RE: Harris buys a Ducati: PH Blog

RE: Harris buys a Ducati: PH Blog

Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Harris buys a Ducati: PH Blog

Having sold the Ferrari there was room for another noisy Italian in Chris's life



"You've effectively just passed your driving test and just bought an E63 as your first car," said a pal who knows rather a lot about motorcycles. And, I have to concede, to the casual observer my choice of motorcycle for my initial foray onto the public highway does appear to be a touch foolhardy. It's a Ducati Monster 1200, and it has enough performance to contort time.

"How much is that Ducati in the window..."
"How much is that Ducati in the window..."
But there was much thought that went into the purchase process. I was a little obsessed with seat-heights - being a very small chap with very little legs, I hate the feeling that I can't get both feet onto the ground should I need to. A small point of confidence I know, but one that reflects the fact that most early wobbles happen as you learn low-speed balance. So I wanted a very low seat.

I also wanted a twin because I learnt on a Suzuki Gladius and enjoyed the lazy, torquey delivery and rumble-rumble soundtrack. But this was set against the fact that experientially I wanted something quite different from motorcycling than I did car ownership and driving. I wanted something to own and stare at - I wanted the man/machine relationship to be deliberately superficial one and didn't feel any sense of shame at not being able to access the majority of the performance. Looks mattered. Cars and bikes only go as fast as you ask them to.

So I went to look at some Ducatis. I'll admit to sitting on a Panigale, but all it did was confirm that I'd rather be more upright and then I hopped onto some Monsters. There were old ones, new ones, red ones and black ones - and it would appear that the engine sizes have covered pretty much every conceivable combination of three-figure number. Plus the odd four-digit number. I then saw a brand new Monster 1200 and thought it looked the patella of the bumble-bee.

Obviously Chris was sensible and started small...
Obviously Chris was sensible and started small...
Jason the smiley salesman then whipped out his multi-tool and dropped the adjustable seat to its lowest position, whereupon I could rest both of my heels on the ground and the wide bars didn't feel dissimilar to those of my mountain bike. It just felt absolutely spot-on. I didn't have my pass certificate with me, and my youngest son could easily destroy Riders' Bristol showroom in the 15 minutes I'd have to leave him for a test ride. So I just thought balls to it and said I'd like to buy one.

It occurred to me that I know so little about bikes and my riding skill is so undeveloped that I could research every new bike and even if I got it right for me now, it might not be in six months or next year. So I might as well just buy something that has a low seat, no fairing to keep speeds low and a very low seat. Naturally I asked if I could have the fancy S model with the gold suspension components and fancy exhaust but was told they were all sold out.

The cost was Β£10,695. I defy anyone who has a solid addiction to fast cars not to walk around a Ducati showroom grinning at how cheap everything looks. The sense of value is horribly skewed, but you can't help but act on it.

To be fair after the FF anything would look cheap
To be fair after the FF anything would look cheap
So what exactly had I done here? Had I made the classic mistake of simply buying something because it looked good and fitted my desires, and then constructed some laughable narrative to justify it based on a low seating position? Could well be. Or had I read all the press on it, decided that the two-stage engine map which offered a Billy-spec 100hp mode as well as the full 135hp was probably ideal?

Maybe a bit of both. You see I had this underlying sense that unless I owned a bike I craved, one that made me tingle with pride and I-can't-believe-it's actually-mine radiance, I might not actually want to ride it. Biking for me will be purely recreational, done for the love of it, so it stands to reason that the machine shouldn't generate in me feelings of quiet respect and other sterile emotions. I looked at the single-sided swing arm on the 1200 and thought, "I want some of that."

Two weeks later I rode it home. I have now covered 700 miles, which feels like many hours riding, but is of course nothing in the car world.

Low seat? Check. Throbbing V-twin? Check...
Low seat? Check. Throbbing V-twin? Check...
It's a harder bike to ride than the Gladius, even in 100hp 'Urban' mode. The clutch is no heavier, but the initial power delivery is sharper and of course it's way more potent. The first 350 miles were extremely sedate and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself riding rather slowly on my bright red Ducati. To the hardcore I'm sure I was and remain a figure of fun, but the simple joy of mooching along at 55mph with that V-twin spluttering away underneath you defies description. For me it's an escape to another place. I'm not worrying about work or other crap, my mind is focused on riding - albeit rather slowly.

There are two running-in periods for this bike, the first is an oil change at around 450 miles, up to which point you should stay below 5,000rpm. As a novice, even in 100hp mode, this limit presents no problems - save the fact that the funky colour electronic dash doesn't actually have a rev counter in that mode, so you're kind of guessing. In reality, shifting at 4,000rpm still left me thinking it was damn fast.

Unashamedly it had to look good...
Unashamedly it had to look good...
I added most of those miles on the trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Cruising at the legal limit, or thereabouts, is fine. You just lean your body into the airflow and it's held there. It's noisy and after an hour my bits were a touch sore, but I'd always imagined that biking was supposed to include such hardships. I rather enjoyed stopping for tea and flapjacks and not being bothered by timings. That last point is very liberating for someone who always seems to find himself sprinting to an airport.

The trip home was magnificent - my first chance to filter through the post-Goodwood Sunday evening gridlock. There weren't too many wobbles, and I would be lying if I said great waves of smugness didn't wash over me as I slid past all those stationary cars. Karma was just around the corner mind - a cloudburst on the M4 forced me into the services and I probably lost much of the time I'd gained. But when I arrived home I was tired and sweaty and excited and smiley and I felt like I'd been on an adventure. All this from a journey that wouldn't have even registered in a car. And all in 100hp mode.

No rev counter in Urban mode - annoying
No rev counter in Urban mode - annoying
Post service I felt a little more confident, but remained very cautious. After five weeks I had to try the more powerful engine map purely to see the rev-counter. Go figure. Ducati advises around 7,000rpm for the next 500 miles, and that's plenty for me. The motor is lumpy below 2,000rpm, then just pummels its way beyond 3,500rpm. Even if I could use the last 2,500rpm, I'm not man enough yet. Nor, strangely, am I that interested. The thing is a complete weapon already.

That'll do for now. Next up some thoughts on being a novice, sharing the highway with other road users, corners and why overhanging fruit trees now terrify me.

Chris

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Author
Discussion

herebebeasties

Original Poster:

457 posts

177 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Good man.
It's funny how quickly you get used to having more power in cars when you step up to something quicker than before.
I guess you'll not really get to appreciate that with bikes if you've gone for a Monster 1200 right out of the gate. :-)

Henry Fiddleton

1,566 posts

135 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Very cool.

Im tempted to getting my bike test done - how does a complete bike virgin start?

Lessons on someone elses bike?

HF

renaultgeek

473 posts

106 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
get yourself a termignoni exhaust for it now!

X5TUU

8,292 posts

145 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
I thought there was several grades of motorbike tests to go through before you could get a 'proper' bike (anything over 1000)?!

Ive always fancied my bike license and to get a now old Kawasaki Ninja - just something about the green that does it ... but for under £11k that looks like a monster bargain to me!!

smile

sideways man

880 posts

95 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
A fine choice. Noisy Italians are awesome smile

matt1269

597 posts

132 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
I've booked a CBT after reading these updates. Hope I find it enjoyable too!

soad

30,673 posts

134 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Henry Fiddleton said:
Very cool.

Im tempted to getting my bike test done - how does a complete bike virgin start?

Lessons on someone elses bike?

HF
Ask in the Biker Banter, chap.

V8 FOU

2,728 posts

105 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
I passed my test in 1970 and I still get that sort of excitement on a good bike. I have owned dozens of bikes, but a Ducati gets under the skin.

Oh please Chris, if anyone asks it is a Doocatti, not Dewcatti nor a Dewcarti.

Have fun, and keep us up to date!

F40GT346

211 posts

125 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
My first bike was Monster 750 many years ago. My next bike was a Honda Fireblade with its scary reputation but actually I found it much easier to ride than the Monster. Its all down to the engine and on the original Monster it had a big affect on the steering of the bike. Turn in to a roundabout off the throttle and it would fall in to the corner, get on the throttle, a lump of torque would arrive and completely change your line. I also found in traffic that the lumpiness of the motor at low speed meant lots of clutch pulling leading to a sore hand. This lead me down the path of 4 cylinder bikes, much smoother at low revs and top end power when you ask for it - much more controllable.

Why I am writing this - just thought it might help to know that these bikes arent the easiest to ride - in my humble view a 4 cylinder super bike is much easier! I second the advice to get Termis on it!

I also had a 916SPS which I loved as a track bike, so I still love a V-twin Ducati, it was awesome on track but really hard work to ride on public roads. Then it caught fire one day when I was riding it...

SteveSteveson

3,209 posts

121 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Ye, I would say the Monster to the E36 is about right. Fast, but not stupid. It's going to be fast if you push it, but it won't bite. Not 100% sensible, but also not completely stupid.

Also, you will get aches and pains, like any new form of exercise (And riding a bike is exercise. It involves far more work than a car, even just cruising along). You will stop leaning on your bits and start to gain core strength as you get out more.

Enjoy the sun, and take it easy. Stay with the 100 bhp until you feel you need more, as for now it will feel stupid fast. Then switch to the full fat as and when you want it.

Loverly bike. Soon comes the upgrades... New can, tyre choices, CF bling...

Henry Fiddleton said:
Very cool.

Im tempted to getting my bike test done - how does a complete bike virgin start?

Lessons on someone elses bike?

HF
Do your CBT, see if you enjoy it for less than £100, then go on to do lessons on a school bike.

X5TUU said:
I thought there was several grades of motorbike tests to go through before you could get a 'proper' bike (anything over 1000)?!

Ive always fancied my bike license and to get a now old Kawasaki Ninja - just something about the green that does it ... but for under £11k that looks like a monster bargain to me!!

smile
It's complex now, but if your an old fart (Well, over 24) you can take the direct access and miss all that messing around.

£11k seems like a bargain until you see what else you can get for that price bike wise...

Edited by SteveSteveson on Wednesday 23 July 09:41

P4ROT

1,216 posts

151 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Double bloody fun

SydneyBridge

5,245 posts

116 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Excellent choice
Love the 205 XS in the background as well

wemorgan

3,426 posts

136 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
[quote]It occurred to me that I know so little about bikes and my riding skill is so undeveloped that I could research every new bike and even if I got it right for me now, it might not be in six months or next year. So I might as well just buy something
[/quote]

I echo that. Sometimes it's good to just buy something today, than spent months reading, only to become saturated with information. Bikes and cars can be easily sold on to be replaced with something 'better'.

X5TUU

8,292 posts

145 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
SteveSteveson said:
It's complex now, but if your an old fart (Well, over 24) you can take the direct access and miss all that messing around.

£11k seems like a bargain until you see what else you can get for that price bike wise...

Edited by SteveSteveson on Wednesday 23 July 09:41
hmmm I'm thinking I could possibly do the learning and sessions on evening while working away from home to kill some time rather than just loitering in the hotel ... hmmmm the possibilities! smile

Ecosseven

1,514 posts

175 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Congratulations Chris. Lovely Bike. I haven't ridden a bike ina few years now but I'm sorely tempted to get another one. I've always owned naked middle weights (Honda Hornet and Suzuki SV650) and quite like the look of the new Yamaha MT07.

I'm sure you will enjoy the whole biking experience.

matbat

473 posts

203 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Excellent choice Monkey!!

I'm on my second Monster now, they are fantastic in a truly red blooded Italian way.

Dave Hedgehog

12,906 posts

162 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
excellent write up, really enjoyed reading that

KTF

8,658 posts

108 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Nice Audi wink

Rawwr

22,722 posts

192 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
The rate at which you get used to power on bikes seems to be significantly greater than the rate at which you get used to it in cars. After a year of riding a Fireblade, I swapped bikes with a friend for a little jaunt out into the countryside. Swinging my leg over his new GSX-R600 was quite an eye-opener. To me, it felt dangerously slow and that such slow things shouldn't be allowed out on the road as it's not safe to pull out into traffic. Five years previous to that, the day I collected my first ever bike, a lovely GSX-R600, I was on that unnerving brink of spontaneous bowel evacuation the first time I gave it full-throttle in 2nd gear.

I know you've driven many, many cars over the years so I'd love to hear your reaction to a test ride on a full-blown, hairy-chested, nuts-out 1000cc supersport of some description. I confidently predict that even the weedy underpowered Fireblade will make you want to raise more eyebrows than you have.

smilo996

1,562 posts

128 months

Wednesday 23rd July 2014
quotequote all
Thank Christ for that, I had visions of Harris in chaps and cowboy boots on or looking at the containers on a GS wondering what to put in them.

I would take an S4RS but good choice for a Monster anyway.