Low capacity Monsters of old have been a little on the cheap side, so will this new model reflect Ducati's upmarket image?
Click to read: Ducati Monster 695 owners reviews, Ducati Monster 695 specs and to see the Ducati Monster 695 image gallery.
Six Nine Five. Doesn't quite have the ring of 999 or 916, but Ducati's new version of the Monster, the 695, certainly has a place in the world. The Monster is one of Ducati's major successes, selling over 170,000 of various models over the years - it's come in several capacities during its 13 year life: the original 900, a 750, a 600, a 620, more recently an 800, a 1000 and an eight-valve 999.
So what's this 695 all about? With its extra 77cc (no, the maths aren't good) it replaces the entry-level 620, which is a good thing as it was a bit wet and underpowered. The 695 still works as a novice rider's bike as the peak power of a creditable 73bhp only hits at 8500rpm, so you have to work hard to get yourself in trouble. Lower down the revs there's plenty of power to play with, which makes for a much more engaging and rewarding ride than the bike it replaces. And then when you're ready, let the revs race and the bike starts to sound like a proper Ducati superbike - which its predecessor never quite managed to do.
But it's more than sound. Rev the bike through to its electronically interrupted conclusion at just over 9000rpm and you will be fully focused on some seriously fast action going on around you. This Ducati is a true sportster and it's when you let it fly that the quality and lightness of the chassis really show. It has very quick steering and needs only a light touch to flick from extreme to extreme. The bike is physically unintimidating, so you feel fully confident to take control and throw it around. There's nothing but a pair of clocks in front of you -which further sharpens the impression that you're in control.
The suspension gives a comfy ride at low speeds which translates well to fast action handling. My one disappointment was the front brake, which stopped the bike adequately enough but really lacked power from high speeds. It's an area which should have been uprated with the extra power and the elevation of the bike from starter-commuter to capable sporty naked bike.
A look at the overall finish of the bike pulls the Ducati back into a positive light. The black clocks are stylish and the chrome and paint look deep. Ducati let themselves down somewhat with the first small-bore Monster, the 600, which looked and felt low budget, with single disc brake and matt black tank - a fashion statement which backfired on that model. It just looked cheap and unfinished. Buyers of Ducatis expect more - a red Ducati is still one of the most evocative and powerful statements in motorcycling, and as such carries with it some responsibilities to the brand values. Happily the 695 is more than capable of upholding those Ducati values, and the tag 'cheap' only applies to its price.
Apart from the shonky front brake, here's a budget Monster that really delivers the performance goods.
SPECS TYPE - STREETBIKE PRODUCTION DATE - 2006 PRICE NEW - £5100 ENGINE CAPACITY - 695cc POWER - 73bhp@8500rpm TORQUE - 45lb.ft@6750rpm WEIGHT - 168kg SEAT HEIGHT - 770mm FUEL CAPACITY - 14L
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