Ducati Monster 821 Review: First Ride

By Jared Solomon | on August 4, 2018

To celebrate 25 years of their best-selling motorcycle, the bike makers from Bologna have refreshed the Monster 821 and made it one of the most fun motorcycles we have ridden this year.

Back in 1993, a couple of Italian engineers got together to create a Monster. No, not like the one that Frankenstein created. It was a different kind of monster, a motorcycle monster. Initially, Ducati wanted to come up with a design for a power cruiser for the American market. They wanted the motorcycle to be affordable, compact, easy to customise and have sports bike performance. As it turned out, all this in the hands of a couple wizards became the Monster that we are familiar with and gave way to a new class of motorcycles – the naked sports bike.

25 years have gone by, and the Monster is still the best-selling Ducati motorcycle. These 25 years have seen many iterations of the bike, and with each iteration, the bike has only gotten better. I’ve always liked this bike, in fact, I’d go further and say that it has always been one of my most favourite motorcycles to ride. Every Monster that I have ridden was comfortable, practical, easy to handle and offered great performance. The new Monster 821 is no different.

If looks could kill

The new Monster is devilishly good looking on the road. The basic and simple design is accentuated by the muscle and curves – all in right places. The LED headlight and large fuel tank have been borrowed from the bigger 1200 model, and the rear section takes inspiration from the original M900, but it in the new Monster it has been slimmed down. The bike also comes in yellow now, which was also the original colour in 1993. The trellis frame and the beautiful engine sit nicely in the mid-section, along with a well-crafted 2-1 exhaust that splits at the rear. It also gets a new TFT colour screen that displays all the needed information. The overall quality of the bike is top-notch, and it’s without a doubt the most muscular looking naked bike in India.

Ducati Monster 821 Front View

Heart of the best

The engine and chassis of the 821 are the same as the outgoing model. The 821cc L-Twin produces 107bhp and 86Nm of torque. These are perfect for any motorcycle on Indian roads, and you can have plenty of fun with it. The engine is a masterpiece and feels wonderful. It’s not the smoothest, but then this twin cylinder engine isn’t meant to be. It feels like a dog on a leash that wants to pull forward, and when you grab a handful of the throttle, it shoots out like a rocket. There are also three riding modes – Urban, Touring and Sport. In Urban mode, the power is dropped down to 75bhp as this allows the bike to be more manageable in the city. The throttle eases up, and all the electronics like traction control and ABS are in full effect. In Touring mode, power is back to its normal output, but the electronics and throttle body are still there to keep this beast in chains.

Ducati Monster 821 Engine

Unleash the Monster

Sport mode is best exploited on proper roads. The bike becomes a completely different animal in this mode. It’s almost as if you are riding a completely different motorcycle. The throttle response is incredibly speedy, and you’ll need to be careful about how much you twist. Even the slightest flick of your wrist could leave the front wheel pointing the sky. All the electronics are put on hold, and you find yourself to be in complete control of everything now, so there is really no going back once you commit to a fast corner. Is it fun? Hell yeah! The engine unleashes its true potential, making you feel like you are on a proper super sports bike.

Ducati Monster 821 Motion

Handle it

What makes every Ducati motorcycle fun to ride is its handling capabilities. Ducati takes much of their R&D from their MotoGP team, and they’ve had a lot of experience with creating well balanced and agile motorcycles. What’s good about the Monster 821 is that it’s light and compact. At just 189kilograms it’s easy to manage. It also has a very nice seating position, with sound ergonomics. You sit in an aggressive position, but you lean forward quite a bit without any weight on your wrists, thanks to the high flat handlebar. This makes it easy on your body to handle the bike in the city, even when you’re in a sporty stance.

The Ducati handles incredibly well, and anyone – whether a novice or a professional – will admire its agility and ease of riding. You get all sports bike qualities and great feedback from the front-end. The 43mm Kayaba front forks are non-adjustable but are perfect for any road surface. The Sachs shock at the rear is adjustable, but the stock setting is just fine, even though it’s on the softer side. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres offer exceptional grip and really make you feel confident when taking a tight corner at high speeds. The front dual 320mm Brembo brakes also do an outstanding job at bringing you safely to a halt.

Do you want it?

If you like sports bikes, but you don’t want to compromise on comfort and practicality, then this bike is for you. And if you want sports bike performance and handling and a good-looking piece of Italian art, then also this bike is for you. The Monster 821 is perfect for all kinds of riding – you can even tour cross-country very comfortably on this machine. It offers you plenty of fun, and you can even ride it every day. It’s a bit on the expensive side at around ₹9.80 lakh (ex-showroom), but, I think, this bike is worth its price. It is clearly a bike that anyone can ride, and the best-looking in its segment. The Kawasaki Z900 doesn’t look too great, and it’s not as comfortable, but it offers you great performance and is the best value for money because of its low price. The Triumph Street Triple S also doesn’t feel comfortable and doesn’t look as fancy or unique, however in terms of performance it is breath-taking, and the RS version is in another league altogether. The Monster 821, however, checks all the boxes. It’s good looking, it’s comfortable and it performs exceedingly well. And that is why it is my favourite motorcycle in its segment.

Tags: Ducati Monster 821 Ducati

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