Ducati released the first official pics of the 2008 Monster 696 in November last year. The all-new Monster wasn’t as radical as we’d been hoping for, but we still liked the bike anyway. The motorcycle press worldwide was recently given a chance to ride the 696, and more details on the bike are now available.
Designed for the city and for twisty mountain roads, the Monster 696 features improved ergonomics, a low seat height (770mm), and fully digital instrumentation, which among other things, also has a built-in lap-timer and is compatible with Ducati’s DDA (Ducati Data Analyser) system.
The Monster 696’s air-cooled L-twin engine only makes a modest 80bhp and 69Nm of torque, but given that the bike only weighs 152 kilos dry, performance should be at least reasonably sprightly. Ducati also say the Monster 696’s steel-tube trellis frame is stiffer than ever before, and along with the new aluminium swingarm, the whole package has been optimized for high-speed stability.
MCN’s Adam Child, who recently rode the 696 in Barcelona, says, ‘On first impressions it kind of feels like the old Monster – there is a lot of character and feel of the old machine – like the position of the tank and the trellis frame. But the new bike is way, way better. The Monster now handles a lot better than the old one. The old Monster had a tendency to understeer, but the 696 handles beautifully with really sharp steering.’
‘Brembo brakes and no weight amount to great stopping power, and it comes with a slipper clutch as standard, so there is no worry for new riders about the engine braking from the v-twin. But the thing that really impressed about the monster is just how good the gearbox and fuelling is,’ says Child.
For those who want a bit more style and exclusivity, Ducati have also released the Monster 696+ which is a specially customized variant of the regular Monster. The 696+ is fitted with a small front fairing and a removable rear seat cowl. But that’s not all – a very wide range of accessories is being made available for the 696. The list of optional fancy bits includes titanium silencers (supplied with a new ECU and air-filter), carbon racing exhaust system, a special touring seat made of high-density foam, LED turn indicators, shorter tail guard, and many carbonfibre bits and pieces.