Ducati Monster: A lesson in balanced design
It is believed to be tough to build on a predecessor’s success, and in many ways, it seems to be true in the case of the Ducati Monster. While the previous Monsters were always worshipped for their raw, street naked appeal, the new Monster brings a completely new formula to the table.
In fact, the fresh new Monster raised quite a few eyebrows when it first broke cover, because Ducati Monsters used to stand out for their beefy, street brawler design. The new Monster is quite a departure from tradition, almost as if it hit the gym for a toned, chiseled look. Whilst a few Monster purists may scoff at the sight of this motorcycle, in reality and out on the streets, this is a good-looking machine.
Our test bike’s matte grey paintwork contrasts beautifully with the blood red wheels. The optional flyscreen crowning the oval LED headlight is a nice touch, while the fuel tank adds to the visual mass without being bulky. Occupying pride of place below it is the 937cc L-twin engine, suspended from the new aluminum frame. Add the neat tail section, with the sharply raked twin exhausts, and the Monster becomes a lesson in balanced design.
As is the case with any present-day Ducati, all components from the body panels and mirror stalks to the crisp 4.3-inch TFT display, exude a premium feel.
If one has to nitpick, the buttons to navigate through the menu are non-intuitive. A simple joystick like one on the Multistrada V4 would have made life easier. The projector style LED headlight has a decent spread, but the engaging high beam does not light up the road as far ahead as required.
The bigger issue is that despite how good the new Monster looks, it lacks the road presence that the previous bikes commanded. Park it in a crowded lot and chances are it will be lost in the mix. However, the riding experience has improved by leaps.
Ducati’s decision to build a compact Monster has paid dividends in the way this motorcycle feels off the stand. With a substantial 18kg shaved off the previous bike, it is notably lighter and devoid of a top-heavy feeling. In fact, with the rider’s perch set low in relation to the fuel tank, it gives you a sense of being seated into the bike. This, coupled with the wide handlebar, results in a sporty yet comfortable position, although tall riders will find the foot peg position a bit cramped on longer rides.
On the move, the bike feels light on its feet and there is a beautiful sense of balance to the chassis. Whether it is slicing past rush hour traffic or attacking corners up your favourite Ghat, the Monster is engaging and how. In fact, the crystal clear feedback that you get from the front end improves your faith in the motorcycle’s handling capabilities, even on roads with undulations.
This is impressive, considering the front fork is non-adjustable and there is only preload adjustability for the rear monoshock. The magic lies in the suspension being set up to offer a good balance between ride and handling. That being said, the underlying firmness in the suspension does result in the nastier of the potholes making their presence felt.
Helping you extract the potential of the chassis is the L-twin engine whose 111hp and 93Nm figures are enough to keep one entertained. This is a properly quick motorcycle with the engine being tractable enough for in-city rideability.
And with a comprehensive suite of electronics — cornering traction control and ABS in the mix — this Monster is quite forgiving in case one goes overboard. Even in Sport mode, it is delightfully fast, but not in a manic way. It would appear that in the quest to making it more accessible and meeting current emission norms, the Monster has attained a rather civilised demeanour, with even the sound from the exhaust largely muted below 2,000rpm. Thankfully, the Ducati bark is present from 4,000rpm onwards.
This is a big Ducati twin — so it will generate heat — but it did not get too unbearable even in slow-moving traffic. When the time comes to haul the bike down to a stop, the sharp and progressive Brembo M4.32s do a reassuringly great job.
Starting close to ₹ 12 lakh (ex-showroom), the Monster commands a premium price tag. Throw in the fly screen and rear seat cowl and that adds up to around ₹ 20,000 more for the Monster Plus. These prices are in Triumph Street Triple RS territory, which is a more powerful bike and comes equipped with a fully-adjustable suspension and stickier tyres.
However, the Monster is a thoroughly enjoyable motorcycle in every respect. If owning a Ducati street naked has always been your desire, and you want a bike that is plenty powerful, but easy to ride, the Monster is the one to put your money on.