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2009 Ducati Monster 696 Comparison

Monday, February 9, 2009
2009 Ducati Monster 696
Weighing in at 404 pounds full of fuel, Ducati's Monster 696 is exceptionally agile.
Whether you’re new to motorcycling or to the Ducati brand, there is no better way to get into either than with its Monster 696. From the look, feel, and sound of its air-cooled 696cc L-Twin engine cradled in the company’s legendary steel-trellis frame to its bold, curvaceous shape bathed in Ferrari Red paint, there’s no mistaking this bike for anything else other than a Ducati.
 
Although the Ducati Monster lacks some of the top-shelf technology as used on the Shiver, the basics are all here. A fixed 43mm Showa inverted fork along with Sachs hydraulic shock absorber cushioning the load out back. Equivalent-sized radial-mount front brakes, a friendly hydraulically-actuated clutch and a sharp looking Digitek digital display.
 
Climbing aboard the Monster 696 isn’t much of a climb at all, as it features a short 30.3-inch seat height. Its low seating position combined with its narrow width make it feel like you’re riding a minibike—that is if you’re six-foot-plus inches tall. Yet even for a tall rider the cockpit isn’t as crowed as you’d expect. The reach to the steel handlebars is equally as diminutive, which in turn creates a sportier riding position than the Shiver’s.
 
2009 Ducati Monster 696
The only thing that limits how much fun you can have on the racetrack is the 696's ground clearance.
Reach out and grab both the brake and clutch lever and you’ll notice just how ridiculously light clutch lever pull is. Conversely the reach to the brake lever is slightly stretched and it cannot be adjusted like the Shiver’s. Thumb the starter button and the Monster’s air-cooled engine fires right up settling into a lumpy idle. However, sometimes when cold, the engine would stall and require a bit of warm-up before it could idle on its own. Pump the throttle a couple times and the engine roars with that unmistakable Ducati “vroom”. Press down on the gear shift lever, and slip the clutch and you’re off and running.
 
Whereas the Aprilia’s liquid-cooled engine makes power literally everywhere, the Ducati’s air-cooled mill puts out a subdued spread of power. For a novice rider this translates into absolute confidence, but for an experienced rider it feels downright slow. As rpms slowly increase a decently snappy mid-range is exposed, but it’s cut-short almost as soon as it starts, necessitating an upshift.
 
2009 Ducati Monster 696
The Monster's engine power is far more docile than that of the Aprilia's. Yet it's still got some punch as Waheed demonstrates.
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. But when combined together with its slightly anemic power output, taller final drive gearing and lack of wind protection, extended freeway jaunts can become downright boring. Nevertheless, as you dart off into that ultra-tight cloverleaf exit, be prepared to experience what could be the Monster’s finest attribute.
 
“I love the way it handles,” commented Atlas. “It feels almost like your invincible… you can totally man-handle the thing like you’re riding a play-bike, it changes direction effortlessly and you can carry a ridiculous amount of corner speed.”
 
In fact the only thing that limits the amount of cornering fun you can have on the Monster is its ground clearance or more specifically lack thereof. As opposed to the Aprilia the first thing to rub against the asphalt is the side stand. Continue to lean the bike over and you’ll start to feel footpegs and shift levers scrapping. Don’t worry though, because the Monster’s smaller Bridgestone Battlax tires continue to grip and will continue you to carry you until you hit a mid-corner bump and high center on a hard part. Consider yourself warned.
 
Similarly to the Shiver, adding a few turns of spring preload on the Sachs shock absorber nets added ground clearance, but still cannot provide enough to completely get rid of foreign part scrape-age. While the Monster’s chassis feels softer than the Shiver’s, it’s still flexible enough to accommodate even heavy riders, which could make the 696 perfect for sharing motorcycling with that special someone in your life.
2009 Ducati Monster 696
Jeez? The lengths Atlas goes to to make sure he's giving the suspension a fair shake down.

 
Although on paper the 696’s brakes are almost the same as the Aprilia's, braking performance isn’t quite as sharp as the Shiver’s. Sure, there’s plenty of power and feel to get you stopped, but pull back on the lever and you’ll experience soft initial bite followed by a consistent braking force that never really ramps up like the Aprilia’s. This feature in fact, can bode well for you if you have limited experience, but we preferred the Aprilia’s.
 
A multifunction Digitek display provides performance data and engine vitals including speed, horizontal bar graph style tachometer, clock, scheduled maintenance warning, engine oil and ambient air temperature, lap timer as well as associated warning lights. The system is also compatible with Ducati’s Data Analyzer (DDA) accessory system in which information can be downloaded and used to analyze riding data. While the Monster’s display is bright as well as legible, its functionality is quirky and more difficult to use than the Shiver’s.
 
In terms of build quality, usually motorcycles within in a certain price range are generally pretty similar. So we were surprised when we started to notice the difference in overall quality when comparing these two side-by-side. Where the Ducati utilizes cheaper looking plastic pieces, the Aprila uses more high-quality metal bits and appears to be much more solid looking than the at times flimsy-looking Monster.
 
So Which One Should I Bring Home?
 
Well that depends. Even though only $4 separates their MSRPs and on paper they look quite similar, these bikes are literally night and day different. For Ducati, they’ve definitely blended a suitable bike for a beginner. Its combination of friendly ergonomics, docile power delivery, and quick yet stable handling characteristics wrapped up in a pure, unfiltered package. If you’re looking to jump into the wonderful world of motorcycling and you’re small in stature than without a doubt the Ducati’s your machine.
 
But if you’re got some miles under your belt and are the type of person that outgrows their toys quick, than you’ll appreciate the added punch and technological refinement of the Aprilia. It’s not to say that newbie riders won’t enjoy the Aprilia, it’s just that the Aprilia is a sharper, more high-performance motorcycle that requires a bit more skill to master properly.

For My Money

Adam Waheed, Associate Editor: Both of these bikes really surprised me, especially the Monster. For some reason I had it in my imagination that the Ducati’s engine would have been a lot more powerful than it was. You’re probably not going to outrun many cops on the Monster, but still it’s got enough oomph to get the blood pumping, plus it’s ridiculous how sweet it handles on the racectrack. If it only had more ground clearance, I could bomb on it all-day—it’s that fun. But then again, I’m not exactly a newbie so I don’t really need the short seat height or mellow engine and brakes. What I need is a full sized motorcycle that looks sharp and that I can goof around on and that’s exactly what the Aprilia is.

Steve Atlas, Executive Editor: My own fiscal choice is a little tricky. Without a doubt, I’d take the Aprilia. Its motor’s got some punch, its handling is quick and easy, and it would be an easy motorcycle to live with everyday. But here’s the problem. The Misses is looking to get into motorcycling, and after spending some time with the Monster—I think I might have found her the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

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2009 Ducati Monster 696 Specifications
2009 Ducati Monster 696
Engine: 696cc air-cooled L-Twin, SOHC, 4-valves Bore x Stroke: 88 x 57.2mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Horsepower: 62.6 hp @ 8400 rpm
Torque: 42.2 lb-ft @ 7700 rpm
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, hydraulic actuation
Transmission: 6-speed
Front Suspension: Showa 43mm non-adjustable fork,4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Sachs hydraulic shock; step-less rebound damping adjustment and adjustable spring preload; 5.8 in. travel
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount twin-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper 
Tires: Bridgestone BT56 120/60R17, 160/60R17
Curb Weight: 404 lbs. (ready to ride)
Wheelbase: 57.1 in.
Length: 82.7 in.
Width: 31.1 in.
Rake / Trail: 24 deg. / 3.8 in.
Seat Height: 30.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gal.
MSRP: $8995
Warranty: 2 years
Colors: Red; Matte Black; White

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Comments
Leo -Specifications  August 13, 2009 11:12 AM
So i just read a review in another place about this bike and they claimed some of the specs are different. It says the bike weights 359 lbs as supppose to 404 here. Here it says it has 65 Hp and the other review has 80 Hp. I havent read that many reviews and Im fairly new to this bike so I'm just confused right now. Here is the other link:
http://www.webbikeworld.com/ducati-motorcycles/monster-696/
BillT -Test Ride  June 18, 2009 08:27 AM
I rode both the ’09 Monster 1100 and Shiver at Road America. I own a 2006 Yamaha FZ1. I was quite startled with the skittishness and forward lean angle on the Monster, I felt as though I was riding over the front fork – very out-of-balance. The shiver was more comfortable but had FAR less power (and greater weight). Neither come close to the refinement and comfort of the FZ1. When I arrived home after Road America I rode the FZ1 and felt as though I was sitting in a 7 series BMW vs. a Toyota Camry – I can’t believe either Ducati or Aprilia expect such a premium for their motorcycles. I strongly urge you test ride an FZ1 (07/08/09) – you’ll agree with my assessment and save over $1,000 in the process.
Marc -Monster, Shiver Comparo  May 30, 2009 02:55 PM
I happen to own most of the bikes in this comparison. The Monster I own is not 696 but 695 but close enough:) I also have the Shiver and the Street Triple R. The downside on the Shiver and Monster compared to the Street Triple R is that neither has adjustable front suspension. The Street Triple needed a few tweaks and was good as gold. The best engine of the 3, in my opinion, perhaps because I like the sound is the Shiver. The Shiver rear shock is quite harsh and you ride on bumpy roads you will take a pounding. The Monster is cushy on same roads. In summary tho the Street Triple is the superior vehicle. That being said I like them all which is why they are in my garage:)
Bugmoto -Aprilia Shiver  May 28, 2009 12:21 AM
Senor Atlas (give me a break) if your wife wants to learn to ride (good for her) buy her a scooter. The revoew was allegedly about MOTORCYCLES. As a Tuono owner (as well as Mille, and former 900ss/998 owner) the Shiver buries the Duck. Get real- the mini-Monstro is an eloguent moped...the Shiver is amotorcycle. Let your better side choose for herself, limp boy.
steve -shiver  May 8, 2009 11:11 AM
i to did test rides on the shiver and street triple, found the triumph far to small & handled crap (wallowing in corners at speed!) the shiver handled better, looked better put together and had a stonking engine!! no contest..
Brian -Maintenance  May 1, 2009 06:26 PM
Where is the cost of ownership comparison? I want to know what is it going to cost to service these to Italian Steeds? I've been looking at the Shiver and I love it, but new ride by wire technologies and only a couple dealers in the state. I'm a little bit reluctant to drop the cash on this bike, by the way it's only $6999 for a 2008 a my local dealer.
Mark -Street Triple  April 27, 2009 06:24 PM
The Street Triple standard blows these two out of the water!!!!!
Warren Rhen -696 vs Shiver  April 8, 2009 07:10 PM
A no brainer for anyone who has had any experience with Piaggio's total lack of dealer or customer support
Mickey -696 vs Shiver  March 21, 2009 01:08 PM
"Ok... 750cc Watercooled (95 HP) vs 696 Air-cooled (65 HP?) Wouldn't the 1100 Monster with 95 HP be a better comparison since the motor makes a big difference in this comparro? Just a thought... Thanks. :) Also, compare the 1100 and 1100-S and let me know if it's worth the extra $$. :)" The Shiver and 696 cost the same, so it's a fair comparison. But if you insist on seeing a Shiver vs an 1100cc desmo engine, check this out: http://www.apriliaforum.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1766969&postcount=4 A shiver has less torque, obviously, but more hp than an 1100cc Hypermotard!
Ken -696  March 21, 2009 12:21 PM
I test rode one and I thought it was a very good bike, if i never rode my Buell I would get the 696. But I will keep my buell.
Jerell Lambert -Your article needs editing  February 19, 2009 10:23 AM
Don't mean to be a jerk, but as your job is coveted by so many people, including myself, you might want to have an editor look at your write up before publishing. Example: "...the basics are all here. A fixed 43mm Showa inverted fork along with Sachs hydraulic shock absorber cushioning the load out back. Equivalent-sized radial-mount front brakes, a friendly hydraulically-actuated clutch and a sharp looking Digitek digital display." You have two sentences that aren't sentences. At least start the section with a colon or a hyphen and finish your thought: "...the basics are all here: a fixed 43mm Showa inverted fork with a Sachs hydraulic shock absorber cushioning the load out back, equivalent-sized radial-mount front brakes, a friendly hydraulically-actuated clutch and a sharp looking Digitek digital display." Won't go into all the punctuation stuff, but hope you'll take this as a friendly heads up from someone who writes and edits for a living and loves to ride and read about motorcycles - thanks!
Greg -Incomplete Comparo?  February 19, 2009 01:34 AM
I agree with Rob. The Street Triple (standard and/or R) would have been good company for this comparo.
Jack - Well  February 18, 2009 05:35 PM
I've owned the 696 for a season and found a few things said way off. To call the brakes soft or week is comical and the vibration thing doesn't compute. \maybe it's a personal thing but I dont find it slow either.
David -Shiver  February 11, 2009 12:33 PM
I've ridden the Shiver a few times and I must say it's a very nice bike. If I was to buy a naked, though, I'd probably step up to the Tuono.
Craig Brooks -DUC vs Aprilia  February 10, 2009 01:16 PM
Ok... 750cc Watercooled (95 HP) vs 696 Air-cooled (65 HP?) Wouldn't the 1100 Monster with 95 HP be a better comparison since the motor makes a big difference in this comparro? Just a thought... Thanks. :) Also, compare the 1100 and 1100-S and let me know if it's worth the extra $$. :)
ben -how the heck!  February 10, 2009 08:06 AM
did you bunny hop that bike? is there a ramp out of camera view?
stonebold -maintenance  February 10, 2009 06:23 AM
I think i would have to consider lack of dealerships around here and maintenance costs vs the big 4.
thewall -Jeez, ya hooligans  February 9, 2009 08:34 PM
Nice write up and pics guys. Some fast and furious looking riding. Always nice to see Kevin Wing photos. Steve, where are your socks?
Rob -Where's the Street Triple?  February 9, 2009 06:11 PM
I'm looking at buying a midsize naked, and did test rides of these two and the Triumph Street Triple R back to back, and the Triumph was miles ahead of both of these, especially in terms of the engine and ergonomics, but in pretty much every other aspect as well. So why wasnt it part of this comparo?