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Articles, Features, Motorcycles

on December 3rd, 2020

Last night, when the first visuals of the all-new 2021 Ducati Monster were shared by the company on their global web unveil, it was a moment of collective awe and confusion all around. Awe because, we were promised by the teasers and the leaks that ‘traditions’ will be broken, which they were, profoundly. And then, there was confusion, we looked at the motorcycle, that in all its right looks stunning, but was it a Monster? Or a rather disturbing blasphemy to the idea of one of the greatest icons of automotive history? Today when I woke up to the frenzy in the motorcycle circles, Instagram, Twitter, and whatnot, I could see what Ducati has done, and they did it well. The transformation that started with the first Panigale was now complete.

You see, the Monster is not just the true Godfather of all sport-nakeds in the world, it also has what can only be described as a cult following and a stature that will forever be unbeatable. Most of us have grown up and old around the tales of the Monster, its trellis, that tank, the history, the legacy that just like every other ‘cult’ we forgot the true essence of it existed in the first place. The fact that traditions are but a symbol at best of that core idea and are not set in stone and are destined to transform into newer ways with time. And if they do not evolve with times then they are just doomed to be relegated to the confines of history books. The same holds to the Monster.  Luckily the custodian of its idea hasn’t forgotten its true essence.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you placed the Monster in the same breath as the KTM 790/890 Duke, the Street Triple R/RS, and the ilk? Or that you did not dismiss it as ‘getting long in the tooth’ and overpriced for what it gives? Or when was the last time you had suggested your mate go for the Monster with all intensity? The thing is the Monster, even though still sells, is losing the love in the hearts of the motorcycle lovers to the newer lighter electronics-laden motorcycles from other brands. The very things we are finding hard to digest the loss of, the ‘perceived’ traditional virtues of the Monster, are what weighing it down. But were those the real virtues of the Monster or we were missing the point?

I cannot stop finding the parallels of this conundrum with that of the original Star Wars trilogy that was well and truly glorious but as its subsequent pair of prequels and the sequel trilogies showed, it was the same ‘perceived’ traditional virtues that weighed the universe down. All looked lost until a certain Mandalorian arrived at the scene and saved the cultural phenomenon that the Star Wars universe is. Mandalorian stays true to the core theme of adventure, goodness, and findings hero’s amidst the chaos. And yes, I am calling the 2021 Ducati Monster, the icons Mandalorian moment.

When in 1992 at the beginning of the Cologne International Motorcycle Show, a Ducati design study called the Monster stunned the crowd its designer, Miguel Galluzi, had famously said, “All you need is: a saddle, tank, engine, two wheels, and handlebars.” That Monster had chassis from the Ducati 888 chassis with an air-cooled 904cc SOHC L-twin from the 900SS powerplant. It offered the agile handling and performance of a sport bike in a thoroughly practical package. Now, the trellis remained a mainstay of Ducati Superbike/ Supersport portfolio for many years that followed and it was only when the first Panigale arrived that Ducati let go of its beloved trellis frame for an aluminium monocoque frame that had the engine as a stressed member.

Read More: 25 Years of the Monster

It was followed by the demise of the iconic Air-Cooled engine (briefly, till the M797 arrived a couple of years later to fill the entry-level gap) from the monster range with the M1200 and M821 boldly showing off the 110 Testastretta engine in different cubic capacities.  They were the ‘first’ Monsters to lose the iconic trellis frame in the true sense. In place of it was a much shorter frame that that extended not much far from the triple clamp while the engines were stressed members. Yet the easily recognizable tank design remained (well sort of) until in 2018 when the M821 got the new tank design that truly paid homage to the original. But there was no denying the fact that the monster was now among the heavier motorcycles against its rivals, which also offered much more modern design and electronic wizardry.

Then came the all-new Panigale’s with the V4 Superquadro engine followed by its Streetfighter variant. This means that the 2020 Monster 821 / 1200/the 1200S were the models that were the farthest the icon has been to its core idea, its true essence, and it was time for the traditions to re-align themselves to the true roots.

Enter the all-new 2021 Ducati Monster, it has the front frame design from the Panigale V4 and gets the engine from the new Supersport. The last time this happened was in 1992, and with this Ducati has brought back its greatest motorcycle a full circle and it now has become with its true essence. A sport naked with handling and performance of a supersport and a design that only keeps the essential in place. Just like Galluzi envisioned and history loved.

So, what the all-new 2021 Ducati Monster is? Not blasphemy by any stretch it is the true essence of what the Monster was always supposed to be. The Godfather of the sportnaked segment has just gotten itself new clothes and tricks and now it is heading to hunt the pretenders to its crown.

2021 Ducati Monster – The Design

The 2021 Ducati Monster has got a staggering 18kg over the M821 to further enhance its ‘Only the Essential’ appeal as the iconic Tank design loses its sumptuous curves and gets aggressive lines that lend it an even lighter air. If you look closely, at certain angles the new tank design does pay a little ode to the iconic design of the original. Then there is the new headlight design that makes us wonder if the Italians take ‘round’ as more of a guideline than a rule. The round-ish headlight cluster still manages to stay within the Monster ballpark, while the LED DRL’s is where Ducati has managed to make us remember another historic Italian motorcycle maker. The same thing comes up with the way the new twin-pod exhausts look, maybe ‘This is the (Italian) Way’ now (You know the reference, you better should).

Coming to the side profile, the 2021 Monster is a much sleeker motorcycle that proves that the 18kg weight loss is completely visible. The edges and how the graphics are done on the bike have a rather strong resemblance to another motorcycle that effectively turned the segment upside down with its sharp (or should I say Scalpel) design. But then, it is all done in a true Ducati flair that makes you appreciate every inch of the design. However, we certainly think that going for an all back engine has been a miss-step of sort by Ducati. In a motorcycle that is already so compact and sleek by design, smarter use of colours would have added a bit more mass to it. Something that every Monster lover would have appreciated.

The rear end is tidy, the new seats look comfortable, and sees they would give some proper room to the rider to move around, something that is always welcome. The side profile also shows that the Monster has continues to offer good ground clearance, something its rivals not necessarily can boast of, at least British ones. Then there is the double-sided swingarm that does make us miss the gloriousness that the Ducati single-sided swingarms can be. But then, the monster range has had an on-off relationship with the single-sided swingarm to make any Ducatisti object to it, if they do, then maybe they are angry at something else or just want some good Italian coffee, so proceed with caution.  

And then it comes to the photographs themselves, the new 2021 Ducati Monster should look much better in the flesh as it is certainly not the usual level of photographic excellence that we are used to from Ducati. It is, well, too KTM-ish, especially the old 690 Duke times sort. But what we do like are the new colours, all three of them, which are – Ducati Red with black wheels, Aviator Grey with red wheels and Dark Stealth with black wheels. Though, yours truly does sorely miss the Ducati Yellow of the outgoing M821. Where Ducati has excelled is in a considerable number of customization options for the new Monster. The idea of including decal packages and replaceable designer plastic covers is brilliant and we wonder why this isn’t a mainstream thing yet?

There is also a Monster+ Variant on offer that gets a standard seat cowl and a tiny flyscreen over the instrument console should you like that sort of a thing. However, we are glad that Ducati ran out of their wing stock for the Monster.

2021 Ducati Monster – Engine and Chassis

The all-new 2021 Ducati Monster arrives on the scene with a stunning weight loss of more than 18kg, and it has been achieved throughout the design as compared to the M821. Weighing at just 166Kg Dry and 188kg kerb, the new bike should surely be a hoot to throw around in the corners. The aforementioned front frame from the Panigale V4 holds the engine as a stressed member that connects to the double-sided swingarm on the other side. It saved 4.5kg there only while another 2kg were saved by the ‘interesting’ use of glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) subframe. Another 4kg came from the new wheels and the swingarm. The 937cc 11° Testastretta engine is also around 2.5kg lighter than the 821cc version as well.

Suspension duties are handled by a non-adjustable 43mm front fork setup that has a 130mm travel while the rear is a Progressive linkage, preload adjustable monoshock, aluminium double-sided swingarm. The wheels are light alloy cast with a 3.5″ x 17″ front and a 5.5″ x 17″ rear. Tyres are capable of new Pirelli Diablo Rosso III where the front is 120/70 ZR17 and the rear is a fatter 180/55 ZR17. This should translate into some fun corner carving. Braking is taken care of by twin 320 mm semi-floating discs at the front, these are radially mounted Brembo M4.32 monobloc 4-piston callipers with the radial master cylinder. Braking at the rear is taken care of by a 245 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calliper. The standard seat height is 820mm however, one can order both a lower seat and lower suspension springs that can reduce the height further to 775mm.

2021 Ducati Monster – Electronic Package

For the new Monster, Ducati has thrown in whatever they found from its electronics bin and we are glad they did. They have given the new Monster a thorough and robust electronics package meaning you get the likes of a cornering ABS, IMU-assisted traction control, launch, and wheelie control. There is also an all-new 4.3-inch color TFT dash, the design which is inspired by the Panigale range. Another significant addition is the up/down quickshifter and the three-riding maps managed by the ride-by-wire throttle.

2021 Ducati Monster – Engine

The new Monster equipped with the 937cc twin-cylinder Desmodromic Testastretta 11° engine is, of course, Euro5 compliant. It produces a maximum power output of 111bhp@9250rpm while the peak torque rating is 93Nm@6500rpm. This means that the new Monster makes slightly more power than the M821 while the increase in torque is a bit more substantial. All that combined with an 18kg lighter motorcycle, the new Monster is surely going to have a much peppier sting to its performance. There will also be an A2 license Variant on offer in the European market with power output limited to 46bhp as well.

2021 Ducati Monster – Price

Pricing is where Ducati has made the all-new Monster a proper weapon with US pricing set at $11,895 for the base model, and $12,195 for the Monster+. The Monster should start reaching US dealerships around April 2021. For the European market, the Monster has been priced at 11.290€ for the base model, and 11.590€ for the Monster+ and it would start reaching dealerships earlier in next year. Asian arrival and pricing for different markets are yet to be announced.

With this pricing Ducati is directly targeting the KTM 890 Duke R market with the new Monster and looking at what it packs, Ducati might just have hit a jackpot.

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