Touring on my 2012 Ducati Monster 696 ABS (and how I farkled it for a 10,000 mile camping road trip)

During our trip this summer, people who knew motorcycles seemed surprised and a bit curious about my choice of bike for a long road trip. “You rode that where?” was pretty much the average reaction. While I’m hardly the first person to tour on a Ducati Monster, and you only need to visit ADV Rider for endless tales of people taking far greater adventures on far less appropriate machines, I’ve still been asked what its like to tour on what’s essentially a naked sportbike. (An air-cooled, Italian naked sportbike, which really is its own special category). So here it goes.

First: Would I do it again? Absolutely, yes, I would. I probably will, maybe as soon as next year. Do I wish I had something more comfortable? Of course I do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice any of the fun to get it. Apparently there is this idea that a road trip needs to be done on the some big comfy cruiser, or at least a machine designed for mounting luggage, and putting on long miles. And while I get that, to me, most of those machines just look big, heavy, slow, and boring. I don’t fit on most of those motorcycles anyway, so I say nuts to that. For a counterpoint, just check out this guy, who is traveling across the country on a Panigale, Ducati’s brand new superbike, or this guy, who traveled around the world on a Yamaha R1. Both bikes are some of the least appropriate motorcycles for a road trip I can think of. Why would they do that? Because those are the bikes they lust after. (Lust really is the best word when discussing the Panigale). The Panigale guy covers this topic a lot better than I can, but the short of it is that you should just get the bike you want. Buy the bike that makes you excited about riding, regardless of its “practicality.” For me, right now, that’s the Monster. But I’m more fickle than Kevin, and more afflicted with MMS (multiple motorcycle syndrome), so who knows what bikes I’ll up with in the future.

Basically, I tour on the Monster because I can’t find anything better. I want something light, sporty, and fun to ride, and I want a bike that I fit on. For me, those requirements trump any other concerns, even long distance comfort.

So would I recommend anyone else tour across the country on a Monster? Well, naturally, that depends.

The Monster is a small bike – At 5’4″, I’m short, especially in the demographic of People Who Ride Motorcycles, which consists mostly of men who are on average taller than I am. However, even to me, the Monster feels like a 3/4 scale bike. Physically, its tiny. While its size is a huge plus for me, its most likely going to be a problem for anyone with an inseam longer than 30″. What feels like a natural riding position to me is going to be cramped for normal size people, especially after a few hours. Specifically, the seat to peg relationship is pretty tight. Even I found myself straightening my legs out to relieve the bend in the knee every now and then (especially later in the day) (As an aside, this relationship is no worse than any other bike in the same class, and felt pretty much the same to me as my previous Kawi 650R. I can live with it because I have short legs). On the plus side, even with the riser handle bar I installed, the cockpit is still pretty roomy. Even with the recent changes in geometry to the 696 model, there is still quite a bit of distance between the seat and the bars, so I think that part of the ergonomics would be less of an issue.

Mileage matters – There are many different styles to touring by motorcycle. If your style includes 500+ mile days and a lot of time on the interstate, the Monster really isn’t the bike for the job (duh). As I demonstrated on the last three days of my trip, it can be done, but it was not in any way comfortable, and even at my size was quite painful. Over sustained periods at interstate speeds, the lack of windscreen to reduce wind blast on the head, neck and shoulders takes its toll, and causes the predictable fatigue. The suspension is sporty, which on the interstate just feels stiff. Even the aftermarket seat is too hard for that kind of sustained cruising.  The sporty steering geometry that makes the bike so fun on twisty back roads makes the bike just a little twitchy on the interstate. I wouldn’t call it unstable per se, but its not like you can just kick back, enjoy the scenery, and let the miles roll by. No matter the situation, the Monster is a bit on the high strung side, and requires the rider to actively ride the bike at all times.

However, at an average of less than 300 miles per day on mostly back roads, the monster is fantastic. The lack of fairing and windscreen on the Monster turned out to be much less of an issue than I anticipated. I was more aware of the lack of wind protection because of the bug pattern on the front of my jacket than I was due to increased fatigue. At the kind of mileage we normally do, there is only a marginal difference between having fairing and not. In short, going from something like a Kawasaki 650R to the Monster makes almost no difference comfort wise at the distances and type of riding I actually like to do, and the Monster is unquestionably more fun.

If I could find the perfect motorcycle that was fun to ride, lightweight, has a good power to weight ratio, with high spec suspension and brakes, more suspension travel but still allowed me to touch the ground, and had enough fairing to offer comfort over longer distances, and was designed to hold luggage, I would buy it. It doesn’t exist. People who don’t mind throwing around 500+ lb bikes with 34″ seat heights have seemingly limitless choices in today’s motorcycles market. I do not. I usually have to put up with underpowered “entry level” machines so that I can touch the ground.

The Monster 696, while the smallest displacement of the model, is not entry level. Its not entry level in price, and I wouldn’t recommend it as anyone’s first bike *. After nearly 11,000 miles, I’m still really happy with my choice. Its just plain fun.  That 80hp, 2-valve air-cooled motor might be my favorite motor ever made. I love the higher spec suspension (on nice, smoothly paved roads). The brakes are fantastic. The handling is confidence inspiring. It imparts all the feelings that make taking the risk of riding a motorcycle worth it, and looks good while doing it.

So there it is. That’s enough defense of the Monster for now.  The established point is that I’d rather deal with the challenge of riding a fun but “inappropriate” bike around the country, than be bored by something more suitable. Traveling by motorcycle is a ridiculously inconvenient way to travel, especially when camping, so there is absolutely no reason to do it unless you are having fun.

That said, there are still practical problems to overcome due to the fact that my chosen bike was in no way designed for long distance touring. The ergonomics, suspension, and gearing are all decidedly designed with sporting fun in mind, rather than comfort. There are no provisions from the factory for mounting luggage, or even a tank bag. The bike doesn’t come with a place to mount a GPS, or heated grips, throttle lock, or any of the other touring features people like to have. I was undaunted, however, by any of this, as most of what I wanted could be achieved with fairly light and inexpensive modification. So, internet, if you found this page because you are curious about taking a road trip on a Ducati Monster, here’s what I did to my bike:

How I Modded my 2012 Ducati Monster for Touring: This is the part where I get extra dorky and provide a graphic showing what we did to my bike to more easily accommodate a 10,000 mile camping road trip, and then go into detail (with more pictures), explaining every modification. Behold:

My bike is definitely no longer stock, and I’m not even done. I’m even tempted with the possibility of some performance modifications, but those will cost real money, while most of what I’ve done so far is relatively inexpensive.

Riser Handle Bar – The stock bar position required too much forward lean for me to be comfortable all day. I rode with the stock bar for about 900 miles before the kit came in, and while it wasn’t as bad as I thought, the bike works much better for me with the hand grips located higher and closer to the rider. I personally think it should just come this way, and the racers can put just put clip-ons on like they are going to do anyway.

The new handle bar is the riser bar kit made by Ducati for the 696, and its purchase and installation were part of the deal I made with the dealer when I bought the bike in May of this year. I researched third party bar risers, but the Ducati kit provided largest change in geometry, and came with the required extended cables. That and the fact that I could have the dealer install the kit as part of the initial bike purchase made buying the Ducati kit the easy choice.

The problem was that while the accessory catalog listed the riser bar kit as a part for the 696, it was not very clear that the kit was not design for the Monster 696 with ABS. This matters because the longer brake line included with the kit doesn’t actually fit on the ABS version.  Here’s a quick lesson: On the non-ABS version of almost any motorcycle, the front brake line runs from the master cylinder, located on the right front handlebar, to the calipers on the front wheel. On a motorcycle equipped with ABS, the brake line makes a detour to the ABS control unit before being routed to the calipers. On the Monster, it looks like this:

(Notice the stock handle bar).

The ABS control unit on the Monster is located on the right side of the bike under the gas tank. (See the black and silver box with brake lines running to it in the above pic).  In order for the riser bars to work, I needed a brake that would reach from the handlebar to the ABS box. The kit from Ducati doesn’t come with one.

Fortunately, custom brake lines are pretty easy to order, and Ducati uses standard fittings. $100 and only about a week later, and a brand new stainless steel braided line made by Galfer was delivered to my house. It was actually half an inch shorter than I specified, but I’d also added a little bit to the length we measured to make sure it fit. The mechanic at the dealer was not too excited about replacing the hard brake line with a braided line routed a different way than stock, but after some reassurance from us that it would be fine, he shrugged and installed it for me anyway. Good enough, and the brakes, including ABS, work great, even 10,000 miles later.

Above you can see the new, re-routed stainless steel brake line, and the riser handlebar (which is really goofy looking, and I hate the chrome finish, but it feels so much nicer that it doesn’t much matter what it looks like).

Edit June 2016: I continue to receive questions about ordering a custom front brake line for a 2012 Ducati Monster 696 with ABS with the Ducati factory riser bar. Here is a pic of the order form I sent to Galfer  – it has the length, banjo type, and thread pitch I specified. (I would probably add another 1/2″ to 1″ to the length if I were to order again). My brakes continue to work well, I have had no problems. As of 2016, my Monster still only has a bit over 20,000 miles on it.

2012-06-15_galfer brake line Monster

Heated Gear Controller and Heated Grips: Heated gear is something I’ve decided I never want to be without on my motorcycle. I love it. I’m just not happy when I’m cold. The Monster has both heated hand grips, and a plug-in for my heated jacket liner.

First, if you don’t know about heated gear, its pretty much fantastic. The jacket liner I have is more or less like an electric blanket that you can wear under the regular riding jacket. It has heating elements wired throughout the jacket that get warm when the jacket is plugged into the bike (the controller switches the heat on and controls the temperature). The heated jacket greatly extends riding comfort, and I can’t imagine going on a road trip without it, even in the summer.

The heated hand grips are the same idea. Some bikes even come with heated grips from the factory, but they are a cheap and easy enough upgrade that its not a requirement for me. I’ve bought this kit twice now, and my hand grips always get toasty warm when I want them too.

I like this particular set-up, and this is the second bike I’ve had wired this way.The heated jacket came with a nice 2-channel PWM (pulse-width modulation) controller, intended so that you could independently control the jacket temperature, and the gloves that plug in. PWM is nice, since a lot of systems use a rheostat, which tends to wear out and break. 2-channel also helps make for a clean install.  Rather than use the (very cheap looking) on/off switch that comes with the heated grips, Kevin wired the grips into one of the channels on the controller that came with the jacket. This way, I have variable control of the grip temperature, and one less switch mounted in the cockpit. Its a cleaner install, and gives me better control. The one controller, with two switches lets me control the heat to both the grips and the jacket. Often, just turning on the heat to the grips is enough to take the chill off and let me focus on riding.

On a long trip, the heated jacket is essential for me. There’s no way I could carry enough bulky layers to stay warm while moving. I just wish I could use the heated jacket off the bike:)

Magnets for a tank-bag: Here’s the thing. I like riding with a tank bag. Its really convenient. I also really like my particular tank bag. Its not too big or small, has the right compartments, and functions just how I want it to. I keep my valuables in it, (keys, wallet, phone, passport, cameras, etc,), plus a liter of water, snacks, my hat, sunscreen, bug spray, first aid kit…You get the idea. When we arrive somewhere on the bikes, and need to leave the bikes and go somewhere else, I just grab the tank bag and off I go.  No rummaging through gear, or transferring things to a backpack, or worrying about things getting stolen. All of the really important stuff is always with me. My tank bag even has a strap that allows me to convert it to an over-the-shoulder bag or one-strap backpack. I’ve hiked miles and miles this way. The point is that its pretty close to an optimal piece of gear for me.

The problem was that the Monster has a plastic tank. My tank bag is magnetic, made for use with metal tanks. So, after buying the bike, I shopped around for another solution. There are tank bags that strap on (all a big pain to use, and look ridiculous), and some that attach with suction cups (yeah right, like that will always work in the real world). I never found something better than what I already have. Everything I found would cost at least several hundred dollars, and not be nearly as good. So, instead of finding a bag that worked with my bike, I decided to make the bike work with my bag.

The gas tank on my bike is actually covered by two body panels. Its clever, really, as it allows the actual plastic tank to warp and flex a little bit due to heat, and ethanol in the gas, without it showing. The tank can be manufactured in the appropriate material and in the incredibly complex shape required to maximize volume and fit around everything, without worrying too much about aesthetic concerns. Only the outside profile has to conform to style considerations. Then, the outside panels can be made purely to make the bike look finished. The panels also allow Ducati to sell body panel kits that let you to totally change the appearance of your bike. The point is that there is a small amount of space between the visible body panels and the actual gas tank.

This called for Kevin’s favorite solution to any problem: magnets. Specifically, some dangerously strong 1.5″ diameter 1/8″ neodymium disk magnets I found on Amazon. Four of these magnets placed carefully under the tank panels would provide enough grip to hold my overstuffed tank bag in place, well over the legal speed limit (you know, in theory).

The process went something like this: I sat on the bike and placed by tank bag where I wanted it. Then, we used masking tape to mark the outside of the panels with where we wanted to place the magnets. Then, we removed the panels. We placed magnets over the tape on the outside of the panels, and used them to located the magnets on the inside. Once the inside was marked, we cleaned and prepped the surface, and then adhered and taped the magnets in place on the inside of the panels.

It would have been just that simple, if there wasn’t one more problem. The magnets in my tank bag weren’t just one large magnet in each location. That would be pretty expensive, judging by what I paid for 10 magnets. Instead, the bag had a puck with a ring of magnets in each location, like so:

I applaud the tank bag manufacturer. This is very clever. Its cheap to buy and to make, and its very, very strong. I loved how well this bag gripped to the metal tank on my Kawasaki.

Again, the problem is that this would not work with the magnets I had just bought. In the ring of magnets shown above, the polarity of every other magnet is switched. This makes the entire ring grip more strongly to the metal tank, but prevents the ring from being attracted to a large single magnet. Thus, when I placed my order with Amazon for the magnets, I bought enough to both install some in the bike, and modify the actual tank bag. I used a seam ripper to open up the base of the bag, and remove the ring of magnets shown above, and replaced the four rings with the large single magnets. The key was paying attention to polarity, so that the magnets I installed on the bike would match up with the bag, causing the magnets to attract rather than repel one another. Fortunately, my sewing project was a success, and the result is easily worth the effort.  I get to use the bag I like, and have the convenience of a magnetic tank bag on a bike with a plastic tank.


Aftermarket Seat: Not too much to say about this upgrade. The stock seats on motorcycles tend to be pretty terrible. At first I thought the seat on the Monster would be fine, but its major flaw soon revealed itself as a tendency to push you into the tank. No matter how you try to position yourself on the bike, the seat will force you sit in one rather uncomfortable position. If I were a guy, I imagine it would be very uncomfortable. Given that I did not want to ride around on this bike with my crotch shoved into the tank, I sprung for the Sargent seat.

Its not cheap, but its well made, comes with a much needed storage spot built into the underside of the sea pan, and still accepts the stock rear plastic cowl, should I decide to put that back on the bike. After 10,000 miles, I’ve decided it was worth it. Its not as comfortable as the seat on my Kawasaki I had re-done by Spencer. (That was 100% worth the expense). The Sargent seat does allow me more choice in body positioning, and  mostly solves the problem of getting shoved into the tank. However, its a little hard, and I doubt its going to break in any more. Its better, but could be more comfortable, and I’m considering making further modifications to the seat.

Mounting Luggage on a Monster 696: (Or, one more reason I don’t like undertail exhausts). Mounting luggage on a bike that wasn’t designed to hold luggage can be tricky. Its extra tricky on the Monster, because the exhausts are in the way. My opinion is that motorcycle exhausts should be located low, or under the bike, not beneath the rear seat. However, that’s where they are on the Monster, so we had to figure out how to mount saddle bags without burning them on the exhausts.

After much online research (naturally), there was basically only one system that would bolt up to the Monster to prevent the bags from touching the exhausts, and give the bags something to mount to. It was expensive and we didn’t really like it. Plus, I wasn’t sure it would work the bags I already had. I’m not opposed to getting new bags, but we only had a few weeks at this point to get ready to leave, and as much as I’d like to find top-loading, lockable hard cases for the Monster, I’m not sure its possible, and I  wasn’t going to make it happen before we left. Plus, I’ve toured with the bags I already had, and knew they worked.

So what to do? Materials science to the rescue.

We decided to try the cheap and easy route first. We bought some high temperature silicone rubber extrusions from McMaster Carr and some heavy duty zip-ties and just wrapped a couple of pieces around the exhaust. (Part Number 1129A9). Unfortunately, the material with the high enough temperature rating only came in orange. Oh well.

Its not exactly the most elegant solution, but it worked really well for the entire 10,000 mile trip. The silicone pieces withstood the surface temps on the exhaust without transferring too much heat to the bags, and kept the Ortlieb dry saddlbags from touching the exhaust. Two locations on each exhaust pipe was not enough. After final packing, when the saddlebags were overfull, we had to add another bumper in the middle to keep the bag from touching in between the rubber at each end. Also, the rubber bumpers closest to the front of the bike had to be mounted and trimmed carefully such that they didn’t catch the rear tire hugger (fender) when the suspension was compressed.

We strapped the bags at the front to the passenger foot brackets, and looped the strap at the back around the plastic fender to keep the bags from sliding forward. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. After about a day, the bags settled in, and then didn’t move, even after bouncing down some fairly rough roads.

I’d still like to improve on the set up. I’d really like some top-loading, lockable, hard bags. I’d also like a mounting system that’s not quite so rigged. Its cheap, and it worked, but only just barely. It will take some work  and a bit of money to figure this out, however, so we’ll see if I can find a better solution.

Aftermarket tail lights:

As you can see above, the stock tail light stuck out from the bike a considerable distance. When I tried to mount the saddlebags the first time, the tail lights were in the way. It was pretty simple to order some smaller lights from monsterparts.com, and swap them out.

In both the top pic in this post and below, you can see how the stock tail lights would have been in the way:

The smaller ones are nice because the stalks are rubber, vs. the hard plastic mount on the stock tail lights. Based on what I’ve read, everyone eventually bumps into the stock tail light and breaks the mount. So even though I would have preferred to just leave the lights alone, at least the aftermarket ones are an improvement. You can bend these lights back and forth on their mounts without breaking anything. Plus, they are easily as bright as the originals, despite their smaller size.

Stuff I did not do: Many Monster owners change gearing by switching to a 14 tooth front sprocket. First gear on this bike is really tall, and 6th gear really is only used at higher interstate speeds. It took a little while to get used to it, but but after 11,000 miles, I’ve learned to appreciate the stock gearing.  It works well at normal road speeds, and helps with getting better mileage. At first I thought I would want to change it in the interest of having a lower first gear. I may eventually do it for other reasons, but for a long road trip, I’m convinced the stock gearing is better. If I can off-road the Monster with a first gear that causes the bike to stall below about 12 mph, anyone can.

So that’s it. We were on the road for 6 weeks, 9961 miles, and camped 28 nights with this set up, and it worked pretty well for me. While it would be nice to have better luggage and a more comfortable seat, I would go again just like this if I don’t find better solutions by the time we’re looking to leave on our next trip.

Update July 2013: Since this is by far the most-read post on this blog, its time for a little update. First, after re-reading the post, I still support everything I wrote, with the exception of the part about the windscreen. It would be really, really nice to have a bit of wind protection. I still love my Monster (it still makes me grin every time, and I always look forward to riding), but the truth is that I will eventually buy something more comfortable for long distance.  Right now, the fun of the Monster still outweighs its discomfort and impracticality. However, eventually, I still believe I will be able to find a bike that is every bit as fun, but more comfortable. We shall see. Also, I did switch out the front sprocket for a 14 tooth late last year. I am on the fence about whether to keep it, or go back to stock gearing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and I truthfully can’t decide, or make a recommendation on this particular mod. Next time I need to change the sprockets and chain, I will go back to the stock gearing, and maybe that will yield a more clear preference.

In the mean time, I did go on another multi-day, multi-state trip this spring with the set-up described in the original post (plus the 14 tooth front sprocket).

Below are links to the larger trips I’ve done on the Monster with this set-up. I’ve decided I am unlikely to change much for future trips, and I no longer care about finding hard luggage. I really like my Ortlieb dry saddlebags, and I am happy with the rest of the set up as is:

2013 Austin, TX Moto GP Moto Adventure

2012 Western US Moto Adventure

*Why the Ducati Monster is not a beginner bike

Update February 2014: Uh oh, I finally did it. I’ll have to hand in my cool card, I finally gave up on touring on the Monster. Check out what the new plan is for 2014 here.

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88 Responses to Touring on my 2012 Ducati Monster 696 ABS (and how I farkled it for a 10,000 mile camping road trip)

  1. gugsy says:

    very cool :)

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks for the write up… and you have a cool set up.
    I ride a monster 795 and I’m setting it up for long ride. Plan to go on long ride after this rainy season is over. I’m going to follow your step inserting magnet underneath the tank cover, love it.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Bob,

      Really interested to know how you got on with the 796. What rear luggage system did you use ? i think the handlebars are slightly raised over the 696 already – did you raise them further or get a larger wind screen for the front ? Im looking to do about 5-6,000 miles around Europe next year on it and having never done a road trip, bit overwhelmed. Great write-up from Amy. ive seen some tank bags for the monster that attatch to the fuel caps but rear luggage seems rare and expensive.

      rgds

      Steve

  3. amytracker says:

    Hey cool! Thanks for the comments…I mostly wrote this for my own benefit (because my memory is terrible, so I document everything), but I was hoping someone might find it useful. Also, I understand why manufacturers like plastic tanks, but between the deformation issues with ethanol, difficulty with repair, and challenge to use tank bags, I’m not sure the lighter weight and cost savings are really worth it. Metal tanks are just so much easier to deal with.

    • Jenny Nelson says:

      Thank you for posting this! I sold my Monster a year ago for a house, but I’m ready for another one in the next year to so. My Dad and I are planning to ride the Alcan and I was on the fence whether the Monster was the right choice or something more suitable for some gravel/dirt sections. I’m thinking the Monster is the ticket, I loved riding it so much and miss it. I will just talk to some people about tire choices and go from there.

      • amytracker says:

        While I’m sure you CAN ride extended dirt/gravel on the Monster, and people have surely done it, I can’t say I recommend it. (Although the Alcan is totally paved, I’m pretty sure its always under construction and has long gravel sections). On our big 2012 trip, we did about 10,000 mi, with probably a couple hundred miles mi off-pavement. By the end of the trip, I would have sold a major organ to have 2 more inches of suspension travel, both for rough pavement, and anything off-pavement. When I ride to Alaska, I doubt it will be on the Monster (unless its all I’ve got, in which case I’ll go anyway.)..The monster is not a very good rough road bike, and Alaksa has lots of that…Until recently, we’ve been pavement only riders, and the Monster is all fun and games for that, but if you are planning off-pavement sections, I’d get something else. My future touring involves some minor off-pavement, so I am on the hunt for something else, although I doubt I’ll make a move for awhile yet.

  4. Richard says:

    You said it is not a good bike for a beginner. Can you elaborate on that? Why not?

  5. John says:

    Hi,

    Very nice explanation…really inspiring ! Thanks a lot !

    I am driving 2012 696 and planning a 1 month trip. For that I am looking for comfort accessories, like touring seat and handle bar risers.

    Is it possible to share your bikes pictures with rised handle bars? front and side? wondering about the look and how high is seems.

    I am thinking to purchase ducati handle bar riser kit or rizoma riser, but couldn’t decide!

    Thank you and have nice rides!

    kind regards,
    John

  6. JIm Melville says:

    Amy, loved the details in your write-up. I’m also 5ft4 and now ride a Kawi 650r as a sport tourer- givi hard bags and top case. But I love the Monster and have been looking to see how folks have managed to farkle it for touring. Yours is the best write-up I’ve seen. The one thing that holds me back on the MOnster is the 8000 mile valve checks — that amounts to 2x per year for me. What has your experience been with valve checks and general reliability vs the Kawi?

    • amytracker says:

      Hi Jim! 1) I love the 650r as a sport tourer. Givi hard bags and top case are probably perfect. I feel like I could go forever like that, and take the 650r anywhere except technical single track, otherwise, that bike can do it all. (Plus I miss the fairing on my kawi, but still prefer to ride the monster) 2) The monster has been perfectly reliable, so far every bit as reliable as the Kawi (which you couldn’t ask for a bike that needed less attention imho.) Minor quibbles: the monster appears to wear out the chain faster, I may need to replace it around 14000 miles (I’m at 12+ now, waiting to see how it goes). With the Kawi, I think i had to adjust it once in 23000 mi, and never did buy new chain and sprockets. Also, being air cooled, and designed to run lean to meet emissions requirements, the Monster really likes to warm up a minute when its cold outside. Its not a problem, and I really do mean only a minute or two, but the Kawi was instant on under all conditions. The lean running also means the monster does not run as nicely as the kawi at very small throttle openings (low rpm). Valve checks: we waited to check until 10k miles on the brand new monster. 2 of 8 possible adjustments were just slightly out of spec, so we adjusted those, but honestly that probably wasn’t necessary. The rest were right in the middle of the tolerance. We do most of our motorcycle maintenance at home; I imaging have a dealer do valve checks and adjustments on a Ducati is probably more expensive than the Kawi. However, imho, people seem overly intimidated by the desmo valves. I don’t think they are any more difficult to check and adjust than shim under bucket, just different. If you do the valves on any other bike, you can learn to adjust desmo no problem. I haven’t hit the next valve check interval yet, so I don’t know if the monster motor will actually need adjustments every 7500 mi or not. The kawi never needed adjusting while I owned it.

      • JIm Melville says:

        Thanks for the info. I also love my Kawi — just can’t pass by the Ducati without wondering “what if…” With only 30K on the Kawi, I’ve got another year or 2 before I’ll jump. Might look at the Hperstrada by then…Anyway, thanks for the info and ride safe!

  7. amytracker says:

    Oh…I am really interested in the hyperstrada. They aren’t in dealers yet, so I can’t sit on one. It has the potential to be as fun as the monster, but more comfortable over the long haul. Its probably too tall. Its 50 lbs heavier than the monster, and carries the weight higher. Plus, I don’t want to give up my monster, but I’m not sure I can (or should) have both…the hyper just looks so awesome…..choices choices:)

  8. AmyTracker- thank you SO much for posting this detailed report. I just returned yesterday from an overnight gear “shakedown” on my new Monster, and have spent the day searching for solutions to make it more realistic for touring this season. Right now, I have a pretty much stock bike…so I need to make a lot of changes. Like you, I’m petite, and planning for some major touring this summer… would you mind if I contact you directly to ask a couple of questions?

    • amytracker says:

      Hi BGS!…Sure, no problem. Not sure if I can help, but if you have a somewhat flexible definition of “realistic for touring,” I’ll answer what I can:) You can contact me at amytracker1-at-gmail [dot] com…..also, nice blog. I enjoyed your entry on the Ducati museum.

  9. wendy lea says:

    I’m also abit of a hobbit, I’m pretty sure i sat on it at the birmingham bike show. Its huge. Tip toes for me, so that was a no no. I’ve got a tiger 800 with a 30mm lowering kit on it and the low seat. The height is great. He’s still abit of a lump at 33 stone, but getting used to him. Did buy a monster 696 on thu. Just waiting for delivery on fri . Woop woop. So the dilema will then be which one today

    • amytracker says:

      Congrats on the Monster! I hope you have as much fun as I do on mine. The tiger was too heavy for my taste, but I bet the lowering kit helps a lot. I sat on the hyperstrada in the Ducati tent at the Austin Moto GP, and I’m pretty sure I could work with the seat height. I really liked it. The bike is an acceptable weight, and I think with a different seat (which I would do anyway), and some new boots, it would be fine. However, they all but said that there will be a new, smaller multistrada (minimulti:) coming out. I’m not in the market for a new bike any time soon, so I’m going to wait a bit.

      • wendy lea says:

        Noooooooo,I’mstill in therapy trying to get over the fact that I’m too short for a multistrada (drool). I don’t think there’s anyway in the world i could justify a multimini. Hmmmmmm. Hoping to get a tour round the ducati factory next month when we’re in italy. I’ll keep you posted

  10. Pingback: Ride Report: Spring gear shakeout to Dana Point, California

  11. SR Fox says:

    Amy, I’m going to rent a 696 to ride in Spain this fall. Do the bikes have a BMW type accessory plug for my GPS, or is that a custom add on?

    • amytracker says:

      Not sure what BMW has. My Monster does not come with an accessory plug from the factory. Maybe a rental company would install one on theirs since renters would likely want to use a GPS?

  12. Thomas Raines says:

    I just rode my 1100 EVO 1200 miles to the NC Outer Banks and back. I am 6ft 190lbs, and yes it did get painful. But, I wouldnt trade it for anything. Nearly everything I had was in a Kelty pack on my back and it has obvious limitations and I will definitely explore some of your solutions. One thing you can think about is the Kaoko throttle lock. I am a welder and my hands are a mess. On nice long stretches of interstate it was priceless.

    • amytracker says:

      Sweet. The 1100 is a beast. As far as luggage, I will now go to great effort not to carry anything on my back. I know people do it, but having the bike carry the weight is night and day for me (and a lot of people). No backpacks (except maybe hydration if riding off-road). Good call on the throttle lock. Honestly, 90% of the time, I’m ok without one, because we so rarely do long stretches of interstate. But wow, out west, there are some amazingly long, straight stretches of road. I remember one stretch we did 80 miles in some valley without even a tree by the side of the road for shade, must less a place to stop. My throttle hand was killing me. I really, really wanted a throttle lock right then :)

  13. Steve Green says:

    Nice write up- There are not many bikes that fit smaller folk. My wife has a VS800 Suzuki also called the Boulevard S50. It’s cruiser with more of a standard bike layout. It has a 800cc V-twin and is fairly fast. Not Ducati fast :). It’s got a more upright seating position and it’s got room for saddlebags and a tail rack and back rest. You can get a back rest mounted bag that will hold a lot of gear. Also windshields, hand guards and lowers can be fitted from National Cycle. Even has auxillary light bar that can be put on quite easily. It might make a little better tourer for your next trip.

    • amytracker says:

      Hi Steve. I’m sure the Suzuki is a very good bike, and like a myriad of other cruisers, has a nice low seat height, and better accommodations for touring. Most cruisers are no doubt more practical. However, that is not the most important criteria for me. Above all, I like a sporty, nimble (light steering), light weight motorcycle that is fun to ride (and has good suspension and breaks), good power to weight ratio, etc. Basically, more performance oriented. Also, I like to sit with a slight forward lean, in an “active” riding position, not straight up (which I find uncomfortable). I just have no interest in cruisers at all. Now a nice standard on the other hand…..

  14. Craig N says:

    Great writeup! Was the saddlebag mounting you decided against from Givi? It’s the only one I’ve been able to find – if there’s another I’d love to take a look…

    • amytracker says:

      The Givi racks and bags are probably a very nice option. I wasn’t going to buy the hard bags however, and I’m not sure the racks would support my existing bags well, and would add at least another 6 inches of width. I already had a set of Ortlieb Dry saddlebags (http://www.aerostich.com/ortlieb-dry-bag-saddlebags.html) that I really like (they aren’t bike specific, just generic soft luggage). I like soft luggage, and I’m really impressed with the Ortliebs. For the price, they are fantastic. I’ve had them for years, and tens of thousands of miles, have not taken any special care or treated them gently, and they are still like new. I really can’t understand why they are still in such nice condition. They are totally waterproof, and a good size. Not too big, but just big enough for extended trips. They are easy to keep the weight balanced, and easy to accesses. Plus, I can take them on and off easily, and switch between bikes. There are certainly much nicer options out there, but these meet my needs so well I haven’t bothered. They are amazingly simple and effective kit.

  15. Steven Hintz says:

    Great write up and added info in replies to others. While I had a BMW F800ST, started taking out my son’s 2010 Monster 796, since he was in NYC and had no safe/affordable place to keep it. At first I was intimidated by the geometry-felt like I was going to pitch over the front tire-but in a short time fell in love with it for all the reasons you mention. Traded the Beemer for a 2012 1100 EVO last year and just love it. I’m blessed with a 34″ inseam but am skinny with little upper body strength and love the light weight. And the sound! I involuntarily grin every time I hit the starter.
    My wife learned to ride last year and got her the same bike as yours (I know what you said about not being a good first bike, but she’s taking it slow and loves it). In central Maine we have so many country roads with almost no cager traffic…Anyway, she’s 5’5″ and can just get the balls of her feet down. Does the Sargent seat add height to the sitting position? I bet the Ducati bar would be great for her…I’m curious why you didn’t consider the Ducati Performance saddle bags? I’m thinking about them for my 1100. Do they stick out too far? Not enough space for the money? Sorry so long winded.

    • amytracker says:

      Heh, I appreciate why you made the switch. BMW makes very nice bikes for sure, but I found the F800R I test rode to be pretty uninspiring. On paper, the F800ST should be the “perfect” bike for my needs, but it doesn’t make me grin like the Monster, and you won’t find that on a spec sheet. What am I buying a bike for anyway? (plus, I value light weight over almost everything, and i think most bikes, and all current BMW models, are just too heavy. I don’t care how much power it has, I just don’t find bikes in the 500 lb range or more to be fun (I know the F800ST is lighter than that, but still, the Monster is a whole lot lighter still)).
      As far as your questions – The Sargent seat does not make a noticeable difference in ability to touch the ground. Don’t worry about that part. I like the Sargent seat ok, and it did fix the sliding into the tank problem. However, people seem to really like the ducati comfort seat, so you might want to consider that as well (Ducati has another seat for the Monster too, I think).
      The Ducati performance saddle bags are not waterproof, which is a requirement for me. (Anything that requires a cover or liner is not waterproof, no matter the claims). Also, yes, they are wider than the Ortliebs. They are also pretty expensive for unimpressive size and performance. I like top loading soft luggage, and I already had the Ortleibs. I saw no reason to drop that much $$$ on new bags that aren’t as good as the ones I already had.
      The Ducati riser bar is great. Just do it. Its ugly as sin, but as much as I like looking at my bike, I ultimately bought it to ride. When I have to pick between style and function, function wins every time (which is the total opposite of most Monster owners, btw).
      Obviously no need to apologize over being long winded. I clearly have no limit on how much I will talk about bikes.

      • Steven Hintz says:

        You’re thinking was the same as mine on the BMW-it had great specs on paper and I thought it would be the perfect bike for me. Before I traded it, I tried a scientific (substitue nerdy) test of back-to-back runs on this 10-mile “course” on roads near my house-some twisties and straights and some town traffic. With the BMW I barely exceeded the speed limit and never felt either excited or particularly competent. With the 796, I dove into the curves grinning inside my helmet, felt more in control-like I thought I would feel when I took up biking! IMO the throttle/fuel delivery is also better on the Duc, an unsung attribute. I got the 1100 because it felt so great on the test ride and 1100 is bigger than 796 (though my son with the 796 says it’s because I’m a “one upper”). A couple of my 50-something friends have BMWs and think I’m having a mid-life crisis, that’s why is was so cool to read your blog…But while my wife and I want to start touring greater distances (we are rank newbies compared to you) I can’t completely cover the cool appearance-don’t want to cover my cans-but like you I’m done with backpacks. Do you know anyone with Ventura bags-you install a bike-specific rack and a vertical bag is behind you like a passenger? Only I would need to practice gymnastics to get on the seat it seems like…This is the last time I’ll bug you today I promise.

  16. amytracker says:

    Ha! I did the EXACT same back-to-back test right before I sold my 650R. I definitely had a “what have I done” moment when it came time to actually give up the Kawasaki. I knew the Monster wouldn’t be as good for touring, but after my several mile loop on both bikes, I also knew I wouldn’t be happy with the Kawi 650. Keep the miles per day down on the Monster, avoid long stretches on the interstate, and take breaks, and the bike keeps the smiles coming.
    The 1100 is a complete beast of motorcycle (I mean that in the best possible way), it probably has way too much power (of course I think the Ducati L-twins are way, way more fun than any of the inline four repli-racers…..)…..Let your friends ride the Monster, maybe Ducati will give you commission on the extra sales:)…..
    Anyway, thoughts on luggage: Good call on the backpacks. I don’t know why everyone seems to need to figure this out for themselves, but I learned pretty quick to let the bike carry the weight. I had read that I shouldn’t do it, but apparently I had to see why its a bad idea for myself.
    I do not know anyone with those vertical style tail racks. Also I would not recommend it. I know you cover up the cans, but stacking that much weight up high will be terrible for handling, which is part of the appeal of the monster (I know any amount of luggage is bad for handling, but going vertical is a LOT worse). Goals for luggage: pack as little as possible, keep the weight down as low as possible (so if you go vertical, put the heaviest stuff at the bottom), even weight distribution side to side, accessible (undoing bungee nets and straps to access stuff, and or having to dig through and under stuff to access what you want is a pain and makes simple tasks take forever), and waterproof. You will regret using covers or liners to keep your stuff dry. Oh, and I think the gymnastic for getting on a loaded bike are unavoidable. I pick up my knee with my hand to get on :)
    If ya’ll go touring, put up some pics somewhere (start a blog, or just use picassa,flickr,photobucket or whatever), and leave a link so I can see the set up! More pics of Ducati’s in the wild! :)

  17. John says:

    I have never ridden a monster but I am short. I see how the seat problem is easily fixed as far as comfort, but I am reading that the exhaust will heat up the seat and make things pretty uncomfortable especially around town?

    John

    • amytracker says:

      Hi John. For me, heat from the motor is hardly ever a problem. Most Monsters have air cooled motors,so the engine will get pretty hot on a summer day in stop and go traffic without any airflow over it (or at really high altitudes, with less air to carry the heat away). Most of the time, I don’t notice much heat from the motor. Every now and then the bike tries to scorch the inside of my legs (the heat comes around the seat) when stopped, but this doesn’t happen often enough to bother me. I’ve had two bikes with undertail exhausts, and neither one has ever heated up the seat noticeably, much less enough to be uncomfortable.

  18. David says:

    Wow, what luck to run across such a great write-up about touring on a Monster just a while before I am planing on taking the first “big” trip on mine!! Love how detailed you are, and thank-you for that. As you already know, and I have recently discovered, luggage options for the current gen Monster are few and far between. I have a 2011 796, definitely a great bike that doesn’t ever come short on delivering the smiles.
    I was wondering if you could be a bit more specific about the McMaster Carr silicone 1129A9 was installed/how much you ordered/how it worked out? I recently tried to get a Givi luggage mount in hopes of slightly modifying it to work, but I think it would be a bit much. If your solution worked for over 10,000 miles, should be just fine for the 1,000/daily use I’m planning. Just worried about the bags rubbing on the exhaust and a.) catching fire, as well as b.) ruining my pretty Arrow exhaust.
    Great article, so nice to see that other people out there think that taking the Monster out for a long ride is a great idea!

    • amytracker says:

      Hey there. I have yet to see any one use the Givi set up on the Monster, and I’m really curious about it. Givi makes nice stuff, and the advantages would be the ability to have hard luggage (good for security), and the entire package would probably look nicer. Disadvantages are wider width, and I think the Givi side cases are clamshell opening type, which I really, really don’t like. Top loading saddlebags are the way to go. If anyone has links to pics of Givi mounts and/or side bags on a Monster, I’d love to see it.

      The silicone extrusions work great (at least with the Ortlieb Dry saddlebags).I re-used the same pieces earlier this year on our 3300 mi trip to TX, and have decided I don’t care to change the luggage set-up, I like it as is. It’s definitely a strange approach (to be kind about it), but it allows the overall width of bike and luggage to be as narrow as possible, and carry the weight lower (in saddlebags), rather than stacking bags on the rear seat (saddlebags allow better access and weight balance as well). I love the Ortlieb saddlebags (http://www.aerostich.com/ortlieb-dry-bag-saddlebags.htm). They are inexpensive, top loading, totally waterproof, soft luggage that are just the right size for my needs, and are apparently indestructible. They also have padding/insulation/heat shield material on the inside of the bags, which is essential with the bags that close to the exhaust. The stuff on the inside of the bags does get warm (but not too hot), so I am cognizant of where things get packed in the bags.

      Also, aftermarket pipes may have a different surface temperature than my stock mufflers, which are made of aluminum. However, if I had to guess, I would say that the surface temp on any aftermarket pipes would be about the same, if not lower (which would be nice), depending on the material.

      As far as how much silicone rubber to order, I don’t remember, you’ll just have to measure. I recommend enough to make three loops around each muffler (as shown in the pic in the post, plus one loop in the middle). On the loops furthest to the back of the bike, we just used large zip ties to hold the rubber in place (the extrusion shape was chosen with that in mind if you look at the cross section). Since the rubber wraps all the way around the pipe, the plastic zip tie never touches the exhaust, and therefore does not melt and fail and create a big mess. However, the bumper/rubber spacer closest to the engine/front of the bike cannot wrap all the way around the exhaust pipe. If it does, it catches the rear tire hugger/fender when the suspension is fully compressed. (Note: its good practice to increase spring pre-load on the rear when riding a loaded bike). We cut that piece of silicone such that it only wraps around the outside half of the exhaust pipe, and used metal wire tie to secure it in place, and keep it from sliding forward on the tapered exhaust pipe.
      As long as I take care to ensure the saddlebags are cinched tightly in place, and cannot slide forward, the bags never touch the exhaust, and the ½ inch or so air gap is enough to keep the bags from getting too hot. Also, when not in “touring mode,” I just cut the zip ties and remove the silicone rubber pieces. I normally ride with just the tank bag, which has enough storage for day rides and normal every day use (I don’t typically run errands with the bike, so I don’t use the saddlebags unless we’re taking an overnight trip). ….hope this was helpful…

      • David says:

        Thank-you so much for the information!! I have Givi soft bags (as the internet seems to be out of the Ortliebs that you and the rest of the motorcycle riding population so highly recommends) that I’ll have to stick with, and returned the Givi mounts that won’t fit. Hard bags sound nice, but too expensive/too much of a hassle I think.

        I put an order in to McMaster-Carr too, can’t wait to get all the goodies. That site could be a real money-sink, they have such cool stuff! Really thanks a ton for your time and the recommendations, I’ll get it all together one way or another.

  19. Chris Seinar says:

    Just got back from a BRP and Skyline ride. Here is my set up.
    IMG_0074.JPG

    • amytracker says:

      Hey, unfortunately you can’t just upload pics directly to the comments. You’ll have to host the image somewhere, and then post a link. There are lots of free image hosting services, try photobucket for example.

  20. Joe C says:

    I’ve been having a similar problem with the 696 ABS. I want to buy a 696 ABS but can’t seem to find the proper parts (cable or line that connects to the ABS). Your describe above the use of a third party line. Here it is:

    ” Fortunately, custom brake lines are pretty easy to order, and Ducati uses standard fittings. $100 and only about a week later, and a brand new stainless steel braided line made by Galfer was delivered to my house. ”

    Do you have the contact information for Galfer ? I would like to install a higher handlebar but Ducati keeps saying there is no way to do it since their higher handlebar was made for the non-ABS version of the M696 and it doesn’t come with the ABS line.

    Thank you,

    Joe.

    • amytracker says:

      Hey. First, as far as contact, uh…http://www.galferusa.com/? I don’t remember exactly, but there is a way to order custom brake lines directly through them. It involved filling out some form and emailing it to their sales address. Just poke around the website or call them. The line I ordered was 31” long (I might add an inch or two to this if I were ordering again), had “C” type banjos at both ends (galfer has six types to choose from), and used 10 x 1.0 mm thread pitch. Just look at how you want to route the line, there is probably more than one way to solve this.

      Second, if you are having a dealer do this, you will have to push back on them. Modifying the standard Ducati kit with a different brake line just makes their jobs harder. They aren’t going to want to put non-ducati parts on the bike. The mechanics “won’t be familiar” with it, they didn’t order the part, it doesn’t have a Ducati part number, they aren’t making money on the part, and then there is the liability of installing a part not approved by the factory. I had some leverage because I was buying a brand new bike, showed up with it in my hand, and they were trying to make up for not realizing the kit didn’t work in the first place. (The sale was done and I was riding before they realized the riser kit from Ducati didn’t have a brake line that would fit the ABS). Tell them to get over it. They were going to have to install a new line anyway. Galfer stainless braided lines are really nice parts. However, note the extra expense: I paid for the kit, plus the extra $100 cost for the brake line. I paid up front, rode the bike for 900 miles with the stock bar, and then took it back to the dealer after I figured out the brake line issue and the ducati riser bar kit came in. I also had to go in back into the shop and tell the mechanic exactly how to route the brake line, since it would not go around the ABS box the same way as the original hard brake line. We would have done the work ourselves, except the labor for installing the kit was included in the purchase deal, so having them do it was still easier, despite having to convince them to accommodate a “custom” modification. In the end, I’m still very happy with the dealer, and would do business with them again. If yours won’t, take your business elsewhere. Also, there is zero excuse for Ducati not having an ABS version of the riser bar kit.

  21. Alana says:

    Been to this page a couple times now for much-needed advice! I recently did 600 km on my 696 in one day, it was a very good experience for showing exactly where the thing is uncomfortable. I’m 5’4″ with a 28″ inseam, so I have all the same problems. So far all I’ve done is get easier-to-reach Pazzo levers, but I really want handlebar raisers and the Sargent seat. My only concern is that my Competition Werks fender eliminator won’t fit under the sea, given what you said about the storage underneath (the fender eliminator took out pretty much any storage space there was under the stock seat). Did you have to do anything with the stock fender when you installed?

    • amytracker says:

      I love that you find this helpful, I had no idea anyone would read this much less care.This is great:) Also, 600km is a long day on a Monster.

      No, the Sargent is a direct bolt on. I have not done anything to the stock fender. As long as the eliminator kit does not protrude up into the seat pan area, I don’t see how it would interfere. If the stock seat fits, the Sargent will fit. Here are couple of photos with the seat removed. This part of the bike is all stock. You can see where I used the space that was used for the factory tool kit for the heated gear controller. https://amytracker.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/img_20130910_132329.jpg The second photo shows the bottom of the Sargent seat. I put the tool kit inside the small storage spot under the seat, along with a few other things.https://amytracker.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/img_20130910_132410.jpg

      I’m really tempted by a fender eliminator, because it would look so much better (the stock fender is remarkably hideous), but the seat is so short, and all the eliminators on the market so complete, I would get mud and rain spray up the back side. The stock fender, while ugly, does actually function well as a fender. Therefore, I’ve opted to be cheap and lazy, which in this case is more functional, albeit more ugly.

      • Alana says:

        Thanks so much! I think I will spring for the Sargent Low, to put me a little closer to the ground and hopefully less weight on my crotch against the gas tank (really don’t know how guys do it, especially when you hit the bumps). I probably wouldn’t have put the CW fender eliminator, since I think it looks a little TOO minimalist, but it was thetr when I bought it. You could always chop a little off the stock fender to make it protrude a little less.

        Also, if you’re ever looking for a new place to tour, Nova Scotia is fantastic ;)

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  23. Alison says:

    Hi – enjoyed reading. I am a 5’2 female rider and have a 696 also. I have toured on it and found it no problems at all just had to ensure I engaged abs (which is a good thing) to avoid sore shoulders. Purchased Ducati luggage and used a lot of “Andy Strapz”. Also purchased inflatable mats and some other bits and bobs from the same company. I did want to tell you that I was able to get an aftermarket windscreen for mine. I can’t remember where from but it was an American company. Not as good as my companions FJR1300 windscreen LOL but I imagine better than the stock one (I haven’t ever ridden the bike with the stock one on). I also have the Ducati lowered seat which I got replaced on warranty as the suede wore off within months. It must have been a common issue because the replacement was a different material (much better too). I have the raised handle bars too.

    • amytracker says:

      Thanks for the reminder about the windscreen. I considered one before my 2012 trip, but never made a decision, and have forgotton about it since. I think a good windscreen would help a lot. I’m also holding off putting any more $$ into making the monster something its not, with the hopes of finding a bike more comfortable to begin with. However, bike makers aren’t showing any new signs of making bikes for short people, so I’m not holding my breath.

  24. Dan says:

    Great write up, thank you! Can you elaborate a little more on the advantages and disadvantages of the 14t front sprocket vs the stock 15t? I’ve got a 2013 796 and have bee debating this for some time. However, do you know if there’s a big difference on swapping out the rear sprocket to 41 instead of the front to a 14t? Thank you in advance, it’s nice to see you’re in the NC area!

    • amytracker says:

      Hi! Thanks. At this point, going to the 14t front is a matter of preference. If you spend a lot of time at highway speed, or above 50 mph or so, the stock gearing is probably better. It keeps the RPMs nice and low even at faster highway speeds, and returns better mileage. I thought the stock gearing was mis-matched to the motor when I first bought the bike, but came to appreciate it after awhile.
      However, if I had to guess, I would say most people would prefer the 14t front. For most “around town” riding, its “more fun.” The 14t provides noticeably shorter gearing, and makes a big difference at slower speeds. When not touring, I prefer the 14t. Downside is that with the 14t, I occasionally reach for another gear that isn’t there on the highway. Otherwise, I agree with many Monster owners that the 14t intuitively feels better matched to the bike (unless you you’ve only ever ridden Ducatis, which all seem to be geared taller). For me, its six of one, half a dozen of the other. I don’t have strong feelings either way. It’s a noticeable difference, but I don’t think one gearing is obviously better than the other. (I assume the 796 would be very similar to my 696).
      I don’t have any experience with changing the rear, but conceptually you could split the difference (one tooth on the front is roughly like three on the rear, so you could obtain 30% or 60% of the difference changing the front makes). Changing the rear is more complicated and expensive, but I don’t think its unreasonable if a person wanted to set up their bike ”just so.” It’s not that hard to do, it’s just that changing the front is really cheap and easy.

  25. Sarah Heming says:

    Hello, I just found your blog and had a question I wanted to ask. I am your size as well and I too used to tour on a 650r. It was quite capable and had plenty of accessories available. I have also since gone to a 12′ Ducati 696 and have yet to accessorize it beyond the Ducati Tail bag,but have recently considered selling it and going back to the 650r as the Duc about killed me on the two longer trips I did take on it. Do you prefer touring on the Duc over the Kawasaki? And if so why?
    Thank you in advance and I look forward to reading more of your blogs as we’re like bike twins. :-)
    I also ride a Honda DualSport (the 250L though,not the 230).

    • amytracker says:

      Whoa! You ARE my moto twin! That is amazing, seriously. Obviously great minds think alike:)
      Do I prefer touring on the Duc? Short answer is no, but I do prefer riding the Duc. (how’s that for a non-answer:) The reasons I can articulate are lighter weight, better suspension and brakes, more power, and I like the motor characteristics of that fantastic v-twin. Other reasons I can’t explain as well and are maybe irrational include that the Monster is just more fun for some reason. The Monster makes me want to ride, and the Kawi is a good bike that was kinda boring for me (and I am not some super skilled rider by any stretch).
      The Kawi is unquestionably better for touring, but so are a lot of other bikes (probably most streetbikes, actually). I dunno. Its kinda hard to explain really. An example: before I bought the Monster, I test rode a BMW F800R (same style of naked bike as a Monster). I came back from the test ride thinking that the F800R is a very nice bike. Later that afternoon, I test rode a Monster, and came back giggling uncontrollably in my helmet. Obviously, I bought the monster. Comfort be damned. Some bikes just trip certain people’s triggers.
      The riser handlebars and the sargent seat made a big difference for me, so maybe don’t give up on the Monster yet. I’m also considering a windscreen. However, the truth is that I will eventually buy something different for touring. I keep hoping that I will fit on a hyperstrada, but haven’t been to test ride one yet, since I’m not ready to buy. For now, I don’t find the Monster too uncomfortable. The line in the sand that I draw, or the point that I am not willing to compromise on, is that it doesn’t get in the way of going on trips. I say if it makes you dread going on long trips, get rid of it, its not worth it. Get something else.

      • Hey Amy, Sarah’s husband Dan here. We have both been enjoying your blog today and have so much more reading to do. Funny thing it appears we are like twins to you & your husband size wise and riding. Sarah’s 5’4″/29.5″ inseam, and I’m 6’4″. Not sure how tall Kevin is, but it looks about the same spread as Sarah and I. LOL.

        We’ve done lots of touring ourselves over the years ourselves and as Sarah said she’s probably ran into the same thing you have trying to find a capable bike, but still keep it small and light enough to enjoy. She’s been all over the spectrum on various bikes trying to find what works for her. When we started dating in 2008, she had just sold an F4i and decided to get an FZ1. Even lowered, that bike was too big and cumbersome for her and she quickly grew tired of it. She went to the Ninja 650R after that and it was setup very nice for touring with full hard luggage and everything. I think she put 18k on it in a year. I’ve had a multitude of bikes myself, but since about 206, I’ve had 5 various Vstrom’s so that’s usually been my touring bike. After the Ninja 650, Sarah went to the BMW F650GS single as her touring bike and one she could take on gravel roads. That bike was a dream bike for her and worked out well. Even though its a single, its still pretty capable bike. We still have that as her main touring bike and I’m on an 09 Vstrom 650 as my touring/adventure bike. She has the Duc696 as her play bike and I have a 1st gen FZ1. I needed something to keep up with the Duc. LOL Then we both do dual sport riding too and have a WR250R for me and she has the CRF250L (recently moved up from the XT225). We took our DS bikes out to CO this past year for 2 weeks and had a blast.

        Anyway, its great to see another couple enjoying some great riding. I wish we kept a blog for all our trips like you guys, but we have done some ride reports over the years an various forums like ADV or our local BlokesSportBike.com forum. We keep all of our pics here on SmugMug if you want to check it out – http://bluelghtning.smugmug.com/

        • BTW, the story on Sarah ended up with the Ducati 696 (Peer pressure on FB) and then my payback to her after buying it is pretty great LOL

          How I ducati’d my wife
          http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=815920
          http://www.blokessportbike.com/showthread.php?t=60978

          • amytracker says:

            Hahahaha, that ADV thread is fantastic! I left a pic in there for you. If you weren’t our moto doppelgangers before, you definitely are now. Sarah and I seem like kindred spirits for sure. I love the white on red frame btw. Does not clash with the pink in the jacket at all, pink and red can totally go together:)

        • amytracker says:

          (I need a like or up vote button for your comment…)Ok, you guys are officially our moto doppelgangers. Your smugmug shows that you have the same tire changing stand that we do. Kevin’s 6’3” btw. What in the world.
          Sarah, I feel you on the moto quest. Like many people searching for that elusive “perfect” bike, our solution seems to be just to collect various bikes for various purposes. I’m pretty sure our future involves more motorcycles in the garage. Your collection makes me smile. The only reason there aren’t more motorcycles in our garage right now is a feeble attempt at fiscal sanity, and my insistence that my car still fit.
          I want one of those BMWs to work SO BADLY, but every time I sit on one, it just seems too big and heavy, and the power to weight numbers seem lame. Maybe I would like it if I actually test rode one, spec sheets don’t tell you everything. I’m probably too picky anyway. I seem to really like Ducati, but I’m no brand snob, I’ll buy anything. I was so disappointed when I sat on a KTM990SMT and it was too big. A relative has a V-strom, and I was surprised at its physical size. Great for the taller members of the family, less so for its midget. If I could have anything, I would save my pennies for another multistrada, but naturally its far too big as well.
          Glad you are enjoying the blog! I really set it up just to share pictures with family and friends in other states, but its fun when the internet works its magic and brings together people from all over with similar interests. Thanks for sharing the smugmug link, you guys are definitely doing it right. We don’t get to see too many other couples out riding, glad to know we aren’t the only crazy ones:)

  26. Sarah Heming says:

    Thank you so much for your response! I definitely agree about the Duc having superior braking,suspension and power. So I now have some serious thinking to do. BTW when I went to test ride the Monster,I originally wanted the hypermotard…alas,my feet declined to touch the ground when seated on it. As you well know,some things are just not meant to be.
    I did however want to share with you a pair of boots that forever changed my life as a short rider. I picked up some Daytona Ladystar GTXs.
    https://shop.helimot.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=70
    They really do give you about an 1 1/2″ gain without any discomfort (it’s not like your jacked up in heels). They also have a non slip sole that really works,it helps you feel more firmly planted on the street so you can support those big behemoth bikes.These are my amazing super hero boots that allow me to ride a much wider range of bikes and allows me to feel secure while riding them. I’ve had them now about 4 years and they show almost no signs of wear,they’re that well made! I’m sure they’ll last another 4 and when they finally kick the bucket,I’ll not hesitate to order another pair.
    I even wrote a review of them on our favorite women’s motorycle forum (yes husbands are allowed too). I’m sure they’d also love to hear about your adventures there as well.
    http://twowheelfemales.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3656&highlight=daytona+ladystars

    Thanks again and I look forward to following your blog. Maybe our bike paths will cross sometime!

    • amytracker says:

      Ok I just have to reply to this because its just too funny and a real “small world” moment. You don’t have to preach the virtues of the Daytona Ladystar GTXs to me, because I finally broke down and bought a pair earlier this year. A bit spendy, but you get what you pay for, and I love them. Best boots I’ve owned yet. Not only that, but that review on twowheelfemales that you linked two was one of the main sources of info I used to make a decision before buying, since I had no way to see or try on the boots in person beforehand. I didn’t realize that was your review, it came up in google searches back when I was looking for new boots. Thanks for taking the time to put it up, it has a lot good info and pictures that are the next best thing to seeing them in person. Your review was key in my decision to go ahead and fork over the dough. Helimot took months and months to get them to me, but they did finally come in. And I agree, having that amount of lift in the boot without compromising on stability or ability to shift too much really does increase the range of motorcycles I can ride. People who aren’t inseam challenged often don’t seem to be able to empathize. Kevin always says that if you compare relative sizes and weights, most bikes that I ride are equivalent to him riding a 700lb bike with a 36″ seat height.
      Anyway, happy riding, and I hope our paths do cross!

  27. Jack Martin says:

    Dear Amy — Love your post! I’m a 5′ 8″ guy and love my Monster 696 as a mostly commuter bike that I ride out of town on 100 mile or so trips every now and then. The style, great handling, light weight and general Ducati vibe are all perfect for me, and I feel confident and in control at a stoplight with my foot flat on the ground. My world just got a lot bigger this weekend when I discovered the joys of motorcycle camping, with two buddies on big adventure touring bikes. I have no interest in buying one of those and am now totally stoked to — yes — farkle up my Monster. Two questions. First, do you have an opinion on the Ducati Performance stuff? I have their tail bag, which works great for commuting and allowed me to muddle through the camping trip. I am totally not a tinkerer and need something off the shelf. So I’m thinking of just buying their tank bag and panier set (the latter I don’t think would work with the tail bag at the same time). I realize they will charge me a lot of money for the Ducati label, but that’s ok if it works well — I could have bought a lot cheaper bike in the first place. Second, can the forks handle anything? I got away with tying on a sleeping pad with tent poles rolled up inside, but am wondering if that is a viable regular solution. I do not see anyone doing this and I have a vague feeling of unease relating to possible interference with the tire, though my tie on system was very secure.

    I thank you for your advice and spirit, and in return humbly offer this youtube link in hopes you will find it a worthwhile 3 minutes.

    Best, Jack

    • amytracker says:

      Hey! – Thanks! Loved the vid. (Its not too big or anything on my screen, no worries about posting it in the comments). Its great to see another motocamper with a Monster in the middle of a grassy campsite:) (not the most rational thing to do, but definitely fun:) Looked like a fun trip!
      As far as luggage goes, people who do a lot of motocamping (and me) tend to swear by top-loading, waterproof bags, which I strongly reccomend (people argue more about soft or hard luggage). I have not personally used the ducati performance stuff, so it may be fine, but it looks way too expensive for what you get. Its clamshell or side loading style, which is annoying and fussy to use. Its also not really waterproof. It says water resistant, but I’m pretty sure your stuff is going to get wet. Anything that requires a liner or cover is not really waterproof, and is a pain to use (with the exception of bags with a roll top style interior liner that’s meant to be used all of the time…). Do not underestimate the importance of being able to easily access your stuff (without it falling out everywhere), and load balancing. The only plus I can see about the Ducati bags is that they look a lot better than the Ortliebs I use (http://www.aerostich.com/bags/seat-bags-and-tail-bags/saddlebags/ortlieb-dry-bag-saddlebags.html). The ducati bags are also smaller than what I have. (14L is on the small-ish side). Plus, maybe I’m just dense and don’t see it, but I can’t figure out how these bags are a bolt on solution. What keeps them off the exhaust? How do they mount? (I obviously need to do more research, I wish I had pictures. If there is some sort of mounting or rack system, I may adapt that for my own use…). Obviously not a big fan, but like I said, I have not personally used them. If you go that route, I would love pictures and to get your opinion after having used them.
      As far as mounting stuff to the front? I have no idea, I have never done it. That doesn’t mean its a bad idea though. My guess is that as long as its secure, not too heavy, and you’ve made sure it doesn’t interfere with steering, or the suspension or wheel through out the full range of motion, then it ought to be fine. (If you can fully compress the suspension with full steering lock both ways without a problem, then its not a problem, right? I think?)
      Questions for you: What camera did you use for that vid? I have an old drift camera, and am thinking of getting the new go-pro black. Also, what video editiing software did you use? I have no experience (or probably talent) and know nothing about making videos, but am curious about making some short videos of our trips in the future.

      • Jack Martin says:

        Amy — Hmmm . . . twice the storage at half the price, from the highly reliable folks at Aerostitch. Perhaps I should get over my mechanical-phobia and look into this. I am somewhat intimidated by your custom muffler protection system (I do have carbon, so maybe less of an issue) and after-market lights, but may have to reassess. Thanks so much! By all means, get yourself a video camera — just one look at the site and it’s obvious you’ll be posting some awesome stuff after a few tries. I have the Go Pro Hero 3 black, and love it. There is also a “white” which has some more bells and whistles and costs more, but I can’t think of what else I would want. One issue you will face is the mounting system. By far the most reliable are the little stickers they give you a few of for free. They are super strong peel off adhesive, will stick forever wherever you put them, and then have a quick release to put the camera on or off. If you can stand to have the small base piece permanently attached to various places on your helmet or bike, they are best. If like me you can’t bring yourself to ugly up your bike and helmet, then get a $30 suction cup attachment, but be very careful. The shape of the place you put it significantly affects its reliability. Some places on the bike and hemet work and some don’t. Also note that the backing makes a big difference with the sound. Basically, the waterproof backing is bad for sound and the open backing is good. I have heard that Garmin is about to come out with a competing product which will have a monitor. With Go Pro you can’t see your shot until you download the video to a computer. Garmin supposedly will have a monitor feature that changes this. I am personally fine with waiting until I get home as I only want to spend so much time while I’m out worrying about video as opposed to simply having the experience. But if you were going on a long trip without bringing a computer you might well want the monitor. For editing I just use Apple I Movie, which is easy and fun. Anyone who can maintain a blog like this will be a natural with the simple intuitive Apple system. I really don’t know about any other software that is out there but am again certain that it would be a snap for you. So glad to hopefully have something to contribute, and thanks again. Best, Jack

        • amytracker says:

          Thanks, I only suggest the Ortliebs because I have experience with them and like them, however there are definitely “nicer” options out there. Absolutely do not be intimidated by my silicone stand-off solution to keep the bags off the mufflers. Its more craft project than bike mod. Its a very “redneck” solution that could probably be better (but it works and is cheap). I am curious as to how the ducati performance bags mount. I did more googling, and found a video of a guy with the full set of the performance side bags and tail bag on a Monster. (Google something like “ducati performance bags monster”). I don’t like how wide the bags are, I would prefer them shallower and deeper. The overall width of the bike is kind of ridiculous with the bags mounted. However, the mounts look interesting. He doesn’t take the bags off in the video, but it looks like I might be interested in getting just the brackets used for the bags. It looks like there is a metal bracket that bolts underneath the seat, and racks on each side that support the bags. If I could buy just those parts without the bags, I might do that. My google fu must be weak, because I’m having trouble finding more information (pictures).

          • Jack Martin says:

            Amy, have you tried tying stuff onto the trellis? I’ve been experimenting with this ever since I started getting good ideas from your blog and have had a lot of success. You can find plenty of space in between your knee and the point where the gear would get in the way of the steering, and there is no heat issue. What has been working for me is a 6.5 liter bag strapped on with a simple 1″ adjustable cinch. I took my tent to work yesterday, untied it, brought it up to the office, then tied it on again at the end of the day and rode home, no problem. I think it will be easy to get a tent on one side and sleeping bag on the other. Thanks for showing us it can be done! Jack

  28. Jack Martin says:

    Hey I just saw the way this video link looks — a big picture clogging up your valuable internet real estate. Doesn’t look right to me. So feel free to pull it down — but do let me know your reaction to my farkle ideas. Thanks

  29. Tico says:

    Great writeup! Love your tips for the 696. They are very useful. I’m from Portugal and I have a 696 of 2008 (non ABS) and I drive it for 15.000 km. But now I’m looking for a more comfortable position so I will purchase the following LSL item to rise up in 30 mm and pull back in 16 mm my stock handlebar:121RI30DSI. I will give feedback about this upgrade, not only in terms of comfort but if it was necessary to change any cables.

  30. jeff says:

    Great blog; I ride 2012 1100 evo monster in MN; black hills, arkansas. Check out the Vstream windshield. Very nice mounting kit and you can drop windshield off with 4 hex screws in a couple of minutes leaving brackets on. Brackets not in the way I ride on the track with them on. Works great in the cold weather which is basically half the time up here. Note though, the windshield really protects your upper body, it is noisier than without as wind hits the helmet and your arms get tired because the windshield takes the wind off your chest. The wind creates lift on your body and takes the load off your arms. This goes away with windshield and back gets a bit stiff due to having to hold yourself up with the aggressive position on the monster. And yes I am an engineer and motorhead so pardon the techno approach. But overall the windshield is worth it in cold weather. No way to store it on the bike; Maybe the little one. I have the larger clear one and it extends behind the front blinkers and really pushes the wind around your legs. Very nice piece of gear.

    I may go for a long ride this spring on the monster. Am 5’8″ and the bike fits me great handles canyons fantastically, brakes will pull your eyeballs out. Dirt roads are a bit of a challenge as you already know. My partner rides a BMW 1200 gs and thinks dirt is good. Monster is like riding on ball bearings on dirt. Like you said you get a bit creaky after a while and have to stretch out from time to time on the slab. Gearing; on the 1100 the bike basically wont go into 6th below 80 and have to drop back into 5th. Bike is ridiculously fast; numbers can’t be published for obvious reasons. Lopes along at 85 at just above 4 thousand rpms; get about 48 mpg. I carry 2-4 spun aluminum backpacker gas bottles 30 oz each in ducati tail bag. That’s 12 miles per bottle. Monster fuel light comes on religiously at 125 miles; At 150 you will be walking.

    So I was going to buy a bmw either 1200gs lowered or f800gs lowered for touring work. But already have way to much stuff that floats, rolls or flies with pistons;

    Keep up the good work; have fun

  31. Betocuas C. says:

    Nice!!! I will travel Mexico City to Houston TX in two months.

    I have a Monster 796, and I have a question for you. The monster can run over 6 hours without overheat??

    • amytracker says:

      Sure, the Monster can run all day no problem. As long as you are moving (even a little), and thus providing airflow for cooling, the motor has no trouble. In fact, its fantastic. However, prolonged stop and go traffic, or very high altitudes, is where the motor might have trouble keeping cool.

  32. Ozgur Ozubek says:

    “If I were a guy, I imagine it would be very uncomfortable.”
    lol! till this very line, i was super sure that i’m reading a male author, and this line hit me like a surprise bridge wind! you’re still a legend(ess) in my rider community for the beautiful things you have done to an M696.

    and yes it’s (plus it’s lazy air cooling in urban summer time) very uncomfortable to the point that i started to seriously doubt Italian men.

    thnx a lot for all the monstrous ideas.

  33. Steve Lane says:

    HI Amy. Need your help !! I’m doing something similar to you on a Ducati 796 for charity raising money from Alzheimers in the UK. Riding 5,000+ miles around Europe. I’ve put a link to your website on my site http://www.monsterbrick.blogspot.com. I’m having problems with the luggage as you did. Trying to source the exhaust rings you mentioned from Mcmaster-Carr but having problems getting them. Would really appreciate if you could drop me a mail directly to swap some ideas on what i can do to luggage up !
    (Originally Submitted on 2014/01/14 at 8:29 am to About page)

  34. phil says:

    I am also a monster owner…not so tall either ;) and ran into the same issue with “more apropos motos for touring”. I am planning on doing some longish (not quite 10k though) trips this year. This is a new endeavor for me and your blog is very encouraging and inspirational and has gotten me more excited and motivated to do it. Bravo to you!

    Have you considered the new Monster 1200? :)

    Cheers.

  35. A very detailed and interesting article, I was surprised to know you were a girl :)
    congrats for your skills !!!!!! maybe instead of the Husky the Hyperstrada be as fun
    as the Monster, bye

  36. Cynic13th says:

    I was excited to see another blog about touring on a Ducati Monster, sad to see that you’ve just recently switched bikes. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the new one quite a bit.
    Looking forward to reading all about your adventures now that I’ve discovered your blog.

  37. Max says:

    Thank you.. you help me a lot… will go for it as well. :).

  38. Arja says:

    I have done couple of 5k European tours with my Monster 1100 evo. I had only have one 30 lliter seatbag for 2-3 weeks ride and a pretty small backbag. I am trying to travel as light as it could be possible despite I am woman and usually women have more stuff with than men. Maybe now I can change the backbag to tankbag. Never came to my mind how simple you can actually get it to plastic tank. So thanks for the tip.

  39. Pingback: ducati 696 for salemotorcycle | motorcycle

  40. Alex R says:

    Hi there,

    I just got a 659 and your observations in this and some other articles are really helpful. I was wondering what the effect of putting in the 14 tooth front sprocket is. I understand that it would make it easier to move around at low speed, but what happens when you change into second gear? Do you change earlier or do you rev the first gear higher before changing? Is it less smooth or is there a loss of power when you shift?

    • amytracker says:

      Hi Alex. Changing to the 14 tooth front sprocket really isn’t that much different. Keep in mind, you are changing the final gearing, not the ratios in the transmission. The space/ratio in between each gear remains the same. With the 14 tooth, all of the gears are now slightly lower, or all of the gears require slightly higher revs to achieve the same speed as the stock gearing. Or, if you shift at the same RPM as stock with the 14 tooth, the shift will occur at a lower ground speed than with the stock gearing. It makes no difference in smoothness, and there is no loss in power. Here are some websites that might help: http://www.bikebandit.com/community/guides/how-to-choose-motorcycle-sprockets, http://www.gearingcommander.com/

  41. Donovan C says:

    Hello, I found your site a while back when I was looking for dry bag luggage options for my Duc, your blog has been a big help as I’ve been setting mine up for more adventure riding. My question is, before you went on to your new bike what was that make and model tank bag you were using? It looks absolutely perfect and I haven’t found one that doesn’t inhibit my ability to see the instrument cluster, or its either remarkably small and practically useless.

    Heh this is for a 2005 S2R, with Pirelli MT60RS on the front and rear, I get heckled from time to time but she really does like to play in the dirt and mud, rocks, mesas, and whatever else I’ve found. My wife is adding a new 2015 CB300F street fighter, she cant wait until she gets hers kitted out. For those of us who like to go fast and look good while we enjoy life on the trails.

    • amytracker says:

      Hi Donovan. I wish I could be more help on the tankbag, but the truth is that I have no idea what the bag is. I bought it in person from a moto shop years ago (well before the monster). It has an oval logo, with what looks like a stylized “FS” in the middle of the oval (maybe fieldsheer?). Its very likely that its not made any longer (sorry!). You are right, finding the right tankbag for the monster can be tricky; which is why I really wanted to keep using this one – big enough to be useful, small enough to not be in the way, and has useful compartments instead of one big compartment. I’m sure there is something else out there, you may just have to spend more time combing through revzilla or motorcycle superstore than you’d prefer. Good luck! …and be careful taking the monster off pavement:)

  42. Jonathan Richards says:

    hello. I took heart from your experience and bought risers/bars to transform my 796. All worked really well, including the extended hydraulic lines and throttle cable.
    Thanks for your sharing. Good luck with the ride.

  43. Fantastic post!!! Thanks for sharing your experience and tips :-)

  44. Demian19002 says:

    This is a wonderful story and info..Thank you very much for taking time.
    I have an old Harley…having lived in Italy for many years, and now just returning, I am looking into Ducati or Guzzi for sentimental reasons…I also have always been a British fan having old Jaguars..etc.
    I wish to travel distance for first time on a bike…considering ADV bikes too. But this article and your thought of getting what you are passionate about really is helpful.
    Will look at links provided and begin looking around…that others travel o less appropriate bikes as you have mentioned is interesting…and I am much like you so the idea may be fun and fine

    Thank yo again and be careful..

  45. Walter van Schagen says:

    Dear Amy,
    I like your story and adventures. They gave me a good idea for my wife’s bike. She owns also a Ducati Monster 2012 with ABS. I just bought the high comfort bars but a extra custom brake line is necessary. Do you happen to know what length you ordered? What would you recommend us?
    Thank you and greetings from Amsterdam.
    Walter & Iva van Schagen

    • amytracker says:

      Hi Walter – With the factory Ducati riser bar, I ordered a 31″ brake line (790 mm). A bit longer might be prudent (maybe 800 mm). I could not route the new braided line the same way as the factory hard line, and the dealer tech that installed it wasn’t happy about that. I have not had any problems. I still have this bike in 2016, but it only has a bit over 20,000 miles on it at this point, since I now mostly ride my TR. Since yours is a common question, I uploaded a pic of the Galfer order form I used so you can see exactly how I placed the order (length, banjo type, thread pitch), I expect that whoever you order from will want the same information. Its here, I may edit this post to include this info: https://amytracker.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/2012-06-15_galfer-brake-line-monster.jpg

  46. Christopher Kenna says:

    Hi Amy, very interesting and helpful post – great to know the Monster 696 worked well for you as a touring motorcycle – and great to read of your enthusiasm for your bike – have just made the change to a black 696 from a BMW F650GS, and am enjoying the very different riding experience – but also need the versatility, which is partly why your post helped a lot. Hope your travels are still going well.

    Regards, Chris K
    NSW Australia

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