Hi folks, meet Phil Cale, our Ducati Reader Termer winner!
Over to Phil!
Hi everyone, yes that is me there, the lucky Ba$@?!* who won the Ducati Long Termer competition.
It is less than 48-hours since I picked up the trouser-shakingly gorgeous 848 and as you can see, I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the stupefying grin that riding such a machine brings about.
Not only am I new to the pleasures of a Ducati but this blogging business is all new to me, too. First thing first though, some heartfelt thanks are in order; a big, BIG thanks and respect to Fast Bikes Mag’ for thinking up the competition and BJ, not least of all, for enduring that sweat box of a van for 13 hours to deliver the bike to me at Cobb & Jagger – aka Ducati Leeds. A big thanks of course to Alan Jones of Ducati UK and all the guys there for the gorgeous 848 EVO. Thanks also to Charlie and the chaps at Ducati Leeds, and a strong nod and massive thumbs up to Grant at Bikesure for sorting the insurance. Right, I think that covers it, so back to the bike.
So imagine the scene – there I am staring at this shining red Ducati 848 EVO. The keys are handed over, a piece of paper is signed and before I know it I’m on board. The GP inspired dash lights up like a Christmas tree and she purrs into life with a burble from those classic Ducati under seat silencers. Silencers by the way, which are the most non-standard ‘standard’ cans I have had the pleasure to listen to. They growl, bark and snarl with the best of them, and the hint of distant thunder on the over-run was instantly both intoxicating and addictive. Anyway, I digress. There I am, 848 EVO between my legs so click first gear, clutch out and, stall… Oh dear! I get a grin from BJ, so I spark her up, clutch out and, stall… Again. Oh well, I don’t care, I have no excuses but I have got a Ducati! Third time lucky and we are off on new tyres, new bike and through heavy traffic so steady away. Not the best of starts, but I’ll live!
A few yards down the road and things aren’t feeling quite right; the throttle tube is a tad slacker than I’m used to. This is the bike the FB guys took to Spa a few weeks ago – coincidence? They ride ‘em hard those FB boys. Anyway, that’s my excuse for the two stalls and I am sticking to it. A quick u-turn back to Ducati Leeds and Mark, a very helpful Ducati technician, pops out with a couple of spanners and 60 secs later we’re off again. Now the throttle is perfect and no stalls this time, or since.
So, I embark once again into heavy traffic (Not the 848’s natural habitat but it is easy to ride in town), helped by a light but tactile clutch and the typical low down twin’s torque, although I will come back to that at a later date. If you should dare to waste too much time milling around in traffic the Ducati starts to remind you, by way of trying to lightly grill your backside with those beautiful under seat pipes, that this is not where it belongs. Motivated by the 30-degree heat I hunt for the quickest route to some open country roads. As I try to remember which road I need to take I notice the odd happy snapper – apparently when you ride a bright red Ducati slowly through town, people take out their camera phones and start snapping away. Riding a Ducati really is a different kind of biking experience…
A quick 10 – 15 mins later we come to a junction and I know which way I need to go. In no time we’re clear of city traffic and heading for Ducati nirvana. With a bit of a breeze my arse begins to cool and the clumsy start of earlier is all forgotten. A couple of Audis are dispatched as though they were never there and the road opens up, the twin pipes howl and growl away behind me, and my new thoroughbred steed takes me off in an effortless search for speed and vanishing points. The nerves of being let loose on this £10k plus machine are all gone and it starts to sink in – for the next two-months this bike is mine. And what a bike, cue daft grin and crazy look in eyes!
Yes, the exhaust gets hot in traffic and the riding position is focused. Yes, Ducati might be lacking a bit in racing at the moment, but just remind yourself how many Superbike championships these guys have won. Hey, they have even beat the big Japanese four at their own game in MotoGP, too. Make no mistake, the guys from this relatively small bike manufacturer in northern Italy know how to make a proper sorted motorcycle, and they do it with passion. There is just something special about Ducati, they have an ability to punch above their weight which, as I can tell already, is exactly what the 848 EVO is capable of. Having a Ducati just carries a special feeling, even opening the garage door this morning became a memorable occasion. In fact, the only problem I have at the moment is how to get rid of this ridiculous grin…