DUCATI 696 - Dream Come True!

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The 2 words Dream Ducati are very synonymous. Ducati is a dream bike for most bikers and also a dream to own one for most bikers. The price tag is probably the major factor why we all lust after the beast/ beauty yet settle for one from the Land of the Rising Sun. Ducati is a premier brand, Ducatis are exclusive. But now that dream may just be well in many bikers reach. No, not that Ducati has compromised in its brand by any way, but they have expanded their portfolio.
Now you can actually get a Monster for £5,500 ($8,680). Yes, the Ducati Monster in all its glory and Yes! Yes! I know, you can get a similar capacity naked street bike like the Ninja 650 or the Suzuki SV650 for less than that money. Why, you can get Sportsbike, something like the Honda 919 or the Ninja ZX 6R for equal that ammount. Even a RR bike from Honda like the CBR 600RR will cost something similar or just a little more. There are too many bikes you can get with that kind of money which would outperform the 696 Monster, but you can't get the 696 Monster in these bikes.
Now, we know that the Monster brings in the maximum dough for Ducati, it has sold over 200,000 units worldwide, thas more than half of Ducati's current production levels. Of course that it is priced (at least) below the Ducati SBK helps, but moreover its a road bike for everyday use with loads of fun and it wont kill your back. I mean, you can boast of having a Ducati which you ride to your office everyday!
And what's the best thing on this MORE affordable 696 Monster? It has all the quality that Monster boast off, you will find the Italian flavour in every bit of it, from styling to finishing to riding to handling to performance. The exhaust is just perfect, the engine response and everything. Watch the video posted above. Please do not confuse yourself that the 696 Monster is an entry level bike for wannabe Ducati owners. Ducati doesn't do things like that. There is no such entry level bike in Ducati. All the Monsters have the same soul, it's just the machine size that differs according to what people want or is satisfied with. For any biker the 696 Monster is as exotic as the 1098. Of course its a cult status bike which stands out from any crowd. The 696 looks more muscular probably because of the wider tank aided by the micro bikini fairing and those awesome mufflers. But it retains the traditional Monster silhouette.
Ducati will probably start a new series of Monsters as evident from the new 696 which gets a all new chassis. The trellis uses a thinner wall but wider diameter than previous models inspired by the 2007 World MotoGP title-winning Desmosedici GP7 machine and the Sachs monoshock is mounted directly between the swing arm and the rear sub frame. Inverted Showa forks does their duty for the front wheel. You can as usual expect an excellent ride quality although the low handlebars (with fairly back footpegs) is somewhat a mix between sports and standard bike. But the posture was absolutely neccessary to negotiate the wind in high speeds so that you dont have to hang on the handlebars. And at 80 bhp, thats 9% increase from the 695, the 696 is capable of quite a speed.
The engine ofcourse is an evolution of the previous 695 version. Torque is also increased to 50.6lb-ft, thats an 11% increase. With this much power, the 696 has the best hp per litre ratio among all air cooled Ducatis. This increase in power has been achieved by the introduction of new cylinder heads similar to the ones doing duty on the Multistrada and Hypermotard. Bore and stroke remain identical to the previous 695 model at 88 x 57.2mm. Bearings have been eliminated and now the camshafts rotate on bearing surfaces directly in the cylinder head by means of oil pressure. And like all Ducs, you wont feel or cannot make the engine stress at any speed regardless of how long you drive. You have heard her and you know thats its smooooth!
The engine reaches its power peak beyond 9000rpm and there is a whole gamut of things you can do within that range. The 696 caries over the APTC clutch as was present on the 695. All these will help the rider very much in city traffics. Also to further ease things in city traffic, the bike is provided with low center of gravity which makes it flickable. All these upgrades make the bike 7 kg lighter at 161 kgs from its predecessor. Ducati has also increased the steering lock to 64 degrees which means it will be easier to take a U-turn. All in all this bike is light, fast, zippy, flickable, everything you would want on a standard bike plus its an affordable DUCATI! That makes it 'lust'iness increase by a ten fold! The 696 has the most upgraded components since Monster was launched way back in 1992. Colours are Red, Black and White. Expect an Italian Tricolore soon enough, maybe with a 'Limited Edition' badge.
Take a look at Ducati's web site here for additional details and information.
Visit Motorcycle USA for its First Look and its First Ride and visit MCN Review for a detailed review.
Specification
Engine - EFI, 696 cc, Air Cooled L-twin, 2 valves per cylinder Desmodromic
Bore x Stroke & Compression Ratio - 88 x 57.2 mm & 10.7:1
Max Power & Torque - 80 bhp@ 9000 rpm & 50.6lb-ft @ 7750 rpm
Gearbox & Clutch - 6 speed & APTC wet multiplate with hydraulic control
Final Drive - Chain
Frame & Wheelbase - Tubular steel trellis frame & 1450 mm
Front & Rear suspension - Showa 43mm upside-down forks & Progressive linkage with preload and rebound Sachs adjustable monoshock
Front & Rear wheel travel - 120mm & 148 mm
Front & Rear brake - 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston radial caliper & 245mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front & Rear wheel - 3-spoke light alloy 3.50 x 17 & 3-spoke light alloy 4.50 x 17
Front & Rear tyre - 120/60 ZR 17 & 160/60 ZR 17
Fuel tank capacity - 15 L (3.5 L reserve)
Weight & Seat height - 161Kg & 770 mm
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.

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