2017 Ducati Monster 797 First Look Review

Just announced at EICMA, a new entry-level Monster.

EICMA 2016 motorcycles
The 2017 Monster 797 is closer to the original M900 than anything in Ducati’s lineup in the last 10 years, and that’s a good thing. The Monster began life (way back in 1993) as a simple, stylish, affordable, and fun-to-ride bike, and the 797 looks like it embodies those original attributes.Photo: Ducati

"Accessible" is a word Ducati is tossing around a lot these days, applying it to the new SuperSport introduced at Intermot last month in Cologne, Germany, to the Multistrada 950 (click here for the First Look) it just revealed at EICMA, and also to the brand-new, back-to-basics Monster 797. The term is meant to apply not only to the bikes' dimensions and general usability, but also to their prices.

2017 Ducati Monster 797 headlight
Round, just like the original. Modern touches include an LED running light separating the high- and low-beam reflectors.Photo: Ducati

At $9,295 in red and $9,395 in white, the new Monster 797 slots in as the third most affordable Ducati in the 2017 lineup, ringing in about $2,400 less than the Monster 821 and sliding in just above the $8,895 Scrambler Icon and the bargain-priced $7,995 Scrambler Sixty2 with its smaller, destroked 399cc engine.

What do you get for your $9,295? Loads of classic Monster style and a dash of modernity. The Monster’s trademark trellis frame, round, compressed headlight, wheels, and broad-shouldered tank are immediately recognizable and quite similar to what’s found on the Monster 821, but this bike is substantially different.

2017 Monster 797 brakes
Ducati does brakes right. Big, radial-mount Brembos (with braided-steel hoses) clamp down on 320mm discs. This was what superbikes used just a few years back… ABS comes standard.Photo: Ducati

For starters, the 797 is powered by an 803cc air-cooled engine, rather than the 821’s 821cc liquid-cooled mill. The little Monster’s motor is the same one found in the Scrambler Icon and it’s variants. Ducati states output as 75 hp, but it will be more like 65 once it works it’s way through the gearbox and final drive and finds its way to the rear Pirelli. It’s a great engine with strong off-the-line performance that’s ideal for city riding or ripping up a twisty road. It’s a good fit for this bike’s mission, and we love the way the deeply finned cylinders of the air-cooled motor help lend the bike a look of authenticity and originality.

Besides a smaller engine and a lower price, the 797’s 30.7-inch seat height lower than the 821’s. The Monster 797’s curb weight is likely lower than the 821’s claimed 450-lb. weight as well, though Ducati hasn’t released a figure yet. In any case, all those smaller, lower, lighter figures should amount to a motorcycle that’s more appropriate for beginners, women, and smaller riders in general. It’s a welcome addition to the Monster lineup.

Red 2017 Ducati Monster 797
Of course the Monster is available in red! The other color option, Star White Silk, will cost you another $100 and comes with red wheels. We love the way the engine’s cooling fins peer out from behind the trellis frame.Photo: Ducati

Clearly Ducati had to hold some features back to keep this bike’s price down, so there’s no TFT dash, traction control, or switchable ride modes, though there is ABS to back up the Brembo brake package. The KYB fork is a beefy inverted unit but it’s non-adjustable, though the shock can be tuned for rebound damping and spring preload.

This isn’t a cheap Ducati, it’s just a more affordable one. Given the bike’s roots and the direction the model family has gone in recent years with the premium-performance Monster 1200s, it’s good to see a Monster that takes things back to the basics. The Monster 797 is due to be in US dealerships in April, 2017.

2017 Ducati Monster 797 in Star White Silk.
2017 Ducati Monster 797 in Star White Silk.Photo: Ducati