It doesn’t happen very often that a model of motorcycle does well continuously for quarter of a century. But Ducati has kept it going with the Monster. Even after all these years and newer more advanced machines it continues to be the highest selling motorbike from the Italian brand. There are many reasons for that; the segment that comes appeals to a larger section of buyers. Plus, it’s been practical, comfortable and a good performer at the same time. The 2018 Monster is a part of the same lineage, one that promises to the flag flying high. We take it for a ride.
In a sense the Italian bike maker has gone back in time with this Monster. In terms of design there’s a lot that reminds of the first monster M900 that came out in 1993 and that includes the muscular fuel tank and the clip on the tank. The aggressive forward leaning front and the sleek rear, all point to a design done just right. Then there’s the big addition of the TFT screen that gives great visibility. It’s of great quality and provides a lot of useful information. The removable rear seat cowl is a nice touch and adds to the look of the bike. Another thing that reminds of the original M900 is the yellow colour you see here, which has been reintroduced and surely makes the bike look more Italian. There are hints of the bigger 1200 Monster as well, especially when it comes to the fuel tank, the round LED headlamp and the lovely 2-into1-into-2 exhausts with aluminium end caps. The blacked out 17-inch alloys also play their part in giving a menacing look. Overall the Monster 821 is a good combination of a naked that is masculine enough.
The L-twin engine on this Monster remains the same. It churns out an impressive power figure of 107 bhp and peak torque of 86 Nm. And this is seriously good power, in fact there are times when really do not need so much power, especially in the city traffic. And that is why you have different riding modes in this Monster. Urban, Touring and Sport are the 3 modes on offer and with the change in modes settings of the throttle response, traction control and ABS all change. For example in the urban mode maximum power is cut down to 75 bhp, throttle response is mild, traction control at its maximum level and conservative ABS. In the Sport mode, the electronics are least interfering and you get a raw feel of the bike with maximum power. The Ducati traction control or DTC gets as many as 8 levels while the Bosch ABS system gets 3 levels. On the go at a press of a button it is very simple to switch between the modes. The effects of course can be felt instantly. Looking for a smooth engine and you can give this Monster 821 a pass. This twin cylinder mill will make others notice its presence out on the road. Also, the engine heat is more than a bother in heavy slow moving traffic as I experienced.
The Ducati Monster 821 handles like a beauty. The chassis just plays along so well that you enjoy manoeuvring your way through traffic or cruise on the open roads. Also at just 189 kgs the Monster 821 is incredibly easy to manage even in the slow moving traffic. The grip levels on the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres are impressive too and inspire confidence. A wheelbase of 1480 mm also helps in sharp handling of the motorbike. Ride is a bit on the softer side on stock settings but the suspension setup can be adjusted according to the rider’s convenience. The height of the seat also can be set anywhere between 785 and 810 mm. The position of the foot pegs seems just right making the ride position neither too sporty nor too relaxed. The bike provides for a confident braking experience and the Brembos here do an exceptional job of giving you a reassuring ride.
The Monster 821 is not the most affordable offering in the segment priced at Rs 9.5 lakh (ex-showroom). Some of its Japanese rivals seem more value for money. But the package Ducati is offering feels more premium and the right kind of product in the middle weight category. And it also comes with a rich heritage others cannot claim. The company is offering a 2 year unlimited km warranty on the motorcycle with a 15,000 km service interval. And the average service cost comes out to be Rs 28,000 which makes for a superbike that is affordable to maintain. Prefer to ride it on good roads and empty roads and that will be enough to make you fall in love with this one.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars