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Motorcycle Buyer's Guide: Standard bikes (up to 800cc)


by Pascal Bastien ,

Ducati Monster 696 and Monster 796
2012 Ducati Monster 696 right side view
Photo: Ducati

In addition to the entry-level 696, Ducati offers the more luxurious and higher-performing 796. The trellis frame, air-cooled L-twin engine and low weight (167 kg) make this standard bike a fast sprinter and good overall athlete. Styling is spectacular, drawing stares and leaving onlookers breathless at every street corner.

You'll be impressed with the superb fit and finish, not to mention the top-notch components. On the other hand, the more taxing riding position and poor two-up capability will disappoint some. Both Monsters display a wild personality that sacrifices practicality in the name of a great design and exhilarating dynamics. Consider yourself warned.

Honda NC700SA
2012 Honda NC700SA front 3/4 view
Photo: Honda

Friendly, practical and understated, the Honda NC700SA beautifully tackles the daily grind and still has what it takes for some nice weekend getaways. Heavily tilted forward to lower the bike's centre of gravity and allow more storage in the fake tank (the actual fuel tank is located under the seat), the 670cc long-stroke parallel twin-cylinder relies on technologies from the auto industry to improve flexibility and increase torque across the most popular portion of the rev range.

The NC700SA kind of looks like the CB1000R, which is a bit odd yet interesting. In addition to a 21L compartment that can hold a full-face helmet, riders benefit from a low seat height (790 mm). This newcomer is a great riding companion any day of the week.
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