Ducati Monster 796 ABS (2010-current): A taste of the real thing.

      Engine: The V90 ° desmo twin air-cooled two valves per cylinder 803 c.c. engine delivers 87 bhp/8250rpm and 8.0 Kgm (58 lbs ft) / 6250rpm torque, claimed figures.
     Actually at least 3000 rpm are required to prevent surging when applying the throttle. The minimum rpm for the top speed selected, 6th, is 4000 rpm. Since the gearing of the transmission is tall, the 6th speed is considered to be an overdrive. Indicatively 4000 rpm correspond to 120 km/h (75 mph), and 5000 rpm correspond to 145 km/h (90 mph)! An easy improvement would be to change the gearing, which would benefit urban rides to say the least.
     Engine response is very linear and powerful, up to the rev limiter at 9000 rpm. The greatest advantage of the engine despite the absolute power and torque figures is the usability provided to the rider throughout the power band. The hydraulic slipper clutch is feather light. Gear shifts should be decisive otherwise false neutral could be engaged.
     There are two aluminium silencers, one at each side of the bike. They are loud, producing a nice soundtrack. The operation of the engine is distinguished by the vivid vibrations. Thus the 796 Monster engine provides a hint to the rider about the operation of the big Ducati engines, a feeling that the smaller Monsters couldnĒt produce. Hence, the title of the review. An indicative average fuel consumption figure is 5.7 l/100km, (50 mpg Imperial).

     Riding position: The seat height is relatively low 800 mm (31.5 in). Average stature riders or higher will step a confident foot on the road. The seat for the pillion is comfortable. The purchase of the optional  pillion handgrips is proposed though. The length of the bike is small, the width is increased at the area of the handlebar and fuel tank, while the height of the bike is normal.
     The weight of the bike is increased, 167 Kgs (369lb) or 169kg (373lb) for the ABS version nominal dry. Rider is placed mainly over the bike, there is a feeling created that the rider is seated above the front wheel. Riding position is sporty, not racing though. The torso of the rider is definitely inclined forward, like on previous models. This riding position resembles to that of a supermoto, although the torso of the rider is inclined to the front much more. This is due to the wide and low handlebar. At the rear of the riderĒs area on the saddle a stop is created to the body.
     On the road: The firmness of the suspensions is average. A 43 mm non adjustable inverted Marzocchi fork is equipped at the front from 2012 onwards, a Showa one at the previous models. A Sachs rear shock absorber adjustable to spring preload and rebound damping is equipped at the rear. There is no linkage at the shock, it is offset at the left side of the motorcycle. A single sided swing arm is equipped.
     The OE tyres are Pirelli Diablo Rosso with dimensions 120/60-17 and 180/55-17. They are a good choice matching with the character of the bike, enhancing grip up to a point. However at a very spirited riding pace, they should be replaced.
     Normal urban rides will be easy on the Monster. The engine will be very helpful due to the torque produced. Riding position will not impose any compromises, although its not commuting oriented. The Monster is a very user friendly, light and agile bike.
     On downtown rides the Monster 796 will require some compromises. A minimum of at least 3000 rpm is needed, which together with the tall gearing, it will be rather frustrating to the rider. On low friction factor streets, emergency braking at the non-ABS version will require caution.
     Steering lock is greater than that of the 696, it will not be a problem for the rider.
     The handlebarĒs height is the same with that of car mirrors. The width of the handlebar is increased, requiring riderĒs caution at the process of filtering. The mirrors of the bike are just lower than SUVsĒ mirrors. Thus filtering on the Monster 796 could be better.
     Street imperfections are absorbed quite well.
     On Â-roads the Monster 796 is very agile. Its a satisfying bike on leisure rides or at the fast pace. During leisure riding the Monster feels extremely agile. The wide handlebar creates a very efficient lever when changing direction. At the fast pace, the Monster initially reveals some racing genes in terms of agility.
     On low friction factor B-roads, feedback to the rider gets decreased when the pace is increased. At a very fast pace, rider will not feel the required stability. During the turn,  rider will feel then the rear wheel to over steer, nothing really more than that, in terms of feedback. (Confidence to the rider is proportional to the feedback provided in this case).
     On cases like these, the OE tyres should be replaced since rider will not get the required confidence, instead an edginess is created. Thus despite the classic Ducati feeling created to the rider on normal rides, riding at the fast pace is inferior to the manufacturerĒs specifications, even concerning this introductive category. The slipper clutch is very useful at a pace like this.
     At the fast pace on high friction factor B-roads, feedback and handling are good, although this is valid for many current motorcycles.
     Ïn the highway, the riding position which is slightly inclined forward, is very helpful. The maximum cruising speed that may be maintained is up to 170 km/h (106 mph). Top speed is almost 50 km/h (31 mph) greater than that, although the air pressure becomes really powerful then. A top of the shelf helmet is required for cruising at such a speed.
     Concerning the ABS brakes, there are two 320 mm rotors at the front, a single 245 mm disk brake at the rear. Steel braided lines are equipped. Two radial, four pots Brembo calipers are equipped at the front, a two piston caliper at the rear. The front brake is quite powerful, providing a powerful initial bite, relatively good feedback. The relatively weak rear disc brake provides average feedback. Braking power is superb, a little excessive for novice riders on low friction streets.
     The ABS may be deactivated from the display. It will be activated automatically at the following ride in case that rider hasnĒt switch it on. Whenever the ABS intervenes, feedback to the rider is just moderate, while the rear brake will still allow entry drifts.
     Model history/reliability/quality build: It was introduced in 2010. The aim of the manufacturer was to fill the gap between the introductory model 696 and the 1100 which may feel too much to novice riders. Since the sales from the Monster family is the most important to the manufacturer, the 796 certainly meets the expectations of both the novice and fast riders.
     Á more affordable version of the 796 is the Monster 795 which is effectively a 696 chassis powered by the 796 engine. So no single-sided swingarm and it also gets three-spoke wheels instead of the 796Ēs five-spoke hoops. The tires are also the lower spec Pirelli Angel ST instead of the Diablo Rosso. The engine is exactly the same with the 796. The Monster 795 is available in Thailand, China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore.
     Concerning  reliability, there are no specific issues reported. The build quality is very good. It may be distinguished from the 696 due to the single sided swingarm, the wider rear tyre, the red frame. The engine is more powerful by 7 bhp and 1 Kgm (7.5 lbs ft) greater torque at 1500 rpm lower. The gearing is taller. The ABS is still an optional.
     Comments: What is perceived as a fuel tank is a plastic cover in real life. The front fender and tail may also be changed, thus the whole bike colour may be changed by replacing these parts. There are three colours available. Rider may change the looks of the bike choosing among the 10 colourful combinations of the Monster Art or Logomania range.
     On town use vision through mirrors gets blurred due to engine vibrations, it becomes satisfying again above 5000 rpm. The adjustment of the mirrors is performed by the glass only. They are somewhat wider than ideal. Hence rider has to focus away from the street to get a look. The key lock is located behind the upper triple clamp, at the front area of the fuel tank. The bike tested was equipped with a pillion saddle cover. The horn is slightly weak.
     The production of the Monster started in 1993. 18 years and over 200000 monsters later than that, an icon model and a reputation have been built, boosting sales. Except from the design which makes the Monster looking magnificent year by year, handling is not improved proportionally. Thus, while previous models e.g. the 620 were considered to set new standards to the category handling, this advantage has been almost diminished. That is compared with the expensive naked 600-800 c.c. bikes. An explanation for that is the absence of linkage at the rear suspension, cost reduction in general. This is valid to those riders willing to push the Monster in track days or on spirited riding on B-roads, taken away by the Ducati brand name.
     For the majority of riders who need an exotic named stylish bike, for normal everyday even kind of sporty riding, the Monster is still an excellent choice. Ordinary riding will be converted to an interesting experience then, mainly due to the feeling of the engine, which refers to the big, purely sports Ducati bikes.

Price 796 ABS : 10990 Euros

+ Balanced sporty-everyday bike

+ Concerning the engine operation, full of Ducati character

- Expensive for an air-cooled 2 valves per cylinder engine

- Absolute handling, as set by the Ducati high standards

- Tall gearing

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