Ducati has decided it's time to go back to basics, and what better platform than with a new Monster.

You’re probably familiar with the name. Over the last 25 years, Ducati has produced many versions of the Monster, each representing an evolution in styling and engineering. This time, attention is on building a smaller, more-accessible bike for those entry-level riders who were overlooked when the Monster 696 and 796 were removed from the lineup in 2015. More than just straightforward and simple, however, Ducati also intended for the bike to be capable enough so that even more experienced riders could appreciate its unique styling and sporty performance. Accessible, but fully modern and capable.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

The Monster 797 take its styling cues strait from the Monster handbook. A new steel fuel tank and rounded headlight are straight-up old-school Monster, which by the way, are the same as those used on the most recent Monster 1200. The frame also returns to its roots with a single-piece steel-tube design that runs from headstock to tail, complete with traditional tubular grab rails for the passenger. Throw in a new triangular twin-sided cast aluminum swingarm that contains a link-less shock mounted on the left side, and you’ve got yourself a real looker.

The 797 retains the same 31.7-inch seat height as the Monster 821, but lower footpegs and a wider handlebar provide a more comfortable riding position. The 797 weighs a claimed 425 lbs., which is impressive enough, but the tighter wheelbase of 56.5 inches also contributes to a light, nimbler ride.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

The 803cc engine, with its 88mm bore and 66mm stroke, delivers a claimed 75 hp at 8,250 rpm and 50.8 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,750 rpm. A single 50mm throttle body with two sub-butterfly injectors provides a precise and smooth power delivery; not too intimidating for the beginner but more than enough power to have a good time or make the occasional roll-on pass.

A new two-into-one exhaust wraps nicely around the right side of the engine and emits that Ducati 90° V-twin growl. The six-speed transmission is equipped with Ducati’s APTC, cable-controlled clutch, which provides a lighter pull. The servo-assisted slipper function helps smooth out downshifts so that the gear changing operation can be as seamless as possible.

A nice, clean LCD dash is mounted to the top triple clamp and dispalys all the pertinent information. There is also a USB port under the seat so that you can access Ducati’s optional Multimedia System (DMS). This allows for things like your phone, navigation maps, and such to be accessed through the system via the dash or earphones.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

Riding the bike

Now that we know what it looks like and how it’s supposed to works, let’s find out for ourselves how it performs. And what better place than the roads of the French Riviera. Oops, I spoke too soon and sure enough it rained on our parade. But that turned out to be just fine because it allowed us to really appreciate the easy-going nature of the new Monster 797. It was dry as we started out and the middleweight Monster was very accommodating. Power delivery is smooth with 80 percent of the torque coming in at 3,500 rpm.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

The 797 powers out of corners nicely, with a very usable and linear delivery—never hesitating throughout the rev range. The bars feel wide at first but the extra leverage is appreciated. All the controls are within reach and as I mentioned, the seating position is comfortable and roomy, allowing you the option to move around.

This may be an entry-level model for Ducati, but that does not mean they cheaped out on the chassis. In fact, the 797 has all the makings of a rather nice bike. The 43mm inverted Kayaba fork (non-adjustable) works quite well, while the Sachs shock with adjustable spring pre-load and rebound damping held its own. There’s hardly any untoward movement or pumping action as one might expect to feel on mid-level suspension units.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

Braking is exceptional thanks to the dual Brembo 320mm discs and radial-mounted monobloc M4.32 four-piston calipers. The rear gets a single 245mm disc and a dual-piston caliper. A Bosch 9.1 MP ABS braking system is standard issue and the control is barely noticeable. The Monster 797 comes with lightweight 10-spoke alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II dual-compound tires complementing the whole package.

The rain finally caught up to us, but ultimately made me very happy to be riding a bike like the Monster 797. The easy power delivery and well-sorted suspension delivered excellent feedback and control. Even though I was soaked, I was still enjoying the ride. You really do appreciate how sensible the 797 is the more you ride it, and that will be especially true for the beginner or less-experienced riders amongst us.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
2017 Ducati Monster 797Courtesy of Ducati

The bike comes in three colors, including Ducati Red with red frame and black wheels, Star White Silk with red frame red wheels, and Dark Stealth with black frame and wheels. There’s a Sport pack and an Urban pack option, each adding a short list of accessories to complement your ride, as well as a 797 Plus model, which adds a windscreen and passenger seat cover. There are plenty of Ducati catalog accessories to choose from to personalize your Monster as well.

In the end, Ducati’s latest, small-displacement Monster achieves its goal of being a well-sorted entry-level bike that even a more seasoned rider can enjoy. If you’re a first-time motorcyclist or you’ve never owned a Ducati, this very well could be the bike that gets you in to the family. And you won't regret it, either.

2017 Ducati Monster 797
The 2017 Ducati Monster 797 is available in Star White Silk with red frame and wheels, Ducati Red with black frame and wheels, and Dark Stealth with black frame and wheels.Courtesy of Ducati
SPECIFICATIONS
ENGINE TYPE Air-cooled V-twin
DISPLACEMENT 803cc
BORE & STROKE 88.0 x 66.0mm
SEAT HEIGHT 31.69 in.
RAKE 24°
TRAIL 3.5 in.
WHEELBASE 56.5 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.36 gal.
CLAIMED WET WEIGHT 425 lbs.
STARTING PRICE $9,295
2017 Ducati Monster 797
Upgrading to the Monster 797 Plus gets you a color-matched bikini windscreen and passenger seat cover.Courtesy of Ducati
2017 Ducati Monster 797
The dash is an all LCD unit that provides all the pertinent information.Courtesy of Ducati
2017 Ducati Monster 797
You'll probably recognize the 797's 803cc engine from elsewhere in the Ducati lineup (think Scrambler and earlier Monster models).Courtesy of Ducati