Ducati Monster 797 [2018-2019] Review
This, the new Monster 797, is Ducati's most affordable motorcycle in India. It uses the engine and gearbox from the Scrambler, but adds more visual mass and classic street bike styling to the package.
What is it?
Why I would buy the Monster 797
It’s an easy to ride, easy to exploit motorcycle that’s also great for upgraders moving from 300s and 400s as well as for those ride-again motorcyclists.
Why I would avoid the Monster 797
It might be a Ducati, but besides those looks, there’s nothing else that really tugs at your heartstrings. It does the job, yes, but it doesn’t feel special.
This, the new Monster 797, the most affordable Monster in India. It uses the engine and gearbox from the Scrambler, but adds more visual mass and classic street bike styling to the package.
It has more commuter-centric ergonomics too. The footrests, compared to the Monster 821, are lower and more forward set. The seat is softer. And, although the flat handlebar is a slight stretch, that leaves you with a mildly crouched seating position, it isn’t tedious.
There are styling differences between the 821 and 797 as well. The fuel tank on the cheaper 797 is smaller and less muscular. The headlamp, although oval, is a completely different unit. The switchgear is new, the instrumentation throws up less info, and as is clear in the images, the 797 also gets less exotic cycle parts. The chassis is a more traditional trellis item and the swing-arm now uses a side mounted rear monoshock. What's more, a single boom endcan replaces the hairy-chested double barrel exhaust from the 821.
How is it to ride?
The one thing that impressed us about the 821 was its city-friendly nature. This was a 200+ kg motorcycle with 112bhp on tap. But, on the move, even at low speeds, its balance and flickability were all very impressive.
The 797 is lighter and less powerful. And it sits on a shorter wheelbase. Not surprisingly, it’s a joy in the city as well. Again, the balance and flickability is top notch and not just for a bike its size and weight. Plus, the more you ride it, the tighter it shrinks around you. Soon, you end up jostling with Pulsars and Apaches and Activas on your daily commute. There are a few issues, however. The Monster 797 does run hot in traffic. It’s also got a slightly snappy on-off throttle response. And that huge turning circle can be quite a pain while maneuvering. But none of these are deal-breakers. Irritating, yes, but you can live with it; much like your spouse.
The new Monster is also quite likeable as a highway machine thanks to both its cycle parts and the engine-gearbox combo. The engine – 803cc, air-cooled L-Twin – makes 73bhp of peak power. But, it’s the torque that builds early and peaks just before 6,000rpm that makes the 797 both friendly and capable. This Monster is happy to amble about at 3,000rpm (even in 6th gear). It’s also refined, quiet and devoid of vibes here. And if you gas it, it just hooks up and gets its speedometer in a tizzy. Sure, it judders a bit, but nothing too extreme to put you off. The power delivery is potent but linear; the turn of speed is quick but not overwhelming; and although it can do some serious three-digit speeds, it rarely feels loose or nervous getting there. We would have liked a better exhaust note to complement the bike’s performance, however. And a little less alacrity in the way it builds vibrations as speeds increase. But, not only is the 797 a competent straight-line speedster, it loves cornering as well. It drops into corners effortlessly and feels light-footed through quick direction changes. What’s more, the positive feel from the tyres, the chassis and its front end allows one to carry handsome corner speeds, even in the wet!
The bike doesn’t mind the odd bump when leaned over either. But, the suspension is set up slightly stiff. So, even though the 797 feels good over undulating roads and while negotiating a series of bumps at speed, at slower speeds, it’s not exactly the epitome of comfort.
But, like we said… this isn’t a deal-breaker either.
Anything else I should know?
Since the Monster 797 is Ducati’s entry-level offering, it doesn’t get any electronics at all. There’s ABS and a slipper clutch, but that’s it. There is a menu option as part of the instrumentation, but nothing there really enriches one’s riding experience.
The 43mm Kayaba front forks and the Sachs monoshock at the rear certainly do. These along with the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres give the Monster its dynamic edge. The Kayabas though are not adjustable while the Sachs can be set for pre-load and rebound. In both cases, we would have liked slightly more travel.
Another fact about the 797 is that it might have borrowed its engine and gearbox from the Scrambler, but it uses the 821’s clutch. As a result, the clutch pull on the new Monster is lighter and the gearshifts are less clunky. But, Ducati still hasn’t been able to cure the ‘false-neutral’ problem…
Should I buy one?
We quite liked the Monster 821. And we like the new 797 as well. But, unlike the former, the 797 isn’t an exciting bike. It does everything you ask of it – commuting, taking on the twisties, being a hooligan, and with some windblast, touring as well.
But then almost every bike in and around the 797’s price point can do all of that. So in that sense the new Monster just doesn’t feel special. We’d say buy it if you are upgrading from 300s and 400s or are getting back into motorcycling, and of course, you want a Ducati.
Where does it fit in?
The Monster 797 only has two serious competitors. On one end is the brawny and powerful Kawasaki Z900 and on the other is the more sophisticated Triumph Street Triple 765. The Kawasaki is cheaper while the Triumph is more expensive. The Z900 is heavier while the Street Triple is lighter. But, in both cases, the Monster 797 simply can’t match them in firepower.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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