As it turns out, Ducati made the right call to let us out in the dry for a brief blast on the Monster 797 last night as our scheduled riding day has been something of a washout. I’m so glad they did as while wet weather riding tells you the Monster has a lovely throttle response and lacks much in the way of rain protection, riding it on the dry and twisty roads in the south of France yesterday allowed its true Monster spirit to shine through.
According to Ducati, this Monster is ‘more Monster than any other Monster’, by which they mean not only does the 797 have an air-cooled engine, it is also lighter and more stripped back then any of the current water-cooled bikes such as the 821 or 1200 range. Has this benefitted the 797? I would say it has.
As well as looking like an authentic Monster (the 797 has some lovely styling touches such as the old-school Monster tank clip, curved tank and sharp tail unit) the 797 responds like one. 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, but I like this fact as I’ve always viewed the Monster as one of the bikes whose sporty handling surprises rather than disappoints.
Down a twisty (and it has to be said smooth and dry) road the 797 displayed stacks of agility, helped not only by its light 193kg wet weight but also the fact the wide bars allow you to boss it around. The air-cooled Desmo-due engine, which is the same as the Scrambler’s motor, sounds and feels like a Monster and although with just 74bhp it’s not that fierce, V-twins are about their mid-range drive and the 797 has more than enough of this.
In fact, 80% of its maximum torque is delivered by just 3500rpm. It’s a fun, engaging and authentic motor that fans of the Monster will really appreciate. At the end of the day, Monsters have always been about the simple pleasures in life – a set of bars, two wheels, air-cooled motor and minimal fuss as the M900’s designer Miguel Galluzzi always said. And that’s what the Monster 797 delivers.
It has no traction control, no variable power modes, no anti-wheelie and only ABS because Euro4 says it has to. It’s pleasingly old-school not only in its styling, but also its outlook in life yet still handles like a modern bike. My only slight question is the fact its £7895 price tag puts it in the premium end of the middleweight market, although Ducati has justified this by giving it Brembo radial monoblock brakes, inverted forks and an overall feeling of real quality that some of its rivals lack.
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