(Un)Shiny Toy

In Southern England, an only moderate spring and summer have suddenly sequed into a classical Indian Summer – it hasn’t rained at all for over two months. Today, it is absolutely pissing down. So guess when my new bike arrived?? Very nearly right – I actually picked it up yesterday afternoon, and managed the first 60 miles in the glow of a glorious Autumn evening, presumably running on residual kharmic credit. It’s been damply downhill ever since.

Firstly, the sadness: watching and listening to the (no longer ‘my’) 748 disappear up the road, ridden by its proud new owner. I’d arranged a trade-in for it against the ST4s, while keeping the private sale ads in the papers. The evening before I was due to pick up the new machine, there was a phone message. A viewing the following morning, and a mutually agreeable wodge of cash was exchanged for the machine. So that was that.

Secondly, the stupidity: Ten minutes later, in an instant of revelation, I exchanged nostalgic regret for the realisation that I’d just sold the only viable means of getting the 50 miles to Pro Twins to pick up the new bike. Oops. A quick call around and huge thanks to my friend Siobhan for driving me all around the Home Counties in pursuit of an obsession. There will be chocolate (there was).

Pro Twins’ showroom is full of the usual boring stuff: 999s, ex-WSS 748RSs, custom 955 Corses. Yawn. And, in pride of place beside the lift — my (un)shiny toy — matt dark grey (stealth, titanium or bat barf, according to your taste), set off by beautifully finished gloss red wheels, with the Marchesini logos picked out in white. Nice touch and top work. While the bike itself was ready, almost none of the extras had turned up — the panniers and carbon bits are still enroute, presumably via the US West Coast dock lockout. So whatever efficiencies Ducati’s American owners have put in place, it’s nice to see that parts of their organisation remain resolutely Italian.

First impressions then. Very first impressions, given that it’s only got 72 miles on the clock, the gearbox is stiff as hell and the brakes haven’t bedded in. Pulling away from the traffic lights outside Pro Twins, I got the front wheel on the ground. Eventually. Plenty of low-down torque then. Huge amounts in fact. Very smooth too, and the previously mentioned Ducati deception is very much in evidence. I now have to exercise a couple of thousand kilometres of restraint whilst running in. Not too much of a hardship, given that 6000 revs gives me about 116mph in top. Quite enough for the supermarket run, if not Donington Park.

Then there’s the geek bits: gearing, torque, cosmetics and plans. But enough gratuitous exposure to designer anorakdom – that’ll come later. Don’t say you weren’t warned. So I’ve joined the pannier and Belstaff brigade. Have I? Have I hell — first track day report to follow. And I’ve already put myself down for the Motogiro D’Italia next June.

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