The Monster. An unusual name for a motorcycle model, yet that hasn’t stopped thousands of women from owning one since the lightweight naked motorcycle was introduced in 1993. The Monster name came about because the design of the bike started out as a styling exercise, a motorcycle born out of a hodge-podge of parts lying around Ducati’s design shop.
I’ve test ridden a lot of motorcycles over the years, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Ducati Monster. There’s something cool, sexy and unique about the cute Italian motorcycle that allows those of us who like to part from the ordinary make one heck of a statement when riding it. From the naked design and throaty sound, to what Ducati red stands for—exotic, luxury, iconic—Ducati’s marketing machine does a great job appealing to a buyers senses and emotions that’s nearly on par with how Harley-Davidson attracts its faithful.
There have been many Monster models that have come and gone over the years. Honestly I’ve had a hard time keeping up with which one was out and what new one was introduced. It is a revolving door for this model family.
Back in the early 2000s, Ducati was noticeably courting women riders with ad campaigns that featured women. A motorcycle manufacturer putting its “money where its mouth is” is something I notice.
The company also held women-only motorcycling events and rides both in the U.S. and in Italy. And as a leading female motorcycle journalist, I was invited and flown by Ducati to Bologna, Italy, to tour the factory, test ride the new Ducati bikes and celebrate the milestone of the 100,000 Monster rolling of the assembly line.
Ducati, as a company, has gone through many changes over the last decade—too many to explore in this short review article—the most significant, however, was being purchased by Audi in 2012.
As an ardent observer of all things women and motorcycling for the last two decades, Ducati’s industry leading marketing to women efforts in the early 2000s have taken a back seat while the company has been working to refine its message to attract its core customers, men, and later, adjust itsbusiness model under its new owner.
That said, I strongly believe in the Monster as a unique and qualified motorcycle ideal for women riders. And in keeping with our mission to provide you, the WRN reader, with information on motorcycles that are most favorable to women (and riders of shorter stature), there’s no denying the qualities of the Ducati Monster 696 and the 796. In 2014, Ducati introduced the Monster 1200 and 1200S. Here are highlights of each model.
Straddling the lightweight motorcycle feels comfortable and easy. The seating position has the rider leaning forward to reach the handlebars. The handgrips are not as low as as what youd find on a sportbike—they are wider and slightly higher—still after just 10 miles, I needed to upright myself to stretch out my back and release pressure on my wrists. But this is because I’m not used to this riding position. That said, I enjoyed every moment of leaning down into the fuel tank as my arms easily reached the semi-wide handlebars.
The 696 is Ducati’s entry level motorcycle; but would this be a good motorcycle for beginning riders? My answer is yes it is for confident beginners desiring a sporty ride. The motorcycle inspires confidence, meaning that for riders still familiarizing themselves with how to handle and maneuver a motorcycle, the 696 blends right into your body, unlike some motorcycles that feel like an odd extension. The 696 fits the rider quickly and easily. It doesnt feel top heavy.
1200: starts $13,495
1200S: starts at $15,995