The 2018 Ducati Monster 821 gets revised, with an overall design quite similar to its bigger brother, the Ducati Monster 1200, with some design inspiration from the first 1993 Ducati Monster M900. The new Monster 821 though is no entry-level naked bike, and as we find out, packs enough performance to give experienced riders an enjoyable time, yet, with the touch of a button, make it easily accessible to less experienced riders and different riding conditions. It looks butch, muscular, and oozes macho appeal and solid road presence.
First launched in 1993, the Ducati Monster range has gone on to become one of the largest selling models worldwide for Ducati, selling more than 8,20,000 Monsters in its 25 years of existence. Just like the current Ducati Monster 1200, the new Monster 821 takes design inspiration from its original ancestor, the Ducati Monster M900. And it's now available in a bright yellow shade, quite like the first Ducati Monster. More of a cosmetic refresh for 2018, the Monster 821 though doesn't shy away from its raw, aggressive appeal. The 821 cc L-twin engine remains unchanged as does the chassis, but it's still a 107 bhp naked sport bike which can offer you enough performance and more.
Design and Features
At first glance, the 2018 Ducati Monster 821 is what a naked sportbike should look like. In fact, it's the first Ducati Monster M900 which started the trend of the modern naked street bike, or the 'streetfighter' design as it's called today. The beefy front end, exposed engine and steel trellis frame and a sleek tail section gives the Monster 821 a mass-forward, aggressive stance. The overall silhouette doesn't stray from the typical Monster design lines and the round LED headlight and sharp fuel tank are shared with its big brother, the Monster 1200. And there's a small detail on the tank, with an aluminium clip that is a nod to the Monster family's original M900.
Ergonomics are neutral, with a flat handlebar and low seat making for a near upright, and relaxed riding position with enough room to tuck in for some aggressive riding. The fuel tank is sharper and sleeker and tapers off to a narrow waist with a roomy saddle that allows enough room to move about, if you're in the mood for some aggressive left, right cornering manoeuvres. The tail section comes with a standard rear seat cowl finished in the same body colour, which is removable should the need arise for some two-up action.
What is also new for 2018 is the brand new, full-colour TFT screen instrument panel. It displays all kinds of needed data, like speed, rpm, current ride mode, traction control and ABS levels, as well as a fuel gauge. There are three riding modes in all - Urban, Touring and Sport. Urban has power dialled down low to 75 bhp with a mild throttle response, conservative ABS setting and the traction control dialled up all the way up for an additional safety net, while Touring mode offers the full power with a moderate throttle response, traction control and ABS settings. Sport mode has the least intrusive electronics and throttle response is also aggressive.
Performance and Handling
Like its predecessor, the Monster 821 is powered by the same 821 cc, 11-degree, Testastretta L-Twin, and puts out maximum power of 107.2 bhp at 9,250 rpm and peak torque 86 Nm at 7,750 rpm. The 821 also gets a new two-into-one-into-two exhaust system, which makes it sound bassier and meatier than the predecessor, and it now meets the latest Euro IV emission regulations. While the ride-by-wire throttle response seems a little calmer compared to the outgoing model, the engine still retains the characteristic punch and strong pull, even from low- and mid revs. The slipper clutch doesn't let your left hand work out a sweat, and also double up to avoid wheel lock up during aggressive downshifting. Gearshifts are precise and slick and we have no reason or cause for complaint in that department.
Throttle response on Touring mode is smooth and measured, but you do get the full power output from the engine. It's smooth for the most part and the Monster 821 behaves civilised and restrained, although as soon as the revs climb from the low rpms, it's immediately apparent that it's no slouch. The quick revving motor, complemented by a burbling and crackling exhaust note, pulls from down low in the revs, and a quick switch to Sport mode awakens the beast inside and less experienced riders will need to be cautious with grabbing a handful of that throttle. Full power comes on instantly and redlining through the gears will make the front feel light and threaten to point skyward.
Handling is taut, and even when pushed hard around a corner, the front end feels planted and inspires confidence, never for once betraying any sense of the rider losing composure. The 43 mm Kayaba front fork is not adjustable, but the Sachs shock has adjustable spring-preload and rebound damping, which should be helpful for heavier riders. We are happy to report that the suspension proved quite capable even on stock setting, and although it's slightly on the soft side, it helps soak up our kind of road imperfections quite well. And while the bike remains planted even under hard cornering, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres offer exceptional stability and grip. But the most impressive kit are the brakes; the Brembo M4-32 calipers offer superb bite and progressive braking.
Ducati claims fuel efficiency figures of around 18.5 kmpl, and during our combined test ride of nearly 200 km, in both city and highway running, our test bike returned fuel economy of around 12-13 kmpl, and that's also putting the motor through its paces mostly. For most normal riding, expect around 15-16 kmpl fuel efficiency from the Monster 821, but figures may drop with sustained 'spirited' riding!
For new riders, Ducati has an entry-level Monster model with the Monster 797. But anyone with a couple of years (or even less) of experience riding a performance bike should be able to make the Monster 821 an able companion. It's the perfect mix of power and agility to offer a thrilling ride to both entry-level, and experienced riders alike, even though at ₹ 9.51 lakh (ex-showroom), it feels a little expensive, compared to the Japanese competition, like the Kawasaki Z900, or even the very able Suzuki GSX-S750. But riding anything else isn't quite the same as straddling a sexy Ducati Monster, much like the yellow, all-muscle example of our test bike.
And if you're the kind of rider who wants your ride to be special, and turn heads on the street, a yellow (or red, or matte black) Ducati Monster 821 could be all you need to announce your arrival, quite literally. And that's reason enough to seriously give the Ducati Monster 821 your consideration before you bring that middleweight naked home.