Some things just make sense: tacos from Baja, coffee from Colombia, and motorcycles from Italy. Last year, Ducati released the friendly and approachable Monster 797 to offer somewhat of a stepping stone into its premier Monster lineup. The Monster was first introduced back in 1993 and at one point accounted for more than half of Ducati’s sales worldwide. The beast from Bologna has been mostly praised for its exceptional performance and power, which can be intimidating for some. However, being such an iconic bike desired by riders of all skill levels, Ducati decided to aim the newest addition to the Monster family toward a more casual enthusiast.
The Ducati Monster 797 comes packed with the same 803cc air-cooled Desmodue twin as the Ducati Scrambler which produces a maximum 73 hp at 8,250 rpm and 49 pound-feet of torque at 5,750 rpm. Matched with a six-speed gearbox transmission, 50mm throttle body, suspended on a 43mm Kayaba USD fork and a preload- and rebound-adjustable Sachs monoshock, all enclosed in a steel trellis frame.
We spent a day putting the Monster 797 to work ripping through canyons and slaying freeway miles to get an overall opinion of the bike in a variety of road conditions. At first glance, the Ducati Monster 797 looks like a bike packed with performance for tight corners, fast speed, and big wheelies, however, looks can be deceiving. My initial impression when throwing a leg over the 797 is the bike offers a neutral, upright seating position that creates a comfy ride. However, this sporty-looking machine became a little disappointing from the initial turn of the key due to an extremely generic display, reading nothing more than mph, trip 1, trip 2, the time, and, well, that’s it. With a very limited electronics package offering only non-switchable ABS, I immediately felt as if I was on a dated motorcycle.
Once I was on my way, bobbing from one side of the tire to the other as I carved through the twisty roads of Julian, California, I found myself gaining confidence in the bike for its rugged chassis and stiff suspension that allows the rider to feel extremely stable and planted throughout the corner. However, the 803cc air-cooled Desmodue twin left me wanting more for its lack of character throughout the revs. Although this bike gets up to speed quickly it just doesn’t seem to do it in an exciting, perilous way that leaves the rider in an emotional spectrum between excitement and terror as they try to put power to the ground and keep the front wheel down. After gaining all that speed it’s time to slow down, and this is where the Monster 797 fell short for me with is twitchy, divvy front end feel when grabbing a handful of front brake.
Although the Ducati Monster 797 doesn’t offer the same raging performance as some of its competitors, the more time I spent in the saddle the more I appreciated Ducati’s vision for a simple middleweight naked bike. This particular Monster creates a traditional experience for the rider transforming them to a time where bikes were more raw and mechanical, and less computerized. This is where the bike excelled for me. It’s not the latest and greatest thing on the road, but for making some pleasant-sounding noise on the open road, this Ducati fits the bill.