Just finished two days in the mountains north of Atlanta and 2 days at Road Atlanta with the 696. Done through 'sport bike track time'. Well run event. I'm a rel. newbie and I had ample instruction and felt safe. This track is not for the faint of heart. It is high speed and has a sig. amount of elevation change. I found out a fair amount about the new Duc. First, it is more of a sportbike than people think. I could corner with any 600 (in the veteran novice group) and better than any litre bike. That includes out braking. The l-twin was strong out the turn and up the hill. But, RA is all about the long straight. Any boy did I get spanked there. I had that baby pinned at 125 and got passed at 140+. Oh well. The Monster was very stable at 125 (I'm small and can crouch really good). The OEM bridgestones worked well in both places and held up pretty well. Never had any issues with grip, etc. The thing trail brakes really well and was very confident. The weight (or lack there of) was a real positive, esp. in the mountains. I was with 4 others, a Duc 848 - heavily modified, a 09 ZX6R, a fireblade, and a BMW 1200KS. The Monster got a lot of compliments. I am going to work on the rear settings for Barber next month. Rear sets would help clearance but may not be a 'must'. Will change tires too. Haven't done any exhaust mods etc. Please post comments/advice, etc.