QUIKSPIN: Ducati Monster 796 - Pocket Rocket

17 April 2012

Cool bikes sell and Ducati knows it. It’s been banking on that for years. But it also knows that cool-looking bikes that don’t work well in the real world don’t sell in big numbers. A cool bike that works? That’s the Ducati Monster 796.

It works because of the reasonably neutral ride position, due to the seat shape and slightly cramped riding position. For everyone else, the seat is comfortable, the reach to the high-enough ’bars easy and the quality gear attached to the handlebar and footpegs make changing gear and braking a solid and rewarding experience.

The handlebars are a slightly unusual bend, but easy to get used to. Together with the seat, at a low 800mm, it makes for a comfortable ride when droning to work and back. But a bike that looks this sweet is wasted in that mode, so it feels good when hanging off the thing, too.

The engine is surprising, a sweet mix of grunt and easy-revving power that once again surprises you if you’ve climbed aboard with thoughts of old-school V-twins in your head. It does sound muted, something a visit to the Ducati accessories catalogue can help with, but the performance is great.

The chunky Brembo brakes up front and Marzocchi/Sachs suspension combination are always going to deliver a quick ride. But the real bonus is the compact size of the bike and its low claimed dry weight of 167kg.

It tips in hard and holds a sweet and predictable line through smooth and bumpy corners. The Sachs shock works well and, while it’s not a bike designed for a racetrack, you just know you’d need a spare set of knee-sliders on hand for a trackday because it corners so nicely. The Brembos work well and offer plenty of stopping power.

The fit and finish are very good. The bike is a head turner and the price is about right for what really is a premium bit of kit at $15,990.

The Ducati Monster 796 is the latest in a long line of a very successful bikes for the Italian marque, and it’s obvious the pedigree has evolved into a very complete motorcycle. It will satisfy all kinds of riders, and I wouldn’t shy away from using it as a daily commuter or weekend plaything – it’s one of those bikes that can do both.

Configuration L-twin
Cylinder head SOHC, two valves per cylinder
Capacity 803cc
Bore 88mm
Stroke 66mm
Compression ratio 11:1
Ignition Transistorised
Cooling Air
Fueling EFI, 45mm Siemens throttle bodies
Oil capacity 3.7L
Type Six-speed
Primary drive Gear
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame layout Trellis
Rake 24?
Trail 87mm
Wheelbase 1450mm
Suspension Marzocchi/Sachs
Front: 43mm, USD forks, 120mm travel
Rear: Monoshock with adjustable preload
and rebound damping, 148mm travel
Wheels Five-spoke, light alloy
Front: 17 x 3.5 Rear: 17 x 5.5
Tyres Pirelli Diablo Rosso
Front: 120/70ZR17 (58W)
Rear: 180/55ZR17 (73W)
Brakes Brembo
Front: Twin 320mm discs,
four-piston calipers
Rear: 245mm disc, two-piston caliper
Control: ABS
Weight 169kg (dry, claimed)
Seat height 800mm
Max width 874mm
Max height 1079mm
Fuel capacity 13.5L
Power 64kW @ 8250rpm (claimed)
Torque 79Nm @ 6250rpm (claimed)
Fuel consumption 7.3L/100km
Top speed 210km/h (est)
Sweet looker
Amiable engine
Build quality
Seat comfort at tank
Handlebar shape
Low seat for tall riders