Jon Urry tests out the Ducati 620ie Monster
The original M600 was an amalgam of 583cc two-valve desmodromic V-twin motor and chassis from the 851 Superbike, clothed in the minimal bodywork from the pen of Miguel Galuzzi. More than 100,000 of the little beauties have been sold worldwide, meaning that it's been a real money spinner for Ducati, therefore a key machine in the model range.
That success has largely been due to its ability to give the same sort of cool street credibility the larger models have, while being physically accessible to smaller riders and women.
The new 620ie is nothing radically new, just a sympathetic makeover of the smallest of three models (600, 750, 900) that make up the air-cooled Monster range. There are two versions, a standard ie and a bikini-fairinged S, with both engines benefitting from an extra 35ccs, the addition of fuel injection and second front disc. Apart from that, many of the changes are so subtle that until you read the spec sheet you might think the bike has just gained a few extra colour options, so despite being Italian, subtlety is the by-word here.
The frame is still a steel-tubed trellis, but now derived from the liquid-cooled S4 Monster. Rear suspension now comes from Ducati's superbike family with the S getting a ride height adjuster (independent of spring pre-load), and aluminium-swinging arm.
But the most important changes are to the motor. You've got the extra cubic centimetres along with the fuel injection system, bigger valves and airbox which all adds up to an additional 8bhp to give a claimed total of 60bhp @ 9,500 rpm.
Turn the key and you know things are different as the needles swing round on the analogue gauges and the warning lights flash, including one for the new ignition immobiliser, which is standard fitment as well as a clock.
The first thing you notice riding the 620ie is the smoother response from the motor, compared to the low speed snatchiness of the current 600. There's still the same irritating lack of steering lock though that makes carving through commuter traffic a real bugger.
The new engine management system gives the bike a real willingness to rev, while keeping response instant, smooth and glitch-free. You do need to make use of the five-speed gearbox, mind.
Handling wise, the bike will suit many riders in that it's not overly quick in responding but needs a fair amount of rider input to get the best from it, so novices will find it won't bite, while those with a bit more experience can ride it harder and be rewarded. As with all Monsters it's easy to touch cycle parts down at moderate angles of lean, but the Dunlop Sportmax tyres suit the bike well and give plenty of grip. Suspension-wise, the re-valved inverted forks and single shock coped well with sany sort of surface - smooth or otherwise. Likewise the Brembo brakes perform flawlessly. It's got more mile-munching ability than it had and'll sit all day at 80mph plus. Despite being more suitable for smaller riders it doesn't feel cramped for six footers either!
Ducati have achieved their aim in modifying rather than radically altering a winning package - the Monster 620ie is a better bike than it was (see Big Brother pages 56-70 in this issue of TWO comparing the existing 600 model with the madcap 900 Monster) and is more versatile with it. This newest arrival to the Monster family will be in dealers in October, priced around £5,000.
One of Ducati's most important money spinners is further refined.
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