MD Ride Review: 2007 Ducati Monster 695 -…

28 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on MD Ride Review: 2007 Ducati Monster 695 -…
Ducati Monster 695

MD Ride Review: 2007 Ducati Monster 695

In the language of the industry’s marketing types, Ducati is a brand that thrives on aspiration. Meaning that while a majority of riders can’t afford to buy a Ducati (which typically costs significantly more than a competing Japanese machine), they aspire to one day own one of these Italian thoroughbreds.

Ducati’s goal is to keep these buyers attention, keep them dreaming about their Ducati until the day when they get that big raise, their kids move out, or they’ve got some equity in their home; the day they decide to treat themselves to an exclusive, high-end bike like a Monster S4R or 999. High-end auto manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have used similar marketing tactics to good effect.

Part of this strategy involves offering less-expensive models that can bring buyers with less disposable income ‘in the door’ – the idea being that once they’ve bought their first Ducati, they’ll be hooked, and as they become more financially successful, they’ll move up to the more exclusive (and more expensive) models, while still staying within the Ducati family. Again, this strategy has been successful for many auto manufacturers – look at the Porsche Boxster, a car obviously designed to be a prelude to ownership of a 911.

Ducati’s latest entry into this entry-level market is the Monster 695, which replaces the now-discontinued Monster 620. Carrying an MSRP of $7,495 in the US, the Monster 695 is designed to introduce those new to the brand to Ducati’s best-selling Monster lineup. Although specifications indicate an entry-level bike, Ducati’s designers intended the 695 to be a machine that wouldn’t feel ‘low-end’ to an experienced rider, since buyers might be new to the Ducati brand, but not to motorcycling.

The 695cc 90-degree V-Twin powerplant is air-cooled and uses two valves per cylinder, actuated by Ducati’s classic Desmo valvetrain system. For everyday riding the powerband is superb – offering a broad, useable spread of power and torque that pulls from right off idle, only tapering off quickly after its 8500rpm power peak (where it produces a claimed 73 crankshaft horsepower).

The Monster 695 transfers power to the ground via a 6-speed gearbox featuring Ducati’s exclusive Adler Power Torque Clutch. The APTC is claimed to offer a much lighter clutch pull, while at the same time acting as a ‘slipper’ clutch – preventing the rear wheel from locking due to engine braking when downshifting (which could be a safety issue for inexperienced riders).

Unfortunately, the clutch on our test unit didn’t work very well – the action was abrupt and grabby, making it difficult to smoothly pull away from a stop. I suspect that it may have been suffering from the abuse of previous testers, possibly attempting to ‘clutch it up’ and wheelie for the camera.

Another issue we had was with the 695′s extremely tall gearing, which combined with the grabby clutch to cause me to stall several times when trying to pull away from a stop. Yes, I’m serious, and no, I can’t remember the last time I stalled a motorcycle. Our solution was to ask Ducati to send us a 14-tooth countershaft sprocket (one tooth smaller than the 15T stock), which made the gearing significantly lower.

While I still found that the 695 was over-geared (if I owned one, I would go up a few teeth on the rear sprocket as well), it was certainly much more rideable than in its original configuration.

The chassis uses Ducati’s traditional tubular steel trellis frame configuration, with the frame tubes painted in a rich red to contrast nicely with the black tank and body panels. A non-adjustable 43mm Marzocchi USD fork handles the damping duties up front, while out back you’ll find a preload- and rebound-adjustable Sachs shock damping the rear wheel’s motion through a progressive linkage. Braking is courtesy of twin 300mm discs up front, clamped by twin Brembo two-piston calipers.

The rear brake is a single 245mm disc using a smaller two-piston caliper.

I have to admit that going into this test, I didn’t have high expectations for the Monster 695′s suspension. Of all the entry-level bikes with non-adjustable suspension I’ve tested in the past, few have impressed me as having above-average damping characteristics.

Fortunately, that was not the case with the 695. Admittedly, I am on the light side for an adult male rider (

135lbs), but I found the 695′s chassis/suspension combo to be quite impressive considering its budget nature. Although both ends are sprung softly for very aggressive street riding or track day use, for typical sport street use the Marzocchi forks and Sachs shock got the job done and never left me wanting more. Certainly an impressive accomplishment considering I am a much more experienced and aggressive rider than what I imagine is the target market for this bike.

The only suspension changes I made (well, the only ones available) were to increase rear spring preload by one full turn and add two clicks of rebound damping. This increased the rear ride height, offering more ground clearance and sharper steering, while at the same time giving better feel and feedback from the rear wheel. Heavier riders may find that even more preload is needed to keep the 695 on an even keel – the rear spring is quite soft.

The Monster’s chassis geometry gives it an interesting feel, one that took some getting used to. It was nevertheless confidence-inspiring once I was acclimated. The front end strikes a good balance between stability and sharp steering, which was excellent for general street use.

Ducati Monster 695

For aggressive canyon riding, more rear ride height (as detailed above) offers quicker steering without much loss in stability, mainly because the 695 mill doesn’t produce enough power to create much rearward weight transfer. In either configuration (stock or raised rear ride height), the 695 provides excellent front-end feedback.

The 695 is an excellent canyon-carver, at least up to a moderately aggressive pace. The limiting factor is the dual low-mount exhausts, which ground out when cornering hard. These restrict the bike’s lean angle to a certain extent, although I doubt most novice riders would ever find themselves dragging the pipes. Fortunately, Ducati offers a simple remedy – a set of Termignoni high-mount silencers is available through the factory’s accessory catalog.

So although the low-hanging pipes won’t bother an entry-level buyer, if he starts to have issues as his skill level increases, he has a remedy available at the dealership.

Braking performance is adequate, and definitely in the expected ballpark for an entry-level bike like this. The dual twin-piston Brembo calipers provide the necessary stopping power, but have a somewhat wooden feel — not much feedback. Still, they get the job done, and you do get the bling Brembo logo on the calipers.

Just remember that not all Brembos are created equal.

The riding position is typical Monster – pegs somewhat high and rearward, long reach to the bars across the seemingly elongated tank (it doesn’t look that way, only seems it when you have to reach across it). For around-town riding, this can be tiring for the wrists and forearms, but the trade-off is in freeway comfort.

The 695 is perhaps the most comfortable naked bike I’ve ever ridden on the freeway, with the forward lean of the rider’s torso mitigating some of the wind blast, which takes the weight off your wrists and shoulders. Speeds in excess of 80mph are no problem. something I can’t say about many of the naked bikes I’ve ridden. Comfort is otherwise good, and the riding position enhances the already superb front-end feedback.

Despite the problem we had with our test unit’s clutch, we have to be impressed with the Monster 695. The bike is simply beautiful. the black paint on the tank and fender is rich and glossy, and the red on the trellis frame shines like a polished fire engine. Only a few small details let it down, details like the ugly caps atop the USD forks and the boxy, basic swingarm.

Still, when the owner of a Monster 695 contemplates his bike in the garage, he’ll definitely feel like he got his money’s worth, and that feeling won’t fade when he takes it out for a ride.

Ducati Monster 695
Ducati Monster 695
Ducati Monster 695
Ducati Monster 695

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