Breaking traditions: Does the new Ducati Monster justify its name?

There are times when we expect a lot from a motorcycle, even before swinging a leg over; it’s especially true for the ones wearing the Ducati Monster nameplate.

Tradition is good, especially when it comes to motorcycles as it invokes nostalgia, creates heritage & serves a function too. Well, most of the time it does. But is it okay to break it? You see, sometimes it’s necessary to do that to keep up with the times & for the sake of evolution.

If I had to put it very bluntly, you wouldn’t spend 10+ lacs on just ‘tradition’, right? For that kind of money you want a kick-ass motorcycle, something like a scintillating Ducati perhaps. If so, the current Monster is an extremely enticing prospect.

Ever since the 2021 model was launched, the internet has been abuzz. A lot of people aren’t happy. Most of those people are the self proclaimed ‘Ducatisti’ or ‘Monsteristi’. The reason being the ‘sacrilege’ commited by Ducati by breaking tradition. It is justified for some reasons & unjustified for many more.

Love the sculpted & muscular tank.

The looks:

For sure you’ll be getting a lot of those while riding this Italian beauty, but anyway now coming back to the bike; the iconic trellis frame is done away with in favor of a Panigale-like aluminium ‘front frame’. It’s not bulky, big & brutish like its forefathers; instead now looking lithe, athletic & sharp.

The headlight isn’t exactly what you would call round, hard to judge what shape it’s, the slight forward bulge akin to the circular ones of the older Monsters is also present, yet it feels a little surprising to put it mildly. It might grow on me & hopefully the lucky ones who’ll own it.

And that’s it, the list of sins that the new Monster has committed. Agreeably it has lost a bit of its charm, but whatever meager amount it has lost in terms of its road presence & ‘tradition’, it has gained manifolds in other areas that matter when you are willing to spend this much on a motorcycle.

I like the tail & how well the taillight goes with it.

Dimensions:

The most significant effect that these changes have had is on the dimensions; it’s shorter, sharper, more compact & lighter. Less weight is always good as it accentuates the punch of the engine, makes the handling better & makes for a motorcycle that is much easier to live with in general.

The new Monster has lost 18 kg, a significant amount. Quite a bit of it comes from the new aluminium front frame, a bit from the subframe which is made from some sort of very strong fiberglass & plastic. The new engine, lighter wheels & a smaller fuel tank have contributed as well.

Mamma Mia!

Riding Impressions:

The performance is simply amazing, the 937cc Testastretta 11° is a gem; it produces 111 HP & 93 N-m. The numbers are good but the end result is simply breathtaking. Torque is spread out well throughout & thrust’s available regardless of where you’re in the rev-band.

Being a 90° V or ‘L-Twin’ as Ducati says so, it feels a tad bit erratic below 2,000 RPM but after that the engine revs quickly & pulls cleanly, acceleration is intoxicating & is willing to pop wheelies with the slightest aggressive twist of the throttle. Fueling is crisp & coupled with the quick-shifter, wringing the heck out of it is a visceral experience.

I assure you that I was smiling ear-to-ear under my helmet after the ride.

It has gained a whole new suite of electronics as well. Riding modes, Traction Control, Wheelie Control, Cornering ABS, Launch Control along with the Panigale-inspired TFT screen.

Crisp HD display that’s easy to understand & uncluttered.

Handling:

Predictable, sharp, agile & easy. No top-heavy feeling as the engine’s an integral part of the ‘Front’ frame so the C.G. is lower. Lighter wheels mean less gyroscopic forces to overcome when tipping it into a corner. Finally, the shorter wheelbase & sharper geometry/steering rake mean that there’s no need for manhandling.

Front suspension lacks adjustability & rear only has preload adjustment but that’s hardly a deal-breaker because the factory setup felt just right. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres make it a delight in the corners, tracking the intended line without a hiccup despite being a motorcycle intended for the streets & the brakes work well too.

Brembo M4.32 4-piston calipers & dual 320mm discs at the front

The Ergonomics:

It’s everything you hope for; wide handlebars that are close to the rider which grant a lot of leverage & make for a fairly relaxed riding position.

Seat height is 820 mm by default which can be lowered to 800 mm with the accessory low seat & even further to 775 mm with the accessory low seat & suspension kit. But the tank is narrow so even with the stock seat, most riders will be able to have their feet flat on the ground. There’s a little hitch though, it carries the curse of being a naked-bike: no wind protection.

The footpegs are slightly on the higher side & a bit rear set which aid in cornering clearance but seem a bit odd in a setup that’s otherwise relaxed, the ground clearance’s decent as well.

The best part though is that it weighs just 188 kg [wet & ready;-)], along with a more generous steering lock which’s a boon when it comes to moving it around.

Forward-biased sporty stance

History of the ‘Monster’ from Bologna (Is it complete baloney?):

28 years after the M900 appeared in 1993, over 3,50,000 Monsters have been sold worldwide & just like the original, this new one has a superbike-derived chassis (back then it was the 888, nowadays it’s the Panigale) & a road-focused engine. This is the same Euro5-spec, 937cc L-Twin that can also be found in the Hypermotard, Multistrada 950, SuperSport & the Desert X.

As far as Monster’s and their numbers go, the 696, 797, 821 & even the 1200 have all had been replaced in 2021 by just one Monster, this one. You could argue it should have been called the Monster 950 but why when there aren’t any other Monsters in the range? This also makes it the lowest capacity Ducati in their current range, if you exclude the Scrambler off-shoot brand.

‘Halo’ bike (in terms of sales atleast)

Closing statements:

The silhouette of this bike is one of the most iconic in automotive history. It’s generally regarded as the bike that allowed Ducati to survive a fairly financially sticky period in the 90’s, as without it there was a very real possibility the company would have gone bust. Thankfully for the Italian marque, their creditors allowed them to produce the naked café racer inspired by a movie poster.

It’s been a long while since I’ve had this much fun. You see, motorcycles with a million horsepower are good but they’re always on the knife’s edge & you rarely get to extract their maximum. A smaller motorcycle that you can wring out of with a metre-wide grin on your face is absolutley priceless.

Finally, is breaking the ‘tradition’ worth it? Well, If it results in a motorcycle like the new Monster, then by all means!

Absolutely adore the design of the twin-barrel exhaust

Bike pics: https://www.instagram.com/g.volve?igsh=MWsxeDh0bXJvcjg4cQ==

My pics taken by: https://www.instagram.com/manya_surve2?igsh=ZWsyaHU0NmU2czRv

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Tanmay Kulkarni
Tanmay Kulkarni

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