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Article posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DEMO'D: M821 Test Ride

 

THE RIDE TO CHICAGO:

I hit 865 to I65 North and I was nice and warm with my heated gear on my way up to 52North. The revs of the M821 were about 4500rpms on the open freeway in 6th gear and the 11deg engine was smooth with a great note always coming from the Termignoni slip-ons.  When throttled this bike through the revs the sound was music to my ears.  I had been out on a stock M821 late this summer and I liked it alot but I am positive that I like this M821 with the Termignoni Slip-on more!  There is something about this engine, it really barks.  The 88mm bore and 67.5mm stroke explains alot of it.  It is a 748 bore with basically a 1098R stroke! Wow! The 1098R has only .4mm more stroke than the 821 and what you don't see on the graph below is how fast this bike revs.

When I wanted to put the M821 up against the bike it replaces I had to pause for a moment.  It is almost as if it replaces a few bikes from the last few years.  It is like a cross between a S4RS and a M696.  Powerwise it can top the M1100 and if you want more power then you will defintely get it with the M1200 and M1200S.  On the other hand if you want less power then you can go with the Scrambler which will have the 796 engine in it.  If the Scrambler isn't what you were after then you can switch to the 75HP power mode of the M821.  The M1100 has alot more torque than the M821 but the graph doesn't show you how much faster the 821 engine revs which keeps the M1100 and M821 in about the same spot during a drag race or roll-on race.

In the graph below, the M821 equals the power of the M796.  It has everything the M796 has plus more revs and more top end.  So even though it is the smallest displacement water cooled Monster, it is considered a mid-size Monster in much of the literature I have read online.  This is the last year of the M696/796 as there is no aircooled Monster anymore in 2015.   But again, Ducati has made the Scambler and it will step in and fill the spot in a few months. I am looking forward to testing it ASAP.  As for now, the M821 is a great replacement for the air-cooled monsters.  Again, just looking at this graph below you can see that the M696/796 powerband is alive right inside the M821 and the new monster provides 3 tunable riding modes as well.  You want more ABS? OK.  You want less traction control? OK.  Are you a beginner rider?  OK! For a beginner let's change all 3 modes to the 75HP setting and then just find your DTC and ABS settings.   

Back on the road to Chicago I stopped for gas in Lebanon.  As I filled up I made an interactive post for our Facebook followers asking them to guess how many miles I would get before the fuel light came on.  It came on at 122 miles with 1.4 gallons still in the tank.  That is alot of flexibility once the light comes on and I like the healthy reserve tank along with the 38 miles per gallon. After applying as much throttle as I did, 38mpg is still really good. 

At all speeds the M821 is far more stable than any other Monster I have ever ridden and this is a huge plus.  Some people like to go fast on their Monsters and this M821 will not disappoint.  Although it is not safe to do so on the road the M821 will go 144MPH on the dyno before it is rev limited near 11,000rpm.  The obvious difference between the dyno and the track is wind resistance but for a naked bike the M821 really boogies.  If you are reading this and you want to go out on the street and top out a bike, well, you are on your own.  We would never condone this and are not responsible for where and how far you twist your throttle.  We suggest you take it to the track or strip, the only proper places to find the limits of your bike. 

     

When I arrived at Route41 North it was dark and about 39degF.  I didn't even think about being cold or what temperature it was outside thanks to the gear.  I expected the M821 to run cool on this cold weather trip and coolant temps ran about 140degF.  In the 20-30 minutes of stop and go traffic it got up to about 180degF.  If you are stopped for long enough the fans will come on at about 217degF and will keep it about right there until you can get moving again.  Out on the backroads by the windmill farms between 52 and 41 I had a chance to try the TOURING riding mode of the M821.  It felt, as it should, slightly softer on power with more intervention from ABS and DTC(Ducati Traction Control).  There was a lot of dirt on those backroads from the corn harvesting and it was nice to have the ABS and the DTC when those roads would throw a dirty corner at me.  I have been riding streetbikes on the road for 25 years now and the Ducati Safety Pack still blows me away.  If you are a new rider and you have this Safety Pack on your motorcycle you may not even realise how awesome it is to have the ABS lockup protection and the traction control on your bike.  What really matters about the Ducati Safety Pack is that it keeps you safe. 

By the time I got into stop and go traffic near Scherrerville I had some time to think about how comfortable I was.  I think Ducati did a good job with the stock seat and riding position.  I am 6'2' and I felt good on the bike. This isn't always the case for me on every model from every manufacturer but this bike felt very comfortable to me.  The good news is for people shorter than me that the seat comes with a special trick. The rider is able to lower the seat very easily with a system Ducati designed to make the M821 fit a wide range of body types.  Ducati also makes several other seats for the M821 to allow the wide range of riders an even wider range of sitting comfortably.  If you come by the shop not only can you demo the M821 but we can demo the seat positions and different seats.  At the time of this article we have the demo bike and all the seats but please call first for availability.  Those of you reading this in the year 2085, please come in and test ride our new Hoverbike.

As with all Ducatis, the M821's handling was stable and predictable and the feedback from the new frame design/stock tire combo was very good.  I found that the M821 handling was on par with the M696/796 which is exceptional.  It is on the softer side but yet remains nimble.  This is good news and it means the new design is working. I really like the look of the new design also.  It looks like a trick naked Panigale with a trellis main frame.  I didn't catch this right away until I was taking some pictures of it.  When I look at it next to the M796 it looks so much more advanced.   While I was taking pictures I imagined how owners would customize this machine.  Of all the Ducati models in the last 20 years, the Monster has lead the way as the bike that people customize.  A dense history of Monster bike shows has proven this.

Out of Indiana and into Illinois I snaked my way towards downtown Chicago on I94North.  My goal was to have fun riding and to get out of auto and truck blindspots as fast as possible. There is a lot of traffic out on the road in Chicago and the M821 made it easy to navigate safely.   I was able to bop about easily in the 3 lanes of I94 until I got to the 4 and 5 lanes of the Dan Ryan.  I just used the torque and the nimbleness of the 821 to put me in safe positions while going with the flow of traffic.  The I94 Dan Ryan is a fairly energetic intense stretch of highway on Chicago's south side. Much of the stretch has the small mass transit trains running through the middle of it.  It is one of the only places I have driven in America where you are driving highway speeds 50ft past people sitting on benches waiting for the train and on the other side of that rail stop is the other side of the highway.  Concrete walls and chain link fence seperate all the commotion and the whole system is sunk down into the city by about 20 feet.  I just ran the M821 along the left wall and listened to the Termis bark.

I headed to Lake Shore Drive for a couple miles and then into the heart of Chicago where I switched to URBAN riding mode on the dash.  I figured it was my responsiblity as I was testing the bike.  I find the dash easy to navigate as long as I have done it a couple times.  After I switched to URBAN riding mode I imagined myself a new rider and the big thing I noticed was how mild the power delivery was.  New riders are going to love this bike in 75HP engine mode.  After I was done riding the urban mode for half of the city, I put it back on SPORT mode and did some ripping around some of the empty spots of the city.  Downtown Chicago was really empty and I ripped past the rows of rows of skyscrapers  The sound of the M821 was very pleasing when I was walled in by the city.  The sound of a Ducati is intoxicating.  So much that my ears are pleased the entire time I ride them.  This trip was no exception, the M821 sounded awesome the whole time.  I took a couple good pictures downtown and then locked up the bike in my friend's garage.  I was so happy to have been warm and comfortable the whole trip.

 

Saturday night and Sunday was a great time in Chicago catching up with friends.  By the time I left back for Indy on Monday morning it was not really a heated gear day.  The temperature would be 60 by mid-day so I packed the socks and gloves.  I wore the pant liners and jacket but I did not plug them in.  Later in the ride this would come in very handy.  I had chose to take Harlem Avenue south from the center of Chicagoland and back into the country towards Indy.  This was a lot of urban riding to say the least but it was enjoyable and on this day I did not switch to Urban mode.  I just like that full power mode too much.  I had never traveled Harlem Ave. down south of Chicago and it was fun to check out new urban territory, then run it out to the burbs and into the country.  At the very edge of the country was the Balmoral Park Horse Track which is the biggest thing around for miles and miles.  I had to stop and check it out.

                               

 

From the horse track I found a few twisty roads to get me over to Indiana.  They were full of gravel and I had some nutjob in a Pontiac Grand Prix pushing me the whole time.  He was no match for the M821 with the DTC and ABS and it was actually pretty amazing what that bike did in those conditions.  I motored over to State Line Rd and straddled Indiana and Illinois on that road until I couldn't anymore.  There was a bridge out over the Kankakee River but it gave me a good chance to capture a pic and there was also a little entertainment.  A guy pulled up and told me he was hunting poachers on his land.  It didn't seem like there was going to be any gun battles but I left anyway as I had some ground to make up.  With a little assistance from my mobile device I found a bunch of tight turns and twists as I got away from the river towards Schneider, Indiana.  It was so much fun to cruise around on these roads and the M821 was good on the bumps and the smooth surfaces. The gas light came on shortly thereafter at 128 miles and it came on at the perfect time for my inverted 821 on the gas tank pic.  This was a nice touch. 

At the gas station I thought about how I would have been home by now if I had taken the interstate home but I was not worried about it.  I was right at home knowing I had another 3 hours of back country with the M821 before I got back to Indy.  I stairstepped southeast through the small towns and country between Interstate65 and Route31.  I snapped my last pic in Monon as the phone died and the sun lay low on the Horizon.  I wasn't too worried about not having navigation on the phone up there because I was on the grid.  Even if you get lost for 10-20miles you can find a road south to get you pointed back towards Indy and if you get too far east or west you will run into 65 or 31.  I went from Schneider to Shelby to Mount Ayr to Monon to Reynolds to Monticello to Delphi and then I was getting cold as the sun was setting.  It was so nice to plug in the heated gear and in a minute or so I was warm and toasty.  All warmed up and now in the dark I passed by Adam's Mill to Russiaville to Tipton to Noblesville and then to Fishers.  On this day I avoided Kokomo and stayed in the country all the way from south Chicagoland until Noblesvile.  On this trip I had a blast thundering about on the crisp M821.

 

I did a flip with the Monster by taking it on this 11 hour road trip over the weekend.  A lot of the articles I have read for years and years seem to say that a Monster is not the right choice to take out on a road trip for extended highway miles. I understand where they are coming from but I'm not sure all of customers agree.  There is somthing very adventurous to me about the Monster.  I've had a 696 down into Kentucky and back on a Sunday from Indy and I've ridden a 2007 S4RS to from Indy to Austin in a day and a half.  The 696 had a DP seat and the S4RS had a Sargent seat.  The stock M821 is as comfortable as both of those bikes and the rider can raise and lower the seat or select from seats in the Ducati catalog.  Couple this with the different power modes and adjustability inside those power modes and the stable yet nimble M821 is lookng poised to make a lot of riders very happy.  And the fact that it is so good in and out of the city makes the M821 just that much better.  Lastly, heated gear is where its at. There is no offseason until snow and ice are covering the roads!

 

"Thanks for reading my article.  If you are at all interested in riding a demo bike please us call for availability.  We want you to come ride our demo bikes because it is what you think about Ducati that matters to us."

My article here emphasizes the test ride of the bike but there are some pretty good articles out already on the M821.  Here are two of these articles for further reading:  

http://www.mcnews.com.au/2015-ducati-m821-tech/

http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/103/18782/Motorcycle-Article/2015-Ducati-Monster-821-First-Ride.aspx

 

 

 

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