&ldquot;You go touring. On a Ducati? — so where’s the tow truck?&rdquot; — if I’d had a quid (Eng. coll: unit of currency) for every time I’d heard that from fellow bikers, I’d be at least a couple of dozen cappucinos to the good. So here’ we are, three years and 31,000 miles down the line, and me and the Stealth Bomber are not only still hanging around together, but doing very well — I haven’t even managed to drop it yet, despite one panic-fuelled deadlift of 210kg — a strained muscle was self-healing, fairings aren’t. So, 31,000 miles in three years, on a Ducati. Without a support vehicle? (remembering that the average annual mileage of a Ducati in the UK is 2,500) Er, yes actually, so it’s probably worth a review of the score so far — let’s see just how temperamental these ‘fragile’ Italian beasts really are. First, the vital statistics:
Number of breakdowns: 0.
Number of no-starts: 0.
Number of not-quite starts: 1 (cold day and dodgy battery – replaced under warranty).
Number of stops on-the-road: 0 (although a worn-out wheel bearing discovered at the Nurburgring caused some nervous twitching).
Here’s another example of good intentions gone wrong through ill-considered design and lousy implementation — the traffic calming in the Surrey village of Dockenfield. It’s a pleasant place, but the one road through the village had, until recently, a national (60mph) speed limit. It’s also a straight road, so it’s been crying out for both a speed limit and some form of traffic restriction. And a couple of years ago, it got first one, and then the other. I’ve no problem with that — they’re long overdue — but unfortunately, the speed calming measures that have been adopted are blatantly bloody dangerous for anyone on two wheels. Look at the picture — they’ve put into place an angled restriction, and then made it look even narrower by extending smooth raised kerbs further into the road. Now the idea of ‘perceptual restriction’ is fine and dandy, but here they’ve managed to create an arrangement that’s going to be completely lethal to the first motorcyclist or cyclist who hits one of those kerbs in the wet at night. Not to mentioned the large metal manhole cover that covers the approach. Not only that, but the quality of the work is so poor that the surface is breaking up and the kerbs themselves have moved out of alignment. So let’s add this one to the ever-lengthening list of Surrey’s Bad Ideas Poorly Done.