Ducati Monster 821 Review: Middleweight Machismo

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Ducati Monster 821 Review - Action Shots (7)

God seemed to have had pushed the fast forward button on the theatre of life as I wrung the accelerator, splitting the 53mm throttle body wide open. As I saw the world pass from the corner of my eye, the long, straight stretch of tarmac came to an end in no time. I hit the brakes, shifted down a cog, leaned into the right hander ahead, to see another delightful straight revealing itself. The 112 horses chained within the Testastretta 11° motor reared up in unison, instigating me to release them all at once, again! I let them loose, just the way I had been letting them loose all through this delightful day. Oh what a beautiful day it was!

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Action Shots (6)

The thunderous sound from the L-twin motor filled the environment. And if the sound from the 2-1-2 exhaust during acceleration is melodious, the popping and crackling during deceleration is transcendental rock, taking you to a different world made of rainbows and butterflies. Ladies and gentlemen, this aural and visual artistry, painted in red is the all new Ducati Monster 821. I rode the motorcycle through some of the most scenic stretches of the mountainous region in Thailand during the motorcycle’s Asia ride event — a pre-decided route which went through a variety of tarmac surfaces to help us understand the character of the new Monster 821 on diverse riding conditions.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Front Fender

Ducati has pulled the plug from the Monster 796 and the motorcycle would only be available till the stock lasts. So the Monster 821 is essentially a successor of the Monster 796 for developing markets such as ours, and comes equipped with some serious fire power along with a slew of advance technologies. The Monster, essentially is an enabler for the prospective buyers to enter the world of  true-blue Ducatis without having to rob a bank.

Design – Dressed for admiration

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Red colour is largely associated with seduction, sexuality, eroticism and immorality. And that’s one of the only reasons why David James, the Marketing Director of Ducati Asia, at the presentation said that the Monster 821 will seduce the riders. His words echo in my ears every time I look at the photographs of the Monster 821 from the Asia Premiere. Draped in a luscious 473.101 red paint, the Ducati Monster 821 made me forget the near 3,000 kilometer journey which involved a flight from Mumbai to Bangkok and a near five hour halt before boarding a connecting flight to reach Chiang Mai. I could have hopped on the motorcycle and taken it out for a spin the very moment I saw it at the Anantara Resort where we were going to spend the next two days.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Key Hole

The Ducati Monster 821 is the third generation motorcycle in Ducati’s lineup of naked roadster products. The Monster 821 may have received cosmetic upgrades in the form of a new chassis and even more muscular styling but this middleweight still clearly echoes the Monster family’s design philosophy from over last two decades. The overall design, in characteristic Monster fashion, remains minimalistic. The headlight now receives an all-time running LED pilot lamp along with a conventional halogen main light which has been placed between the beefy 43mm, Kayaba non-adjustable upside down front suspension. A compact front fender covers the 10-spoke, Panigale and Multistrada style alloy wheels that come wrapped in Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Ducati Logo

The Monster 821’s shiny armour surrounds its 821cc Testastretta 11° heart, which has been borrowed from Ducati’s 2014 Hypermotard. A huge, muscular 17.5 litre steel fuel tank has been designed to lock in the legs to allow for optimal aerodynamics in a straight line. The ventral, curvaceous part of the muscular tank culminates into the rider seat. The pillion seat rises up again, and is covered with a cowl. The rider seat has been designed extremely well, with great padding and support preventing riders from sliding while exploring the impressive power from that Testastretta 11° engine.

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Now although Ducati calls the Monster 821 a “premium entry” Monster, the motorcycle does miss out on features such as single-sided swingarm that was seen even on the model that it replaces, the Monster 796. It can, of course, be seen on the bigger Monster 1200 as well.  Holding the rear components in place is a cast aluminium double-sided swingarm which, unlike the single sides unit, keeps the cost in check. Another attention grabbing and surprising feature on the new Monster 821 is the 2-1-2 exhaust system. Ducati has eliminated the dual under-seat style exhaust to make way for Monster 1200 style unit on the Monster 821. The exhaust header for the upper unit receives a black, braided (visually), thick heat shield that protects the rider from direct contact with the red-hot exhaust pipes.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details (32)

The overall design looks great, though the rubber pipes that lead to the radiator from the left side of engine make the beautifully crafted sides of the motorcycle look a bit disturbed. I wish the designers at Ducati could have managed the fluid in a more beautiful fashion. But except for that and the pale coloured engine kill switch, there is hardly anything to not like about the 821. The new Monster 821 is a definite leap over the Monster 796. The lavishly equipped and enchantingly designed Monster 821, like any other Ducati motorcycle, stands out from the crowd and attracts attention in an instance. But it’s not just a pretty looking thing, it’s loaded with some really impressive features and tech. Flip over to read about the riding modes, instrumentation and other nifty features on the motorcycle

Read ahead for Instrumentation, Electronics and Safety Net

Instrumentation, Electronics and Safety Net – A new level of rider aids for the class

The Ducati Monster 821 is packed with so many electronics and rider aids. All these wonderful details deserve a special mention. Let me begin with the instrument cluster. The minimal, neatly placed and information laden black on grey LCD instrument display shows all the necessary figures. The digital tacho displays upto 12,000 rpm and is positioned in a semicircular shape across the top of the instrument cluster while the speedometer rests right below, in the centre of the screen. Riding modes are displayed on the left of the speedo, whereas the corresponding DTC and ABS levels are displayed to the right. Rider can select between the riding modes on the go using the grey coloured cancel button on the turn indicator setup.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Switchgear - Left Side

Other information on the instrument cluster includes engine coolant temperature in a rectangular window below the speedometer. Another rectangular window placed on the bottom left displays total mileage (odometer), trip A, trip B, trip reserve fuel, trip time, time and lap time. The rectangular window on the right bottom of the display informs about air temperature, fuel consumption, average fuel consumption (litres per 100 kms) and average speed.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Instrument Cluster (4)

Tell tale indicators such as left/right turn signal, engine electronics, ABS-off, neutral gear indicator, fuel reserve, main beam and oil pressure are placed above the LCD display. At the top centre of the display are warning lights, a cluster of red lights, which start slighting up from the flanks and move towards the center as you cross the redline. Below the centre, over-rev bar, is a second bar that lights up in orange to indicate when DTC intervenes.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Switchgear - Right Side 1

The LCD display also displays the control panel to personalise and save ABS, DTC, and ride-by-wire settings within each Riding Mode. Ducati has also provided a stopwatch function which is actuated manually by using the day flasher button on the left-hand switchgear. This stopwatch function can list the last 30 recorded lap times, each time also displaying the associated lap number, maximum speed and maximum rpm. The brightness level of the display can also be adjusted from the same control panel area.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Instrument Cluster (5)

The safety net is provided by Ducati Safety Pack (DSP) which includes an eight level Ducati Traction Control and a four level Bosch ABS. As mentioned before, the Ducati Monster 821 receives three pre-set riding modes: Sport, Touring and Urban. Each riding mode is pre-programmed for ride-by-wire throttle response and ABS and DTC intervention. Rider can select between the modes even while riding with the use of indicator cancel switch. A short push of the indicator kill switch on the left-hand switchgear toggles a small arrow between the modes whereas long press of the indicator selects the riding mode. That’s all with the technical wizardry. Let’s get down to some more details of the bike

Read ahead to know the details with images

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The 821 follows the minimalistic design philosophy of the Monster family

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Action Shots (7)

Full-time running LED pilot lamp along with a conventional halogen main light takes care of the illumination job

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LED tail light is simple yet stylish

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Engine

821cc Testastretta 11° engine has been borrowed from Ducati’s 2014 Hypermotard

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Fuel Tank

Muscular 17.5 litre steel fuel tank offers a decent range for long highway journeys

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Rear Cowl

The red version of the Monster 821 comes with a removable cowl as standard while the Dark version does not

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Instrument Cluster (1)

Minimal, neatly placed and information laden black on grey LCD instrument display shows all the necessary figures

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Full Seat

The seat has been well padded with foam thickness standing at 80mm for the rider and 70mm for the passenger

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Pillion Footrest

The distance between the rider footrest and passenger footrest is annoyingly less

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Front View

The 43mm Kayaba upside down suspension is works really well. It is non-adjustable though

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Mono Suspension

Sachs rear monoshock is fully adjustable

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Rear Brake

245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper rear disc performs braking duty at the rear

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Seat Height Adjustment (2) Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Seat Height Adjustment (1)

The Monster 821 gets a height adjustable seat which can be adjusted between 785mm to 810mm.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Exhaust

Ducati has eliminated the dual under-seat style exhaust from the Monster 796 to make way for a new unit that somewhat resembles the exhaust on the bigger Monster 1200

Read ahead for Performance

Performance – A full blown monster

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Action Shots (4)

Ducati has armed the Monster 821 with some serious fire power. To put things in perspective, the outgoing Ducati Monster 796 delivered 87hp of power and 78Nm of torque. In comparison, the Monster 821 shares its Testastretta 11°, 4-valve-per-cylinder Desmodromic, liquid cooled power plant with Ducati’s 2014 Hypermotard and puts out an impressive 112hp of power and 89.4Nm of torque at 7,750rpm. The wet weight of the Monster 821 stands at 205.5 kg which gives the motorcycle the power-to-weight ratio of 545 hp per tonne.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Frame and Engine

Ducati has also equipped the Monster 821 with a new throttle body to increase the torque at low and mid RPM range. Ducati has rigged the Monster 821 with a full ride-by-wire system. Through ride-by-wire system, the engine decides the ideal power response depending on the selected Riding Mode and throttle input.

Another feature that grabbed our attention was the clutch mechanism. The Monster 821 features an oil bath, Adler Power Torque Clutch (APTC) with slipper function. The mechanism enables a lighter clutch action on the lever at crawling speeds, enhancing comfort in start/stop traffic. When the drive force is reversed, the mechanism reduces the pressure on the clutch plates, enabling them to provide a slipper action. Reducing the pressure on the clutch plates reduces the destabilizing effect of the rear-end under aggressive down-shifting.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Switchgear - Left Side and Rear View Mirror

But how well do all of these aforementioned features translate in the real world? Crank up that motor, put the wheels in motion, and the first thing that anyone who has ridden the Monster 796 would notice is the refinement and smoothness of the new Monster 821. As claimed by Ducati, the mid-range has improved significantly. The 821 feels like a full-size, punchy motorcycle with no compromises. The grunt from the mill, once you hit the open roads is intoxicating, with loads of torque available for confident, effortless overtaking even in a relatively relaxed rev range. It’s only at the bottom of the rev range that this Ducati shows some discomfort, but not to an extent that should bother anyone.

While there isn’t any real dearth of power in the low rev range, you can clearly feel a step-up in the power delivery as you transition above 4000 rpm. The bike feels more eager, and build power with more alacrity once post the 4000 mark, and keeps building the revs at the steady pace thereon. The beefy mid-range is followed by an exceptionally powerful top end, which can be sensed post 8000 rpm and has the kind of grunt to scare the noobs away. Peak power kicks in at 9250 RPM and this is where things get astonishingly fast. Those who would like to use this motorcycle for relaxed highway riding, can cruise at 120-130 kph at a little above 4000 rpm in top gear.

The gearbox is crisp and light with great feel and feedback. Except for a rare few occasions where we heard the grinding noise of metal against metal, the six-speed unit delighted us during our 250 km ride.

The media ride began in the Touring mode which has been tuned to deliver the full 112 hp of power but with a softer throttle response. The response, however, was still quite crisp and the throttle felt pugnacious even with a soft twist.

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But the real persona of the Monster 821 reflected when I got down to some serious business and switched to Sport mode. The power of 112 ponies made itself evident with the slightest input to the throttle. The speedometer readings shot up and the horizon grew bigger as the Monster 821 raced on the Thai tarmac. While the ascent to the double ton was strong and enticing, the naked streetfighter cannot quite offer resistance from strong windblasts. Not that I slowed down one bit, though. After the scheduled photo sessions and lunch, we started our journey back to the hotel through some more spectacular stretches of road.

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The journalist caravan eventually entered the busy city streets of Chiang Mai in Thailand and this is where I engaged the Urban mode. Urban mode brings down the power output to 75 hp with low throttle response which is ideal for everyday city riding. Though the power output is reduced and throttle response blunted for a smoother experience in slow moving traffic, the 821 felt more than capable of handling the bustling urbanscape.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Front Brake

That’s that with the performance but what about the stopping power? What exactly would be ideal to stop a near 200 kilogram of mass moving at a seriously fast pace? This is where the dual 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially attached Brembo Monobloc 4-piston callipers at the front and 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper at the rear with ABS as standard equipment come into play. A gentle squeeze of the adjustable front brake lever and I was reminded of the school lessons on the law of inertia. The bite from the twin disc units is remarkable, and translates into good feel and feedback for the rider too. Rear brakes, though neither as significant. nor as sharp as the front units, do a fair job of dropping the anchors at their end.

Read ahead for Ergonomics and Handling

Ergonomics and Handling – more comfortable, more accessible

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Action Shots (11)

The Ducati Monster 796 had a very aggressive riding stance. But things are relatively comfortable on the Monster 821. Ducati has reduced the distance between the handlebar and the seat by 40mm and raised the height of the steering bar by another 40mm for an improved rider’s triangle. The final result is a relatively comfortable riding position without compromising too much on the committed stance of the machine. Moreover, the centre of gravity position has also been moved 24mm rearward and 18mm lower than the Monster 796 which gives the new Monster even better handling. The overall weight distribution with a rider aboard stands at 47.5% front and 52.5% rear. The wheelbase has also been increased by 30mm. The good news is, the flickability of the motorcycle hasn’t suffered one bit, even with the increased wheelbase.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Full Seat

The saddle on the Monster 821 needs a special mention here. While the Monster 796 had a non-adjustable seat, the Monster 821 gets a height adjustable seat which can be set to a height between 785mm to 810mm. Ducati also offers two seat options as an accessory which offer an even wider adjustable range of between 745mm to 835mm. The Monster 821 does not disappoint the pillion either in the comfort department. The seat has been well padded with foam thickness standing at 80mm for the rider and 70mm for the passenger. The passenger also gets added space as the overall seat length is 29mm longer than the Monster 796. This clubbed with a well tuned suspension and the Pirelli tyres work plausibly well and soak in the irregularities of the road remarkably.

Another point to note is that the red version of the Monster 821 comes with a removable cowl as standard. The rear cowl covers the pillion seat which gives the Monster 821 a sporty appearance. Monster 821 Dark, on the other hand, does not receive a seat cowl as standard.

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As I pointed out before, the Monster 821 has a slightly longer wheelbase than the Monster 796 but that did not affect the handling of the motorcycle. In fact, the Monster 821, even with its 205.5kg of wet weight is incredibly easy to manoeuvre and great fun to pick up and lean again on chicanes. The Monster 821 is quick and agile in city traffic as well as around the curvy tarmac. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres further add to the nimbleness with exceptional grip on dry surface. The roads were dry and the climate was sunny so I really cannot comment on the wet surface grip of the tyres.

Ducati Monster 821 Review - Details - Rear View

But like every naked roadster motorcycle, the Monster 821 does not protect the rider from wind blasts. You can opt for an after-market windshield but I am not sure how much will it help the case. Another drawback is the pillion footrest. The distance between the rider footrest and passenger footrest is annoyingly less. The pillion footpeg brackets sometimes foul with the heels (especially in case off riders with large feet) when you keep your toes on the rider footrest while tackling corners.

Overall, the Monster 821 impresses with its punch, comfort, practicality and crisp handling. Besides the passenger foot rest brackets, there wasn’t much to complain about in the ergonomics department. The motorcycle is a perfect tool to have some fun in city as well as on highways.

Read ahead for Verdict, Technical Specifications and Complete Image Gallery

Verdict – Is it worth your money?

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Good things get over even before you notice and the fun filled day with the Monster 821 soon came to an end leaving us craving for more. The Monster 821 is targeted at the Asian market and hence cost is crucial. And Ducati does not disappoint. Ducati officials suggest that the Monster 821 will be priced around the Rs 9 lakh mark in India which should make it a good value for money proposition. More importantly, Ducati has made sure that the owners of the Monster 821 do not have to visit service centres more often and the ownership cost remains affordable as the Testastretta 11° engine enables the distance between major service intervals (valve clearance check) to be set at a whopping 30,000 kilometres (18,000 miles).

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Now can a deal get any better!

In India, the Monster 821 will officially go on sale in June and the deliveries are expected to begin in July. The Monster 821 will lock horns against a product from its homeland, the Benelli TNT899 and the unsung Japanese hero, the Kawasaki Z800. We would try to get our hands on the Monster 821 in India so that we can have a fair idea about the adaptability of the motorcycles to the sub-continent. Meanwhile, enjoy some breathtaking snaps of the Ducati Monster 821 after glancing through the tech specs in the table below.

TypeTestastretta 11°, 4-valve-per-cylinder Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Bore x Stroke88 x 67.5mm
Compression Ratio12.8:1
Power112hp (82.4kW) @ 9250rpm
Torque65.9lb-ft (89.4 Nm) @ 7750rpm
Fuel injectionContinental electronic fuel injection, 53mm Mikuni throttle bodies with full ride-by-wire
ExhaustStainless steel muffler and aluminium and cap; lightweight 2-1 system with catalytic converter with 2 lambda probes
EmissionsEuro 3
Gearbox6 speed
Ratio1=37/15 2=30/17 3=28/20 4=26/22 5=24/23    6=23/24
Primary driveStraight cut gears, Ratio 1.85:1
Final driveChain, Front sprocket 15, Rear sprocket 46
ClutchAPTC slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch with control cable
FrameTubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinder head
Wheelbase1480mm (58,3in)
Trail93.2mm (3.7 in)
Total steering lock60°
Front suspensionupside down non-adjustable 43mm forks
Front wheel travel130mm (5.1in)
Front wheel10-spoke in light alloy 3.50×17
Front tyre120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Rear suspensionFully adjustable Sachs rear shock with progressive linkage. Double- sided aluminium swingarm
Rear wheel travel140mm (5.5in)
Rear wheel10-spoke light alloy 5,50×17
Rear tyre180/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front brake2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially attached Brembo M4.32 Monobloc 4-piston callipers, radial pump with ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with ABS as standard equipment
Fuel tank capacity17.5l – 4.6 gallon (US)
Dry weight179.5 kg (395.7 lb)
*Wet weight205.5 kg (453 lb)
Seat heightFully adjustable: 785 – 810 mm (30.9 – 31.9 in)
Max height1061mm (brake reservoir)
Max width867mm (mirrors)
Max length2154mm
Ducati electronicsRiding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC), RbW
Warranty2 years unlimited mileage
VersionsDual seat
Standard equipmentpassenger seat cover (not in the Dark version), passenger grab handles. Compatible with anti-theft system and DDA