Beauty’s more than skin deep
Ducati’s new entry-level Monster is certainly the most attractive bike on test and still very obviously a Monster – the shape of the fuel tank isn’t dissimilar from the original Galluzzi designed Monster 900 from 1993.
Quality is found everywhere. The switchgear is neat, all the wiring is hidden or neatly tucked away, lovely racy wheels boast quality sporty Pirelli Rosso II rubber and Brembo radial stoppers come as standard. It’s the one that grabs your attention.
On the move, the 797’s class shines through. The ride is sporty but not firm enough to be a pain. There’s a sublime level of control and damping at both ends that contrasts dramatically with overly soft suspension on the Kawasaki Z650. But some heavier riders may find the rear a little harsh. The brakes are by far the strongest, without being too sharp for new riders, and when we wanted to have fun on familiar twisty roads, the Ducati was every tester’s first choice. The Monster glides between turns and carries classic Ducati corner speed; it may be the entry-level model in the range but is a graceful and rewarding motorcycle to ride.
While we all loved the handling we were left a little deflated by the aircooled Scrambler V-twin engine. It’s not slow and it sounds great, but it does lack a kick of power when you want it, especially compared to the 112bhp Suzuki GSX-S750. Even Yamaha’s ‘budget’ MT-07 felt like it had more zest, despite both bikes making a claimed 74 peak horsepower. Jump on to the Ducati after a few vigorous miles on the MT and the Italian’s engine feels lazy.
In town, the Ducati’s bars are too wide to make it a gap grabber, while the steering lock is ridiculously restricted and anything but novice-friendly. The clutch is one-finger light but in traffic the Yamaha and Kawasaki are much easier to live with. There were also complaints about the exhaust routing, which doesn’t give much room for the larger footed, their heels hitting the exhaust on occasions.