It's official! Italian superbike manufacturer Ducati is the latest bike maker to enter the premium end of the Indian automotive market. We had the opportunity to ride the Ducati 821 Monster around the roads of lush Chiang Mai in Thailand. The Monster's design theme follows what the management describes as "Bologna dove corre la passione" (Bologna drives passion).
Indeed, the Monster 821 looks strong and uncompromising, yet compact. Its muscular and sculpted 17.5-litre petrol tank combines with the signature minimalist LED headlamp unit to hold an aggressive stance. The effect is drop-dead gorgeous. Details like the double-sided swing-arm, steel handlebar, sculpted aluminium mirrors, the all-LCD instrumentation, double barrel exhaust and the exposed trellis frame only add to its charm.
The Monster's core however, is full of techno-wizardry. The bike is powered by an 821.1-cc 11° Testastretta, Desmodromic four-valves-per-cylinder, liquid-cooled L-twin engine, which makes 112 horses at 9,250 RPM, and 89.4 Nm of twist at 7,750 revs. According to Ducati, the engine's peak output has been compromised to make for a more even power delivery through the rev range.
Diagonally placed Sachs monoshock is directly mounted to the bike's double sided swing arm
How does all this translate on road? Well, the comfortably high handlebars and their relation with the seat and the foot-pegs make for a really comfy riding position, even on the 230-km ride we undertook. The engine is a peach: refined and quiet at low revs with vibrations down to a minimum.
But it isn't without character. Wring the throttle hard and you're rewarded with a throaty menacing growl befitting its name. Power delivery is linear, which means the bike can be ridden through traffic easily. Easily enough for rookies to get used to this machine. At the same time, if you want to ride really hard then the bike's riposte comes in the form of hair raising acceleration.
The 821 gets three levels of ABS along with Ducati Traction Control Pics/Ducati
The ride on the 821 is on the firmer side, but isn't so stiff that the undulations on the road are a bother. Tackle a few curves, though, and you can really see how the suspension set-up is a boon for its handling abilities. A good set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres and a relatively light 205.5-kg 'wet' weight means cornering is an absolute breeze.
To stop, the Monster's 320-mm twin Brembo discs upfront and 245-mm single disc at the back, equipped with ABS, are more than just adequate. Stopping is achieved quickly and reassuringly with a firm tug of the brake lever.
In India, the entry level Ducati Monster 821 Dark can be yours for R9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) while the red is priced at R50,000 more.
There are three levels of ABS, which affect the system's involvement at both wheels, and an eight-level Ducati Traction Control (or DTC) for added stability. The electronics can be optimised through three riding modes — Urban, Touring and Sport — which riders can also switch between on the fly.
The standard seat can be adjusted between 785 millimetres and 810 mm, providing much needed flexibility (and confidence for shorter riders).
Honda launches Livo, New Aviator, Activa i
HMSI recently launched the Livo 110-cc commuter motorcycle (Rs 59,943 base model; Rs 62,571 top-end; OTR, Pune). Aimed at first-time buyers, the Livo features premium styling and Honda's tried and tested 109.19-cc single-cylinder engine. Their onslaught continues with the 2015 editions of the Aviator and Activa I in new colours. Both scooters continue to be powered by a 109-cc single cylinder four-stroke engine with 8.1 PS and 8.74 Nm on tap.
Hero Xtreme Sports
After the launch of the new Passion Pro, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. Brings you the Xtreme Sports. This new model is a bump up from its brother, the Hero Xtreme. Its new styling is distinctive and sporty with a split step seat, under-body cowl and LED pilot lamps positioned above the headlight. It's powered by a 149.2-cc engine producing 15.8 PS at 8,500 RPM and 13.5 Nm at 7,000 RPM. The Xtreme Sports is available for Rs 73,194 (ex-showroom, Mumbai).
India Bike Week just got bigger with the introduction of rides to exotic global locales. To begin with, crew IBW will take bikin enthusiasts to the Alps (August 23-29), followed by a trip to Thailand and Malaysia. Called the 3 Nation Charity ride, it will encourage riders to ride for charity. In October, the destination is the MotoGP in Malaysia, in association with MotoTours. In November, IBW goes to the north east of India followed by Sri Lanka (firstname.lastname@example.org).