The recent customs duty hike on imported bikes (800cc plus) from 60 to 75 percent could prove a blessing in some way for Indian superbikers.
Harley-Davidson was first to react, adding three new assembled models (including the iconic Fat Boy) to its Indian assembled fleet, which is so much more affordably priced. And now the Bologna based superbike manufacturer Ducati has hinted they are evaluating introduction of the entry level Monster, the 696 in India.
More popularly known for lending its lower, smaller trellis frame and sharing some components with the Monster 795, the 696 is similar to its bigger sibling. The M696 weighs in at only 2kg less than the M795, and shares several key specifications including a 1450mm wheelbase, saddle height of 770mm, fuel tank capacity of 15 litres, rim and tyres and brakes. It's powered by Ducati's 696cc, L-twin, air-cooled and Desmodromic valve train engine, and develops nearly 79bhp of peak power at 9000rpm. The 696 being under 800cc means it faces no extra duty, attracting 60 percent as earlier. And the Monster 696 is almost as exciting and just as practical a bike for Indian roads as the more powerful 795, already on sale here.
Although low cost of ownership and Ducati don't go hand-in-hand, the launch of the Asia-specific Monster 795 last year proves the company is responding to tap deeper into emerging Asian markets including India, armed with more affordable models. "Given the overall situation of the Monster 795 assembled in Thailand, we, along with our local importer in India, are currently evaluating the most appropriate steps for the market," states an official statement from Ducati, responding to queries from our sister publication, Autocar Professional.