Ducati Monster 821: First Ride Review
It is the iconic motorcycle’s birthday this year. The Monster turns 25 and what better way to celebrate than a long ride on the new 821
Monsters are generally feared, mostly portrayed as colossal beings adamant on destroying the world. But sometimes a handful of them come along that are revered as heroes, or even gods for that matter. They are no less intimidating or fear inducing, but you know they are one of the better guys, like Godzilla for one and the Ducati Monster for another. These days, the name ‘Monster’ is synonymous with Ducati. Since the first M900 came along in 1993, the naked–for the lack of a better word–monster has enjoyed a cult status across the world. It is a favourite among riders and the custom bike brigade alike. This year, the icon turns 25 and when I was handed the keys to the new Monster 821, the smile would’ve put Godzilla’s set of ivories to shame.
Rosso Corsa is the colour of choice for most fast Italian machines, even Ducati. But I have to admit, the Monster 821 does look dashing in yellow. The beautifully contoured tank, which harks back to the original M900, along with the blacked out Trellis frame and the almost raw metal shade of the exhaust manifold give the motorcycle a menacing look. Its aggressive stance is accentuated by the low set bars, thick USD forks, blacked out alloys and that snugly-fit L-twin engine. The headlamp features a DRL strip similar to the one on the 1200. Above the main lamp sits a full-colour TFT screen which displays all the information you’d ever need.
The rider’s perch is well rounded and the height adjustable from 785-810mm. The tail ends with a cowl on the pillion seat, also finished in yellow, below which sits a black twin-pipe stainless steel exhaust with aluminium end caps, also inspired from the bigger 1200.
Sitting on blacked out 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, the bike is shod with super grippy Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs (120/70 up front and a 180/55 at the rear). No matter where you look at it from, it looks absolutely stunning.
Heart of the Monster
The engine on the Monster 821 is the same as before. The 821cc L-twin Testastretta makes 109PS of max power at 9250rpm and 86Nm of peak torque at 7750rpm and comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox. While most of the power sits at the top end of the rev range, the 821 does offer strong mid-range torque. It also comes with three riding modes - Urban, Touring and Sport - along with an 8-level Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and a 3-level Bosch ABS systems as standard.
That said, my favourite mode was Touring as it was the perfect mix of power and poise. It gives you all the power to play whilst leaving a small room for error, whereas Sport mode takes no prisoners. You have to be on your toes all the time.
Like all Monsters, the 821 uses an exposed Trellis frame setup that not only looks good but provides ample chassis stiffness as well. It has also been one of the key contributors to the Monster’s handling prowess over the years. As the frame is linked to the cylinder heads and uses the engine as a stressed member, it offers increased torsional rigidity. It also adds to the vibes a fair bit, but the handling trade off far outweighs the discomfort.
Let’s start with the seating position first. The rider’s triangle is spot on. The seat is well rounded and comfortable, while the footpegs are perfectly placed for a balance between a sporty and a relaxed riding position. Plus, there is ample clearance to really lean into corners. The pillion seat, too, is spacious and comfortable. The handlebars are just the right distance from the seat so you can ride upright or lean on the tank without much of a compromise on comfort.
The 821 comes with a 2-year/unlimited km warranty with service intervals between 15,000km or 1 year. The Desmodromic valves clearance check is due every 30,000km and the average service cost per year is approximately Rs 28,000, which, in our opinion, is quite affordable for an exotic Italian motorcycle.
While the 821 is cut from the same cloth as the Monster 1200, it is a much friendlier animal. It is the ideal bike for novice and intermediate riders who are just starting out their journey towards really powerful motorcycles. It balances outright performance with a friendly nature and has a progressive learning curve, which would help riders improve their riding skills. Having said that, it can be equally potent in the hands of experienced riders as well. The handling is properly sporty and the rear set pegs and a relatively higher seating position translate into some mad lean angles. The limited suspension adjustability might put some off, though. In my opinion, the 821 can be an ideal touring companion. It has a large enough tank, a strong mid-range, offers a fairly pliant ride and has a seating position comfortable enough to ride all day. Barring the heating issues in traffic, it’s very difficult to fault this friendly monster.
Yes, at Rs 9.51 lakh ex-showroom it is a bit more expensive than the Triumph Street Triple S, which is priced at Rs 9.30 Lakh. But for its immense Italian flair wrapped around an extremely potent package, it’s definitely worth paying Rs 21,000 more.
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