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2021 Ducati Monster: First Ride Review

11 October 2021, 11:06 AM Neil Nair

Introduction

Left Front Three Quarter

The Ducati Monster’s name has been inspired by its brute personality, which is what most people think. However, it was named for what it was- an assembly of borrowed parts. As Miguel Galluzzi picked and plonked bits of three different motorcycles into one unit, the first Ducati Monster came to life in 1992. Less like Godzilla and more like Frankenstein’s monster, you see? 

Over the years, even with changes to its original recipe, the Monster kept driving in sales for Ducati, with over 3.5 lakh units sold to date. But all those iterations had four consistent ingredients- the design of the headlamp and tank, raw power, and the trellis frame. 

Right Side View

Having said that, the Monster has just gotten its biggest update yet. And just like a typical rebellious ‘Gen-Z’ kid, the 2021 Ducati Monster has tweaked most of those core ingredients to make something of its own. 

So, does the new Monster feel like the Monster everyone knows? Have the changes now made the otherwise street-focused Monster a credible track tool? We put the motorcycle through its paces at the Buddh International Circuit to answer those questions. 

The Visuals

Right Side View

As I walked up to the Monster standing in the pits, my first reaction was “Dang! It’s tiny!”. Gone is the beefed-up Monster of yore, now replaced by a much leaner iteration. The designers back at Bologna have attempted to refresh and sharpen the iconic design, tweaking it to become sharper, while still hinting at the past. So it continues to have minimal bodywork with a muscular fuel tank that looks like a modern take to the M900, and an LED headlamp that is not very circular anymore but goes well with its new persona. Its rear has also received some tweaks and seems to be inspired by the previous-gen Ducati Streetfighter.

Ducati Monster BS6

Ducati Monster BS6

  • Displacement937 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)109.96 bhp
  • Kerb Weight188 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 10,99,000

So does the iconic design still live? Well, a little here and there for sure, but that’s up for debate…  

Right Rear Three Quarter

Nonetheless, having shrunk the dimensions on the new Monster for good measure, the motorcycle looks compact and seems much more accessible to new riders. After all, as an entry-level model with the 797 gone, that’s where the new Monster is aiming at.   

The Package

Left Side View

Now, the Monster was always known for more than its looks and the 2021 model builds up on that. For starters, it has shed the extra fat: a whole 18kg at that. The new fibre-glass reinforced subframe weighs around 2kg lighter while the swingarm and wheels have contributed to 3.2kg in weight reduction. Even the engine, with lighter internals, has helped in bringing down the mass.  

Right Side View

However, the most significant change is the new aluminum monocoque frame. This unit is 4.5kg lighter than the Monster 821’s trellis frame has been inspired by the Panigale. Also, it is the first time the Ducati Monster has moved away from its dear trellis that it stuck onto for years. A rebel, I tell you. But this change has made a world of a difference to how the Monster behaves and we’ll get to that in a bit.   

Instrument Cluster

Besides getting the Monster in shape, Ducati has also armed it with a host of electronic rider aids. It gets three levels of cornering ABS, eight-level traction control, four-level wheelie control, and three ride modes- Sport, Touring, and Urban that can be further customized to suit the rider’s needs. 

TFT / Instrument Cluster

There also is a launch control system, which in my opinion, is overkill for a street bike. All of it can be toggled via the left side switchgear and the 4.3-inch TFT display. The unit layout is from the Panigale and is easy to use, unlike the Multistrada 950’s unit we tested recently. 

The Ride

Right Side View

Swinging a leg over the Monster is easy and I, at 5’7’’ didn’t have trouble flat-footing even with its fairly tall seat height of 820mm. This is courtesy of the seat that has been narrowed towards the tank. The motorcycle also comes with lower seat and suspension options that drop the seat height as low as 775mm. The handlebars are easy to reach too. 

Handle Bar

Although they convey a sense of you being over the bars, it feels quite natural to hold on to. Even the seat has decent room to move around, the tank offers decent thigh grip and the footpegs are set slightly further back. So, overall, the Monster’s ergonomics are engaging and snug for a racetrack.   

Rear View

Between the rider’s legs are the tried-and-proven 937cc, Testastretta engine from the Supersport 950, Hypermotard 950, and Multistrada 950. This motor has replaced the previous Monster’s 821cc motor. And with the higher displacement comes slightly higher power and torque with the new Monster offering 111bhp and 93Nm, if we speak numbers.

So I cranked up the engine, only to be welcomed by a rather subdued gurgle of the Testastretta, thanks to all the environment-saving tweaks it has gone through. As I left the pit lane, the Monster expectantly shuddered as its other 937cc siblings do under 3500rpm. 

Left Side View

But as we got onto the track, the Monster seemed like it was itching to be revved. And so I did. With a smooth throttle response, the Monster bared its teeth, a spirited initiative to have its front wheel in the air over 5000rpm. Unlike the insanity of its supermoto sibling, the power delivery on the Monster is never terrifying. Instead, it feels linear and predictable but still managed to leap out of corners with a whiff of the throttle. And with the electronic aids at hand, your skill, or lack thereof is properly compensated.   

Left Side View

On the corners, the 18kg weight loss is even more apparent. The Monster is light on its feet, switching sides with minimal inputs. And when leaned in, it manages to hold its line and is quite forgiving when mid-corner corrections are needed. While many would writhe about the Monster missing out on adjustable suspension at the front, the setup felt planted and composed through corners, only unsettling a bit while giving it full gas at the exits- mainly due to the lack of a damper. 

Right Side View

And when it was time to drop anchors, the Brembo M4.32 brake calipers did a splendid job, offering sharp bite with little lever action. While the bite from the rear was adequate too, the foot lever could do with more feel. That said, the Ducati Quickshifter, which is offered as standard equipment on the Monster worked smoothly apart from a few instances wherein the downshift from 6th to 5th felt clunky.   

Our Take

Left Front Three Quarter

Now, the Monster is offered in two flavours- a standard model starting at Rs 10.99 lakh and Monster Plus (with a flyscreen and seat cowl) that goes up to Rs 11.34 lakh. And since India is missing the Yamaha MT-09 and the KTM 890 Duke, the Ducati Monster’s only rival is the Triumph Street Triple R that costs Rs 9.15 lakh and offers better suspension and more power but far lesser electronic wizardry. 

Rear View

Nonetheless, does the new Monster still feel like a Monster? I’d say, yes and more! While we are yet to ride it out on the streets, on the track, it feels quite at home. The 2021 iteration with all the weight reduction, electronic rider aids, and superbike-inspired chassis has re-defined the Monster brand for the better. Moreover, it continues to be a user-friendly motorcycle with an accessible seat height and linear power delivery that would appeal to newer riders at the track. And yet, it has enough oomph to entertain and leave the experts grinning. 

Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi

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