While it retains the spirit of its naked siblings, the all-new 2008 Monster 696 sports some modern styling cues coupled with a revised motor.
The Monster is a seminal naked motorcycle design which has spawned great success for Ducati
. At the EICMA Milan Bike Show, the Italian marque unveiled an all-new addition to the Monster lineup - the Ducati Monster
696. Although many of the Ducatisti will be focusing their lust on the all-new 848 and 1098R Superbikes
, Ducati PR is pitching the new 696 as the "undisputed star of the Milan Show."
At a glance we can understand the claim. The 696 retains the traditional Monster styling aesthetic, but you won't confuse this bike with its 695 sibling. Cosmetic changes are apparent, the most notable perhaps the traditional trellis frame being replaced with what Ducati is dubbing a "Hybrid Trellis" frame. It is a design which the manufacturer claims is "directly inspired by the 2007 World MotoGP title-winning Desmosedici
GP7 machine." Even a cursory visual examination reveals the frame tubes are much larger in diameter than those on its Monster siblings and they meld into the all-new aluminum subframe and swingarm.
Carrying the flowing lines of the new chassis is the 696's sleek exhaust. Eschewing the low-slung design of the 695 and the dual side cans of the S4R and S2R, this new Monster sports a dual undertail configuration. Also noticeable is the new route of the exhaust downpipes, which wrap around the side instead of underneath the bike, cleaning up the bottom of this Monster.
The chassis and exhaust designs manage to both retain the distinctive Monster appeal, while modernizing a design which launched the naked class 15 years ago. The changes also amount to an 11-lb reduction from the 695, for a claimed dry weight of 359 lbs.
Powering the new Monster is a version of the L-Twin housed in the 695. At 88 x 57.2mm, the bore and stroke are identical but the pistons and combustion chamber have been altered. The motor also sports new cylinder heads similar to those on the Multistrada and Hypermotard. Matching the reshaped heads on the air-cooled design are more cooling fins, placed closer together via an improved casting process.
The changes add up to a claimed 9% jump in horsepower at 80 ponies and 11% boost in torque to 50.6 lb-ft. Numbers which Ducati contends gives the new 696 "the best horsepower per liter ratio of all Ducati's air-cooled units."
Slowing down the new Monster are Brembo four-piston radial-mount calipers, with the front binders pinching down on dual 320mm rotors. The mondo brakes figure to deliver top-shelf performance, which Ducati promises are "the envy of its class."
The sweeping lines on the Monster 696 include an all-new frame, subframe and swingarm, as well as cleaned up undertail exhaust.
Style-wise, the 696 further distinguishes itself with mirrors more closer resembling the 1098 than other Monsters. Also discarded from the Monster style bag are the more traditional analog instruments, which are replaced on the 696 with an electronic display similar in appearance to the Hypermotard.
A new triple-arc headlamp is all-alone up front, with an LED taillight out back. The rear tail section can also change appearance and function with ease thanks to a removable seat cover.
No MSRP is listed yet for the new Monster. Ducati does make a favorable monetary promise about the 696, however, and its entire 2008 lineup, with the Bologna firm claiming: "Every 2008 Ducati requires maintenance less often and with fewer parts during servicing, dramatically reducing maintenance costs - by as much as 50%."
If true, the claim is more good news for Ducati, which is on a financial roll after the success of its 1098 and Hypermotard. Success which Ducati's CEO, Gabriele Del Torchio, mentioned in his opening address at the EICMA show - the Italian manufacturer having recorded positive growth for the third consecutive quarter.
Helping the Ducati bottom line is the pricey Desmosedici RR, also on display at Milan, which has seen its limited-edition production run balloon up to 1500.
Another notable Milan entry for Ducati is a Special Edition Tri-Colore S4RS. The Hypermotard also returns to the event it headlined in 2005. The only change for Hypermotard in 2008 being a color swap, but the availability of the hooligan enabling beast in all-black livery is perfect.
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