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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'd like to make a list of strange, but normal things for people with a Ducati 696 to maybe limit fears and forum scouring. All the info in one place should be helpful for everyone. If anyone else has something to add, please do:

The 696 makes a LOT of wonderful mechanical noise. What's normal?:
1: Clicking and ticking from the heads, normal sounds of the wonderful desmodromic valves
2: a low pitch slide whistle sound as the engine revs down, this is the intake sound
3: changing noises as the engine heats up
4: the air cooled desmodue engine makes far more noise than it's liquid cooled and desmoquattro brethren

The 696 is strange at low RPM's, what's normal?
1: jerky movement below 2500 rpm, the engine likes to live around 4000 rpm when cruising
2: cold starts always require the throttle advance/choke lever until at least 2 bars show for your oil temperature otherwise the engine will not run

The 696 has some strange oil behavior in cold weather, what's normal?
1: a milky residue will build up on your sight glass if you don't get your oil hot enough; low engine temps and high oil temps are the goal. It's a race bike, wring it's neck and get it to at least 3 bars on temp gauge, preferably 4 bars.

The 696 has known failure points and maintanence often overlooked to look out for in service:
1: desmo belt idler rollers freeze up and eat belts. Always look for a color change on the bearings that indicate overheating and freezing up.
2: the fuel indicator is a frequent source of problems (as can be seen on the forums)
Unplugging the connector to the fuel tank and plugging it back in occasionally fixes this issue, it worked for me ?
3: although the electronics are very good, the voltage regulator is known to cause issues.
4: change your own oil and make sure to clean the oil screen, this is separate from the oil filter and most service stations won't touch it or even know it is there
5: the vertical cylinder gets hotter than the horizontal cylinder, that's normal

Some misc things I've thought of:

Some more I've thought of:

1: the stock chain tension appears to be a little bit too tight. The correct (at least from forum posts) number for chain slack is around 52mm, up from the stock 48mm

2: Motul and Amsoil seem to be the preferences for this engine. Anectodally, I've found my engine runs cooler with Motul 5100 4T ester

3: a common change is to change out the front sprocket to a 14 tooth

4: fuel economy varies quite a bit, as low as 40 and as high as 52 seem to be normal, a great deal depends on your setup, but anything lower than 30 means your engine is probably running rich

5: a snapped belt may very well nuke your engine. Always change your oil, replace your belts when you first buy any Ducati.

6: the likelihood of the previous owner actually doing their valve maintenance is slim to none. My bike had 0 clearance on any of the openers or closers when I purchased it. After doing the valves, I've learned alot about the bike and it gets better mpgs and performance. Top speed was 105mph before valve adjustment, 130mph after with better slow speed characteristics and smoother operation

7: this bike is generally bulletproof. Change your oil, watch your belts, keep your valves in spec and you will be good to go for years

8: valves are very easy to do and generally inexpensive. There are tons of resources online that will be very happy to help you out.

9: your nearest Ducati dealer will reset your desmo service light for a fee if you do your own desmo service. My dealer charged me $56.00 (which ended up being half the cost of the entire job)

10: expect to pay a LOT of money if you get your desmo service done at the dealer, I'm a major proponent of learning your bike by doing. You will see things on your own property that the dealer won't

11: you only need a closer shim measuring tool (20 bucks from emsduc), a micrometer, and a set of feeler gauges to do your own valves. Don't be fooled into thinking you need thousands of dollars worth of specialty tooling

12: valve check interval is 6000 miles

13: belt change interval is 2 years or 12000 miles on the safe side

14: tire pressure seems really nice at about 30-34 psi, depending on rider preference.

15: a fender eliminator/tail tidy is totally worth it, but buy a good one, they can be made really, really cheaply. Evotech and rizoma seem to be favorites

16: it is WAY easier to come up into neutral from 1st than it is to bump down to neutral from 2nd
I'm sure I missed something, hopefully this helps someone!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
As I can't seem to delete comments, how about a service dedicated section?

You must remove the brake rotors, brake calipers, and loosen pinch bolts in order to remove the front tire.

When reinstalling brake calipers, pull the brake hard while you tighten the bolts that hold the calipers to the forks. This will limit the amount the brake drag on the rotor by self-centering the brake pads relative to the tire.

Tighten pinch bolts last when reinstalling. These are the 4 bolts on the bottom of the forks right underneath the axle.

Removing the front end helps alot when doing valves. This is a good time to renew brake pads and fork oil, which has likely never been changed.

Use Showa ss-8 fork oil for Showa forks. Honda sells this as Honda Showa ss-8 for about $5 a quart. You will need about 1100mL to refill both forks. Measure the fluid that comes out and replace with the same amount of fluid.

Change non-iridium spark plugs every 6000 miles or 2 oil changes

Valve clearances to shoot for are:
0.10mm openers on intake
0.15mm openers on exhaust
0.01mm for all closers
There is some argument about this, but most people seem to agree that these specs are the best to start with. Remember, a loose clearance isn't likely to harm an engine, but a tight or zero clearance will. The closer your valves are to your target, the better the engine will run

Plug your oil drain hole in the valve case/heads so you don't lose half rings, also, buy half rings bacause they are cheap and you will lose them

You can sand/lap your valve shims if they are oversized. This will save money and be more accurate in the end. Sand wet on a surface plate or glass starting with 400 grit, ending on 1000 grit

Cleanliness while measuring shims is Paramount. One grain of abrasive can throw your measurement off.

Removing your exhaust header and belts is required for efficient service. Always mark belts and cams to show their original position. Putting them back in a different position can nuke your engine. DO NOT LET THE VALVES FALL INTO THE ENGINE. MAKE SURE THE PISTON IS AT TOP-DEAD-CENTER BEFORE REMOVING CLOSER SHIMS!!!

To set belt tension, get a tuning app from the app store, hold it next to the belt and strum it repeatedly. You are aiming for around 140±10hz; there are video guides on how to do this online

Emsduc is your best friend. Download the 2v shim calculator and use it throughout the process. Save all your data for comparison for the next time you do valves.

The 696 uses 7mm valve shims

Use grease or loctite as specified in the service manual.

Get the service manual from here on the forums, it's easy to find on the home page.

Be meticulous in your recording of data and save everything. Mark down things you think might be strange, them monitor and ask about them. Save everything, it may help you a great deal down the line.

Clean your chain when it gets dirty for best life. Every 300 miles is the goal to shoot for, depending on conditions.

The gas tank sucks to drain and take off, so just set it on a table next to the bike while doing service

Yes, you have to take off all of the plastic shell fairing in order to remove the tank. Yes, it's dumb. Yes, the only other way to do it would be to carve out a door in the key-well area

The tank is usually only held with one screw on the two forward pegs, even though both holes are threaded. This is both common and acceptable.

The clutch line is likely to be darker where it comes close to the engine. As long as it still easily engages, everything is fine.

Slip on exhausts sound really cool, and might need an ECU flash or change. Check with the slipon manufacturer. (Termignoni for lyf)

Severe Paint flake on the lower engine case should worry you, this means there is significant overheating. Hard pass

K&N reusable air filters flow a great deal more air, but let more contaminants through. If you're racing, these are the way to go. For commuting and higher milage applications, a more restrictive filter with finer filtration is recommended.

The front exhaust valve cover will spill a couple tablespoons of oil when you first open it, this is normal.

If you can't get your engine up to temp during the winter, a common trick is to cover the radiator with tinfoil. Don't forget to remove come warm weather!
 

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Reading about smoothness and drivability issues hit home with my experiences. I rode bikes for 55 years, owning both "old classics" and emissions era machines. Off the showroom floor, most of the latter ran poorly at low rpm, and hardly at all until they were fully warmed up. Ducati is not the only marque so afflicted, but both the ST3 and the 695 Monster I owned were among the worst of my experiences in this regard.

The problem is simple. In order to meet emissions requirements, these highly tuned motors are set up so lean they will barely run except at large throttle openings where they go into a closed loop fuel map. If you tune them exactly as the factory tells you to, they suck...pardon my bluntness.

Lucky for me I have one of the best Ducati dealers in North America an hour and a half away. My new ST3 had these symptoms; long warm-ups, crackling and popping when rolling off the throttle, dying when pulling up to a stop, etc. Took it to the shop I mentioned to check the tune; they did so carefully, using an exhaust gas analyzer to verify the fuel mixture was set EXACTLY to factory parameters. Afterward it ran no better.

I protested. The head mechanic rode it and agreed it was terrible. He proceeded to tune it so it would run, instead of meeting factory spec. I owned that bike for another 10 years and it always ran flawlessly. All bad fueling symptoms, gone. He was able to do this because the 2004 did not have an O2 sensor, so the ECU could be "fooled" with a tune that make it actually run instead of hitting some imaginary number that made the daisy-sniffers happy. Oh, and I got right at 50 mpg on the highway with my wife in tow, so I'm not embarrassed about "poisoning the planet" as I cruised alongside three ton SUV's. Where it would hardly run before below 4000 rpm, loaded two-up I could crack the throttle wide open in 6th gear at 2500 rpm and it would pull with the torque of a John Deere tractor, all the while smooth as silk.

The new, 2007 695 Monster I bought was similar. I just will not accept that a high dollar, high performance machine has to run like a worn-out garbage truck. After unsuccessful attempts to tune it so it had reasonable drivebility, I bit the bullet and purchased the factory Termignoni exhaust, ECU, etc. package. It was blasphemously expensive, but worth every penny. After installation, I could roll the 695 out of the garage on a cool morning, hit the starter button, wait no more than 10 seconds for oil circulation, snick it in gear and ride away at 1500 RPM with the throttle barely cracked for the first couple miles to warm the engine. Smooth as silk and never an instant of hesitation.

The problem with modern motorcycles is regulators that sit behind a desk and never in a saddle. No one can convince me that an engine that is constantly spitting, bucking, and having the heck run out of it just to keep it lit is reducing pollution. On the other hand, I got fantastic mileage and oh-so-satisfying performance across the rpm range from both of my Ducati bikes once they were tuned with a reasonable, stoichiometric fuel mixture. I put thousands of cruising miles on both of them at low rpm, low throttle openings and I'm convinced I used less fuel and created less harmful emissions than if they were leaned out beyond mechanical feasibility and constantly flogged to make them run. Oh, and they both would rip like hot stink when the urge beckoned.

Off my soapbox now. Bottom line, there is hope. Figure out how to get your bike tuned so it will run. Modern bikes absolutely have the potential, if not the programming to do so.
 

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I'd like to make a list of strange, but normal things for people with a Ducati 696 to maybe limit fears and forum scouring. All the info in one place should be helpful for everyone. If anyone else has something to add, please do:

The 696 makes a LOT of wonderful mechanical noise. What's normal?:
1: Clicking and ticking from the heads, normal sounds of the wonderful desmodromic valves
2: a low pitch slide whistle sound as the engine revs down, this is the intake sound
3: changing noises as the engine heats up
4: the air cooled desmodue engine makes far more noise than it's liquid cooled and desmoquattro brethren

The 696 is strange at low RPM's, what's normal?
1: jerky movement below 2500 rpm, the engine likes to live around 4000 rpm when cruising
2: cold starts always require the throttle advance/choke lever until at least 2 bars show for your oil temperature otherwise the engine will not run

The 696 has some strange oil behavior in cold weather, what's normal?
1: a milky residue will build up on your sight glass if you don't get your oil hot enough; low engine temps and high oil temps are the goal. It's a race bike, wring it's neck and get it to at least 3 bars on temp gauge, preferably 4 bars.

The 696 has known failure points and maintanence often overlooked to look out for in service:
1: desmo belt idler rollers freeze up and eat belts. Always look for a color change on the bearings that indicate overheating and freezing up.
2: the fuel indicator is a frequent source of problems (as can be seen on the forums)
Unplugging the connector to the fuel tank and plugging it back in occasionally fixes this issue, it worked for me ?
3: although the electronics are very good, the voltage regulator is known to cause issues.
4: change your own oil and make sure to clean the oil screen, this is separate from the oil filter and most service stations won't touch it or even know it is there
5: the vertical cylinder gets hotter than the horizontal cylinder, that's normal

Some misc things I've thought of:

Some more I've thought of:

1: the stock chain tension appears to be a little bit too tight. The correct (at least from forum posts) number for chain slack is around 52mm, up from the stock 48mm

2: Motul and Amsoil seem to be the preferences for this engine. Anectodally, I've found my engine runs cooler with Motul 5100 4T ester

3: a common change is to change out the front sprocket to a 14 tooth

4: fuel economy varies quite a bit, as low as 40 and as high as 52 seem to be normal, a great deal depends on your setup, but anything lower than 30 means your engine is probably running rich

5: a snapped belt may very well nuke your engine. Always change your oil, replace your belts when you first buy any Ducati.

6: the likelihood of the previous owner actually doing their valve maintenance is slim to none. My bike had 0 clearance on any of the openers or closers when I purchased it. After doing the valves, I've learned alot about the bike and it gets better mpgs and performance. Top speed was 105mph before valve adjustment, 130mph after with better slow speed characteristics and smoother operation

7: this bike is generally bulletproof. Change your oil, watch your belts, keep your valves in spec and you will be good to go for years

8: valves are very easy to do and generally inexpensive. There are tons of resources online that will be very happy to help you out.

9: your nearest Ducati dealer will reset your desmo service light for a fee if you do your own desmo service. My dealer charged me $56.00 (which ended up being half the cost of the entire job)

10: expect to pay a LOT of money if you get your desmo service done at the dealer, I'm a major proponent of learning your bike by doing. You will see things on your own property that the dealer won't

11: you only need a closer shim measuring tool (20 bucks from emsduc), a micrometer, and a set of feeler gauges to do your own valves. Don't be fooled into thinking you need thousands of dollars worth of specialty tooling

12: valve check interval is 6000 miles

13: belt change interval is 2 years or 12000 miles on the safe side

14: tire pressure seems really nice at about 30-34 psi, depending on rider preference.

15: a fender eliminator/tail tidy is totally worth it, but buy a good one, they can be made really, really cheaply. Evotech and rizoma seem to be favorites

16: it is WAY easier to come up into neutral from 1st than it is to bump down to neutral from 2nd
I'm sure I missed something, hopefully this helps someone!
Thanks for this post Admanfrd.
I am one month into owning a 09 Ducati 696. This is my first Ducati and your list of the various quirks with this motorcycle is very helpful. It sounds like our philosophy of bike ownership is similar; DIY, get to know your bike and stay on top of all maintenance. That said I am by no means a motorcycle mechanic, so expect to see a series of questions as they come up.
 

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Eliminate the O2 sensor and the start up will be perfect. I just change the full exhaust on my 2010 696M that I’ve owned since the beginning. Upgraded to Sprinter filter. 3 simple mods and the bike rides and start like it should...better.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
After 2-1/2 months, 6200 miles, a valve job, new battery, custom exhaust, new belts, and a lot of gas, I can comfortably say that this motorcycle is an absolute demon. Quirky, but truly a special bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Another little note, if you haven't clayed your paint yet, DO IT. the yellowish tinge went away and I can see myself clear as day in the reflection of the now truly white paint. I didn't know I could love this bike even more.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Id like to add suspension info to this list, but I haven't done any suspension work and dont want to talk out of my ass.

Any info from the experienced?
 
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