2021 Ducati Monster: Likes & Dislikes
The fourth generation of the iconic Ducati Monster is here, and it has received three radical updates
The Ducati Monster is among the most legendary names in the world of motorcycles. You see, the Monster ensured that the iconic Italian brand didn’t go bust, and in its almost three-decade journey, it has become the highest-selling Ducati bike in the world. Such has been the importance of the Monster that it has received only four updates in its lifetime, with the latest one being the most radical.
With the 2021 Ducati Monster, the Italian brand has focused on three key aspects: new styling, more power, and less weight. We got to ride the 2021 Monster at the BIC race track, and here’s what we liked and what we didn’t like about the new motorcycle.
The Monster has hit the gym, not to add more muscle but to shed some mass. And the result is mighty impressive. The new bike is 18kg lighter than the Ducati Monster 821, which is praiseworthy. Ducati managed most of the weight saving by opting for an all-new frame; the trellis frame has been replaced with an aluminium monocoque unit. Also, the subframe isn’t a cast metal unit but has been crafted from glass fibre-reinforced polymer. So are the footpeg brackets. Additionally, the engine internals have been revised to shave off an additional 2.6kg, and the new alloy wheels are 1.7kg lighter. All this has had a significant impact on the bike’s…
For a Ducatisti, the switch from a trellis frame to a monocoque frame might equate to blasphemy, but that should change once s/he rides the new Monster. The new frame is not only lighter but blesses the bike with lovable handling dynamics. On the Monster 821, one had to muscle the front end, while the 2021 Monster just tips into corners naturally. The massive weight loss also makes the new Ducati Monster easier to steer, and direction changes on chicanes are just effortless.
Also, the new frame is more communicative and forgiving, which novice and intermediate skill riders will appreciate. Another aspect that aided in its handling performance is the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber that not only offered good grip, but didn’t fade much even after back-to-back sessions on the track.
The 2021 Monster also receives a larger heart. It’s now powered by a 937cc, liquid-cooled L-twin motor rated at 111.5PS (2PS more) and 93Nm, which is an increment of 7Nm over its predecessor. The bump in output and the weight reduction result in thrilling performance. The throttle response is sharp, and because the bulk of the torque is available at low and mid-range revs, the motor is also very tractable.
The linear power delivery is friendly, but if you go hard on the throttle, the front does get light easily, thus reminding you that the ‘monster element’ is still very much intact on this new bike. Despite the BS6 norms, Ducati has managed to maintain the throaty and rumbly exhaust note, however, at idle and low revs, the motor doesn’t sound very pleasing.
Being a Ducati offering, the 2021 Monster has been loaded to the brim with electronic goodies. You get three riding modes, eight levels of traction control, wheelie control (three levels), launch control, and cornering ABS with levels of intervention. The multiple-level intervention of the electronic aids helps the rider tune it based on their riding skill, making the new Monster more versatile and accessible to a larger audience. The intervention of the traction control, in my opinion, could have been more seamless, as on a few occasions, I felt it was cutting power a bit too early.
As I mentioned before, the Monster does have a wild side, and the wheelie control system came to my aid in keeping the bike grounded and stable while exiting hard out of corners. A bi-directional quickshifter comes standard on the 2021 Monster, and while it’s not the most sophisticated unit out there, it does its duty well and is a boon while hooning around the race track. Coming to the crisp 4.3-inch TFT screen, Ducati has kept their UI quite simple, and you can toggle through the various modes and settings easily using the switch cubes on the left handlebar.
Ergonomics & low seat option
Ducati wants to make the Monster more accessible for a broader audience. Traditionally, the Monster has had an aggressive riding posture with a low-set handlebar and rear-set footpegs. On the new bike, the handlebar is slightly raised, positioned closer to the rider, while the footpegs have been pushed back slightly and lowered. This has resulted in a more upright riding posture, offering a good balance of sporty and comfort.
Even the fuel tank recess is nice to hold, and the new frame makes the 2021 Monster much narrower than its predecessor. Standard seat height is 820mm, and I was easily able to flat foot (I am 5’10” tall). There’s also a low seat option that drops the seat height to 800mm. But what’s really impressive is the low seat and low suspension kit, which drop it even further to 780mm. As you can see, this option is targeted at female riders as Ducati wants to expand the new Monster’s target audience.
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Styling isn’t typically one of Ducati’s downsides. The Ducati Monster isn’t a bad-looking bike by any means, in fact, it’s among the better-looking motorcycles on sale. However, my problem is with the ethos of its styling. The Ducati Monster made curves trending when Kim Kardashian wasn’t even a teenager; its lines are iconic. While I understand the need to shift from the trellis frame (considering the resultant advantages), the sharp lines and edges of the new Monster don't go well with its DNA. Also, the iconic round headlight has been replaced by an oval unit, which looks more Varese than Bolognia. Also, the fuel tank seems as if it has been lifted from an Austrian hooligan.
The 2021 Ducati Monster is available in two variants: Standard and Plus. The former retails from Rs 10.99 to Rs 11.09 lakh, and the latter from Rs 11.24 to Rs 11.34 lakh. In the Plus, you get a visor and a rear seat cowl extra. While Ducati has made notable improvements on the new bike, the kit on the new Monster isn’t really top-spec enough to justify the asking price. The front suspension isn’t adjustable, and the Brembo brakes aren’t the best in the segment. Additionally, Ducati also has a higher service cost, and therefore, in terms of sheer value, the Triumph Street Triple R cuts a better deal.
As we mentioned before, Ducati has focused on three key aspects of the new Monster, and their impact is clearly visible. The 2021 iteration, as expected, is the best Monster with respect to dynamics, performance, and usability. Also, the Italian bike maker has made the new Monster more versatile than ever with the revised ergonomics, loads of electronic aids, and tight packaging. The bike was fun, predictable, and a joy to ride on the track, and we hope the same characteristics are carried forward to the real world.
Pricing is still on the higher side, but when have Ducatis ever focused on value! They usually let the ‘exclusivity’ factor work in their favour. What we aren’t sure about is its styling; whether Ducatistis will be welcoming of the radical new design is a bit uncertain. That said, one has to appreciate Ducati for taking a bold step with the new Monster. Challenging convention isn't easy, but it's necessary sometimes. And the new Ducati Monster proves that you can achieve just that without altering the iconic DNA of the bike.