2018 Ducati Monster 821 road test review
Few motorcycles enjoy the kind of popularity the Ducati Monster does in the world of naked streetbikes. In fact, the Monster line-up turns 25 this year, marking the silver jubilee of one of the most successful nakeds in the world. With their achingly gorgeous designs, sporty handling and addictive performances the Monsters have impressed enthusiasts the world over for two and half decades, though the bike found its way into India only about a decade ago. The Monster 821 of course has always been important, positioned as a middleweight naked, and is now here in a refreshed avatar. A couple of days in its saddle helped me reacquaint myself with this Italian bella.
The Ducati has received a midlife update and looks a lot like the flagship Monster, the Monster 1200 now
Before I get to the design changes, allow me to address the elephant in the room, which is the bike's bright yellow colour. Traditionally Ducati has been associated with red and so has the Monster, but the 821 looks equally gorgeous in yellow! As far design changes go the refreshed Monster 821 draws inspiration from the Monster 1200, the front end particularly, including the headlight and the LED daytime running lamps. Its twin exhausts look like the Monster 1200's as well and are more aggressive looking than the older ones. The redesigned fuel tank looks more retro and is an ode to the original Monster M900, and also gets the same locking clip. The instrument cluster has been revised too and is a multi-coloured, TFT display now that packs in more information than before.
The 2018 Ducati Monster 821's fuel tank is a more retro-looking unit now and is an ode to the original Ducati Monster M900 that was launched 25 years ago - it even gets the same locking clip for the tank as the original Monster!
The instrument cluster on the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is a multi-colour TFT display and looks crisp while offering you a plethora of information
The riding position hasn't changed and is sporty yet comfortable as you sit slightly crouched, though I felt footpegs could have been slightly more rear-set. Our test bike also came equipped with a pillion seat cowl which added to the Monster's appealing looks. The cowl is held in place by two allen screws under the seat and removing it is a fairly easy and quick process. What has not changed with the updates to the bike is the attention it gets you. The bright yellow hue and reasonably large dimensions certainly did their job in getting me all possible attention on the road. But interestingly, while it looks rather large, I must mention here that once in the saddle the Monster 821 feels compact and even the smallest of riders won't have a problem moving it around in a parking lot or putting both feet down.
The side profile of the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is as alluring as ever, while the optional pillion seat cowl only adds to the bike's eye-catching appearance
The rear end of the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is sportier looking, particularly thanks to the more aggressive design of the twin exhausts
The 821cc, liquid-cooled L-twin remains unchanged and puts out 109PS and 86Nm, just like before. I was in fact surprised that Ducati has not plonked the Hypermotard's 939cc engine here, especially since the Italian manufacturer is known to believe in the 'no replacement for displacement' mantra. A few minutes in the saddle confirmed that the 821 did not need a bigger engine though, as the current engine's performance is exciting enough. The Monster 821 clocked a 0-100kmph time of 4.33 seconds in our VBOX tests, which is pretty impressive for a middleweight naked motorcycle. The six-speed gearbox works well too, though it can call for a little effort at times. Ducati is also offering a bi-direction quick shifter as an optional accessory, which should help matters.
The 821cc, liquid-cooled engine powering the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is the same as before - the 109PS and 86Nm it offers are very accessible thanks to the engine's linear power curve
The 821 enthused in traffic and on open roads both, egging me to ride harder on most occasions. Typical of Ducatis the engine feels jerky below 3,000rpm. It loves being revved and 4,000 to 8,000rpm is where the Monster 821 is the most fun, courtesy the engine's strong midrange punch, smooth throttle responses and precise fueling. But the 821 despises being ridden in slow moving traffic and is never shy of expressing displeasure by spewing hot air onto the rider's legs. The good news though is that the engine is also quick to cool down start building speeds and the heat dissipates quickly, which means that unless you're in bumper to bumper traffic the heat isn't really a bother.
Eager power delivery from the L-twin engine means the Ducati Monster 821 is ever-ready for some one-wheeled action
The engine feels refined but has a bit of gruffness ingrained into it, which is a part of the Monster's character and also goes well with the exhaust note. The 821 is thus quite a playful Monster and enjoys being ridden hard, and at the same time it also feels comfortable on the highway. Cruising at well above the 100kmph is no problem, though sustaining speeds above 130kmph for extended periods can get tiring with no wind protection. Rider aids include three riding modes Sport, Touring and Urban. Each mode can be customised as you can adjust the engine power, traction control and ABS levels to your liking. In typical Ducati fashion the electronics package on the Monster 821 is top notch and works very well, while the safety net provided by the electronics is excellent too. Oh, and should you fancy, there's a lap timer as well!
The 2018 Ducati Monster 821's riding position might appear to be aggressive at first as you need to lean forward slightly but the posture is surprisingly comfortable and touring on the Monster is certainly possible
Another good news is that Ducati hasn't fiddled with the handling and the Monster 821 is the same impressive handler as before. The sharp steering makes for quick directional changes in traffic, with help from the wide handlebars. In fact, the sprightly performance coupled with its sharp steering make the Monster 821 quite a hoot to ride in traffic. Simply put, the Monster 821 doesn't just slice through traffic, it slays traffic! The Monster is also an able corner carver and apart from being quick to lean into corners, it stays put when leaned over fully and lets you afford some serious cornering speeds. Of course, the electronics have a lion's share in affording the high confidence levels it offers, but a lot of credit goes to the suspension setup and the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres too. The 43mm USDs upfront are not adjustable but make for a stable and planted feel. The communicative nature of the front end adds to your confidence further and I really liked the feedback it offered at all times.
Just like any of its predecessors, the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is very confident around corners and loves being leaned hard into fast bends. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres, brilliant chassis and well-sorted suspension help make the 821 quite a playful middleweight naked in fact, and the bike continues with the Monster's legacy of enthralling experienced riders particularly well
Braking prowess is also excellent thanks to the high-end equipment on the Monster 821. It comes equipped with twin 320mm, semi-floating discs upfront along with radially mounted monobloc Brembo M4-32 callipers. The brakes help the Monster 821 slow down from speeds quickly in a progressive manner and overall stability when braking hard from high speeds is very good too.
ABS is standard but is not too intrusive, which means the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 will let you pull stoppies like these rather easily! Braking prowess from the Brembo callipers is impressive and hauling the beast down from triple digit speeds is surprisingly easy, also thanks to the progressive feel
The update for 2018 makes the Monster 821 even more likeable, as the tried and tested powertrain is now met by a fresher, more alluring physical appearance. As far as dynamics are concerned, the new Monster 821 is as impressive as ever, portraying every trait of being a Ducati on this crucial front with its sportiness. The updated Monster 821 thus has all the ingredients to make for a great everyday middleweight naked, with that extra dash of Italian spicing. All that panache does come at a price though. The Monster 821 is priced at Rs 9.51 lakh ex-showroom, which is higher than several middleweight nakeds, but with that said, you cannot ignore the fact that equipment levels on the Monster 821 are also higher than a lot of its competitors. Of course, for the price you pay for the Monster 821 you get a motorcycle that not only looks gorgeous and goes like the stink but also brings with it a legacy unlike most of its rivals.