Du­cati mon­ster 797

new en­try-level mon­ster packs a de­cent punch. Is it the ideal first step?


I’ve just re­turned from a long va­ca­tion and my work­out regime is in com­plete dis­ar­ray. And looks like I am go­ing to miss my gym ses­sion again to­day — blame the early morn­ing photo shoot. But I’m not com­plain­ing be­cause I will be astride the new Mon­ster 797. One look at it, and you know that the de­sign re­mains true to the first Mon­ster that was launched some 24 years ago. Yes, the same one that kick-started this seg­ment, and over the years, no other man­u­fac­turer has man­aged to match the magic of the Ital­ian — old-school and pure mus­cle. Round head­light, cur­va­ceous fuel tank, bare trel­lis frame, min­i­mal­is­tic rear... sim­ple and beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted. And, in this par­tic­u­lar red paint, it ap­pears even more gorgeous.

I swing my leg over and both my feet com­fort­ably reach the ground. The sad­dle height of 805 mil­lime­tres will be fine for most riders of av­er­age build, though it is not ad­justable. One has to bend for­ward to reach the wide han­dle­bar. The foot-pegs, how­ever, aren’t very rear-set and are amenable to a re­laxed po­si­tion. It makes the riding stance sporty with­out be­ing un­com­fort­able, and ideal for city use. There’s a black-and-white dig­i­tal con­sole which pro­vides ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, though at this price tag the bike does de­serve some­thing bet­ter. The dis­play has the tachome­ter right on top with a large speedome­ter be­neath it and a clock snd other tell-tale lights for en­gine oil tem­per­a­ture, low fuel etc. You don’t get a fuel-gauge or a gear in­di­ca­tor but it does dis­play av­er­age speed and jour­ney time.

The Du­cati Mon­ster 797 doesn’t in­tim­i­date the rider, which is fab­u­lous for new­bies on the big bike scene

The 797 is the most af­ford­able one in the famed Mon­ster fam­ily, for it has been po­si­tioned be­low the re­cently launched 821. It’s also the only air-cooled Mon­ster on of­fer to­day. So, it’s back to ba­sics for this no-frills model whose sole in­ten­tion is to in­stil pas­sion in the purest form. The bike bor­rows the 803-cc L-twin from the Du­cati Scram­bler range and con­tin­ues to make a mod­est 73 PS that peaks at 8,250 rpm. I crank it up us­ing the self-starter which also dou­bles up as the en­gine kill switch. The low clat­ter on idling is rather im­pres­sive and is un­like many other Du­catis. This makes the 797 much more re­fined com­pared to the 796, the last­gen­er­a­tion en­try-level Mon­ster.

The big dif­fer­ence is that the new bike doesn’t in­tim­i­date the rider, which is fab­u­lous for new­bies on the big bike scene. Its lin­ear power de­liv­ery and re­fined fu­elling has been de­signed to make this bike more ap­proach­able and, thus, able to cater to a wider au­di­ence. That’s why the 67 Nm of torque is avail­able at just 5,750 rpm, peak­ing at much lower revs than most of its com­peti­tors. This gives it a wider spread of torque, so even while pot­ter­ing around town in third or fourth gear, a twist of the wrist is enough to make it surge ahead with­out hav­ing to shift down. There’s no jud­der­ing or that sen­sa­tion of stalling the bike even when one slows down in a higher gear. This in­stils great con­fi­dence, es­pe­cially while riding around in a leisurely man­ner.

At lower speeds, the six-speed gear­box feels a mite clunky and one has to strug­gle to get the bike in neu­tral. How­ever, the good part is that the 797, like its older sib­ling, gets the APTC

(Adler Power Torque Plate Clutch). Like a slip­per clutch, the sys­tem pre­vents the rear wheel from lock­ing up while shed­ding gears. More im­por­tantly, APTC makes the clutch feel light so that long rides don’t leave you with a sore left arm. The only let-down is that un­like the brake lever, the clutch lever is not ad­justable. It’s dis­ap­point­ing that a stun­ner like the Mon­ster has skipped some­thing that’s avail­able on bikes one­fourth its price.

Cost-cut­ting is also ev­i­dent since it doesn’t of­fer riding modes or trac­tion con­trol but does get ABS. Re­mem­ber, the idea here is to keep it sim­ple for the rider and too much tech­nol­ogy can be over­whelm­ing for some. To be hon­est, this ba­sic Mon­ster has such a tractable mo­tor that you re­ally don’t need the modes. Twist the throt­tle, and there’s a healthy gush of power. Ride it right and it can go from 0 to 100 km/h in less than five sec­onds. And that’s thrilling enough. It’s quick to reach 150 km/h and can hold on to the speed with­out sound­ing stressed, al­though, in my case, the wind blast made it dif­fi­cult for me to hold on to that speed. I could also feel some vi­bra­tions on the han­dle­bar and foot­pegs when the en­gine crossed the 6,000rpm mark. On long jaunts it is best to keep the revs low and make most of the meaty mid-range. This way you can keep the en­gine heat in check too. But what re­ally dis­ap­pointed me was its muted ex­haust note. For a bike this cool and with a dev­il­ish moniker, one ex­pects it to be more beastly sound­ing than what it ac­tu­ally is. I’m sure Du­cati wouldn’t have dis­ap­pointed us on this count had it not been for the strict Euro­pean norms.

What I re­ally liked was the com­fort­able ride. Usu­ally, big­ger bikes are pretty firmly set up which makes them great around the race­track, but a night­mare for city use. The Mon­ster’s chunky 43-mm Kayaba front fork isn’t ad­justable but does a great job of soak­ing in the road un­du­la­tions. The rear shock-ab­sorber is on the left side of the bike and gets pre-load ad­just­ment. Even on a ter­ri­ble road sur­face, I didn’t feel much stress on my wrist or back, for the sus­pen­sion irons out prac­ti­cally every­thing. In hind­sight, as one goes faster, the ride be­comes slightly bouncy as it hits tiny road bumps. The wide turn­ing radius is

an­other weak link in re­spect of this Mon­ster. It made tak­ing a U-turn on nar­row hilly roads quite te­dious.

Talk­ing about wind­ing roads, this hardly feels like a 193-kg bike while riding. The chas­sis is new and is paired with a more cost-ef­fec­tive dou­ble-sided swingarm. How­ever, this doesn’t take away from the han­dling of the bike. The weight is pretty cen­tral­ized and a light push on the bar is enough to make it change di­rec­tion. The mo­tor­cy­cle re­mains com­posed in long sweep­ing cor­ners even while main­tain­ing three­digit speeds. It’s quick but not ra­zor­sharp and this makes it for­giv­ing even for less skilled riders.

Some­times while riding at lower speeds, the al­most per­pen­dic­u­lar rake an­gle makes the steer­ing twitch if you hit a pot­hole un­pre­pared. But fret not, as you have solid Pirelli tyres to res­cue you in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion. Dur­ing our shoot, we ex­pe­ri­enced var­ied road sur­faces, in­clud­ing tar­mac, ce­ment stretches and some slip­pery bits, too, and the Rosso II took every­thing in its stride of­fer­ing in­spir­ing grip at all times. The tyre grip also com­ple­ments the fab­u­lous Brembo brakes which come with switch­able ABS. The brakes pro­vide a sharp bite and, thanks to the sticky rub­ber, I could hardly feel the ABS work­ing.

Hav­ing rid­den for over 200 km, we headed back to of­fice, which is right in the heart of the city, and by then the indi­ca­tion for the low fuel light was on. This hinted at an ap­prox­i­mate fuel econ­omy of close to 20 km/l on the high­way and in the city; it should re­turn close to over 15 km/l, de­cent for a bike of this size. What could have been bet­ter is the price. At Rs 8.03 lakh (exshow­room, Delhi) it’s not as welle­quipped and comes with a sim­ple air-cooled en­gine and many would con­sider the slightly more pre­mium Mon­ster 821. This also puts the 797 right be­tween the Kawasaki Z900 and Tri­umph Street Triple S, both bet­ter equipped than this Mon­ster. If you still sign that cheque, it’ll be purely for the spec­tac­u­lar de­sign, lin­eage, and that de­sir­able Ital­ian badge.

A sim­ple, easy to read con­sole and dis­plays av­er­age speed and jour­ney time, but misses out on fuel-gauge or a gear in­di­ca­tor

With the cost­ef­fec­tive dou­blesided swingarm the 797 feels quick but not ra­zor-sharp

The 803cc L-twin is bor­rowed from the Scram­bler range

The chas­sis pro­trudes near the foot-peg, so you can’t tuck in your feet prop­erly

Old-school, pure mus­cle de­sign makes the Mon­ster very ap­peal­ing

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