Ducati Monster 796: juuussst right

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Worried that it’s been failing to maximize sales of its all-new Monster, Ducati has added the 804cc engine to the range. The thinking goes that the Monster 1100 is too big, the Monster 696 is too small, but, hopefully, the Ducati Monster 796 will be, like a bowl of warm porridge, just right. That engine gets pulled out of the Ducati Hypermotard 796 and shares that bike’s 87bhp, 58lb/ft and wet slipper clutch. Combined with a low dry weight of 167kg (369lbs) and the bike’s friendly, flat-barred riding position, those new figures could make the Monster 796 the perfect first big bike for newish riders.

Update: It’s $9,995 here in the US.

The new engine is only 7bhp a little less than 8lb/ft stronger than the
696, but reports indicate it fills the rev range with stronger low-down
torque and power curves, making the 804cc engine easier to ride. The
Monster 1100 makes 95 HP and 75.9lb/ft.

Other than the differences in power, the three monsters are virtually
identical. The 796 adopts the higher specification 5-spoke wheels and
Pirelli Diablo Rosso tires of the 1100 and its 31.5″ seat height is a
little taller than the 696 and a little shorter than the 1100. Price
too, will sit between daddy bear and baby bear, stickering at €8990 in


  • robotribe

    From where I sit, it seems to push the 696 into a dark corner of the room. I like the new Monsters — have test ridden both — but keeping the 696 around feels pointless, especially if this truly is a “newish” riders. The 696 was already tame, IMO. This update at least gives the baby Monster performance parity with the SV 650…er…Gladius.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Well, I think that the 796 makes a lot more sense in a vacuum, but the 696 is such a valuable too for Ducati to convert new riders to its brand. It’s still appreciably cheaper and, in places like Europe, will be much easier to insure.

      • robotribe

        I can see the insurance cost advantage, certainly. Still, it firmly cements the “my-first-Ducati” moniker onto the 696; the BMW 1-series of the premium motorcycle marques.

    • TeeJay

      Agree with you on bad faith for 696. From financial point of view it is just not worth to keep the 696 engine in production anymore, even it might be the best seller for Duke – they are very similar in every detail. Now two models are based on the 796 engine, if the mid-MTS is coming with it, then it will provide the power plant for the “low” model line.

  • digdiss

    Could this mean a potential 796 ‘strada as well? Maybe with a little less electronics whiz bang-itry?

  • Charlie

    796 is perfect for the Monster, and it’s similar to how they used to have the 650, 750, 900, etc. Doesn’t surprise me that the 1100 isn’t moving.

    I wouldn’t expect to see any air cooled engines in the new MTS. Great in the Hypermotard…but still too tall for me

  • http://www.desmoworks.com anthony

    It is a cool bike – even better looking in person (was unveiled at the dealer show a couple of months ago), but I don’t know why Ducati insists on using dark backgrounds for their product shots. The photos look like they are out of the 1999 catalog. Drives me crazy!

  • Tortious

    I dunno. I don’t get this from a business perspective. I’m just not seeing it. Reminds me a lot of Porsche slotting the cayman in between the boxster and 911. The price and power are a little too perfect if you know what I mean. Almost as if they held back, and you will always know that your bike is not the absolute best that the engineers could come up with in that range, but rather an after-thought. Jeremy Clarkson describes it better than I do. I’m not flamin, I’m just sayin…

    Also, if there was a baby MTS it would be the liquid cooled 848 according to Kevin Ash. Plus, he confirmed that Triumph is coming out with a Tiger 800.

  • georGe

    Changing the displacement is not gonna make up for straight up UGLY!! What is up with the current trend of bikes that looked like they were designed by 2 different designers with dissimilar tastes/styles and then joined at the middle? And dont even get me started on the “Pregnant Guppy” errr….”Streetfighter”.


    The original one ,is better looking,isnt it ?!

  • The Grudz

    I wasn’t thrilled about the look of the new Monster at first either, but it’s really grown on me. Despite loosing half it trellis to a more traditional subframe, this is a bitchin bike. I always felt like a monkey fucking a football on the elder bike, but like that porridge I’m just right on the newbie. The whole front end disappears(in the good way)and I’m just left with that nice wide handlebar. These bike are cool by me.

  • Andrew

    I think the only real difference that will attract buyers to the 796 from the 696 is the single sided swing arm. Pure beauty

  • Dez

    I totally agree with you Andrew the DDS on the new Monster
    series is as ugly as a hat full of arsehol*s
    This is the first new air cooled Monster that visually and engine capacity works for me.
    Still like the old ones like mine better though :)

  • http://twitter.com/greatistheworld will

    Hard to compare the 1-series/Boxster kind of “My first ____” thinking to bikes- no first-time sportscar buyer is intimidated by a car. A new rider won’t get a 1100 off the bat, if they’re that kind of newbie, they’ve already got the cash for their craigslist R1 or ‘busa. I think the stepped strategy is great for Ducati, plus, choice makes everything better.

  • LADucSP

    OK yeah, so they got the motor wrong. Not wrong from a development perspective, but wrong from an advertising & marketing perspective. The competition, namely Aprilia and other Euro brands, have 800cc+ middleweight standards. And, regardless of how it goes as a bike, sales have lagged because motorcycling has become fairly mainstream, and PR dictates success.


    But, as a longtime Duc owner (’94 SS), and a Yamaha R1 owner so please don’t think I’m really slanted, this bike’s a complete ‘yawn’, to me.

    There’s nothing interesting here. It’s still just the middleweight Monster. And, that’s not a bad thing. I’m a fan of the 696, but now it has more weight and a new sticker.

  • Sid

    What is with the sound track? That made me think Nascar tailgate party not fashiony Italian bike.

  • geonerd

    “warm porridge”

    I’d say that sums it up rather well, actually.

  • robotribe

    Wait, wait…hold up. $10k?!

    A 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 gives you 138hp and 81lb/ft of torque for $500 more than this. A Triumph Street Triple claims 107hp and 51lb/ft of torque for $1k less than the 796.

    This is a nice Ducati; one I could probably enjoy. I just can’t get over the Ducati logo tax.

    • TeeJay

      You know, they have to finance the motoGP and WSBK developments… :-D

      • robotribe

        I see. That must be why Triumphs are so “inexpensive”: the “no-Stoner/Hayden-salary-to-pay” savings.

  • DoctorNine

    The commenters on HFL are a pretty savvy group, in general, so it surprises me when I hear everyone talking about ‘beginner’s bike‘ or ‘first Ducati‘ simply based on weight or power output. If a rider like me weighs about 180, and is 5’7” or so, 87HP is plenty of power for an unfaired bike like the Monster 796. I guess if you are built like a linebacker in the NFL, you could legitimately claim that you need an unfaired bike with 138HP, but as a practical matter, bikes are built to fit normal sized people, and there is very little difference in performance on the street between 80 and 120HP, for instance, unless you are doing things you really probably shouldn’t be doing on the street anyway. Choosing which bike you want to ride is much more complicated than, ‘get the most power that you can handle/afford‘ or some such idea. If I am looking for a part-time track bike, then all that may be true, but most people who buy this bike will spend little if any time at their local closed-circuit track. So the HP is really just for bragging rights. Thankfully, the people at Ducati are smart enough to give riders what they really need with this Monster, and not just a track bike with no fairing. My opinion. FWIW.

    • robotribe

      Maybe you read my assertion wrong when I said, “my first Ducati”. I was referring to the 696, not the 796. I actually agree with every point you made about horsepower and the real world need vs. perceived “want”. My point was that the minor difference in power between the 696 and 796 puts the former in the perceived position of being even further down the model range from the Monster 1100, making it the “My-First-Ducati” by default. I personally don’t need or want more than what I’ve currently got (Street Triple). My first “bike” was a Vespa PX back in the 80s and I rode the shit out of it, ringing every ounce of giddyup it would give (ah, two strokes…). So by comparison, my Triumph, the Honda 599 before it, and Honda Hawk before that, are all rocket ships to me.

      I don’t have a problem with the 796 being option (the price is a bit ridiculous IMO). Since the difference in output from the 696 is relatively minor, I think Ducati should have just replaced the 696 with the 796 and at a lower price point than $10k. That way, the “entry Ducati” maintains distinct positioning from the Monster 1100 while still significantly not just by price alone, but in power. As is, the 696 looks like a step-up sales tool for the 796. To me, it feels as if there needs be more breathing room between the Monsters in this case.

      To that point, I think it’d be great if they offered a Monster 400 or 500 in the entry-level category. Better yet, a skinnier Sport Classic cafe model in that displacement range. Mrrrrrrooowwwrrrr.

      • DoctorNine

        Good points all. It is kind of expensive. But it’s a Ducati after all, and you kind of expect that. And they really do need a 400 or 500cc bike. Have to agree with you there too. But I wasn’t actually talking to you specifically; more just the general flavor of the discussion. I only wanted to point out that many experienced bikers prefer a smaller machine for in city fun. So the choice of a 700 or 800cc bike isn’t necessarily a newbie machine. Thanks for the reply.

        • Ahks

          Yep I want a 796, it’ll be my second bike, all I use it for is commute/cruising around. An 800′s performance/fuel economy is about perfect for me. Add to that that I now get a SSA… I’m sold.

    • Miss Bliss

      No one could have said it better…

  • SomeJerk

    The direct competitor, Speed Triple, is her own class in the range. Then you have the Street Triple. That’s it (and some many years after the original). Why would Ducati wish to further complicate the offerings?

    How many people do you know who smoke Marlboro Mediums? I don’t deny that the market exists – but why waste the effort, money, and time? Sure, it’s a modular engine but really? Just sayin’.

  • Mobocaster

    For years I’ve owned bikes in the 1000 to 1200cc range. I commute 60 miles on freeways and fast roads in heavy traffic and kinda thought I needed 150+ hp. Then my wife bought a 696. It’s more fun than any bike I’ve had and certainly fast enough if ridden right. The 696 has a low seat height, which was a big factor in her choice (she’s 5’2″) and is soft enough in the low down power delivery to be a good bike for the less experienced or confident rider. I can see that larger people or people looking for their second bike may look to the 796. Personally I’m seriously thinking about trading in my big bikes for the Monster 1100. More kudos to Ducati for giving us more choice.

  • monstermash1000

    I have a monster 1000 and just rode the new 1100. It handles better, but the riding position is more canted forward, so you sail round bends much easier, but your balls bang the tank. It stuck like glue on tight turns. Plenty of blast from the engine. The slipper clutch saves back wheel skid on quick down changes too. If the 796 handles as well as the 1100, which I have read it does, anyone who likes ducs would be mad not to give it a try. Pity you cant order it in the colors you want from the logomania set (without paying extra).

  • Stan

    LaDuc – The 796 weighs LESS than the 696. Pay attention to the reviews. This quick review here is inaccurate as well. The bike is 363lbs dry, not 369lbs.It weighs 4.5lbs less than the 696 thanks largely to the singe-sided swingarm.

    The bike is not simply a larger displacement than the 696. The compression rario is higher, at 11.1:1, than both existing Monsters at 10.5:1. Throttle characteristics will be different with more grunt than the 696 at any rev range.

    I am 6’2″ with a 35″ inseam and I sat on the Duc at the dealership. I as surprised that I did not feel cramped in the legroom department and the reach to the bars made this bike, for me, pretty much a straight-up mount with no forward lean because of my long arms.

    I’ll be going back soon for a test ride as the bike they had was a demo. If I buy one I think I’ll opt for the ABS model and buy the accessory hand rails. This bike could very well replace my 2006 Honda Interceptor.

    Givi already makes soft side bags and mounting hardware for it already, as well as a trunk mount. Ducati offers soft luggage as well. There are also aftermarket windscreens available, but I’d hold off on that since I prefer the nakedness of the bikini fairing.