The Bottom Line
- Air-cooled engine makes for lower weight and better handling
- Cool Ducati style meets sharp function
- How many sequels are this good?
- Pitched-forward seat can get uncomfortable on long rides
- Gearing is a bit tall, requiring clutch slip off the line
- A bit expensive in its class
- MSRP: $8,775 ($8,995 for 2009 model)
- Air-cooled, desmodromically-valved 696cc L-twin engine
- Tubular steel trellis frame with aluminum rear sub-frame
- 80 horsepower, 50.6 lb-ft of torque
- 43mm Showa inverted forks, Sachs rear monoshock with progressive linkage
- Four-piston Brembo front brakes, 2-piston Brembo rear brake
- Seat height: 30.3 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.8 gallons
Guide Review - 2008 Ducati Monster 696
If you’re on the edge about the Monster 696, what might push you over is a ride. Its ergonomics aren’t perfect—the handlebars are wide and low, the pegs are a bit far back and the seat pitches you up against the tank—but the air-cooled Desmodromic-valved twin is loads of fun to wind up, and handling is crisp and responsive thanks in part to a curb weight of 355 lbs, which is as little as the dry weight (without fluids) of some middleweight sportbikes.
There’s lots of power on tap from the L-twin engine—80 horsepower in fact—which is why we classify the Ducati Monster 696 as one of our 10 Great Advanced Beginner Bikes. Riding the 696 around town never left us wanting for more acceleration (and the sounds coming out of those big exhaust cans are sweet), but when we hit the wide open highway the Monster didn’t feel quite as long-winded (ie, eager to rev) as sporty inline 4-cylinder powerplants. But that mid-range torque is addictive, and the Monster’s intriguing power delivery provides more than enough temptation to get the average rider into trouble.
It may occupy that nebulous region between entry level and advanced motorcycles, but that’s actually the strength of the Ducati Monster 696: it’s manageable enough for somewhat experienced riders to handle, but focused enough to satisfy more aggressive Ducatisti-- not a bad combination, if you ask me.