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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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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The Polaris Slingshot is one of the most unique vehicles on sale today.

Polaris

The Polaris Slingshot is an interesting beast. It is, by far, one of the most unique vehicles you can buy in the U.S. today, though depending on where you live, it may require a motorcycle license. However, in most states, you can buy and drive one just like a normal car, albeit one that should only be driven while wearing a full-face helmet.

I recently spent a week with a 2021 Polaris Slingshot R and came away from the experience more than a little conflicted. On one hand, it's too much for me on a personal level, as I think it's too wildly styled and costs too much money. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore the charm of the thing. It's loud, too quick for its own good, and a totally crazy driving experience that lands somewhere between being a complete riot and terrifying, depending on how and where it's driven.


2021 Polaris Slingshot There's no ignoring this when it's next to you in traffic.Chris Teague


However, for many, the Slingshot remains a complete mystery, so here are three things you need to know.

It's Loud

No, I don't mean loud in the sense that you can hear it coming – though that's part of the deal, too. I mean loud in the visual sense. Like, 1990s ugly sweater loud. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the one thing that isn't up for debate is that the Slingshot is eye-catching. Add a couple of people wearing full-face helmets and it's nearly impossible to look away from the thing.

It's a Crazy Driving Experience

It's true that this isn't a motorcycle, but the way the Slingshot puts its passengers' rear ends just a couple of inches off the road surface and not all that far away from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine creates one lively experience. Every bump, crack, and sound can be felt and heard, though it's not unpleasant at all and adds to the experience. Couple that with the open-air driving experience and giant tires communicating it all into the steering wheel and the Slingshot is a wild ride.

It's Surprisingly Quick

I tested the Slingshot R, which is one of the flashier and more expensive models Polaris makes. Its in-house four-cylinder engine checks in at 2.0 liters and delivers 203 horsepower, 144 pound-feet of torque, and a whole lot of noise. The advertised 0-60 mph time for the R is 4.9 seconds, which is quicker than some sports sedans, though it feels much more violent and faster than that in person. The optional Autodrive five-speed gearbox is an automated manual, which means that it will shift itself when asked, but is happiest with the driver firing off shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.



The Slingshot is one of the few vehicles that defies almost everything to be what it is. It doesn't make sense for people who want a motorcycle and it's not particularly appealing to someone wanting a convertible or roadster. You have to be in the market for a Slingshot to end up buying a Slingshot, and for those that are, they've never been better than they are now.

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