Replacing an iconic design is never easy (as Ducati knows too well), but with its brand-spanking-new Monster 696 the Italian manufacturer has nailed it squarely. The familiar air-cooled V-twin has been fettled with new cylinder heads (like the Multistrada/Hypermotard design) featuring plain-bearing cams and larger valves, plus a finer-tuned fuel-injection system using one Lambda sensor per cylinder. The factory claims 11 percent more torque and 9 percent more power, but in truth the mini-Monster still feels a little flat, especially down low. There's quite an impressive honk from the airbox beneath the dummy fuel tank when you wind on the throttle, but that's about it. Get it spinning above 6000 rpm, however, and the 696 hustles along with a tad more verve, and the (wet) slipper clutch and six-speed gearbox are sweet to the touch-as they need to be.