Road Test Review
All of these bikes have at least some claim to icon status, in terms of both styling and longevity. The first Triumph Bonneville dates back to 1959, the first Moto Guzzi V7 to 1967, and the first BMW GS to 1980. The Ducati Monster, which debuted in 1993, is the baby of the bunch. Ducati’s popular line of air-cooled L-twin-powered naked bikes is celebrating its 20th birthday in 2013, and the company has unveiled special anniversary editions of the Monster 696, 796 and 1100EVO.
Although our 2013 Monster 696 test bike lacks the bronze frame and vintage graphics of the anniversary model, it is nonetheless a special bike. With the highest rear-wheel horsepower (66.1 at 8,100 rpm, and 43.4 lb-ft of torque at 7,800 rpm), sportiest dimensions, lowest wet weight (415 pounds) and the second-lowest standard seat height (30.3 inches) in the group, it is indeed quick, lean and low. For $252.30, you can buy a factory accessory low seat that drops the seat height 0.8 inch, to 29.5 inches. The scooped seat locks you into place, with little breathing room between the rider and the plastic-covered fuel tank. Being of the sporty persuasion, the 696 puts the most bend in your back and knees and the most weight on your wrists.
The Monster 696 hasn’t changed much since it was introduced for 2009 (see Rider, August 2008 for our full test). Its rumbling L-twin still sounds and feels great, its solid chassis and well-chosen components still deliver a responsive ride, and its styling, especially in Ducati red with matching trellis frame and bodywork, still quickens the pulse. But ABS is now standard, though it can be turned off for those inclined to do track days, rear-brake slides or stoppies.