Ducati's 620 i.e.

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

"We think this bike is great for beginners - women, men, [bank presidents] and street sweepers. A Ducati is sexy." Nicola Greco, Vice President of Ducati Sales and Marketing

LA JOLLA, CA - Our wake-up call rousted us for breakfast at seven and then the time approached to see if anyone could tame Ducati's newest she-beast, the Monster 620 i.e. Twenty-eight excited journalists scurried about the Best Western retrieving helmets and all the other accessories needed for a "ticket to ride." Guides and Ducati employees handed out books and maps, and the media tour began.

Safety & Security
Red, yellow, or black - a bright squadron of 32 Monsters prowled the streets of La Jolla. Pedestrians did double takes; drivers twisted curiously in their front-row seats.

Forty-five minutes later, the town is behind us and we opened the throttles a little more as we careened through winding canyon roads and past a series of luminescent orange groves. I rode in second position and followed close behind our guide on his Ducati MHR. My Monster's dark paws grabbed the asphalt (tremendous grip there), smoothly taking turn after turn, and I marveled at its torque and handling capabilities. When we needed the brakes, especially upon our approach to a palm-tree-shaded speed trap, the new 320 mm double-disc, Brembo Goldline caliper, front-brake system worked exceedingly well.

Actually, the whole safety and security package functions very efficiently. The steering spindle diameter has been increased from 25mm to 40mm, increa­sing the strength and stiffness of the front end and chassis for improved handling. The new frame has 30 percent more "torsional" rigidity, compared to previous models, which significantly improves cornering prowess and overall stability, and this is clearly apparent on challenging roadways. As added bonus, an electronic anti-theft immobilizer is now standard on both versions.

Police and radar rays successfully passed, we sped away again - sorry, that's the only way to find out if the pre-press publicity, the promises and announcements are true!

Engine & Chassis
We were in the right element - wide sweepers and sharp turns - for us to let the Monsters howl. It's new engine delivers 60 hp with torque of 53.3 Nm at 6,750 rpm. The changes have resulted in a smoother, more linear power delivery over an extended rev range, now up to 9,500 rpm, an increase of 1,500 rpm compared to the Monster 600. Other changes to the engine include larger diameter valves. This combined with the increased volume airbox and the new exhaust system ensure much-improved engine breathing while maintaining low fuel consumption and decreased emissions.

Canyon roads frequently challenge a bike and rider; in our case the last few miles were sandy and uneven. I produced a couple of slides and a nice high-sider that the Monster took quite easily. No wonder, the new frame provided from the Monster S4 fits the new concept perfectly. The front fork has newly designed internal valving with damping to match the improved handling characteristics of the new chassis.

The new rear suspension features the layout and linkage system from the Superbike family. A new Sachs rear damper includes adjustable rebound and springs pre-load. The improvement in handling, stability, and ease of riding was immediately apparent on this first ride aboard the 620 i.e.

Performance & Ergonomics
Two hours into our tour, we pulled up at our meeting point, Sante, a restaurant outside of La Jolla. But we're 90 minutes too early, which gave us enough time for a lively discussion of the new Monster. All of us heartily agreed with the announcement about more comfort.

The most important new ergonomic features are revised handlebars with a new bend, and an improved handlebar/seat/footrest relationship. Also, when you purchase a Monster 620 i.e., you now have the choice of two seats. Both versions of the 620 i.e. feature new handlebar switches that have been restyled and are easier to use.

Finally all 32 eye-catching Ducatis were accounted for and intrigued onlookers gathered. One of them was quite surprised by the manufacturer and said he thought Ducati built only crotch rockets. He went on to say, after a ten-year break in his personal motorcycle history, he was looking for a bike again.

"Well, the Duc could be the right bike for you," I said, "but to fully appreciate the performance capabilities of the new Monster you have to ride it. The riding experience is more fluid and comfortable particularly for city riding and short trips, while still satisfying the more demanding rider, thanks to the broader power range." I went on to tell him that the best part is her excellent power-to-weight ratio. In fact, I added, it's the lightest bike in this class at 389 pounds. I must have gotten his riding juices flowing again because he was still out there after our delicious Italian lunch and set about interrogating other journalists about the Monster.

Free riding, the liberty to roam on your own is a big part of this event. Two fine fellows, Peter and Patrick, invited me for a real local ride. Thanks guys! Highway 76 and 79, garnished with a few tasty back roads, provided our "after-school" playground. Hairpins, wide sweepers, and turns with crazy up and downs thoroughly tested us. The Monster is a great toy for toodling down these roads and she surely convinced us with her stability on I-15 back to La Jolla, tracking straight ahead without any side movements whatsoever.

I have to add that Myrianne, Ducati's Public Relations Manager, and her crew did a great job throughout this event. Final thoughts: This standard, or naked bike is great; no doubt this Monster will acquire many enchanted fans. And don't forget, "Go naked - it's sexy!"

TECHNICAL SPECS:
DUCATI MONSTER 620 i.e.

Retail Price $ 6,490 (black standard)$ 6,990
Warranty
2 years unlimited mileage
Maintentance Schedule NA
Importer/Distributor
Ducati North America
237 W. Parkway,
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444-1028,
phone (973) 839-2600 www.ducatiusa.com

ENGINE
Type L-twin cylinder, 2 valves per cylinder, desmotronic
Cooling air-cooled
Bore & Stroke 80 x 61,5 mm
Displacement 618 cc
Compression Ratio 10.7:1
Carburetion Marelli electronic fuel injection, 45 mm throttle body

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 5-speed
Clutch wet multi-plate with hydraulic control
Final Drive chain drive, front sprocket 15, rear sprocket 46

CHASSIS
Frame tubular steel trellis
Wheelbase 1440 mm
Rake 24 degree
Front Suspension 43 mm upside-down fork
Travel 130 mm
Rear Suspension progressive linkage with Sachs adjustable, monoshock. Aluminum swingarm (M620 S only)
Travel 148 mm

WHEELS & TIRES
Type 3-spoke light alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 4.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/60 ZR 17
Rear Tire 160/60 ZR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 x 320 mm discs, 4-piston caliper (1 x 320 mm disc, 4- piston caliper for dark)
Rear Brake 1 x 245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper

WEIGHT & FUEL CAPACITY
Wet Weight 389 lbs
Fuel Capacity 15 l (of which 3.5 liters are in reserve)
Seat Height 770 mm
Max Width 795 mm
Max Length 2100 mm

PERFORMANCE
Claimed Horsepower (crank) 60 hp at 9500 rpm
Torque 53.3 Nm - 5.4 mkp at 6750 rpm
Top Speed 192 km/h (120mph)
Acceleration NA
Fuel Consumption NA
Fuel Range NA

RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 4/5
Chassis 4/5
Brakes 4/5
Comfort 5/5
Luggagew/accessories 3/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 5/5