Ducati, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, introduced its first Monster naked sport bike back in 1992. It was an enormous success, which some credit with saving the company during the recession of the early-1990s. Ducati has brought out various versions in the ensuing decades and has sold about 250,000 Monster bikes over the years. In 2009 three new Monster models made their debut in the United States: the 696, which replaced the old 620, and the 1100 and 1100S.
The key difference between earlier models and the 2009 line was the switch to air-cooled engines. Both 1100 models have 1078cc, air-cooled longitudinal V-twin four-stroke Desmodromic engines with single overhead cams and Siemens fuel injection. The 696 has a 696cc, air-cooled, longitudinal twin four-stroke. All three models have six-speed manual transmissions, with belt final drive, and the dry clutch that Ducati is noted for—not always affectionately. The 696 and 1100 base model have Showa inverted forks with adjustable preload and rebound damping and Sachs single-sided swing arms with an adjustable spring preload shock and rebound damping. The 1100S comes with an Ohlins inverted fork and a Sachs swing arm, both fully adjustable. Brembo dual hydraulic discs in front and a substantial single disc in back furnish plenty of stopping power.
Ducati introduced the Monster 696 with great fanfare (ambassadors attending the official unveiling in Spain). The 355-pound (dry) bike got a new chassis as part of its remake, as well as an engine that produces 80 horsepower and 51 ft./lbs. of torque.
The 21st-century digital instrument display on all three models offers an array of information: it has the standard fuel gauge, temperature light, odometer, tachometer, and speedometer, plus a shift light and a trip computer. The 1100S comes with the Ducati Data Analyzer system, which lets you download riding information to your computer, so you can improve your riding; it’s an option for the other models.
The Monster has been a staple of the Ducati line for 20 years because it is ridable and fun, both in city streets and on country roads.