In the not so distant past, when you pictured a Ducati, you may have thought of a MotoGP racer decked out in sponsor badges. Or perhaps a homologation special tearing by in a Ducati Red flash. The thing is, the Italian brand has expanded its lineup over the years and whether you want to hit the back trails, track, or tight city streets, Ducati has more accessible offerings than ever, which were on display at the 2016 International Motorcycle show in New York City.
Some kind of Monster
Ducati’s line of naked bikes have proven very successful for the brand, giving riders a chance to take home an exotic bike at a comparatively lower price. The Monster 696 was discontinued in 2013 (followed by the 796), and the 2017 797 is stepping up as the smallest Monster currently on sale. We spoke with Jason Chinnock, CEO for Ducati North America.
“The 797 continues the concept of the entry-level Monster,” Chinnock told Digital Trends. Its 803cc twin-cylinder engine is tuned for smooth power delivery and produces 75 horsepower and about 51 pound-feet of torque at 5,750 RPM. The little monster features a fully adjustable 43mm front fork and a rear shock with adjustable pre-load. Brembo disc brakes and ABS are standard.
With a dry weight of 386 lbs., the 797 is designed for agility and ease of riding. Ducati’s traditional exposed steel trellis frame maintains rigidity while keeping the weight down. And speaking of traditional, check out the ski-boot buckle incorporated into the fuel tank. Those who know their history might recall a time when a buckle of this type was used on earlier Monsters to lift the tank and access the components underneath. Today it’s more for show, but it’s an attractive piece of nostalgia nevertheless.
The Monster 797 starts at $9,295, which is lower than the old 796.
Where you’re going, you won’t need roads
“Strada” translates to “roads,” which tells you where Ducati is going with its Multistrada line. With the growing trend of smaller, more versatile bikes we get the new 2017 Multistrada 950, the little brother to the 1200. Straddling the line between adventure/enduro/tourer/sport bike, the Multistrada offers the ground clearance to tear along your favorite fire road with the ability to stand tall in canyon runs and your daily urban commute.
The Multistrada 950 is equipped with four ride modes: Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro. According to press materials, “each one has been programmed to act on the Ride-by-Wire (RbW) engine control system and on the ABS and DTC intervention levels.” The standard Safety Pack includes three levels of ABS and no less than eight levels of traction control.
The suspension is fully adjustable, with remote pre-load settings at the rear.
“It’s the more rational Multistrada,” Chinnock said. At $13,995, it undercuts the 1200’s $17,995 starting price by over 20 percent. It is lighter (about 505 pounds wet) and more nimble as a result, and the 937cc twin puts out 113 peak horsepower and 71 pound-feet of torque at 7,750 rpm.