New-look Ducati Monster still as playful like before
It is lighter, with a new aluminium frame and added engine performance
When Ducati finally decided to ditch its trellis frame for its latest Monster, I was not surprised. The design - as successful as it was - had been around for 30 years, and it was time for a change.
Change, however, is not always for the better. So I am glad the new 937cc Monster retains the essence of the original - it still feels like the same playful and sporty Monster but now comes with added engine performance and handling.
At a glance, the 2021 twin cylinder Monster ($39,800 with COE, without insurance) stays true to its compact form, with familiar curves, a short tail-end and bare masculinity.
Standing out is its oval headlamp with daytime-running LEDs lining its circumference. New, too, are its automatic self-cancelling signal lights.
The reach to its wide handlebars is not long, and the foot pegs are thankfully not positioned too high like those on sports bikes.
An aluminium frame, which still exposes the blacked-out engine components, replaces the old trellis frame. At the rear is a fibre-glass subframe.
A "bison-back" fuel tank gives the Euro 5 Monster a recognisable "hunch" that has become synonymous with the model since it was launched in 1993. To date, more than 350,000 units have been sold worldwide, making it the best-selling Ducati.
The latest transformation is not just cosmetic. The Monster is 18kg lighter at 166kg. The weight reduction makes parking the bike and, more importantly, negotiating city traffic, effortless.
The bike offers middleweight performance, with 111bhp and 93Nm of torque. Three ride modes - Urban, Touring and Sport - offer distinctive power delivery and torque punch.
Not surprisingly, the most fun and responsiveness come in Sport mode. When the throttle is pinned in this mode, its digital rev counter rises quickly towards its 11,000rpm ceiling.
Cruising on the expressway at 90kmh in sixth gear, its tachometer shows about 3,500rpm.
Its quick acceleration - it does 0 to 100kmh in about 3.5 seconds - is complemented by an up/down quickshifter that has an auto-blip function during downshifting.
Charging into bends or slowing down without using the clutch lever makes you feel like you are in a race.
Never mind the harsh wind blast against my helmet when the speed climbs. Or the discomfort when my right heel is jammed against the Ducati's exhaust heat shield when I get aerodynamic.
The sporty Monster is made for riding into bends and for changing directions quickly. But most people will be riding it on public roads, and not on race tracks.
The Monster's suspension - consisting of 43mm upside-down forks and a rear mono-shock - is basic, but plush enough for everyday road use.
It has a smallish 14-litre fuel tank and a half-decent fuel economy of 19.1km per litre.
Braking is solid, thanks to robust radial-mounted, Brembo front brakes (with anti-lock braking system or ABS) that require only a little squeeze of the lever to shed speed.
All the gauges and controls selected are displayed on a 4.3-inch TFT dashboard. They include adjustable traction control, wheelie control, cornering ABS and launch control.