Cod philosophy time: It’s funny how behaviour on either side of the biggest ideological divides can be indistinguishable — in politics, we’ve got the fascisms of the right and of the left, each behaving in near-identical ways, while in motorcyling we have Ducati and Harley Davidson.
The Harley rider is someone who’s bought comprehensively into the brand’s v-twin cult of appearance, style and attitude. Why else would they put up with abysmal performance, atrocious handling and vibration that would shame a jackhammer? They’ve paid over the odds for a machine that does nothing that you can’t find for less money and with greater reliability elsewhere. That’s only the start — no Harley is considered to be worth a second glance unless it’s been laden with enough extras and chrome to make the original purchase price pale into insignificance. We sneer at the Harley rider.
Now look at us Ducati riders: folks who’ve bought comprehensively into the v-twin brand’s cult of appearance, style and attitude. Why else would we put up with filling-destroying suspension, spine-mangling riding positions and a paranoia about never going out without the warranty card and a mobile phone? We pay over the odds for a level of performance that can be matched or exceeded for way less money and we then spend a fortune on tricking the machine up to make it stand out even more from its peers. Sorry, am I repeating myself?

In fact it’s only the means of expression that changes — a Harley rider’s chrome’n’leather is a Ducatisti’s carbon fibre and titanium. Which is all by way of saying that I’m getting itchy fingers — I’ve had my machine six months, it’s about run in and it’s time for a precision strike on my local custom/race shop in the pursuit of notional performance (even though I’m not fully competent to use that I already have), individualism and bragging rights.
Of course, like any precision strike, collateral damage can’t always be avoided — in this case it’s in the form of a massive crater in my wallet, with more incoming spotted.
If you want to go all geeky and find out what I’m up to, check out my project pages. The important thing is not what you do, it’s who you choose to do it. In my case, that’s Pro-Twins near South Godstone, Surrey. After numerous horror stories about the quality of workmanship on Ducatis from various dealers, they were recommended to me by Captain Cardigan, who single-handedly keeps them in work by selflessly trashing his SP4 at every opportuniy.
Pro-Twins are a Ducati service centre who are just about to move into being a full Ducati dealer. I phoned yesaterday and went along today to meet Brett, Rob and Steve, in their immaculate workshop-cum-brick outhouse. Brett spent a good couple of unpressured hours talking me through all the things I could and should do to my machine. In short, I’m looking for a deep breathing job on the engine, a suspension workover (to better suit the 748 for the UK’s cart-track excuses for roads) and some shiny bits to bribe the local kids to polish. I started with the shiny bits on the spot, including the essential carbon fibre hugger to keep road crap off the shock and swapping the standard black plastic mirrors for colour-matched ones. It’s a start.
Am I still sneering at Harley riders? No. Well, maybe just a little, for form’s sake.