If you’re Australian and fancy learning to ride a motorcycle on a new Ducati you are in luck. The Ducati importer is poised to introduce a new LAMS approved model that will get learners onto a new Ducati for the first time since 2007.
It is inane that any American can walk into a Ducati dealer and ride (or wobble) out on a brand new Ducati 1198SP as their first ever motorcycle. Most other countries have far more enlightened regulations that restrict the types of motorcycles learners get to ride.
Australians new to motorcycles who take a fancy to Ducati have few options. Our Down under friends are basically out of luck if they want their introduction to riding to be on a new Ducati due to learner restrictions in most states and territories. The Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) is designed to ensure new riders start off on something appropriate for their low skill level.
Setting up these types of schemes is harder than it seems. New riders used to be restricted to machines with a maximum capacity of 250cc but this allowed in the 2-stroke pocket rockets like Suzuki’s RGV250 which are really tools for experts with their ultra light weight and highly tuned engines with razor sharp powerbands. Conversely 500cc single cylinder bikes were excluded despite their low bhp and approachable power deliveries. Acknowledging this the current regulations require bikes to have:-
• a power-to-weight ratio not exceeding 150 kW (201bhp) /metric ton (including an allowance for the weight of the rider and gear)
• an engine capacity not exceeding 660cc.
There are numerous second hand Ducatis that comply with the regulations but the last new Ducatis that fit the rules were the Multistrada 620 and Monster 620 which were both discontinued in 2007.
Rumors of a LAMS legal Ducati Monster have been swirling around internet forums for some time but now Frasers Motorcycles group have confirmed the rumors by teasing the new model. There is no indication on Fraser’s website what it is, but internet forums are speculating about a “Monster 659″ and the Monster mirrors seem clearly in evidence under the bike cover.
Ducati could be reacting to the popularity of imported old generation Monster 400 bikes from Japan as learner bikes in Australia (see photo above). Given the 400 used the same chassis and mechanicals as the Monster 600, but with a different bore and stroke, a similarly modified 696 seems like a viable option.
How could the engine be modified to have a capacity of 660cc or less? There seem to be two obvious ways to go. Keeping the existing 696 (actually 695cc) bore and using the older 400 shorter stroke would result in capacity of 620cc. Another approach would be to sleeve down the current 696 engine to take the older 600/620 pistons which would drop capacity to a probably too low 575. Wholly new 84mm pistons would give 634cc. Ducati Monster 636 does have a kind of ring to it!
Ducati News Today approached the Australian Ducati importer for a comment but no reply has been received as of publication.
Potentially the new bike would require further engine restriction to meet the LAMS power to weight requirements like a simple throttle body restrictor as fitted to the last 620 Monster and Multistrada that won’t allow full throttle to be achieved. Rumors suggest a price a little below the Monster 696, perhaps ~$AUD13,000. Yes bikes in Australia are expensive. With dollar parity at current exchange rates, a Monster 696 for $8,495 looks like a bargain.
Thanks to reader Jason R for the tipoff.