First impression: Ducati Monster 696, Monster 1100, SportClassic Sport 1000 Biposto
At a driving event this fall, we had a chance to sample a few motorcycles we may not formally test. As with high-performance cars, high-end motorcycles often set the standard for handling, braking, acceleration, and other attributes. While we started testing scooters and motorcycles again last year focused on the entry-level and casual use market, we have been sampling larger, more powerful bikes to remain calibrated. (See our previous motorcycle blog posts .)
We rode three Ducati bikes: the entry-level Monster 696, larger Monster 1100, and the SportClassic Sport 1000 Biposto, a bike styled like a classic CAFE-racer.
Ducati Monster 696
Listing at $8,995, the Monster 696 is Ducati’s entry-level bike and accounts for 80 percent of its sales, says Ducati Spokesman John Paolo Canton. It uses a 696 cc (call it a 700) version of Ducati’s fuel-injected, air-cooled 90-degree V-twin, with desmodromic valves. (Valves that close mechanically, rather than with springs.) It makes 80 hp at 9,000 rpm, with 10.7:1 compression. It has a six-speed transmission and dual disc brakes in front and a single disc in the rear.
It weighs a super-light 365 pounds. Seat height is 30.3 in.
First impression: For an entry-level bike, the little Monster was intimidating at first. Getting started, the throttle felt really touchy, making the bike initially difficult to ride smoothly. Once out on the road, the light weight and abundant power make the Monster much more enjoyable. The bike is really agile and changes directions readily and has plenty of power.
The riding position is tight, at least for taller riders. It’s comfortable enough on the arms, but the foot pegs are very close.
Ducati Monster 1100
The Monster 1100 is a lot like the Monster 696, with a bigger engine and a higher price tag: $11,995. The engine has a similar configuration as the 696: a fuel-injected, air-cooled, 90-degree V-twin, though displacing 1078 cc and producing 95 hp at 7,500 rpm. It also has a six-speed transmission, and antilock brakes are optional. Weight goes up by less than 10 pounds to 373, and it’s a little taller with a 31.9 in seat height. (Associate Editor Jim Travers demonstrates the size and seating position, after removing his gear.)
First impression: Surprisingly, the Monster 1100 felt more docile than its little brother, the Monster 696, even though it is heavier and more powerful. A multi-disk wet clutch makes the big bike easier to ride smoothly at low speeds. But a lot of the Monster 1100’s easy-riding feeling comes from big engine’s prodigious mid-range torque. Even once up to speed, it felt smoother than either of the other bikes, and while we couldn’t exactly stretch out, the riding position didn’t feel as cramped.
In the end, the Monster 1100 felt more mature than either of the other bikes.
Ducati SportClassic Sport 1000 Biposto
The Biposto is a great-looking retro-styled bike that was discontinued in 2009. But Ducati brought it out to the event for the cool factor, and because there may be some left at dealerships. It has chrome spoke wheels and chrome mirrors mounted on the ends of the handlebars. The engine is displaces 992 cc and makes 92 hp at 8,000 rpm.
The price for the retro styling is weight. The Sport 1000 Biposto tips the scales at 402 pounds, notably 27 more than the Monster 1100. The seat is a little taller at 32.5 in. In keeping with the retro theme, it uses dual rear shocks.
ABS is not available. The $11,995 price is the same as for the Monster 1100.
First impression: Based on its looks, we really wanted to like the Sport 1000 Biposto. But the styling-driven ergonomic compromises made this the hairiest of the three bikes to ride. The handlebars are really low, which compromises visibility and makes the riding position more fatiguing. With the mirrors so far out on the handlebars, it takes a long look off the road to check what’s behind you. I also found that being hunched over made it harder to control the bike in the twisties.
At least the foot pegs let the legs stretch a little. Also, like the Monster 696, the Sport 1000 uses a dry clutch, which combined with its higher-revving engine made parking lot maneuvers choppier. Out on the highway, the bike felt better.
See our motorcycle and scooter buying advice and ratings .
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