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Bike review: Ducati Monster 821

2018-03-16 07:50

Image: Dries van der Walt/Instagram

Dries van der Walt

Johannesburg - Originally conceived as a budget bike, the Ducati Monster is still going strong after 25 years in the market.

The latest iteration, the Monster 821, has been brought up to date with the electronics riders expect from performance bikes these days but it keeps the essential Ducati-ness that has made the Monster a firm favourite in the European market.

Powered by the latest edition of Ducati’s highly successful 821 Testastretta 11° engine, the new Monster combines 82.4kW and 89.4Nm of torque with a 205kg overall package.

To keep its performance in check, the Monster comes with 8-level traction control, 3-level ABS and 3-level Ride-by-Wire, all of which can be mixed and matched to your personal preference. 

Visually, the Monster is a modern take on a classic design. It sports a muscular, sporty line reminiscent of a charging bull, and a short sub-frame that makes the bike look even more compact than it is.

The mass is visually concentrated at the front and the engine area looks compact, even with the new water cooling system, into which the radiator and the water supply pipes have been cleverly incorporated. 

The Monster 821's colour TFT instrument panel contains a speedometer, rev counter, odometer with two trip meters, coolant temperature gauge, ambient temperature gauge and a dashboard clock. In addition, it displays present fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, average speed and duration of trip.The selected riding mode with the corresponding ABS and DTC levels are permanently displayed, while some of the other information changes depending on the current mode. Riding modes are easily switched, both when stationary and when in motion, by using the indicator return button. 

The bike is fitted with an adjustable seat (± 25 mm) that can be set to two heights - 785mm or 810mm. In addition, two optional seats allow the seating position to be lowered another 20mm (765/790 mm) or 40 mm (745/770 mm).


On the road this translates into a surprisingly comfortable machine, and while I would not insult it by slapping a 'commuter' label on what is essentially a naked sport bike, the ergos, compactness and punchy V-twin mill makes it a pleasure in traffic. Such is the engine’s torque that it is rarely necessary to gear down from top on the highway – a twist of the throttle is sufficient to make it take off like a scalded cat, even when you’re riding at the national speed limit.

Transmission is courtesy of a standard 6-speed sequential gearbox, but the review bike was equipped with the optional quick shifter – one, I am happy to report, works well even at the lower revs of every day driving. It works both up and down, and the auto-blipper on downshifts was particularly effective.

That said, the gearbox itself is less than smooth: it was difficult to shift the bike from 1st or 2nd into neutral when stopped at a traffic light, and there was a persistent false neutral between 5th and 6th on the review bike.

The review bike was also fitted with optional Termignoni exhausts, which took the signature Ducati sound to a whole new level in addition to adding a bit of a performance boost. However, the Termies are rather loud, and I found that the sound becomes a little too much in confined spaces. On the upside, though, you hear the engine sound regardless of at what speed you are riding, which is seriously seductive when you ride hard.

Despite the performance, it is worth remembering that this is a midsize bike, and if you are used to bigger motors you are likely to run into performance limits. That said, there is the whole thing of the fun of riding a slow bike fast, and during the review period I enjoyed pinning the throttle when the situation allowed, with nary a second thought.

Being a midsize naked, the Monster 821 might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for a light, punchy bike to use in traffic during the week and carve up the twisties over the weekends, accompanied by the mystique imbued by the Ducati nameplate without breaking your budget in the process, the latest 821 may well be the obvious choice.


Specifications 

Manufacturer: Ducati

Model: Monster 821

Engine

Type: Four stroke, Testastretta 11° L-Twin, 4 Desmodromically actuated
valves per cylinder 
Displacement: 821 cc / 50.1 cu-in
Maximum Power: 82.4kW @ 9250rpm
Maximum Torque: 89.4Nm @ 7750rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic fuel injection system, 53mm throttle bodies with full Ride by Wire
Fuel type: Premium unleaded, 95 octane RON 
Fuel consumption: 5.4 litres/100km

Transmission 

Type: 6 speed sequential

Final drive: Chain

Dimensions 

Seat height: 785-810 mm
Kerb weight: 205.5 kg

Capacities 

Passengers: 2
Fuel tank: 16.5L

Brakes 

Front: 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo M4-32 
callipers, 4-pistons, axial pump with ABS 
Rear: Single 245mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper with ABS

Suspension 

Front: Kayaba 43mm upside-down fork
Rear: Progressive linkage with adjustable monoshock. Aluminum double-sided 
swingarm

Wheels and tyres 

Wheel, front: 10-spoke in light alloy, 3.50" x 17"
Wheel, rear: 10-spoke in light alloy, 5.50" x 17"
Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR 17 
Tyre, rear: 180/60 ZR17

PRICE: R160 000

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