- This topic has 87 replies, 19 voices, and was last updated 12 years ago by Anonymous.
September 18, 2008 at 7:28 am #12312
Maybe you’re agonizing about this too much; I tend to do the same.
Do your research, read the reviews, make your shortlist (which you’ve apparently come close to already), then go sit on the bikes (ride ’em if they’ll let you), make your decision and then do the deal.
You know, *any* of the bikes you’re considering will be more than up to the job and all will have their strengths and weaknesses. A 650-1000 c.c. twin is ideal for a second bike and with inexpensive soft luggage, any bike can be a touring bike.
Pick the one that speaks to you (you’ll know which one you *really* want) and then don’t look back.
You’re probably going to change the bike in a couple of years anyway, so no biggie really…September 18, 2008 at 7:57 am #12315megaspazParticipant
well put. i’d only change “You’re probably going to change the bike in a couple of years anyway, so no biggie really…” to “You’re probably going to add more bikes in a couple of years anyway, so no biggie really…” to make it perfect.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…September 18, 2008 at 1:10 pm #12320MattParticipant
Get the one that you love.
Bikes (and cars) are too expensive to buy one that doesn’t do it for you.
100 mile trips aren’t too bad, the trick is stopping when needed. Don’t try to do it in one go. Stability at speed won’t be an issue, and the effects of wind and trucks will be just as present on it as any other bike really.
Comfort will be entirely personal. I like a slight lean forward with no wind protection. Not everyone does.
Also, a new bike is a new canvas, you can adjust it to fit your needs and wants.
Want more wind protection? get a givi fly screen. Want less weight on your wrists, get bar risers. There are solutions to everything. They will all change the character of the bike, not always for the better, but you’ll learn what you like and what you want – just ride it stock for a while to learn what it is you actually want changed not what you think you want changed.
A guy walked into a ducati dealership after buying a supersport 800. He was complaining that it put too much weight on his wrists and asked the service mechanice what he could to to relieve the pressure on his wrists.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”September 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm #12321AndrewParticipant
I’m sure that all mid sized bikes will be stable at highway speeds. We have had debates about the Ninja at highway speeds but mid-sized bikes are all heavier and the extra mass will help on the highway.
I’ll second the recommendation to get the one that really speaks to you. If the price differences don’t matter to you then go with the one that gives you the biggest emotional response. You’ll know the one when you see it and sit on it.September 19, 2008 at 12:08 am #12348
If I were to get a 696, instead of say a Bonneville, my dealer is telling me that it would be better for the bike, to remove the stock pipes, and install either carbon fiber or titanium pipes by some italian company whose name starts with “T”. He claims that it is better for the health and longevity of the engine.
Is this nonsense?September 19, 2008 at 1:10 am #12351
There was talk of the Monster 696 running overly lean in order to meet the new European emissions laws which is probably what he was talking about regarding the Termignoni kit (expensive!).September 19, 2008 at 2:43 am #12359
Thank you for the links. Can’t say that those comments make me want to run out and buy the 696. Forget whether the bike is good for a newer rider, is it good? There aren’t tons of people who love this bike. Is that the price, or the bike?September 19, 2008 at 7:35 pm #12395MattParticipant
The Monster has a pretty big following. It out sells all the other models. Monsters pretty much pay the bills for the company.
So yea, lots of people like it. What you’ll find about Ducati is that there are really Two groups of big time ducati fans.
The “Ducatistas” who love the sport bikes, the ‘strada, the Gt. But they tend to look down on the lowly Monster as a “fashion accessory, not a bike”.
Then you get the “Monsteristas” who really dig the Monster and don’t really care for the rest of the line up. Many of these guys are good riders who just want a plain old fun bike and love the Monster for what it is. Others love the looks/life-style of it. Unfortunately, Ducati is lately advertising the Monster more to the later, so you get a lot of “life-style”, “urban”, and “fashion” comments in their press releases and advertising – which just turns off more of the “hardcore” ducati fans.
If you read a lot of reviews you’ll find the Ducati is pretty much universally liked by reviewers, though in pretty much every facet there is a bike that does whatever better than the Monster, so it rarely wins shoot-outs and comparos. Like the Sporter it isn’t a bike you buy for its stats, or price – you buy it because it speaks to you.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”September 19, 2008 at 8:43 pm #12397
“you get a lot of “life-style”, “urban”, and “fashion” comments in their press releases and advertising – which just turns off more of the ‘hardcore’ ducati fans”
Triumph are doing that too and their earlier Triumph RAT magazines were like one of those “women’s magazines for men”.
They also had some effete designer make a range of “fashion accessories” for the Bonneville, including tank covers, one of which has daisies (flowers) painted on it!
The Bonneville is the modern incarnation of a motorcycle that, in its day, was considered one of the fastest, baddest, bad-boy bikes on the road… Bloody Daisies!!!??
Geez!September 20, 2008 at 2:23 am #12417
Matt, yes there are a number of negative comments about the 696 mini monster. Fewer about its bigger brother. The 696 is really nice to ride, but is a compromise, and is incredibly expensive (as one is expected to add new pipes and seat for an additional $2,000.
Daisy’s were 60’s symbols. Nostalgia. I really wonder what the new Bonnies will be like with fuel injection. Don’t think I’d put a Union Jack on my tank-too Austin Powers.September 22, 2008 at 6:00 pm #12497JosiahSealeGuest
Yesterday I broke a 1000 miles on my 696, and although it was an expensive buy as beginner bikes go, it was one of the best investments of my life. It’s been a spectacular decision because it is both a fantastic beginner bike and a fantastic bike overall.
As bikes go, I was somewhat distressed to learn that I fall squarely in the demographic Ducati was targeting with the 696, but I ultimately came to terms with it. I wasn’t looking for a track bike and I wasn’t looking to pull cross-country trips. I wanted something that would be awesome to ride in town and awesome for day-trips out into the hills, or maybe surrounding small towns. In short, I knew I was looking for a bike to have fun on on a day-to-day basis, as opposed to a racer or a cruiser, and that means I fall precisely into the group Ducati was targeting. They nailed it.
In terms of reasons why it’s a fantastic beginner bike, I can address points relevant to beginners given that I am one myself.
Reason 1.) Engine Dynamics: The acceleration curve is such that it won’t overpower you right off the bat.
The 696 has a lot of oomph to it, but the oomph tends to be in the higher RPMs. One of the glorious things about the 696 is that if you shift up every time the engine would be comfortable in the higher gear (1 to 2 around 19mph at 5K RPM, 2 to 3 around 27 at 5K RPM, etc.), most of the engine’s power remains untouched. My dealer recommended I keep it between 3K and 5K RPMs for the first 300 miles or so to break it in, so for the first month or two I was on the bike I had no idea what I was actually sitting astride. I have since discovered you always have an immense well of energy you could use to rocket off at any moment, but it happily accelerates at a measured pace. It’s not a scooter and it doesn’t drive like one, but there should be no worries about accidental wheelies or anything like that, especially if you’re breaking it in gradually. It’s very easy to be a well-behaved, safe rider on it.
Reason 2.) Mechanical Engineering: It’s designed to take spills in stride.
I’ll go ahead and admit I have dropped it several times, in all instances because of my own idiocy. Generally it’s been when doing things like taking a u-turn too slowly (e.g. 2 miles an hour) and not realizing I’m leaning it over too much. The first time I dropped it, I shamefacedly righted it, went off to a cul-de-sac somewhere and spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how I had dropped it on the asphalt and not gotten a scratch or a dent on it. I finally realized the 696 was built with spills like this in mind. A faster spill will take its toll, of course, but the 696 is designed such that it lands on the metal footpegs and a little rubber cap on the end of the handlebars. The handlebar on the down-side of the 696 doesn’t hit the tank at all, so you don’t get the dents you’d get on the older Monsters. Rather, it matches up nicely with the air intake, so even a heftier spill doesn’t dent the tank but rather ends up directing the impact to the easily replaceable, tiny, metal grill that covers the air intake. Awesome.
Reason 3.) The Potential: It’s a bike you can keep growing into.
In spite of being a bike that’s easy for even a beginner to ride in a well-behaved, safe manner, it has loads of reserve bad-ass energy, even in its stock version. The acceleration dynamics I mentioned mean that you don’t have to down-shift if you decide to accelerate significantly — you just have to give it some gas. The engine noise starts to sound angrier at something like 6K RPMs, so if you’re just off tooling around on a pleasant little jaunt, you probably shift at around that point. On the other hand, I have also realized that the angrier sound isn’t the engine getting mad at you — it’s the engine getting mad at the world and wanting to show it who’s boss. A Ducati showing the world who’s boss can be a sight to behold.
At this point the other area for growth becomes relevant: modifications. I can’t really speak to the top-end performance of the stock version, because I always do what the Internet tells me, and in this case the Internet told me to both get the performance improvement kit and to gear the front sprocket down from 15 teeth to 14 teeth. The Ducati shop agreed these were both good things to do, so I had them both done at the 600-mile tune-up.
Gearing the sprocket down from 15 teeth to 14 teeth takes speed off the top end to give you more power in lower gears. The performance improvement kit… improves performance. The standard kit included (at least) a new chip, new air filter setup and the Termignoni carbon-fiber pipes. Doing both of these modification at the same time was definitely the right thing to do. It’s almost a wash for the top speed, but you get a lot more power at your fingertips in the lower gears.
I can speak a lot more comfortably about the performance with these (apparently standard) modifications in place. I’m still a newb, so I’ve yet to red-line it in its top gear, but I’ve red-lined it in lower gears to check out the acceleration. It’s kinda cute — the gauges are all digital, so rather than having a literal red line that your needle hits, it flashes red LEDs at you.
Regardless, the acceleration is fantastic. I discovered the 696 keeps pace with a Porsche Boxster just fine — even if you’re shifting gears at 5K RPMs, which I realized I was doing out of habit. A quick flick of the wrist and the Boxster is eating your dust. Similarly, this morning I was woken up to drive across town for a 2AM emergency. I pulled up next to some kid in a Nissan at a stoplight who was trying to be a bad-ass, positioning himself and the like. I was angry at being up, had to get across town and now this, on top of it? Nothing doing. There was an inclined straight-away ahead, so within two or three seconds after the light had turned green, I was doing 54 mph uphill in third gear. No red-lining. In spite of being angry, I was kinda pleased with the bike, at least.
Admittedly, the bike is far from perfect. Here are all the issues I’ve had so far:
1.) As has been mentioned, the tank is positioned so male riders have to pay attention to the position of their family jewels. This is especially true when carrying passengers — as much fun as it might be to have someone you find attractive cozy up next to you while you’re riding, passengers who don’t stay on the rear portion of the seat can do so to the detriment of the front rider’s positioning, especially depending on said passenger’s weight. As long as you can keep your position, you’re fine, but if you can’t, things can quickly get unpleasant. The default position if you follow the curvature of the seat is to stay right next to the tank, but the seat curvature is gradual at that point and it’s very easy to stay back a few inches; this is a very good idea.
2.) When doing a hard left turn, like a u-turn in close space, if you’re holding down the clutch it’s possible to bang the top knuckle of your left thumb on the tank.
3.) When I still had the stock pipes, after a while these would heat up and become unpleasant to any passengers, who had to carefully avoid touching them. Getting the Termignonis took care of this, though.
In sum, I am ecstatic with my 696 and recommend it to anyone as a great first bike. It won’t run away with you, it can take the abuse you give it and it’s great to be able to get comfortable with a bike and then explore the ropes of more-aggressive motorcycling on that same bike once you’re comfortable doing so.
+>JosiahSeptember 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm #12505
Did you go with the standard seat or the touring seat (which is somewhat more upright)?
Did you purchase the rear seat bag?
Other than power, did the carbon fiber pipes improve the smoothness of the engine that you noticed?
Gearing the sprocket down would give you faster acceleration, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you need to give it more throttle from a full stop? Would that be a mod that a beginner, or any newer rider, would want to make?
What is your height, weight and inseam? It would help to see how comfortable others would find it?
Comment: Redlining that bike in top gear would probably put you at 130 mph. That is not a requirement that I’m looking for in a beginning bike. As a beginner, I don’t really feel the need to keep up with Boxters (hell, I don’t even want to go near the Porshe with panties) or 911s or M5s. Getting out of the way of an SUV driver on a cell phone would be good, though.September 22, 2008 at 11:10 pm #12523JosiahSealeGuest
1.) I went with the standard seat, which is pretty upright anyway. As was mentioned above, the US 696s are actually 696+ models, which come with the little micro-fairing up front and a removable rear seat cowl in the back. It’s easy to take the seat cowl on and off — it’s just a couple of screws, for which the allen wrench is included in the toolkit. I keep that wrench and allen the wrench used to adjust the mirrors in my jacket pocket, just in case.
2.) No rear seat bag. I use a backpack for cargo and an inexpensive elastic mesh net with hooks for helmet transportation. The latex-coated hooks slip nicely underneath the rear seat. I wondered about the bag when I bought the bike, but I haven’t needed it.
3.) The engine is very smooth as it is, but yes, I did notice some smoothing out with the Termignonis. Between 5K and 6K RPMS the stock pipes begin to sound like they have angry hornets in them. With the carbon pipes (and gear-down) the change in sound is somewhere between 6K and 7K RPMs, and a friend described the Termignonis as sounding like angry athletes.
4.) You’re exactly right about the sprocket. Gearing the sprocket down lowers the range of speeds each gear covers comfortably, but makes it easier to get from the bottom speed to the top speed in each gear. For example, I remember first gear comfortably covering from 0mph to 19mph (at 5K RPMs) prior to the gear-down. After both mods, first gear covers something like 0mph to 17mph. You do indeed need to give it a little more throttle to get to a given speed, but giving it that throttle will get you there quicker, if that makes sense.
I wouldn’t recommend getting the gear-down or the performance improvement kit from Day 1 for a beginner, but six hundred miles was plenty of time to get comfortable with the stock 696. Once you’re comfortable with the stock version, the mods are a baby-step up. It’s not really a big deal — turning the throttle the same amount still gives you the same RPMs, and the same RPMs give you a lower speed than they would have previously, due to the gear-down, so if you handle the controls more or less the same, you get a similar result. However, you can comfortably take the RPMs higher if you want to, because of the performance kit, and they have more torque, because of the gear-down, so you can take them higher faster. But nobody says you have to.
5.) I am 5’10” and 165lbs. I can’t really speak to what the experience would be if I were a different size, but my taller-and-heavier friends who have ridden it have all loved it.
With respect to your comment, if getting out of the way of an SUV driver on a cellphone is your concern, then gearing down the front sprocket is definitely the way to go. It’s a little less fuel-efficient, because you’re doing more RPMs for the same speed, but giving it 8K RPMs is like stomping on a tube of toothpaste. It’s glorious.
+>JosiahSeptember 23, 2008 at 1:06 pm #12551
Thanks for the answer. Just a little clarification
You can use the cowl from the 696+ with the touring seat as well. The seat isn’t gel, but it is softer.
Thanks for the info on the pipes.
My comment regarding SUVs was more to say I don’t care about the acceleration to keep up with a sports car. Few new riders do. I suspect that good braking skills are more important than acceleration, and that an accidental wheelie would be less worse than a little less torque. It does strike me that lower gearing may make a bike less controllable/smooth at low speeds or from a full stop. Am I wrong.
As this is, in theory, a beginners site, glorious acceleration is not necessarily a huge plus.
Also, how do you adjust the mirrors to avoid a beautiful view of your arms?September 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm #12558JosiahSealeGuest
Thanks for the clarification. I haven’t seen the touring seat.
Both brakes and acceleration are important for safe traffic maneuvering, as I’m sure you know. I’m really happy with both on the 696.
The control at lower speeds probably relies more on the clutch than on the throttle. It was important for me to get familiar with the (sensitive) clutch, which is why I’d recommend waiting until the 600-mile tune-up to get any of the mods. The gear-down means you do have to give it more throttle to get going from a full stop, but it’s a difference of maybe 1K-2K RPMs. If you’ve built up experience with the clutch prior to making any mods, it should be fine.
The glorious acceleration is in the higher RPMs, which are not necessary to ride the bike around town, or even on the highway for that matter. As mentioned, I happily rode around for a month or two and never went above 5K RPMs, and I never had any idea the bike could really accelerate if I wanted it to. I’ve only had the bike for three months, after all, so I’m still figuring it out.
In terms of the mirrors, there’s a reason I keep two allen wrenches in my jacket pocket — one for the seat cowl and the other for the mirrors. If they’re not tight enough, you get the bicep-view you mention.
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