes-bumpy roads around Ducati’s Silverstone HQ, the Monster SP felt agile, dancing across the road from bump-to-bump as if it was searching out the bit of Tarmac it likes the most. It’s got a kind of nervous, excited energy to it, never really wanting to sit still for very long. The Öhlins set up on the bike isn’t the plushest, and the occasional, unavoidable potholes had me bracing for impact. Obviously, with a fully-adjustable system, you could dial in a slightly softer, more compliant setting for the bike, but the way the Monster SP handles really is its trump card, and I’d happily sacrifice comfort for this level of agility.

The Monster SP tips the scales at 166kg dry, which, thanks to lighter suspension and a lithium battery, means it's 2kg lighter than the other bikes in the range. 2kg in a bike is tricky to put your finger on, especially on the road, although it is decidedly more nimble-feeling than I remember any of the other machines being. That low weight intensifies the sensation when you haul on the Brembo stoppers, which are phenomenally powerful. The lever feel is nice and progressive, and allows you to dial in ultra-precise amounts of braking power when needed. The rear brake feels equally as powerful, and has the rear end of the bike twitching with ease as I enter fast sweeping bends.

It's almost a shame that the press ride for the 2023 Ducati Monster SP took place on the road, because despite how much I enjoyed it, I can’t help but feel that on the track this bike would really come into its own. And that’s not to say that this is a compromised road bike - slightly firm suspension aside, it’s an ideal B-road weapon. I’d just love to see what it could do when the potholes, road markings and adverse camber are taken out of the equation.

2023 Ducati Monster SP electronics

Like every bike from the Borgo Panigale manufacturer, the Monster SP and its siblings are graced with top-spec electronics and full IMU control. On top of the quickshifter, you get Ducati Power Launch (launch control), riding modes, power modes, traction control, cornering ABS, and wheelie control. The ride modes cover Rain, Road, and Sport, and the whole system is adjusted via a clear and bright 4.3” TFT dash. It’s not the most user-friendly interface, with the indicator stalk doubling as the system’s enter/exit button, and I found switching modes and adjusting settings much easier on some of the bigger Ducatis – Multistrada, Panigale and Streetfighter for instance. That said, you can still go in and make the adjustments that matter and, like the DesertX we rode a short time ago, all of the modes are customisable.

The system also saves your last setting, returning to it when you switch the bike back on again. I spent the entire ride on the SP in Sport mode, and then I manually went in and dialled out some (but not all) of the wheelie control. In this setting the throttle is direct but not aggressive, and small slips and slides from the rear are reminders that the bike is nearing the limit. It’s exciting, and engaging, and pretty much every straight piece of road of any significant length became a launch platform for a wheelie that had me giggling into my AGV Pista GP. And while we are on the subject of wheelies… It’s something the Monster range has been known for since its launch in the early 1990s, and I’m happy to report that Il Monstro still loves to hoist a mono. The wheelie control will be handy for those nervous about looping the bike, as it accurately holds the front wheel aloft at a controlled height regardless of what you do with your right hand.

2023 Ducati Monster SP comfort

My first impressions of the Monster SP were that its fairly firm seat was going to be a pain in the backside, although that really wasn’t the case. Yes, it is a fairly flat seat, with very little contour to it, although by the end of the ride, I wasn’t really in any discomfort. The riding position is relaxed, and the seat-to-peg distance should allow those taller than me to ride for long periods without any issues. One feature that would have been handy on the press ride was heated grips and, while not fitted to the bikes we rode, they are available as an option from the official Ducati accessory catalogue.

As we didn’t stop for fuel I can’t give you a precise MPG calculation or range, although going by the 14-litre fuel tank and claimed economy from the TFT dash, you’re going to be looking for a petrol station around every 100 miles or so.

What we like about the 2023 Ducati Monster SP

  • Trick hardware hasn’t overshadowed the Monster’s trademark fun factor
  • Stunning braking performance
  • Stonkingly good engine with beautifully crafted electronics

What we didn’t like about the 2023 Ducati Monster SP

  • Clutch lever is heavy
  • Termignoni exhaust doesn’t sound much different to stock
  • At a shade under £14k, it is on the pricey side for a mid-weight naked

2023 Ducati Monster SP verdict

I was worried that SP’ing the Monster could have a slight negative effect on the model, as there is a risk that adding such drool-worthy kit to a bike that is designed purely to be fun can sometimes have the opposite outcome. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. The Monster SP is still the giggle factory it’s always been, and the chassis tweaks for this model simply add another dimension to the bike.

It’s still playful, always ready to cause some mischief and is very engaging to ride. It’s also now got this slightly more serious side to it, not in a menacing way, but you do have to give SP a little bit of respect.

One question mark does remain though and, as ever, it’s around the price and positioning of the bike. It is only £2,000 less than the faster, more powerful, and more focused Streetfighter V2 and, as far as we can tell, more than any mid-weight competitor save for the Brutale RR from MV. Granted, you are getting a lot more kit and ability for that £2,000, but I don’t know if that is what potential new Monster owners were looking for. Whatever the answer to that is, I’m sure you’ll let me know once you’ve ridden it, as the new 2023 Ducati Monster SP is in dealers and waiting for your test ride.

More information on the bike can be found on the official Ducati UK website.

Launch pics: Jamie Morris

Launch video: Gary Chapman

2023 Ducati Monster SP video review - on-road

Ducati Monster SP 2023 Review | Riding Il Monstro on UK roads

2023 Ducati Monster SP specs



 Testastretta 11° L-twin – liquid-cooled



Bore x stroke

 94 x 67.5mm

Maximum power

 111 horsepower @ 9250 rpm

Maximum torque

 69 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm

Compression ratio



 EFI w/ 53mm throttle bodies


 Four desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder




 6-speed up/down quickshifter


 Assist-and-slipper, hydraulically actuated

Final drive




 Aluminium Front Frame


 Fiberglass with polymer reinforcement

Front suspension

 Fully adjustable inverted Öhlins NIX30 fork

Rear suspension

 Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Öhlins shock


 Cast aluminium

Front wheel

 17 x 3.5-inches

Rear wheel

 17 x 5.5-inches


 Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV

Front tire

 120/70 x 17

Rear tire

 180/55 x 17

Front brakes

 320mm semi-floating discs /radially mounted Brembo Stylema 4-piston calipers and axial pump

Rear brake

 245mm disc with 2-piston floating caliper


 Lean sensitive ABS

Dimensions and weight




 23 degrees



Seat height


Fuel capacity


Claimed MPG

 45 mpg

Curb weight

 166kg (dry) / 186kg (wet)