2019 Ducati Monster 821 Road Test Review: Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Bee
We recently rode the Ducati Monster 821 and found a new meaning to Muhammad Ali's famous quote.
Ducati Monster 821. (Image: Abhinav Jakhar/News18.com)
Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxer of all time, is believed to have been an ideal mix of power and agility, unlike any had seen before. Although Ali’s quote is a bit longer, we thought of concentrating on this particular part. You may ask, why? Well, we recently rode the Ducati Monster 821 and found a whole new meaning to ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’
How does it look and feel?
Let’s start off with the looks, which on a Ducati, is impossible to ignore. That being said, the Monster 821 might not instantly grab someone’s attention at a very quick glance. But, if you’re at the lights or parking the motorcycle, there will be quite a few people with lustful eyes. The Monster 821’s overall look is funky and unique. It harks back to the design of the Ducati Monster 900, from 25 years ago.
The bike we rode was yellow, which gives you a better idea of why we choose the quote that we did. However, we did see a red Monster 281 at the showroom from where we picked up the yellow Monster, and we have to say, it just felt more right on a Ducati. The Monster 821 also gets a Dark Stealth colour option.
From both side angles, the sport naked design of the Monster is quite apparent and feels well done. That swooping exhaust pipe and along with the black frame and monstrous twin-cylinder Desmodromic Testastretta 11 degree engine look well put together.
When it comes to the front and the back, the halogen headlamps provide ample spread but for a bike at this price point, one could be left wanting for more. That aside, the beefy front forks and well-designed look from the front and back, give the Monster 821 that extra character.
The switchgear feels really premium and well put together. The 821 feels solid, as is the case with almost all Ducati bikes worldwide. Even the TFT-colour screen looks good and clear with an option to adjust quite a few things.
Does it have performance anxiety?
Not in the slightest. As mentioned earlier, the Monster 821 gets liquid-cooled L-twin which produces 109 Ps of power and 86 Nm of torque. Right off the bat, it’s easy to notice that the fact that the engine has good tractability with a good mix of low-end torque as well as mid-range punch. However, once you really get going, the Monster 821 really comes into its element. At higher revs, one has to have a good grip on the handlebar, because this thing moves, and how. We found ourselves pushing the limit more often than we should, thanks to the nature of Ducati’s engine.
Acceleration is brisk, gives you a slight jolt, but it’s the kind you can enjoy and control. The engine also produces a heavy baritone exhaust note which, on the overrun, produces a mix of crackles. Although the engine is smooth all the way to the top, there is a bit of roughness to it as well, which makes it feel that extra-bit rough around the edges. Giving it a characteristic trait of being able to take on anything that comes its way. When it comes to features, the Monster 821 gets rider aides like anti-hop clutch which is cable-driven and eases the effort required to change gears. The TFT-colour screen also displays various details like gear position, fuel level and most importantly (for us) riding modes.
There is a considerable about of difference between the modes-Sport, Touring and Urban. Sport is where the bike really comes into its own, which DCT (Ducati Traction Control) being set a minimum level of intrusion along with the ABS. The Touring mode gives the most amount of power from the engine while the urban is more set for city stop-start traffic. Speaking of which, the Monster does have a habit of breathing a little heavy. Expect the bike to get warm when stopped at the lights or in a traffic jam. Although the radiator fan does do its job, sometimes it just gets a little too hot. However, no such heating issues were noticed on the go.
Along with riding modes, there a host of other adjustments one can make to their Monster 821, which includes the level of the engine power (low, medium & high). We’d suggest keeping this in high, as it bike performs that extra bit better, which is completely worth it.
In the braking department, the Monster 821 gets twin 320mm, semi-floating discs upfront along with radially mounted monobloc Brembo M4-32 callipers, while the rear gets 245mm disc. The braking system also comes with, as mentioned earlier, adjustable ABS Bosch 9.1MP. All this combines to give the much-needed stopping power the 821 not only deserves but also needs. When you want to come to stop, the Monster 821 will oblige without any hesitation.
How does it ride and handle?
When it comes to riding dynamics, the first thing you’ll notice when you got on the saddle is the width of the bike. Given the weight of the bike is around 200 kilograms, which isn’t very heavy, it feels nimble when you get going but the issue arises when has to turn the bike at a slower speed or standstill. Given that the Monster 821 gets 43 mm diameter front forks, it will be a task to take a U-turn. A three-point turn is in order here.
The riding posture is typical of a sports naked motorcycle, a slightly committed posture with a flat handlebar and enough space to grab onto the tank for that more committed handling ability. The position is more suited for shorted stints or occasional weekend getaways. Although one can tour with the Monster 821 easily, given the power, the wind blast and committed riding posture may be a cause for concern for some.
Nevertheless, the Monster 821 handles really well on the move, especially in traffic conditions. Although there is a considerably hefty bike underneath, it never really makes you feel like that on the move.
The seat on the Monster 821 is adequately cushioned and sized, however, the issue we faced was that it did not seem to be fixed in place correctly, with slight movement Also, the edges of the seat did heat up quite quickly when at a traffic light or at a standstill in traffic generally.
The rear monoshock gets a spring preload adjustment and hydraulic brake extension, this also allows for the ride height to be adjusted between 785 – 810mm, which makes it that much more accessible. On the road, suspension always feels supple and never really bottoms out or feels strained in any way.
Is it worth it?
The Ducati Monster 821 is priced at Rs 9.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Noida) and for the package it is, we’d say it is definitely worth the price tag. However, it goes a little beyond that. When a Ducati motorcycle is involved, like many other premium motorcycle brands, does it have that feeling? Simply put, yes it does, in spades.
There are very few motorcycles that live to their name in such a fashion. The Ducati Monster 821 is an absolute beast in the streets. It is one of the best middleweight sports naked bikes one can buy in India today.
So, if you’re out looking for a middleweight motorcycle for your weekend rides and occasional trips around town, and also want your bike to stand out from the crowd, the Ducati Monster 821 is the one for you.
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