<img width="210" height="156" class="floatleft" src="www.motorcycle.in.th/images/articles/Ducati-Monster-696_Redesigned-Supremely_1.jpg" alt="" />The Ducati Monster 696, nearly 15 years ago, Ducati's aptly named Monster was credited with introducing the 'naked-bike' look – frame and engine proudly on display – that other manufacturers would scramble to mimic. Unfazed, the gabled Bologna, Italy-based marque – whose flaming-red motorcycles recall a certain automotive legend located up the road in Maranello – rode the Monster to unprecedented sales and unmatched marketplace cache.
'We knew we needed to head the Monster in a modern direction, but it's so iconic that we had to keep that shape, that behavior,' says a Ducati spokes person. 'We took out a clean piece of paper, but in the back of our heads we were always thinking, don't mess this up.'
<img width="230" height="205" class="floatright" src="www.motorcycle.in.th/images/articles/Ducati-Monster-696_Redesigned-Supremely_2.jpg" alt="" />The new Ducati Monster 696 is currently available at the Thai dealers, boasting an improved 'Hybrid Trellis' frame mated to an aluminum sub-frame that improves handling, while retaining that distinctive birdcage look. Also on-board are Brembo 4-piston brakes, an uprated L-Twin engine capable of 80 horsepower, and a multi-function digital instrument cluster replacing the old analog numbers.
One cosmetic change that seems pulled from the mobile-phone world is sure to initiate debate among the faithful: colored, plastic gas tank covers that can be swapped with a screwdriver. The changes and additions put the old Ducati Monster on nearly 7 kilo diet, while the price will increase less then 10 percent.
The stats, however, don't begin to explain why the Ducati Monster has had that huge-success. Some answers are found in the low-slung seating position, the wide fuel tank, beefy tires, and slit-eyed, side-view mirrors. Others erupt from the twin exhausts, rumbling blasts of an Italian sinfonia...