Tipping the scales at just 193kg wet, the Monster 797 is pleasingly light and agile.
When you’re carving through the bends on the new 797 all you see before you is the road ahead. There are no distractions, and the LCD dash is set nicely below your eye level so that it is easy to read when required, but not obstructive to your view. This is a bike that’s all about enjoying the sensation of beingon two wheels – and thanks to the wide, flat, bars you feel exposed and open to the elements, which is exactly the feeling you want from a bike like this. Yes, I could moan about the lack of weather protection, but if you want a screen to hide behind, buy a tourer.
Handling has always been an integral part of the Monster’s heritage and the 797 doesn’t let the side down. The suspension is quite firm, and down a twisty (and it has to be said smooth) road the 797 displayed stacks of agility.
This is a bike that can really be enjoyed in the bends by both newer and more experienced riders alike. As you would expect, those Brembo brakes bite hard, adding to the 797’s sporty feel, but I think they could do with a bit more feel. Those braided lines deliver a dead sensation that I’m not sure suits a bike aimed at retro riders or those wanting a good-looking town bike. And, unlike Monsters of old, the 797 really does work in city streets.
The addition of Ducati’s APTC clutch (which first appeared on a Monster) means your left hand doesn’t get a workout at every gear change, and although the ’box is quite clunky, it’s fitting part of the bike’s overall retro appeal.
And the air-cooled motor is the icing on this Monster’s cake. Some riders go all misty-eyed over an air-cooled Desmodue engine, personally I’m more practical. Yes, it certainly looks far more aesthetically pleasing than the water-cooled 821, but for me it is the way it responds that I like so much. The throttle connection is superb, the deep rumble from low revs is just what I want a Ducati to sound like, and it’s got more than enough get-up-and-go to be fun. The revs run out at around 8500rpm, and with just 74bhp on tap it’s not that fierce, but V-twins are about their low-to-midrange drive, and the Monster has more than enough of that. In fact, 80% of its maximum torque is delivered by the time 3500rpm is visible on the dash.
The air-cooled engine is very reliable and has pleasingly long service intervals of 7500 miles, which helps keep running costs down, but the cam belts still need changing every 15,000 miles. The quality of finish appears high and Ducati tend not to skimp when it comes to small items such as fasteners.
We've got five Ducati Monster 797 owners' reviews on MCN, with an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars. Readers comment on the lack of kit and difficulties keeping the bike serviced and maintained due to the requirement for special tools. They also suggest you find one with the Termignoni exhaust to improve the way the bike sounds.
The Monster is at the higher end of the middleweight market, but that is to be expected from a model made in Bologna. The pleasing thing about the 797 is the fact it comes with quality items such as inverted forks and Brembo brakes, helping justify its price. The fact it costs £100 more to get it in anything other than red is, however, a bit disappointing.
The Monster 797's rivals include the Yamaha MT-07, the Suzuki SV650 and the Kawasaki Z650.
You don’t get traction control or power modes on the Monster 797, but ABS is standard and so are Brembo monoblock radial brake calipers and a USB port under the seat. Ducati’s Multimedia System can be retro fitted but the inverted forks are non-adjustable and the shock only has spring preload and rebound damping adjustment.
A Ducati Monster 797+ adds a pillion seat cover and fly screen, which are useful additions if you're thinking about going touring.