You can read the original magazine story by clicking HERE.
This class almost more than any other does not require big performance numbers to sell motorcycles. The midsized street bike range is an impulse one—people buy these bikes not because of how fast they are but how they look, with horsepower and torque numbers coming a very distant second, sometimes third.
But for the sake of it, here’s the vitals anyway.
In the black corner, the Ducati 821 Monster Dark is powered by the 821cc 11° Testastretta V-twin, with a claimed 112 horsepower measured at 9250 rpm and 65.8 lb-ft of torque at 7750 rpm. The V-twin is absolutely different to the Yamaha’s 847cc inline triple, a gruff and raucous engine that’s been ripped from the FZ-09 with an updated ECU and fuel injection settings to crack out about 113 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 64.5 lb-ft of torque at 8500 rpm.
The Yamaha’s 41mm front suspenders are adjustable via preload and rebound damping, which compare favorably to the Ducati’s un-adjustable 43mm legs. The Yamaha also has the edge with rear suspension fiddling, as the shock has preload and rebound adjustment versus the Ducati, which has only preload adjustment for the party. The Yamaha is also lighter at a claimed 430 pounds wet to the Ducati’s claimed 453 pounds wet.
As far as electronics go, these two are pretty close. Both come with their own versions of traction control (three setting for the Yamaha, eight for the Ducati) and ABS, as well as varying engine modes via a ride-by-wire throttle. So, on paper, there’s not a lot to separate them across engine, chassis and electronic platforms. But what does it all mean?
A telling notion here is the smooth throttle response of the Yamaha over the Ducati. It’s hard to believe this is essentially the same engine that had such shocking throttle response in the first FZ-09, a bike berated for having the subtlety of a chainsaw at initial throttle opening. Yamaha’s changes to the ECU have yielded a much nicer reaction to torque than on the FZ-09, and while it’s not perfect, it’s simply better in every form than its opponent in the Ducati.
The Ducati’s throttle response is abrupt and quick in comparison. There’s plenty of go in the engine but it feels restrained by a throttle that gives you too much too quick in Sport mode, and not enough in Touring or Urban mode. Most riders will just stick it in Sport mode and leave it there, because Touring and especially Urban make the Ducati feel strangulated in comparison. The Yamaha has not the problem of strangulation but the throttle response in A mode is too abrupt for smooth, slow-speed riding. Stick in it B mode and walk away, even in the wet. Which is exactly what we did.
But where the Yamaha truly shines over the Ducati in the engine department is the access to torque, which is essentially, everywhere. The Ducati runs out of puff at about 7000 rpm but the Yamaha will just pull and pull right up to redline. It’s also accompanied by a sound track that will raise the hair on almost any extremity of your body. In terms of engine, the Yamaha has the edge everywhere. As much as I want to give one small victory to the Ducati, the XSR’s three-cylinder motor is easier to live with in traffic, faster out of corners and easier to manage via that nicer throttle response. Highway cruising is one area the Ducati is close to the Yamaha. Those V-twin vibes make for a smoother experience when on a steady throttle at 70 mph compared to the Yamaha, which can feel buzzy and vibey in comparison.
Traction control is almost a third thought these days. Gone are the times when their action was of primary concern—both these machines have it and both systems work well—although the Yamaha’s has a little more slip compared to the Ducati. Neither of these bikes are the correct ones if you’re after the kind of performance riding that will really test a traction control system, but it’s nice to know they are there to save your ass if you need them.
The Ducati’s front Brembo brakes are stellar pieces of equipment and have a greater bite and more feel at the lever than the Yamaha’s. There’s also more leverage than the Yamaha thanks to the wider bar and more bulldog-like riding stance. But there’s also more weight, and the Yamaha carries is smaller girth better than the Ducati. The Yamaha’s weight sits a touch lower in the frame for a more adept center of gravity, giving it slightly more poise in the corners and when changing direction. The Ducati is by no means a slouch, but the Yamaha does have the edge on corner entry when on the brakes, despite the Ducati having more overall braking power.
The riding position helps here. The Yamaha has a more upright position and even though it has a smaller handlebar, is more comfortable and allows you to adjust your body position more. The tank is skinnier, giving you more body position options for cornering, and makes for a more involving ride.
The Ducati’s seat is wider and will accompany more backsides in greater comfort than the Yamaha’s. While I like the Yamaha’s pew, it does get pretty hard over time, so that’s a nod to the Ducati.
But it’s just not enough to topple the Yamaha, which, sad for the Bologna faithful is just better pretty much everywhere. It’s got more power, more torque, weighs less and costs 1000 fewer dollars than its Italian rival. Those factors alone make the Yamaha hard to beat, but when you combine them with a better riding experience, the Yamaha is the clear winner.
Second Opinion – Cristi Farrell
It’s the reason why you tune out midconversation and turn your head to catch a glimpse of that throaty bass note in action. The sound of a Ducati engine is unmistakable; dare I even say…sexy? Sitting on the 2016 Ducati Monster 821, I fell under its spell and revved the throttle like an overeager sportbike rider at a stoplight.
Surprised to say I was disappointed before reaching the next stoplight. The throttle response was not as smooth nor the power delivery as linear as its competition in this comparison, the 2016 Yamaha XSR900. The throttle response on the Monster 821 was reminiscent of the FZ-09 in its introductory year in 2013. Much like the XSR900 with A, B, and Standard ECU mapping modes, the Monster 821 has its own equivalent Sport, Urban, and Touring modes. The throttle sensitivity issue on the Monster 821 however felt like it propagated itself across all three modes. Having thoroughly enjoyed logging miles deep in the North Georgian mountains a few months back on a Multistrada, I was hoping this version of the Testastretta engine would have a similar feel in its transitions between gears and modes. After the Monster’s 23rd year of production, there still is no cure for seared thighs as a result of the radiant heat from between engine and exhaust. The criticism seems harsh, but after logging close to 1000 miles on the XSR900 for a recent road trip up the coast, these two differences noticeably stand out.
The remaining differences that stick out in my mind, largest being the XSR900’s triple vs. the Monster 821’s twin, are the approximate two inches of seat height lost on the Ducati (30.9 inches) with a gain of $1,000 in price ($1,500 when comparing to the matte gray XSR900), and the overall aesthetic. On paper, both bikes come equipped with ride-by-wire throttle, ABS, traction control, a slipper clutch, generally upright seating (though the Monster 821 feels a bit more forward-leaning), similar weights and displacement.
If you haven’t already guessed it, edge: XSR900.
Source : http://www.cyclenews.com/2016/07/article/comparison-test-yamaha-xsr900-vs-ducati-monster-821/