The Monster 797 maybe the smallest Monster out there but it takes all its cues from its bigger siblings. It is defined by its bulky fuel tank, exposed trellis frame and skinny pillion seat, like all the Monsters before it
The Monster, when it was first launched in 1993, was nothing but an experiment for Ducati. Before its launch, the bike maker would largely stick to fully-faired racing bikes, which excelled of course, but when the Monster came along, it became one of the most popular Ducatis.
Now, over two decades later, the Monster is a naked-bike icon, going from a parts-bin motorcycle to one of the most R&D-ed motorcycles in Ducati's stable.
In that sense, the Monster 797 may be the smallest Monster out there, but it takes all its cues from its bigger siblings. A bulky fuel tank, exposed trellis frame and skinny pillion seat define the 797, like all of the Monsters before it.
The nostalgic oval headlamp has a bit of modernity thrown into it in the form of an LED DRL that divides the unit in half, while the fat tyres scream 'Monster'.
But the 797 differs from its larger siblings in more ways than one. For instance, the suspension on it is handled by mid-spec non-adjustable Kayaba forks up front and a pre-load-only Sachs monoshock.
There is no single-sided swing-arm for the 797 and the exhaust is a single unit, as opposed to the dual exhaust setup for the Monster 821, or even the 1200.
So, it walks the walk. Does it talk the talk too?
The 797's 803cc air-cooled Desmodue Twin is the same one that is offered on the Scrambler series, but it is tuned very differently. Unlike the Scrambler, the 797 is a friendly bike to ride. It does away with the snatchy throttle at the lower end for a smoother, more linear torque curve. There are no flat spots and no spikes to complain about throughout the rev band. This doesn't mean the 797 isn't a fast bike, though. You could hit 180 km/h on the speedo and the bike wouldn't feel like it is running out of steam. For someone upgrading from a 300cc bike, the engine is easy to get used to, but even an experienced rider will find that the bike has a lot to offer in terms of speed and power.
The brakes on the 797 comprise of 320 mm dual discs up front that are capable of shedding speed in a jiffy. The rear disc, however, lacks the bite we expected, but who uses that, eh? The suspension too seems a bit soft. No doubt, it is great for Indian roads if you are doing legal speeds. But hit a bump at high speed while cornering and the bike will bounce you around a bit. Nothing too unsettling though, as it remains quite stable for the most part. The Pirelli Diablos Rosso IIs definitely help here. But again, hit the throttle too hard on takeoff, and the wheels might spin out a bit.
What about comfort and electronics?
Ergonomically, the Monster isn't as monstrous as the others. A lower seat and high handlebars let you sit fairly upright, in spite of the long tank in between. The seat, however, is hard and any amount of long hours on the saddle is bound to give your rear-end something to complain about. The footpeg assembly, while reasonably rear-set, also holds up the rear footpegs, and this restricts you from digging your heels in.
Electronics are a little disappointing. The 797 comes equipped only with ABS as a safety feature; no ride-by-wire throttle, no riding modes, and no traction control. Even the instrument cluster, while informative, does not get a gear position indicator or even a fuel gauge. Considering, the bike is meant to be a beginner's big bike, these should have been included. There is an optional Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) too. This allows for Bluetooth pairing with your smartphone for control over phone calls, notifications and music using the switchgear on the left.
Our verdictOverall, the Monster 797 is a lovely motorcycle. It stays true to being learner-friendly but holds vast reserves of oomph for the experienced rider. It is essentially a barebones motorcycle and with no rider assists, it can be an amazing way to get into big biking territory. Furthermore, at Rs 8.3 lakh ex-showroom, the Monster 797 is one of the cheapest ways to enter the Ducati family.