2017 Ducati Monster 797 first ride review: An accessible, fast, yet friendly motorcycle
The Ducati Monster 797 is an accessible, fast yet friendly motorcycle. It’s almost like an antithesis to its name, but that’s saying it in a good way, of course.
By Rishabh Bhaskar
The reason why I am looking at a cone instead of the road ahead is because that’s where I want to go. It may seem confusing and counter intuitive but looking far away, in the direction where you want to go, is the ultimate way to be smooth on a bike. That’s what Lek, the chief instructor at the Ducati Riding Experience (DRE) in Bangkok, Thailand kept drilling into my head, along with other techniques to help improve my riding skills. The DRE intro course, in fact, is designed to teach new riders to learn the art of riding a motorcycle. And this on a 800+cc Ducati Monster turned out as quite an interesting experience.
Design and features
Italians can probably, make anything look good. Italians have, for years, produced motorcycles that evoke myriad emotions, the moment you look at one and the Ducati Monster 797 is no exception. The bike borrows design cues from the first Ducati Monster that was launched in the 90’s which explains the rounded headlamp, big tank and the lovely steel trellis frame, left exposed to gawk at.
My favourite bit though is the tank. Large and chiselled, it takes pride of place in the entire scheme of things. The beautiful trellis frame, left uncovered in all its glory, is what defines a Monster, and then there are the exhaust pipes that bend and turn into a stubby end can. The Monster is raw and sexy, and I like it, a lot.
As far as equipment goes, the Monster 797, being an entry-level Ducati, is devoid of aids like rider modes or traction control. These, however, are not missed and I’ll come to that in a bit. The bike, however, does get ABS as standard.
The Monster 797 also gets the Ducati Multimedia System or DMS, which can be accessed via a USB port located under the seat. This allows for your phone, or navigation to be accessed through the DMS via the instrument panel.
Besides the Ducati Red you see on the test bike, the Monster 797 is also available in star white silk with red wheels and frame and dark stealth, with the frame and wheels finished in black. Additionally, the Monster 797 is also available in the Plus variant, which gets a fly screen above the instrument console as well as a rear seat cowl.
Behind the bars
Ducati intended to make a beginner-friendly motorcycle, hence it chose to design a sporty, yet comfortable riding position. The seat height, at 805mm, is similar to the Monster 821’s. However, the footpegs are lower and the handlebars are wider which allows for a relatively relaxed riding posture.
The wide handlebars also provide better leverage which was evident in the ease with which I could tackle the slalom course exercise at the DRE. The Monster 797 uses the same white backlit instrument cluster that’s seen on bigger Monsters. The display is crisp and quite legible, even in the glaring sun.
The Monster 797 is powered by the Desmodue, 803cc, air-cooled, L-twin motor that develops 75PS at 8,250rpm and 68.9Nm at 5,750rpm. What’s interesting though is that 80 per cent of the torque comes in at 3,500rpm, which means there’s quite a lot of grunt, in the lower rev range. That’s also probably why Lek insisted that the best way to get the bike rolling was to release the clutch lever slowly, without rolling on the throttle.
Now, Ducati’s L-twins were notorious for stuttering in lower revs, and I was expecting the 797’s motor to also feel unhappy in low revs, but I was wrong. Power delivery is smooth and linear, with no hiccups as the revs begin to rise. This surely helps in not intimidating the rider, which again highlights the user friendliness of this Monster. Whether it was riding around the slalom or riding in a figure of eight-pattern, the crisp throttle response made easy work of it all.
The Monster 797 may be an entry-level Ducati, but that by no means suggests that corners have been cut in the chassis or suspension department. The 797 gets non-adjustable 43mm Kayaba upside-down forks up front and a Sachs monoshock at the rear that do a pretty good job of keeping the bike stable, be it at corner entry or exit as well as quick direction changes. This is also aided by the impressive Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres, wrapped around 10-spoke 17-inch wheels.
Commenting on ride quality, at this time, would be inappropriate as we were riding the bike on a dedicated training track with impeccable tarmac. The handling, however, was pretty confidence inspiring. The short 1,435mm wheelbase makes it super flickable, and the bike stays quite stable mid-corner, especially along the long, sweeping ones. Tipping the bike into corners requires minimal effort, despite its
193kg kerb weight and I was revelling in chucking the bike around the short chicane on the circuit.
The brakes are exceptional too. Upfront are twin, 320mm, four-piston Brembo Monobloc M4.32 calipers that offer tremendous stopping power, and the feedback through the levers is precise. The additional safety net that the Bosch ABS system provides is again what you’d need in case you are a beginner or among the less experienced riders like me.
Summing it up
The Ducati Monster 797 is an accessible, fast yet friendly motorcycle. It’s almost like an antithesis to its name, but that’s saying it in a good way, of course. It’s easy to ride and quite nimble which is what you’d look for in your first big bike. And that’s not it. The 797 has enough poke to keep the experienced riders entertained. At Rs 10.41 lakh (on-road Mumbai), the Monster 797 is your access pass to the world of Ducati and, as a Ducatisti, you enter a world where pure Italian passion rules the heart. That you can’t put a price on, now can you?
In India the 821 will offer significantly greater technology and performance at a substantially higher price point