Monster with roar energy
Ducati’s naked bike is a ride for everyone, writes HAMISH COOPER
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.