Since '02 xBhp is different things to different people. From a close knit national community of bikers to India's only motorcycling lifestyle magazine and a place to make like-minded biker friends. Join us
Tradition is good, especially when it comes to motorcycles. It invokes nostalgia, it creates heritage, points to it as well, and it serves a function too. Well, most of the time it does. Is it okay to break it? You see, sometimes it is necessary to do that; to keep up with the time and age and to pursue continuous evolution.
Text: Sundeep Gajjar/MotoGrapher
Photos: Asif Zubairi and Harsh Singh
Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily. I mean if I had to put it bluntly, you won’t want to buy 10 lacs worth of tradition. For that kind of money, you want a kickass motorcycle. For that kind of money, you want a scintillating Ducati. And if so, the 2021 Ducati Monster is an extremely enticing prospect.
I just rode this fantastic motorcycle on the Buddh International Circuit so why am I talking about all this? Because it needs to be addressed. Ever since the 2021 Ducati Monster was launched, the internet has been abuzz. A lot of people aren’t happy. Most of those people are Ducatisti, or Monsteristi, if you must. The reason is tradition or rather, the sacrilege of breaking it. It is justified for some reasons and unjustified for many more.
The silhouette of the Ducati Monster is one of the most iconic in automotive history. Debuting in 1993, the Monster, or M900 as it was called, single-handedly took Ducati out of some serious financial doldrums. Superbike stuff in a standard road bike? It was a winning formula. To date, more than 3,50,000 units have been sold. That added to Ducati’s rich history, is the reason why the style of the original Monster became a tradition, and in turn, such a hard one to break.
That is one of the reasons why Ducati-loving people are scorning the new Ducati Monster. I know what a Monster is like or more so, what it is supposed to be. I know because I rode one for 8,000 km in Italy during xBhp’s Great Italian Roadtrip. And I loved every bit of it. The visual flare, the presence, the roughness around the edges and the overall drama. So the scorn, well, it is justified.
On the same note, it is unjustified because judging it simply by that is not far from tunnel vision. Tradition alone did not make this motorcycle the success it is. Tradition alone did not make Ducati the force it is today. Tradition alone cannot make a Monster. Even if it can, tradition alone can only keep a Monster alive for so long. In simple terms, what I mean is that the Ducati Monster has always had more than just tradition going for it.
Anyway, let us now come back to the new Ducati Monster.
It does not have the iconic trellis frame. It now features a Panigale-inspired aluminium front frame. It looks more like Brad Pitt than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is not bulky and big and brut-ish. It looks lithe, athletic, and sharp. Finally, the headlight is not like… round. It’s hard to judge what shape it is but, it is what it is.
And that is it, that is the list of sins that the 2021 Ducati Monster has committed. Agreeably, it has lost a bit of its charm. But trust me, what meagre amount it has lost in terms of its road presence and “tradition”, it has gained manifolds in other areas. Areas that matter when you are willing to spend 10 lacs on a motorcycle. So, let us talk about that.
The most significant effect that these changes have had is on the dimensions. 2021 Ducati Monster is shorter, sharper, more compact, and most importantly… lighter! Less weight is always good because it accentuates the punch of the engine, it makes the handling better and it makes for a motorcycle that is much easier to live with, in general.
In terms of weight, the new Monster has lost 18 kg. That is a significant amount. Quite a bit of it comes from the new aluminium front frame. A bit from the subframe which is made from some sort of very strong fibreglass and plastic. The new engine, the lighter wheels, and the smaller fuel tank have contributed as well. Now, let us talk about the implications of these changes.
Before that though, let us touch on the looks briefly. More so, my own thoughts about it. I like it quite a bit. I like how the tail and how well the taillight goes with it. I absolutely adore the design of the twin-barrel exhaust. I love the forward-biased sporty stance. I love the sculpted and muscular tank.
I do not know how the headlight makes me feel though. It even has a slight forward bulge akin to the circles of the older Monsters. Yet, it feels a little… surprising to put it mildly. With that, I also think that it might grow on me and hopefully, on the lucky ones who’ll own it. And the owners WILL be lucky because… read on.
The performance of the new Monster is simply amazing. The 937cc Testretta 11° is a gem. You get 111 bhp of power and 93 Nm of torque. The numbers are good but the end result is simply breathtaking. The torque is spread out well throughout the rev range and there’s thrust available regardless of where you find yourself in the rev range.
Being a Ducati L-twin or 90-degree Vee, it feels a tad bit erratic below 2,000 rpm but after that, it is just like opening the taps. The engine revs quickly and pulls cleanly. The acceleration is intoxicating and it is willing to hang the front hoop in the air with the twist of the throttle if you so wish.
The fueling is crisp and coupled with the up-down quickshifter, wringing the heck out of the new Monster is a visceral experience. While marginally more power than the 821 has a part to play here, I believe that the weight loss has a more significant part to play when it comes to the mannerisms of the 2021 Ducati Monster.
The new motorcycle hasn’t only gained a new engine and a new chassis but a whole suite of electronics as well. Riding modes, Traction Control, Wheelie Control, Cornering ABS, Launch Control along with the Panigale-inspired TFT screen. I did not test all those features extensively as I simply put it in sport with low-medium traction control.
It has been a while since I have been on a racetrack. It has been a longer while since I have had this much fun on one. You see, motorcycles with a million horsepower are good. But they always have on on the knife’s edge and you rarely get to extract their maximum. But a smaller motorcycle that you can wring the heck out of with a metre-wide grin on your face? Priceless.
Moving on to ergonomics, it is everything you hope for. Wider handlebars that are now closer to the rider grant you a lot of leverage and make for a relaxed riding position. Though on the racetrack, it was a tad bit limiting.
The seat is 820mm by default, can be 800mm with the accessory low seat, and can be 775mm with an accessory low seat and low suspension kit. But the tank is narrow so even with 820mm, most of the riders will be able to have their feet flat on the ground. There is a little hitch though. Carrying the burden of the naked-bike’s-curse, there’s no wind protection. A small price to pay for a more practical big bike.
The footpegs are slightly higher and rear set but it aids cornering clearance despite seeming a bit odd in a setup this relaxed. The ground clearance is decent as well. That reminds me, an engine cowl would have done this Monster’s looks a bit more good.
The best part though is that the new Monster weighs just 188 kg (road-ready) and that along with a more generous steering lock is a boon when it comes to moving it around. In terms of geometry, the wheelbase is shorter and the rake is a tad sharper. Now, onwards to the fun part because a racetrack is not straight!
The Monster has always been a great handler but the new one is a game-changer in terms of handling. It is predictable, sharp, agile, and most importantly, extremely easy. There is no top-heavy feeling in this one as with the engine being an integral part of the ‘Front’ frame, the CoG is now lower. Lighter wheels mean less gyroscopic forces to overcome when tipping it into a corner. Finally, the shorter wheelbase and sharper geometry mean that the new Monster does not need manhandling, a bit of which was needed in the previous models.
The front suspension lacks adjustability and the rear one has only preload adjustment but that’s hardly a deal-breaker because the factory setup felt just right to me. All of that along with the new Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres make the 2021 Monster a delight in the corners. It tracks the intended line without a hiccup and can be pushed really hard on a racetrack despite being a motorcycle intended for the streets. The brakes work well too but just. I doubt if the story would have been the same if the Monster hadn’t lost as much weight.
More than anything though, it is the ease and the predictability that gets you. Ducati says that this is a motorcycle for beginners and experienced riders alike and I know why. On BIC (half circuit), I had a lot of fun pushing it to the limits. I had not ridden for a racetrack in two years and yet, found myself right at home on the new Monster. It is a great example of how even a newbie would find the motorcycle to be very approachable and accommodating. It is just that good. Now, I cannot say much about how it’ll go on the public roads but I am sure it’ll do nicely.
Everything that I have talked about comes as standard on the 2021 Ducati Monster and it is priced at INR 10.99 lacs (Ex-Showroom, India). There’s a Monster + which gets a passenger seat cover and a small flyscreen. With the performance, the handling, the comprehensive electronics suite and so on, it is a great value for money. Credit where it’s due, kudos to Ducati for pricing the new Monster the way they did.
Finally, is breaking the ‘tradition’ worth it? If it results in a motorcycle like the new Monster… by all means!
More details and full specs can be found here.