★★★★ | Ducati Monster 797
Ducati’s Monster has been credited as the genesis of the naked bike niche. The bike that started the street bike revolution.
Ducati introduced the Monster in 1993, designed by Miguel Angel Galluzzi.
Famed motorcycle designer, Glynn Kerr, described the Monster design as having “all it needs and no more.”
With Monster sales eventually accounting for two-thirds or more of Ducati’s output, the bike became the company’s best selling and most profitable model line, essential to the company’s success.
The Monster has gone down in folklore as the bike that saved Ducati. You simply can’t underestimate the significance of the Monster to Ducati.
The Monster 797 is the most accessible Ducati with a starting price of just £7,995. This is often considered the entry point to Ducati ownership, the Ferrari of motorcycles.
Of all the motorcycles I’ve ridden, I’ve never ridden a Ducati. Often admired, always revered, but never had the opportunity to experience it for myself.
On the way to collect the Monster 797 press bike, I felt the weight of expectation bearing down on me. I was on my way to one of the most illustrious and celebrated motorcycle manufacturers of all time, to collect arguably one of the most significant models in their long and distinguished history, a Monster.
Thumbing the start button brings the 73 bhp and the 803 cc 90 degree (L) twin-engine to life. Ducati L twins have a very distinctive sound and feel. They sit somewhere between a smooth Japanese V twin like the SV650 and the irregular, lumpy idle of a Harley. The Ducati has an uneasy but alluring murmur.
Our press bike only had 250 miles under its belt when I collected it, so mechanically was still very tight. 1st gear engaged with a clunk and my journey began with a ride into the sunny, Northamptonshire afternoon.
Bars are wide which help the bike turn very well. Immediately you feel at home with the little Monster. It’s such a pretty motorcycle, elegant and muscular, with those wide bars, sculpted, flowing tank, exquisite trellis frame, graceful seat unit and curvaceous double-sided swingarm.
I found myself looking for reflections at every opportunity, just to see the Monster from someone else’s eyes.
The heart of the Monster 797 is the 90-degree twin cylinder, 803cc air-cooled engine, with 2 desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder.
Electronic fuel injection delivers its elixir through 50mm throttle bodies.
Front forks are 43mm Kayaba USD non-adjustable units, complemented by a rear Sachs monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound.
Tyres are Pirelli Diablo Rosso II and worked very well in all conditions.
Overall I thought the bike was fairly softly sprung, with a bit of dive on the front end under initial braking. This isn’t entirely fair though as I’m a 47-year-old overweight guy, not exactly representative of the typical Monster 797 owner.
Front brakes are 320mm semi-floating discs with radially mounted, 4 piston Brembo Monobloc callipers. ABS is standard of course.
The rear brake is a 245 mm disc with single piston calliper. Brake feel is excellent and the front Brembo’s are superb.
Instrumentation is basic. There is no gear position indicator or fuel gauge. I missed the fuel gauge but the gear position indicator is more of a luxury that we have come to expect, rather than a necessity. Having no fuel gauge, I opted to refuel every 100 miles. The fuel tank capacity is 16.5 litres and after 100 miles of spirit riding, the fuel light wasn’t ever on, I was just being cautious.
I’ve covered around 1,000 miles on the Monster 797 on all kind of roads from motorways to A roads, from sprawling urban streets too narrow, winding country lanes and everything in between.
There are bikes that are better suited to long motorway journeys, but it handled them with ease.
Where the little Ducati did excel was everywhere else. Wide bars, a nimble and refined chassis and that torquey engine make it a great urban bike. Cutting through the city streets with ease, carving through the winding country lanes and revelling in the flowing A roads, and all with an abundance of character and style.
My lasting memory of the Monster 797 is how easy it is to ride. This is a very friendly and familiar bike but with passion and vigour.
The clutch is easy to use, it’s has a seat height of just 805mm, it looks fantastic and is an ownership experience that offers more than most. Placing the keys of a Ducati on the table feels special.
The Monster 797 is also available for those with a restricted licence, as a version with 35 kW of regulated power.