Mon­ster with roar en­ergy

Du­cati’s naked bike is a ride for ev­ery­one, writes HAMISH COOPER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

WHEN the orig­i­nal Du­cati Mon­ster hit the road in 1993 it started a world­wide trend to­wards ‘‘naked bikes’’ with per­for­mance en­gines in un-faired chas­sis.

It also brought the Ital­ian maker out of the two-wheeled niche busi­ness and into the main­stream.

The smaller ver­sions of the Mon­ster range, the 620 and 695, have been the fi­nan­cial bedrock for the Ital­ian com­pany in re­cent years, which makes the new 696 Mon­ster as im­por­tant for the Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer as its re­cent 1098 Su­per­bike.

The mid­dleweight ‘‘naked’’ seg­ment is a hot and crowded class.

The new Mon­ster is the most ex­pen­sive bike in this seg­ment, but Du­cati claims it is lighter at 161kg, has higher-qual­ity com­po­nents and longer ser­vice in­ter­vals.

And, in a typ­i­cal week­end­war­rior’s road ride on a loop up and down the es­carp­ment and coast south of Syd­ney, it came up trumps with just a few nig­gles.

The Ital­ian new­comer is aimed at a huge cross-sec­tion of rid­ers and is much more re­fined than ear­lier Mon­sters.

It has one of the light­est clutch lev­ers on a bike, but only works on the last part of the lever ac­tion.

At 770mm, the seat is low­ish in this mar­ket seg­ment, but is sloped and clamps you into a rid­ing po­si­tion up against the tank.

The en­gine, a hot­ted-up ver­sion of the short-stroke 90-de­gree V-twin that has been around since the early 1980s, is strong and will­ing.

How­ever, not much hap­pens be­low 4000 revs and it needs to be kept above 6000 for max­i­mum drive.

Above this it sings, with max­i­mum torque of 69Nm ar­riv­ing at 7750 revs and peak power of 60kW at 9000 revs. This is about 10 per cent up on the pre­vi­ous model.

The chas­sis is a Mo­toGP- in­flu­enced hy­brid of steel chas­sis and alu­minium sub­frame with a mas­sive swingarm cast­ing.

Brakes are ra­dial-mounted, fourpis­ton calipers and the best in this mar­ket seg­ment.

With quick steer­ing, a

stable chas­sis, light weight and su­perb brakes, you re­ally don’t need any more power for the road than this Mon­ster de­liv­ers.

This isn’t an in­tim­i­dat­ing mo­tor­cy­cle for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced. And sea­soned rid­ers look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive will be drawn to the qual­ity fit­tings and styling, com­bined with a race­track ca­pa­ble chas­sis, sus­pen­sion and brakes.

The Mon­ster re­ally does suit a cross-sec­tion of rid­ers.

Prices start from $12,995.

Cross sec­tion cov­ered: the Du­cati Mon­ster cov­ers all bases.

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