Motorcycles

Nothing but the essentials: New Ducati Monster sports naked designed to be easy to drive

The Ducati Monster has been reborn lighter and more agile for the new model year.

Photo courtesy of Ducati
The new Ducati Monster has debuted as a stripped back sports bike designed to be high-tech yet easy to ride. The Monster is the best-selling Duacti ever - more than 350,000 have been produced.

When creating the bike, Ducati aimed to make the model the most compact and stripped back bike possible. It's designed to be sporty, good on the road, and equipped with a Superbike-derived frame. That means Ducati engineers needed to shift the riding position to deliver less load to the wrists, offer good a good power to torque ratio, ad make the bike easy to maneuver.

2021 Ducati Monster The bike takes engineering nods from the Ducati Panigale V4.Photo courtesy of Ducati

The process started from scratch as a blank sheet design. Designers had a clear idea of what they wanted - lines and equipment that would make the bike immediately recognizable, DNA and all. The fuel tank was shaped like a bison back, it gained a shoulder-embedded round headlight, and a clean tail and engine formed the thorax.

It was kept light and lean with an aluminum front frame that is similar to what is on the Panigale V4. The bike is 39 pounds lighter than the previous version of the Monster.

The height from the ground to the seat of the motorcycle is 32 inches, which allows riders to easily put their foot down. The sides of the bike are narrow compared to most other models, which also helps. Those who want a lower seat can get one from the Ducati accessories catalogue that moves the height to 31 inches while maintaining proper padding. Additionally, a springs kit ca Abe purchased to lower the bike another inch.

Each Monster is powered by a Testatretta 11-degree 937 cc twin cylinder L-shaped engine. This engine builds on the successes of the 821 in the bike's predecessor and increases displacement, power, and torque while decreeing weight. It delivers 11 horsepower and has a maximum torque of 7 pound-feet. Ducati's engineers have made the torque band better at medium-low range where it's most commonly needed through corners and between curves. A new Ducati Quick Shift Up/Down gearbox completes the powertrain.

2021 Ducati Monster The Monster has additional cornering ability in the new generation.Photo courtesy of Ducati

Ducati has improved the steering angle of the bike to 36 degrees, a seven degree improvement over the last-generation model. The handlebar is also now closer to the driver's body by about 2.7 inches, which allows for more control and a more comfortable ride position. ABS Cornering, Traction Control, and Wheelie Control are all standard on the Monster and are able to be calibrated to a user's preference. It also comes with Launch Control.

Riders get three riding modes to choose from: Sport, Urban, and Touring. The modes are managed by handlebar controls while a 4.3-inch dashboard featuring racing graphics pulls duty as a home of the rev counter and gear indicator.

Ducati has created sticker kits for Monsteristas looking to add more custom options to their bike without hitting the local shop up for aftermarket work. Ducati Performance accessories are also available to take customization further.

2021 Ducati Monster

Photo courtesy of Ducati

The new Monster is available in Ducati Red and Dark Stealth with black wheels, Aviator Grey with GP Red wheels. For those who want the bike with an even sportier image, there is the Plus version in the same colours with an aerodynamic windshield and the cover for the passenger seat as standard.

The Monster will be available in Ducati dealerships starting in April 2021.

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The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series turns the car into a stealthy black coupe.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The new, 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series gets blacked out features, carbon fiber accents, and performance enhancements. The luxury arm of Toyota will make just 100 of the models, which is expected to be priced at $119,800 before taxes and fees.

The new car is the result of a partnership between air race pilot Yoshihide Muroya and Lexus engineers, some of whom have worked on the LC and LFCA. The engineers worked on Muroya's plane using what they'd learned in LC 500 development to achieve aerodynamic efficiencies. These changes helped set Muroya off on his path that would eventually lead to him winning the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championships.

2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The 2021 Inspiration Series car has a combination of features not found on any other LC package. The limited-edition vehicle is offered in one exterior color, Obsidian, and wears 21-inch black forged-alloy wheels. Pulling in inspiration from the the aircraft, the team designed a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) spoiler that follows along the trailing edge arc of the trunk of the LC and features two downtrend winglets on either end.

Each model continues to get its power from a naturally aspirated, 471-horsepower 5.0 V8 engine that makes 398 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that drivers can shift using magnesium paddles on the car's wheel. All that power moves the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

Lexus has equipped the model with a standard Torsen limited slip differential and Yamaha rear performance rod with damper, an available option on other LC models.

The car's cabin is blacked out as well with black Alcantara-trimmed sport seats complete with Saddle Tan accents and seat belts. The steering wheel and shift lever are also accented in black Alcantara trim. A carbon-fiber scuff plate features at the the door while a serialized badge on the center console identifies the uniqueness of the model.

A 13-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio system is standard, as is a head-up display, and SmartAccess Card Key (similar to what Tesla offers).

The 2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series is on sale now.

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The Hyundai Kona N is being teased ahead of its official debut.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The Hyundai Kona N will be the company's first SUV N family member. The company has released new teaser photos of a camoflauged version of the Koan N traversing a variety of terrain including a race track and trail. The Kona N is expected to be a global model that will be available for sale in the U.S.

"We're excited to expand the recipe for success we've developed with the i30 N and, most recently, with the i20 N to one of our most popular SUVs on the market today: Kona," says Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, Vice President of Marketing & Product at Hyundai Motor Europe. "The addition of Kona to the N family will bring our high-performance brand to the next level."

2022 Hyundai Kona N

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai will give the Kona N the same power plant that's in the Veloster N, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's paired with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Look for it to make around 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the Kona N.

Hyundai is promising that the model will come with a variety of performance centric equipment and features, not just exterior and interior design accents, including Launch Control and what they call "an emotional sound experience".

Details about wheels and all-wheel drive are pending. Expect the SUV to get a fresh suspension setup and bigger brakes, something that's pretty status quo for N models.

The exterior and Interior of the Kona N are likely to feature unique accents but come from the same refreshed Kona design that debuted late last year.

"The all-new Kona N is the first 'hot SUV' from the N brand," says Till Wartenberg, Vice President and Head of N Brand Management and Motorsport Sub-division at Hyundai Motor Company. "As a 'hot SUV', it will have plenty of versatility as well as the driving pleasure like any other N vehicle. N-thusiasts will enjoy taking this car anywhere; from road to the track."

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