With all the attention big, shiny, mondo power street bikes get these days, it can be pretty easy to overlook small displacement motorcycles. I mean, doesn’t every rider need 170 horsepower at the twist of their wrist? We all need to accelerate from a standstill to 100 mph in eight seconds, right? Who wouldn’t want to lay thick, 100-foot long strips of rubber on pavement?
While there will always be a small percentage of the moto population looking to carry out such hijinx, the fact is, the majority of riders who wish to keep their driving privileges need something a bit more practical. These days, though, a huge spectrum of motorbikes fit the bill, so let’s narrow it down.
2009 Ducati Monster 696
First and foremost, it’s got to be chic. Style is everything and it’s got to come first. Next up, versatility. Whether you’re dodging between cars during the heat of rush hour or blasting down wavy back roads, the bike has got to be fun, agile and easy-to-ride. Finally, there’s the almighty dollar. Not only does the price tag have to be reasonable, but it’s got to go easy on expendables like fuel and tires, plus something the wife isn’t going to kill you for spending, right? This leads us to Ducati’s Monster 696 and Aprilia’s Shiver 750.
Okay, so they’re both made in Italy, both aimed at the same style conscious rider and both include a price tag under nine grand. But beside those three common denominators, however, they’re substantially different machines. To find out how they stacked up against each other we hauled them out to the racetrack, followed by a few hundred mile sorties through the not-so-mean streets of Southern California. Let’s see how they stack up, shall we?