I’ve got a Monster 696 and have a couple pieces of input, even though I’m assuming in the two months’ time since jk2’s last post he’s already gone on and bought a bike.
My riding background has been scooters and shitty 250cc clunkers from when I spent time in Taiwan. After re-adjusting to life in the States after a few years, I wanted to get a bike but wouldn’t really be able to get around on anything small across SoCal. I couldn’t find any new 695s, so I went with the 696 and have no regrets. To note:
-This is not a “beginner bike”
If you don’t have experience, you have no business riding the 696 because it is almost certainly new. The cards are stacked against you to drop the bike or do worse damage to it. It is forgiving, but with the power behind it there’s way too much room for error.
Someone mentioned two versions. Actually, the North American release is the “696+” which includes a bikini front fairing and a seat cowl. You can take the seat cowl off. There’s also a touring seat that’s flatter and has a gel pad in it. My male version of a ghetto booty negates the need for a gel-padded seat, though.
-Maintenance is expensive?
Ducati has made efforts to reduce maintenance costs over previous models; I can’t speak for owners of previous models, but the service is pretty reasonable so far. We’ll know more once folks put more miles on their 696s.
-Air-cooling on the bike means it overheats too easily
It’s really not that bad. The temp gauge looks like the bike is about to burst into flames when it starts getting to the top, when in reality that’s the norm. You will cuss ass your thighs start to feel hot after waiting more than five minutes for that left-turn light to change, though.
-It’s no good on the highway due to crosswinds
Not to bash other riders, but I tend not to veer too far over the speed limit. You can lane split at 80mph in SoCal and it’s not going to feel like you will get knocked off the bike. As usual, be more careful around semis.
If you have the money, this bike is great fun. Save for completely new riders, almost everyone could enjoy the Monster 696.