Ducati motorcycles personify passion, precision, power and everything in between. So when Ducati invited us to Thailand to sample the new Monster 797, it was an opportunity which delighted us to no end. As Ducati's entry-level Monster, the 797 goes back to the basics with no fancy tech wizardry like multiple riding modes or traction control. Instead, the focus is on the bike and its rider. While our test ride was brief, boy, we certainly got a good sampling of what the new baby Monster offers.
The Ducati Monster embodies a timeless style initiated by designer Miguel Galluzi in 1992. Twenty-five years and many iterations later, the all-new Monster 797 manages to stick to its roots and firmly so. Minimalism takes precedence on the 797 like its predecessors and the bike looks new despite the familiar styling from the original Monster 900.
The headlamp and steel fuel tank are directly shared with the Monster 1200, while there is the new aluminium double-sided swingarm and tubular steel Trellis frame holding up the L-twin engine. As homage to the original M900, an external fuel tank lock is now placed just under the ignition like the original, which provides better access to the air filter and engine.
The 797 looks a lot more compact than the bigger Monsters and a tad bit smaller than its predecessor, the Monster 796. Quality levels are excellent, but you do see a few shortcomings; LED indicators would've looked nice, while the shotgun exhausts are missed and so is the meaty exhaust note from the 821.
The LCD unit from the bigger Monsters has been carried over and is Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) ready, with a USB port under the seat that allows you to connect your smartphone to the system, displaying calls, messages and navigation on-screen.
Swing a leg over the Monster and it's easy to forget you are seated on a 'big' motorcycle. At 193 kg, it isn't exactly light, but the weight has been distributed evenly and completely disappears once on the saddle. At 805 mm, the saddle will easily accommodate riders of all sizes, but there is also the option to lower the height by 20 mm. The handlebars are front set for easy reach, while the foot pegs are forward inclined for a more relaxed yet aggressive riding posture. Ducati's new age customers won't be just young men but a whole lot of women too, and the 797 is friendly to a wider audience.
At the centre of the Monster 797's personality is fun, and the 803 cc L-Twin air-cooled engine takes care of that. It has a bore and stroke of 88 x 66 mm, same as the Scrambler (also the older 796). But the 797 gets a different engine mapping. The motor produces 74 bhp at 8250 rpm and 69 Nm of torque at 5750 rpm. A slipper clutch ensures the clutch is light when shifting through the 6-speed transmission. Almost 80 per cent of torque is available from around 3500 rpm, so and you can easily stutter around town with minimal input from the throttle. However, twist your right wrist and the motorcycle pulls cleanly.
Power delivery is quick, but linear, and won't intimidate a rookie rider. There is enough grunt from the motor for quick overtakes. The 797 is a good 35 horses down on power over the Monster 821 (Which now sits as Ducati's middleweight contender), but compensates with a strong bottom and mid-range. During our brief ride, we didn't get a chance to really explore the Monster 797's top-end, but it's something we'll look forward to once we get our hands on it for a full road test.
The Ducati Monster 797's stiffly-sprung suspension makes for a firm ride quality. The KYB USD front forks and Sachs monoshock rear gobbled little undulations with ease during our test, but may not be as comfortable over the kind of terrain we encounter on a everyday basis here in India. While it is adjustable, we will tell you how that suspension holds up here once the bike arrives. The wheelbase at just 1435 mm, is the smallest ever on a Monster, and aids the bike's flick-able nature. Pair that brilliant frame to the fantastic Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres and the twisties will be a lot of fun.
Bringing things to a halt, the 797's dual Brembo four-pot calipers grip the 320 mm front discs well. The braking setup is the same as the 959 Panigale, and is confidence inspiring. There is dual-channel ABS as standard, which is always reassuring to have. That said, there's none of Ducati's fancy safety assists here, and this may appeal to the old school motorcyclists.
The whole point of bringing the Ducati Monster 797 is accessibility and it really introduces buyers to the 'big Red' family. The Monster looks more conventional as a feisty naked and there is a higher desirability quotient as well. The 797 is now on sale in India carrying a price tag of ₹ 7.77 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). At that price the Monster 797 is a tad expensive than the rivals in this segment, which include the Kawasaki Z650 and even the Benelli TNT 600i. But the Monster is an icon of twenty five years, and the 797 is the most convenient way to get a slice of that legacy.