Ducati can say they’ve introduced their latest generation middleweight Monster with the 696 not more than a year ago, but there are always founds ways to upgrade the nimble Italian legend and for 2010 they offer optional ABS. So it was about time to reconnect with the Monster’s versatile character in order to come up with a report and the fact that the 2010 model year is a very light and powerful naked only spices things up a little bit.
Retaining the very essence of a Monster, the 696 blends beauty with comfort and practicability. The result is an overall better performing and more attractive looking Italian naked with a famous name that is better than any possible commercial.
Probably Ducati’s most famous model, the Monster 600 is now an even more evolved motorcycle. It all reduces to the riding experience that the new naked delivers and that’s where the tubular steel trellis frame needs to be mentioned. The main section is shared with the 1098R and linked to the cast-aluminum subframe while the swingarm is brand new, footpeg hanger included. This shows how Ducati is keen on establishing the standards in matter of handling and comfort because despite the completely new chassis, the seat remains positioned at 30.3 inches from the ground and the handlebars are brought closer to the rider while the footpegs now allow you to hug the tank better with your knees. It seems Ducati is well aware of the fact that their small Monster is notorious among female riders and it tries to meet their requests.
80-hp fuel injected L-twin engine
But sharp handling and great comfort are only supposed to allow a rider to get the most out of the motor. In this case it is all about the new air-cooled, 696cc, L-twin with two valves per cylinder Desmodromic. This manages to retain the bore and stroke (88 x 57.2mm) of the previous generation model, the 695, but features modified cylinder and cylinder head as well as larger valves and overall simplified design with even more cooling fins for greater effectiveness. That’s because performance figures have now been raised to 80 hp at 9000 rpm and 51 ft-lbs of torque at 7750 rpm. Compared to the 695 engine, the new generation one revs higher, is claimed to be even smoother and more reliable.
The fuel-injected engine (a Siemens electronic fuel injection system, to be precise) together with the tall gearing ensures the Monster 696 meets Euro 3 regulations. Actually, the gear ratios are the same as on the 695 and that’s a disadvantage that only a great amount of torque can fix.
The dashboard also shares most features with the 1098R and offers information concerning speed, revs, time, scheduled maintenance warning, oil temperature, trip fuel, air temperature, lap time, low oil pressure warning, fuel level, fuel reserve, neutral, turn signals, overrev and immobilizer. Also, this makes the new Monster ready for the DDA system (Ducati Data Analyzer) that provides the rider with crucial information regarding throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, engine temperature, distance travelled, laps and lap times. This is all for making a better rider out of each one that throws a leg over the DDA-equipped new Monster.
The 2010 model year’s distinctive feature is actually an optional one, ABS. This turns the Ducati Monster 696 into an even more user-friendly bike.
The world had first seen a Ducati Monster at the 1992 Cologne Motorshow. This was the 900 Monster, which was to be manufactured and sold in 1993. Power came from an air-cooled, 904cc, two-valve engine called Desmodue.
The model of interest here, the 600 Monster enlarged Ducati’s lineup in 1995. This was followed by a 750cc model only a year later.
By the late 1990s, Ducati’s plan to deliver a variety of Monster models showed its fruits in the form of the Monster 600 Dark, Monster 900 Cromo and Monster 900 S, all these being 1998 model years.
After gaining notoriety, the Italian manufacturer concentrated on the performance of its engines, which were ready for the big fuel injection upgrade. So the new millennium saw the introduction of the all-new Monster 900 that was fitted with an electronic fuel injection system.
In 2001, the Monster S4 entered the scene. This was powered by a 916cc Desmoquattro engine and featured completely new running gear.
A success on big models, the electronic fuel injection system is adopted by smaller engines in 2002. So the 618cc one powering the Monster made no exception while the new running gear became a top feature on all Ducati motorcycles of the time.
Future years saw Ducati launching big and refined nakeds with the Monster name on them. We’re talking about the Monster 800 and Monster 1000 (2003) as well as about the S4R (2004) and S2R (2005). These were followed by the upgraded 2006 Monster S2R and the Monster S4R S Testastretta.
In 2007, the Monster 695 had come to replace the previous 620 model and only a year later, the Monster 696 was launched as a 2009 model.
During the 17 years of continuous manufacturing, the Monster – regardless of its engine’s size – brought a major contribution to the company’s global recognition as well as financial benefits that have much to do with the Italian company introducing models such as the D16RR Desmosedici.
Starting 1999, the Suzuki SV650 was the main contender for the entry-level Ducati Monster. This too was powered by a sporty V-twin, featured a six-speed tranny and got fuel injection later on, so it followed the industry’s trend and remained overall competitive. Styling was fairly similar to that of the middleweight Ducati, indicating that the SV650 was virtually created to get a piece of the Italian naked’s pie. Although the Suzuki SV650 and its ABS version haven’t been carried on, the Japanese manufacturer launched the Gladius as what we believe to be a funkier replacement and alternative, depending on where you’re looking.
While the SV and Gladius remain the top contenders for the new Monster, we can’t help noticing that BMW created a less threatening alternative in the form of the G 650 Xcountry. It only has one cylinder, but the thing is also supposed to do very well when you run short of asphalt and that’s also what BMW relies on in order to get its fair share of the market.
Inline-fours such as the Yamaha FZ6 or the Honda CB600F are a bit too much for the Monster, but the battle won’t feel overwhelming for this last.
Given the major evolutionary steps that the bike underwent during its long existence, you might thing it drifted away from the original look and fallen into the modern custom of improving what doesn’t need to. In fact, when you have something good on your hands, you stick to it and that’s what Ducati did and continues doing with the Monster. Wherever you ride, this thing will be recognized as being a Monster and I must say it gets a lot of attention. Being an Italian bike, it looks much more expensive than it actually is and it’s a pleasure just to look at your reflection in every single piece of glass as getting across the urban jungle in style.
The fact that the gas tank is 20mm shorter makes the seat feel even lower and brings the rider even closer to the bars, meaning he will stay in proper control over the machine at all times. Also, the brand new gas tank is made of a high-quality plastic material, which can be simply changed with another one when damaged or when the rider simply wishes to have another color for his stylish Italian ride.
Stylistically, everything about the new, small Ducati Monster is sharpened, looks more inviting for the rider and always ready to make a fan out of each of those getting a glimpse of it. Everything from the headlight and signal lights, mirrors and instrument cluster to the aggressive tail (2-into-two exhaust included) featuring an LED taillight looks like being sketched by the wind tunnel blast.
The three-spoke rims (black) look very nice and blend perfectly in with in overall design as well as with the Red, Matte Black and Pearl White colors available. Also, the customization possibilities will keep owners busy for more than a while.
"The stout trellis-subframe-swingarm combo translates into an incredibly stable ride. This, along with the user-friendly engine, I can immediately proclaim to be a key characteristic of the new Monster." – motorcycle
"The new 696 mill is smooth, responding shudder-free from low rpm to past the 9500-rpm mark. And the new clutch is a dream to operate, finally comparable to a Japanese 600’s unit. It’s about time!" – cycleworld
"Under most urban riding conditions the engine feels responsive and ready for hard acceleration (as long as you haven’t shifted the tall-geared transmission too early), but when you’re out on highway-speed runs you’ll notice the L-twin isn’t as rev-happy as its four-cylinder competition." – popularmechanics
"Even at freeway speeds, vibration from the engine never really disappears, which in-turn keeps the rearview mirrors from providing anything other than a blurred picture. But then again, this is a Ducati and it wouldn’t be one without a pulsating engine, thus ‘nuff said." – motorcycle-usa
"The Ducati 696 Monster is still distinctively a Monster, and feels like the old bike on board, but it’s not an uncomfortable over stretch like the old bike. It still feels light and is easy to throw around." – MCN
The MSRP of $8,995 is also the appropriate one considering what this bike has to offer.
After developing an entirely new bike which shows that it’s the little things that make it special, Ducati makes it safer and user-friendlier. Also lighter, more powerful and aggressive, this thing leaves its competitors virtually battling in a class of their own and us willing to ride it with the first occasion we get.
Engine and Transmission
- Type: L-Twin cylinder, 2 valve per cylinder Desmodromic, air cooled
- Displacement: 696cc
- Bore x Stroke: 88 x 57.2mm
- Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
- Power: 58.8kW - 80hp @ 9000rpm
- Torque: 7.0kgm - 50.6lb-ft @ 7750rpm
- Fuel injection: Siemens electronic fuel injection, 45mm throttle body
- Exhaust: 2 aluminum mufflers
- Gearbox: 6 speed
- Ratio: 1st 32/13, 2nd 30/18, 3rd 28/21, 4th 26/23, 5th 22/22, 6th 24/26
- Primary Drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.85:1
- Final Drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 45
- Clutch: APTC wet multiplate with hydraulic control
- Standard: Euro 3
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
- Wheelbase: 1450mm (57.1in)
- Rake: 24°
- Front Suspension: Showa 43mm upside-down forks
- Front Wheel Travel: 120mm (4.7in)
- Front Wheel: 3-spoke light alloy 3.50 x 17
- Front Tyre: 120/60 ZR17
- Rear Suspension: Progressive linkage with preload and rebound Sachs adjustable monoshock
- Rear Wheel Travel: 148mm (5.8in)
- Rear Wheel: 3-spoke light alloy 4.50 x 17
- Rear Tyre: 160/60 ZR17
- Front Brake: 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston radial caliper
- Rear Brake: 245mm disc, 2-piston caliper
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15l - 3.8gallon (US) / 13.5l - 3.6gallon (US) ABS version
- Dry Weight: 161kg (355lb) / 163kg (359lb) ABS version
- Instruments: Digital unit displaying: Speedometer, rev counter, clock, scheduled maintenance warning, oil temperature, trip fuel, air temperature, lap time, warning light for low oil pressure, fuel level, fuel reserve, neutral, turn signals, overrev, immobilizer. Ready for DDA system
- Warranty: 2 years unlimited mileage
- Body Colour (Frame/Wheel): Red (red / back) - Matt black (matt black / black) - Pearl white (matt black / black) - Monster Art colours (matt black / black)
- Dual seat
- Seat Height: 770mm (30.3in)
- DDA: DDA system-ready for Ducati Performance accessory
- DTC: Not available on this model
- ABS: Available upon request
Features & Benefits
- The triple-parabola headlamp uses the latest optical technology to provide a deep, wide beam which makes riding at night both easier and safer. The highly advanced construction of the assembly provides one of the most compact headlamps available.
Airbox and Fuel Tank
- The use of advanced moulding techniques have not only enabled greater fuel capacity but also a larger airbox. The new fuel tank now holds 15 litres (3.8 US gal) while the airbox contains a power-enhancing 10 litres of air.
- The rear view mirrors have been completely redesigned, making them lower, smoother and more aerodynamic while ensuring a clear view to the rear. Their design accentuates the curves and lines of the handlebars and fuel tank.
LED Rear Light
- The minimalist spirit of the Monster and the desire to reduce weight to a minimum were the reasons behind the choice of an LED lighting system for the rear.
Gull-Wing Fork Clamps
- Just like the race-winning Ducatis, the Monster 696 is fitted with extremely robust fork clamps. Their ’gull-wing’ shape achieves exceptional torsional strength.