Gone is the previous 821cc engine and it has made way for the new 937cc, Testastretta, L-twin, liquid-cooled mill that also does duty in other 950s like the Hypermotard and Multistrada. In the Monster, it churns out 111bhp of power and 93Nm of peak torque. Also, the long-running trellis frame has been replaced by the new aluminium monocoque chassis which is 37 per cent lighter. Other components to have shed weight are wheels, engine, and swingarm and the resultant drop in its kerb weight is as much as 18kg! So, how does this whole package come together out on the streets?
Beautifully! The new Monster shows a profound urgency from as low as 3,000rpm, retaining it up to 5,000rpm. And this is where the motorcycle spends most of its time, may it be in the city or on the highway. This is also where it feels enjoyable and eager, but manageable at the same time. Keep rolling the throttle, get past 5,000rpm, and it goes on to justify the ‘Monster’ tag with a ferocious acceleration almost until its red line. Do this in the first two gears and the front wheel keeps fighting the wheelie control to let go off the tarmac. It reaches the 100kmph mark in a jiffy and the progression to some ridiculous speeds is equally quick.
What’s truly likeable about the Monster is that it puts down power linearly and predictably while being incredibly quick. I would have liked it to be more tractable though. One can potter around at 50-60kmph of speeds in the fifth gear but with a noticeable shudder. And if you gas it aggressively below 3,000rpm in second or third gear, there’s an abrupt choppiness before the engine starts building up the momentum. Another issue is the heat from the engine. Spend about five minutes in traffic and an intensely discomforting heat starts dissipating on your right thigh.
The electronics of the Monster deserve a special mention as it intervenes progressively, without hampering the overall experience. For instance, you might not even notice the traction control saving slides around corners on aggressive acceleration. Ditto for the wheelie control. Despite keeping it at the highest level, it let the front wheel hop a wee bit before kicking in, thus enhancing the fun.
Even the six-speed gearbox of the bike is properly slick and almost free of false neutrals. The bi-direction quick shifter, in particular, is a true delight to operate. Except for a few rare instances when it threw tantrums in the fifth and sixth gears, the cogs shifted up and down with a slight touch, making it pretty engaging to operate.
In terms of handling, the Monster is obedient, communicative, and light. It tips into corners with ease, and holding on to the desired line isn’t a task either. Flick it from side to side or take on long sweeping corners, it feels equally composed and graceful. A lot of credit goes to the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres which deliver excellent grip and feel. It’s only when you push the bike extremely hard around corners that the front feels a bit unsettled but not unnerving.
As for the ride quality, it’s truly impressive since the set-up delivers a great balance between sharp handling and a comfortable ride. The small-amplitude undulations are ironed out cleanly too. There’s a hint of firmness while going over tall speed breakers or through deep potholes, but it’s never back-breaking. On paper though, the setup looks pretty basic. That said, the rear monoshock gets preload adjustability only, while the inverted front forks offer none at all.
The braking performance is equally likeable. There’s a pair of 320mm discs at the front and a 245mm disc at the rear, both clutched by Brembo M4.32 callipers. The whole setup, especially the front, delivers a tremendous bite, no matter how hard you go on them. At times, however, I wished for better feedback, from the front and rear both.