Revamping a best-selling icon like the original Miguel Galluzzi-designed Monster is always a risky proposition, but after 15 years of enduring appeal it was time for a refreshment. Most of the changes center around the Monster's chassis, with the Ducati's overall silhouette remaining basically the same-you don't want to mess too much with success-but with some slight refinements.
Ergonomics have been revised, with a shorter reach to the bars, a slightly lower and more forward footpeg location and the lowest seat height of any Ducati ever. The traditional chromoly-steel trellis frame sports larger-diameter (with thinner wall) tubing, with the rear subframe now aluminum. The swingarm is made from aluminum instead of the tubular steel unit of the previous version. Brakes are radial-mount units with 320mm discs.
The fuel tank has grilled intake vents at the forward portion of each side and features removable outer "skin" that allows owners to quickly and conveniently customize their bike's look.
The Monster's 696cc engine has received some upgrades that boost horsepower by nine percent (now a claimed 80 horsepower) and torque by 11 percent (now a claimed 50.6 ft-lb). Bore and stroke are the same, but the new Monster benefits from the revamped two-valve cylinder heads used on the Multistrada and Hypermotard. A more efficient combustion chamber and porting, along with cams that are now plain-bearing instead of ball-bearing, reduce weight as well as increase power. The exhaust has moved from a conventional upswept design to a semi-underseat configuration similar to the Triumph Speed Triple. Improved casting processes allow more cooling fins to be packed onto the cylinder head and cylinders for better heat management.
Overall weight has dropped by 11 pounds to a claimed dry weight of 359 pounds. The MSRP of the new Monster 696 was not listed at press time. -K.K.
New Pirelli Diablo Rosso
SR Gets A Crack At The First Of The Next Generation Of Pirelli Diablo Sport Tires
Since the original Pirelli Diablo sport tire debuted in 2004, many sportbikes have made major leaps in both peak power and handling performance, which places additional demands on the tires. In order to keep pace, Pirelli has released the successor to its Diablo sport tire, designated the Diablo Rosso.
Most of the changes to the new Diablo Rosso center around the tread pattern, profile and compounds. The rear tire joins the trend toward slick tire design on the edges for maximum grip at aggressive lean angles, while the middle portion of both the front and rear tire on each side actually has slightly more tread grooves for better water dispersal. The front tire's profile has been slightly redesigned for more "linear response," as Pirelli feels that the intended market for the Diablo Rosso-riders who mostly ride on the street-doesn't want a tire that steers too quickly. Compounds on both front and rear tires have undergone changes aimed at increased grip on wet and dry tarmac without compromising mileage-and maintaining that performance over the course of the tire's life.
Pirelli introduced the Diablo Rosso to the American press with a 75- to 100-mile street ride along some of Southern California's superb canyon roads, followed by an afternoon spent running laps around Willow Springs International Raceway's Streets of Willow course. We quickly found during the street ride that the Diablo Rosso's steering characteristics were definitely more neutral than the original Diablo's, with slightly slower steering response. Trail-braking into corners tended to make the steering a little heavier than what you'd expect, but nothing obtrusive. This is not to say the Diablo Rossos felt truckish in any way; they were still able to carve tight lines, and midcorner line corrections weren't a problem. We also found the Rosso's overall ride to be a little stiffer than the previous Diablo, although it wasn't exactly harsh; Pirelli reps stated that there were "very minor changes" to the carcass construction and that the change in ride is mostly the result of the different compound. That said, feedback from the Diablo Rosso was more communicative than that of its predecessor.
Speaking of different compounds, the Diablo Rosso's new mix is certainly a step forward from the previous tire. Overall grip is much better than the old Diablo (which was no slouch in the traction department), especially when leaned over on the tire's edge. While we never encountered any issues during the street ride, even numerous laps on the Streets of Willow racetrack failed to cause a significant deterioration in grip. Only at the very end of the day did traction start to drop, and even then it was a very gradual slide-and it should be remembered that the Diablo Rosso was not meant as a track-day tire in the first place. Overall wear after a spirited 75-100 miles in the canyons coupled with numerous laps in the afternoon on the track was barely moderate, with plenty of life left in both tires.
Although no retail prices had been set at press time, Pirelli reps did state that predicted prices will be about 10-15 percent more than the Diablo. Numerous sizes will soon be available for many current bikes, although the initial availability will be limited to the more popular 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 and 190/50-17 rears until the spring. -K.K.
After several months of downtime, our SuperFlow CycleDyn dynamometer is finally back in action. The interruption is the result of the shop hosting the dyno moving to a new location and a soundproof room being built to keep disturbances in the new neighborhood to a minimum. There is good news, however: The insulated room and its huge fan make for more consistent, repeatable dyno runs, and while the enclosure was being built we took the opportunity to completely update the computer system and its software. Look for dyno charts from the CycleDyn beginning with the Suzuki B-King test in this issue.