Whenever one thinks of one of the most aspirational motorcycle brands, Ducati is almost always there on the sharp end of the list. So naturally, when one talks about a few of the most aspirational streetfighter or naked motorcycles, Monster is in the same place as Ducati was in the previous list. And despite the edgy design, and ‘monstrous’ name (literally), the Monster also comes in some of the peppiest colours… apt for a Holi Ride? Hell yeah!
There’s a reason why Ducati Monster is one of the most iconic streetfighters one can get their hands on. It has an illustrious history. It is lightweight. It is powerful. It looks menacing. And well, it is Italian and we know better than not to include that in the list of adjectives used to define a motorcycle. And that is why our Holi celebrations this year include 2 of the Monsters (both 821) in two of the most recognizable colours in the Bologna marquee’s history; Ducati Red and Ducati Yellow.
Before we dive into what we were able to do in the present, let’s take a trip down the memory lane… about what Ducati did and how the Monster was born. Despite being referred to as ‘the motorcycle that saved Ducati’, the inception of the monster line was a difficult one. And to think it only began as a styling exercise is hard to fathom considering the popularity of the motorcycle today.
The Ducati Monster was designed by Miguel Angel Galluzzi. Ducati’s then technical director, Massimo Bordi, wanted a motorcycle that was not as hardcore as a sports bike and therefore not a full-blown sportsbike. But at the same time, he wanted the motorcycle to still portray a strong sense of the Ducati heritage. So, Galuzzi was assigned the task of designing such a motorcycle.
At first, their intent was to enter the cruiser market but the result of that, the Ducati Indiana, was not up to the mark simply because it played against the characteristics of a Ducati. Again, to reiterate, Ducati wanted a motorcycle that was fast, agile, an unmistakable Italian and a purebred Ducati… but not a sportsbike.
Also, Bordi also wanted to keep the costs low… and so, Galuzzi designed the first Monster with the parts already in the bin. A rather un-Ducati approach which stresses the usage of specially engineered parts meant to work with each other flawlessly. Galuzzi went mixing and matching based on his design with the engine and the front half of a 900 Supersport, the frame of an 851 Superbike, and the forks from a 750 Supersport.
Quite a varied bunch of parts and while it could have turned into a travesty, Galuzzi’s sheer will to make his ‘muscular front and minimalistic body’ design work brought out a rather surprising (or is it?) result. Ducati’s charging bull was a motorcycle that was lithe, quick, and a Ducati from head to toe!
The design was loved all over the world and so, Ducati Monster’s journey started with its first-generation comprising of M600, M750, and M900. The M900 came out in 1993 followed by the M600 in 1994, and the M750 in 1996. Ducati being Ducati, quite a few limited editions of the Monster also came out including the quirkiest one, Monster City, with higher handlebars, briefcase-style leather saddlebags, and a unique, blue colour.
Basis the popularity of the Monster, Ducati also introduced a small displacement M400 as well. It was based on the M600 with the difference being a shorter stroke and smaller diameter pistons. After this, evolution followed in the 2000s also saw quite a few Monsters from Bologna including the S4 and S4 R (single-sided swingarm and the engine from 996 good for 113 bhp!).
We first rode the Ducati Monster 821 a couple of years ago during our #100Motorcycle campaign, here‘s the article from that ride
Models more synonymous with the Monsters of today started to come out in 2007 with the 696 being introduced. Monster 1100 followed in 2008. As stated before, some people know the Monster as the motorcycle that saved Ducati and here’s the reason: Ducati sold over 12,000 Monster 696 models in 2009, the first Ducati ever to go past 10,000 models sold in a calendar year.
In 2010, the 796 arrived with 87 bhp and the 696 was used as a base for the 795 made for the Asian market. 2014 saw the arrival of the 145 bhp Monster 1200 S and the most powerful motorcycle in the Monster family, the 1200R arrived in 2016 with 160 bhp and 132 Nm of torque!
At present, the Monster lineup consists of the 797 (launched in 2017), the 821 (replacement of the 796), and the 1200 (along with the more premium 1200 S).
While we reminisced about the history of the Monster and our many encounters with it, the festival of colours, Holi, was right around the corner and the Monster 821 that we already have around was craving for some company. Ducati India and Ducati Delhi (North Star Automotive) were more than happy to help us with that and soon enough, we had a yellow 821 alongside our red 821.
A red and a yellow Ducati, our Axor #16YearsOfxBhp Special Edition helmets and a special Carbonado GT2 made just for xBhp… and we had exceeded our own expectations of a spectacular Holi ride.
We made our way to the motorcycling heaven of NCR, the Gurgaon-Faridabad expressway and the vibrant colours that we saw moving gracefully over the dark tarmac, almost eliminated the need of colours… almost!
With the 109 bhp Testastretta 11° engine’s mechanical rumble making its way through the silence of the morning, we were on our way. It did not take long for us to realise (again!) what makes the Monster so good. It is light, it is agile, and it is very, very powerful to ensure that one does not take it lightly.
Add to that the Italian design and the colours, it is a streetfighter that does not need to scream at a million thousand rpm to attract attention. It does so more gracefully than most premium motorcycles you see out on the road. It coerces people for multiple glances… accentuated by the Special Edition xBhp helmet.
The helmet fits this motorcycle like a glove, regardless of the colour. We worked hard to design the thing but Axor… Man! They executed the design to perfection without compromising on their world-class safety features. Add to that the special Carbonado GT2 backpack, and people know that they see motorcyclists on the road… serious ones!
Our spirited bouts on the 2 Monsters were inspired by the superb handling of the motorcycle and the faith the safety system (Ducati Traction Control and Bosch ABS). But more than anything, a motorcyclist needs to have faith in himself and that only comes when the rider feels safe. With the quality riding gear from Rynox and the Axor-xBhp helmet, we were very well set for this ride.
After a refreshing and fun ride, a few rounds of Chai and chitchat, we were ready for the real Holi celebration to begin… xBhp style! How it went is something that we’d like to tell you via the means of the photos…
At the end of the day, the Monster coerced even us for quite a few glances as we bid the yellow one goodbye… till the next time!
And, here’s a small video of our holi celebration with these two ‘monsters’!