After many hours of research conducted over the past several months, which culminated in a couple of test rides two weeks ago, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a brand new (brand new!) Ducati Monster 696.
I picked it up yesterday at the dealership in Charlotte with 5 mi on the odometer:
I then proceeded to put over 160 mi on it by riding to my parents house in VA for the holiday weekend.
The monster is a better bike than my current Kawi 650 in almost every way. Its both lighter, and makes a little more power. The suspension and brakes are much nicer. The monster has ABS, which is a feature that has gotten good enough on street bikes that its worth it to me to pay for it. The handling on the monster is incredible; the test ride put a huge grin on my face. Plus, the monster is just a really good looking bike:)
Potential compromises may be slightly less practical ergonomics for touring, lack of wind protection, and the under-seat exhaust, but I’m not convinced any of that is actually going to make any difference. I bought the Kawasaki because the ergonomics are perfect for me, which is hard to find for someone my height. The ergos on the monster aren’t quite as good (nothing can be), but with a few small adjustments, I’m betting I won’t notice. As far as wind protection, I’ll just have to ride it and see:)
I’m pretty excited:)