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.