2017 Ducati Monster 797

Editor Score: 89.0%
Engine 18.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.75/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.25/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score89/100

Hemlines and exhausts go up and down, radiators come and go, but the Monster hasn’t really ever gone out of fashion since it hit the runway, dang, has it really been 23 years ago? 1994 brought us Miguel Galluzzi’s original naked bike, and there’s been a veritable plethora of Monsters over the years ever since. Also Monsterinos, as Ducati likes to call the smaller-displacement ones.

2017 Ducati Monster 797 Preview

The new 797 really does pay its respects to the original, right down to the very nice aluminum clasp that holds down the front of its 4.4-gallon steel fuel tank. The steel trellis frame is an important design element; the red frame and alloy cooling fins are now a classic combination (or you can go dark and get a black bike with black frame), complete with passenger grab rails which provide a good place for bungee hooks. The single not-quite round headlight incorporates a couple of LED marker lights, which you’ll find in the tail and turnsignal lights too.

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There’s a handy timeline right here, which refreshes our memory of the last air-cooled Monster – the 796 of 2010. Ducati says the new 797 is all-new, from stem to stern, sharing only its steel gas tank and headlight with the Monster 1200. (And they’d really rather not mention that its 803cc 90-degree V-Twin is just like the one in the Scramblers, except for engine mapping. And hey, wait a minute! The Monster 796 was also powered by an 88 x 66mm 803cc L-Twin.)

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Anyway, the claim is 75 horsepower, and in fact that engine made 69.6 rear-wheel Dynojet ponies at 8500 rpm when we flogged it in our 2015 Scrambler Slam, and 46.5 pound-feet of torque at 7000 rpm: 75 is actually 12 hp less than Ducati claimed for the 796, but it does come 500 rpm sooner in the 797, and the new bike is of course Euro-4 compliant. In any case, why question?

In its unadorned 803cc form, it becomes even more obvious what a great gift Dr. Taglioni bequeathed us in the perfectly balanced 90-degree desmodromic Twin, simply because you wind up revving the smaller version out much more often. Ducati says it’s making 80% of maximum torque at just 3500 rpm, and you really don’t need to spin it that hard all the time. But it’s a lot of fun when you do, and the engine’s happy to hit its 9000 rpm high note as often as you feel the need.

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The compactness of the whole package encourages you to let loose, too. Ducati wanted the 797 to be super approachable and unintimidating –“undemanding fun”– much like Triumph’s goal for its new Street Twin, and that’s just how the thing plays out: Its rider triangle is a bit more upright and comfortable than the 796, the seat’s surprisingly cush and low enough at 31.7 inches. Controls and levers really do fall readily to hand and foot in the most cliche way and operate easily, and the nice handlebar and plenty of steering lock make tight maneuvering graceful and confident.

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That all-new trellis frame mates to an aluminum swingarm controlled by a cantilevered Sachs shock wrapped in a progressive spring, and the first inch or so of its 150mm of travel is nicely supple, just like the 43mm Kayaba inverted fork and its 130mm of travel. The shock offers up rebound and spring preload adjustments. For my 160 pounds, it seemed right in the ballpark as delivered – just firm enough without ever being punishing.

Eugenio Gherardi was project manager of the 797 – a nice change of pace from the Superleggera and XDiavel he did before it. Or is it? The Monsters are super important motorcycles for Ducati.

Eugenio Gherardi was project manager of the 797 – a nice change of pace from the Superleggera and XDiavel he did before it. Or is it? The Monsters are super important motorcycles for Ducati.

While they were at making the thing Euro-4 compliant, they added a pair of fuel injectors beneath the 50mm throttle butterfly, a thing Ducati says provides really smooth power delivery and better control of the fuel mixture. It works; this one comes into the power really smoothly when you roll it on and makes nice, linear thrust right up to the rev limiter, and enough of it to leave your Triumph Street Twin in the dust. I did squeeze in one quick street blast before the rain came down, and the Monster is a bike you can make rapid progress upon in the curves, quick to dive into corners either on the gas or the brakes or both at once, with full-size Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires providing plenty of grip at both ends. All systems nice and taut.

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Nobody wanted it to rain there on the Cote d’Azur, but it provided a great test bed for the 797 when it did; its supple suspension and sweet power delivery provide a good rain set-up; those things and the bike’s natural ergonomics made it a lot of fun to try to keep up with the rain-suited Ducati test rider on a loop through the mountains. Careful over those wet tar strips, and the Monster is a hoot to ride in the rain, quick and light steering but not too. Easy on the lean angle, stay off the manhole covers, get it pointed in the right direction, and time to roll on the gas again for another L-Twin burst of pleasure. The Pirellis seem to have plenty of grip in the wet too.

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The front brakes’ sintered pads almost have too much initial bite, but that’s an easy enough thing to adjust to; the rear has plenty of feel for adjusting your speed through all those stone-wall-lined sharp corners.

I think it was Stefano Tarabusi, Ducati’s product manager, who said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” With this one, there’s no stinking traction control or any ride modes. Blip the throttle yourself when you want to downshift (the six-speed is typically Ducati excellent, the APTC slipper clutch pull is really light but you barely need it once rolling). You do get standard ABS, though, along with LED lights and an LCD instrument panel that’s Bluetooth ready. Also a USB port under the seat.

Duke’s Den: With Stefano Tarabusi

There’s not a lot of extraneous info here, which is fine by some of us; no modes, no TC.

There’s not a lot of extraneous info here, which is fine by some of us; no modes, no TC.

Aside from those modern amenities, this base model is the entry point into the Ducati line for those who may feel themselves for whatever reason not hip enough to ride a Scrambler, or who want a tad more sporting capability. What you see is what you get, a bare-bones minimalist naked bike just like the original.

Of course it’s available in red, also black with black frame. The Plus version here gets you a passenger seat cover and flyscreen.

Of course it’s available in red, also black with black frame. The Plus version here gets you a passenger seat cover and flyscreen.

Like every manufacturer worth Its salt these days, of course there are already quite a few options available: tank and tailbags, exhausts, a 25mm taller comfort seat and a 20mm-lower low-seat option. Not to mention all the truly nice riding gear ensembles the Ducati fashion people have picked out (most of it made in partnership with Dainese) to complement your dynamic Italian-American on the go lifestyle, a slightly different one than the bearded hipster caffeine fiend on the make the Scramblers seem to target.

I was not as fashionable as some of the other riders in my Aerostich Roadcrafter 3, but I was warmer and drier than all of them. No fogging problems with my excellent new HJC helmet either.

I was not as fashionable as some of the other riders in my Aerostich Roadcrafter 3, but I was warmer and drier than all of them. No fogging problems with my excellent new HJC helmet either.

Fashionable or not, it seems like the Monster might retain its crown when we throw it in against other likely contenders in the middleweight naked bike category, even if at $9,295 it’s a bit pricier than a few of them. If you’ve got the extra dough over a Triumph Street Twin, the Monster does offer quite a bit more power and higher-spec componentry. Those of questionable taste might consider an SV650 Suzuki comparable. The Yamaha FZ-07 is a worthy combatant and way less spendy… sadly, the new H-D Street Rod probably isn’t, but that’s a question yet to be decided by the whole MO crew.

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When we do get around to comparing them, you can bet it will be one of the most fun group rides we’ll do, simply because this class of bike is all about pure motorcycling enjoyment with less of the high testosterone sphincter-clenching drama of faster, more expensive and more complicated rigs. This Monster 797 embodies the idea that less is more in spades – pure and simple, light and wonderfully easy to just swing a leg over and go for a ride.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
+ Highs

  • Simple, air-cooled two-valve Desmo
  • Nimble, comfortable, a daily driver Ducati
  • Seamless, Honda-like functionality
– Sighs

  • 7500-mile valve clearance checks
  • Is this Monster too domesticated?
  • Yes 1994 really was 23 years ago.
2017 Ducati Monster 797 Specifications
MSRP $9,295
Engine Type L-Twin, 2 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, Air cooled
Displacement 803cc (49 cu in)
Bore x Stroke 88 x 66mm (3.46 x 2.60 in.)
Compression Ratio 11.0:1
Power 75 hp (55 kW) at 8250 rpm (claimed)
Torque 50.8 lb-ft at 5750 rpm (claimed)
Fuel Injection Electronic fuel injection system, Ø 50 throttle bodies
Exhaust 2-1 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes, Single stainless steel muffler with aluminum cover
Transmission 6 speed
Primary Drive Straight cut gears, Ratio 1.85:1
Gear Ratios 1=32/13 2=30/18 3=28/21 4=26/23 5=22/22 6=24/26
Final Drive Chain drive, Front sprocket Z15, Rear sprocket Z46
Clutch APTC wet multiplate clutch with mechanical control
Chassis
Frame Tubular steel trellis frame
Front Suspension Ø 43 Kayaba usd fork, 5.12 in. travel
Rear Suspension Sachs monoshock, Preload and rebound adjustable, 5.91 in. travel
Front Wheel 10-spoke light alloy, 3.50” x 17”
Rear Wheel 10-spoke light alloy, 5.50” x 17”
Front Tire Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 180/55 ZR17
Front Brake 2 x Ø 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted monoblock Brembo M4.32 callipers, 4-piston, axial pump with Bosch ABS as standard equipment
Rear Brake Ø 245mm disc, 1-piston calliper with Bosch ABS as standard equipment
Instrumentation LCD display
Dry Weight 386 lb (claimed)
Kerb Weight 425 lb (claimed)
Wet weight (without fuel) 401 lb (claimed)
Seat Height 31.69 in.
Wheelbase 56.50 in.
Rake 24°
Trail 3.54 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity 4.36 US gal
Standard Equipment Bosch ABS, LED position light and tail light, USB power socket, DMS ready
Colors White, Red, Black
Warranty 24 months
Maintenance service interval 12000 km (7500 mi) / 12 months
Valve clearance check 12000 km (7500 mi)
Emissions Standard Euro 4
CO2 emissions 119 g/km
Consumption 44.38 mpg (claimed)

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Ducati Communities

  • DickRuble

    For subjective reasons, this is not a bike for me, but I do appreciate the philosophy of the bike: simple, pure, uncluttered, without idiotic compromises or BS design clues. It would be even better if it were reliable and reasonably priced.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Exact same reasoning here. We are in a rare agreement

      • gjw1992

        Expensive, yes. But is reliability still questionable? Or is Ducati’s bad old reputation no longer valid?

        • Milton Gibson

          Reliability should no longer be an issue , the air/cooled 2 valver has been around a very long time now(Enough to work the bugs out) , along with fuel injection and no other complicated electronic bits except ABS should make for a very reliable machine. I’ve had my Ducati Scrambler for a year now and its be a great machine..

        • Gabriel Owens

          After my last few European bikes I will only buy honda, yamaha, or kawasaki from here on. They just work better for me.

        • Born to Ride

          It is not. These bikes are as reliable as anything else out there provided you maintain them properly. Nice thing is that once you break in the valve train, you seldom need to adjust anything. And with the return of the ski-boot latch, valve checks and adjustment should be an afternoon affair.

    • Born to Ride

      Ever owned one Dick? The only people I know that have problems are the ones that don’t maintain their machines. Yeah, I concede that it’s not an SV650 where you can ride it 40k miles before needing to even look at the valves. But I’ve put tens of thousands of trouble free miles across various air cooled Duc platforms. Worst thing was those plastic gas tanks, but even that is fixed now. What’s there to complain about?

      • DickRuble

        Last year Gabriel Owens got riled up when I questioned KTMs reliability. I believe he owns or owned one of them. Fast forward one year and he wants to deal only with Japanese bikes from now on.. I say give it one more year.. 🙂

        • Born to Ride

          Sure, if this was a monster 1200 review, I’d say with all the tech and high revving high compression motor mated to a notchy questionable gearbox, I would make sure to buy the extended warranty. But this is the tried and true air cooled motor. And it’s the 803cc which isn’t even close to its highest state of tune. If you have any skill whatsoever with tools, you can keep one of these bikes on the road a very long time before needed any actual repairs done.

        • Born to Ride

          However, I will say that I have been looking for a clean late model SV1000 to convert into a standard so that I have a bulletproof bike in the garage that’ll bring down the insurance rate.

          • DickRuble

            There is a way to fit a gsxr 750 triple clamp on a sv1000, ohlins front and back suspenders, and you can reach Nirvana

          • Born to Ride

            That is literally the plan. Except it’ll be a billet GSXR triple with a bar riser so I can mount a Renthal fatbar.

          • DickRuble
          • Born to Ride

            Audio on that vid is terribad. Real nice bike, but I’d actually convert it to a naked. Prefer the single round headlight look myself.

          • DickRuble

            I don’t think I’ve ever seen an SV1000 naked. I know they exist(ed) but I can’t remember ever seen one or even seen one for sale, and I’ve looked for SV1000s

          • Born to Ride

            https://ventura.craigslist.org/mcy/6006630595.html

            They are out there. But I think it is only for 2003-2004. I’d just get a later model S and convert it because I like the black frame and extra 10 horsepower.

          • DickRuble

            Good luck! Post pictures. You should be able to have it all done for less than $6K and it would weigh about the same as the Monster 797, with double the power.

          • Born to Ride

            If I can get it under 400lbs without spending over 6 grand on forged aluminum and titanium parts, you better damn well believe I’ll be posting pictures.

          • DickRuble

            425lb should be the target.

          • Born to Ride

            Weight is listed at 401lbs for this bike, hence my remark.

          • DickRuble

            The SV1000n? Curb weight 456 lbs. The Ducati Monster 797 claimed 425lbs. Are you referring the the one in the video?

          • Born to Ride

            Oh I was looking at the chart in the article that burns posted. 401 is without fuel.

      • DickRuble

        Did your MS have tank issues frm ethanol?

        • Born to Ride

          It’s possible, I feel like the tank was way harder to remove than it should have been and some of the clearances insanely tight. It doesn’t look warped or bubbled at all like my S2R1000 tank before I took it off and dried it out for a week. The complex shape of the tank doesn’t lend itself to internal coating either. That job was already a bitch on the monster. I figure if it ever becomes a real problem I’ll deal with it then.

  • spiff

    If this is the level of performance one is looking for it is probably the best option.

  • john phyyt

    On a styling note. I appreciate the Handlebar Throttle cable arrangement being oh so tidy compared to the giant loops on the scrambler. However oil cooler hoses on LHS front cylinder are an eye sore. There may be an after-market opening for a “hidden” arrangement. .. Perhaps “just me”. But a nifty up, and possibly down, quickshifter would add to the fun..

    • Born to Ride

      I’m more bothered by the fact that they hung it off the side of the bike where it can get ripped off in a minor low side, rendering the bike unrideable.

  • JMDGT

    I’m all in when it comes to keeping it simple. A great platform for a middle weight Monster. I wish it had a single sided swingarm. I need to see one. It’s less than 10k. Service intervals bother me. There is a new 2015 Streetfighter at my local dealer. Might be a better deal.

    • Old MOron

      The good thing is you should be able to demo both bikes! How can you go wrong?

      • JMDGT

        After re-reading this review this might just be the middle weight bike I’ve been looking for. It may be time to sell the old roadster.

        • Old MOron

          And it’s the best looking Mostro they’ve made in quite some time.

          • JMDGT

            It does look good doesn’t it?

          • gjw1992

            All the better when compared with the Yamaha and Triumph rough equivalents trying to hide their radiators. Especially on the fz07.

    • Born to Ride

      I found the Streetfighter to be a miserable bike to ride around town. No power on the bottom and horrendous ergonomics. On a twisty road it really comes alive and handles like you’ve ridden it for years. But if I wanted to torture myself for sporting prowess I’d just get a repli-racer. Ride both, then buy a clean used 796 for cheaper than either.

      • JMDGT

        No wonder the dealer still has the 2015 model. This 797 doesn’t have a SSSwingarm but it my be the middle weight naked I need for the stable. I’ll see about test riding one this summer. If not there is always the SuperSport or Hypermotard.

        • Born to Ride

          YMMV on the street fighter. I really really wanted to like it. The one I rode was the stealth black model that looked like a 2 wheeled fighter jet. I loved the look and it was the first water cooled Ducati I ever rode. I just came away terribly disappointed and the salesman just said, “I told you so”. (He wanted to sell me a Brutale)

          • JMDGT

            No low end torque is a deal killer for me.

          • john burns

            I loves the Streetfighter 848 a completely different animal.

          • JMDGT

            I need to ride some of these bikes to see for myself. The idea of a nice sporty middle weight has an appeal. The older guys at the Ace are riding V7s now that they’re older. I’m preparing for my old age.

  • Old MOron

    That was a pretty good review coming from a cruiser guy.

    • LULZ

      • Old MOron

        Prolly too soon for jokes, but I couldn’t help myself. Poor JB. Sorry, mate.

  • azicat

    It would be wonderful if Ducati revived their gold frame with pearl black colour scheme. I really liked the original M900 in this colourway.

  • Born to Ride

    Alright Ducati, now give us an 803cc multistrada that weighs 420-430lbs, decent suspension, and ten grand.

  • I was reading and reading, looking for the gem of Burnsism I find in every story, then I read “bearded hipster caffeine fiend on the make” and all was good.

  • Larry Kahn

    No radiators, water pumps, hoses, clamps, fluid, weight, uglies. Air cooled rules. Also why I have a DR650 and not a KLR. Keep it simple.

  • Adriel Lee

    This is a result of tightening Euro emissions. I have 2 Ducati Monsters, 2013 696 ABS (wet clutch) and 2009 1100 Standard (dry clutch). The new 797 is heavier and weaker than the smaller 696.
    The last of the air cooled 2-valve per cylinder monsters prior to the 797 are under priced at the moment due to supply. Grab them while you can.

    • Ulysses Araujo

      I heard there are many problems with the old engine on the monstrina (696), oil leaking, clutch failures etc. Any issues on your ownership?

  • hunkyleepickle

    What is ‘bluetooth ready’?? Genuinely curious. Nice model i guess, still not sure who would go for this over the 821. Its more modern in every way, and without the price shock of those 7500mile valve intervals that never get mentioned until you’re out the door with your new scrambler or monster 797. The 821 is completely tame and friendly, maybe not as a first bike, but who the heck would buy a brand new Ducati as a first bike in the first place?

    • Born to Ride

      From what I have been told by the service department at the Ducati dealer, the 4v Desmo service costs about twice as much as the 2v service. So yeah it sucks having to take it in twice as often if you aren’t mechanically inclined, but the actual cost of ownership is about the same. Less if you factor in maintaining the cooling system. Luckily the 2 valve motors are stupid easy to work on yourself, no pulling cams or buckets or really any special tools. You also forget to mention that the 821 is 2-3 grand more expensive up front. That price difference alone will pay for your first 30-45k miles of servicing.