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Two months on, and the love is still there, I'm really happy with my choice. Surprisingly, I have been able to ride the bike quite sensibly in traffic, but I'm not sure if recent lowering of the gearing will "force" me to accelerate harder... It has allowed me to use 6th gear without lugging on roads other than the freeway. The only problem I've had has been with the rear shock. It was unbelievably stiff, so I asked Fraser's to adjust the preload - I now have only a couple of mm of thread showing vs over 10 mm as standard, and it's been a big improvement. When they did the fix, they noticed that the compression adjuster was buggered, it just turned freely, and did nothing - warranty. Ironically, for supposed Italian unreliability, it's a Japanese shock. Now replaced and properly adjusted, the shock works much better. I could possibly use a lighter spring, but we'll see how it goes. I've also had a rear ride height adjuster fitted, and the height is set to match the 1098. Much more comfy with less weight on my wrists, but definitely more twitchy - the 1098 comes with a steering damper - now I know why. If I get bothered, I'll raise the rear a tad, but not as high as OEM. So how does it go? Brilliant. Not as grunty as the Aprilia - less instant go - despite having more power and similar torque on paper, but much quicker. I find I just need to use the gears a little more. Lowering the gearing from 15 to 14T front sprocket may reduce the need to tap dance. Much better handling - as it should have, it's a much smaller, lighter, sportier design. Comfort is similar.

I was thinking the other day that it's very similar to that old Ducati 750 SuperSport I had. But much better, and no previous owners to bugger it up. Almost a perfect physical fit, plenty of get up and go, very, very sexy. What more could I want?


848 at Narrowneck on day 2 - those chicken strips are much narrower now!

New bike time

With the sale of the Aprilia, I was ready to move. My loan was approved and all I had to do was pick the bike - and really, I'd already done that, it was going to be a Ducati Monster 1100S with a comfort seat. All I had to do was have that final test ride.

But it still wasn't comfortable, despite being much improved. Dean, Fraser's salesman, had already convinced me to have a test ride on the 1098 and 848, and I'd teed them up for the same visit, despite knowing I didn't want such sporty beasts. What the hell, a ride would be fun anyway. Well, as we headed up the escarpment with me on the 848, head down and bum up, unable to see the cops behind me because of the totally crap mirrors, I was coming to the conclusion that this wasn't the bike the bike for me. It was just too sporty. Then speeds increased a little, and I realised I only had to think to turn, and, despite the rock hard suspension, the bike was hugging the road like it was glued on - it started to make sense. By the time speeds reached $_silly, I was manically screaming into my helmet, my head threatening to split from the huge grin across my face.

We swapped bikes, and I took the 1098 for a spin. My $_deity. That bike was seriously quick, and the brakes were positively brutal - brilliant at speed but overbraked enough to scare me at slower speeds. I'm sure I could get used to it, but really the 1098 was way more bike than I need or could use - "a man's got to know his limitations". Surprisingly, the 1098 was more comfortable, having a lower rear ride hight, which took some weight off my wrists. A ride height adjuster was optional for the 848. Both bikes were more comfortable (for me) than the Monster - with or without comfort seat. Man, I liked that 848, but I wanted a Monster. Didn't I?

The 848 was purring sensuously "use me, use me", while the 1098 growled and warned me I'd been a naughty boy, and that I'd better do as I was told or I'd be severely punished. Which could be fun, on occasion but not what I wanted on a daily basis. The Monster? It looked a bit like the ugly step-sister, or maybe the ugly duckling - I'm sure it could grow to be a beautiful relationship, but...

Shocked at my mental flip flop, from upright Monster to hard edged superbike, I cried off to think about it some more. All the way home I kept reliving the 848 ride, grinning and softly chuckling. I reviewed the sweet, sensual lines, and marvelled at how the headlights had followed me round the room, like it was looking at me. I read and re-read the brochures. I was gone. The next morning I phoned Dean and discussed prices, then placed my deposit.


Yup, it's gone - sold to the first caller. And then I had a few more callers. Maybe I should have set my starting price a little higher... ;^) Oh well.

Recent pix at:

Oustanding condition. Well worth a look, and priced cheaper than any I can find online, for a quick sale.


A year on since my thoughts started drifting, and now I'm actually scratching that itch - you know the one. My loan's approved, so it's all systems go!

Yup, I want a new bike. My wife got a new car, and I reckon fair's fair!

I haven't decided what the bike will be yet, but it's odds on it will be a Euro. There's a few very different models that tempt me very much. I'd love another Duke - the retro SportClassic Sports 1000S, the Monster 1100 or 1100S, or the sporty 848. One dealer's offering an 08 1098 with pipes included for much the same price as the 1100S. I've tested the retros, I've tested the old Monsters (S2R and S4R) and the new lightweight Monster 1100S (I have to try the comfort seat, the OEM seat is a nut-crusher), but I'm yet to test an 848 or 1100S. I test rode a Triumph Street Triple R on the weekend, and couldn't get the stupid grin off my face - what a hoot to ride! Don't like the colour - matte grey, but fun. An orange one is due out this year, but will probably be too late. The 675 Daytona seems pretty hot, and comes is red, which is important.

Then there's BMW with their F800 range - S and GS variants. Yeah, I know, BMW's are just too sensible... I still lust after Guzzis as well, and liked the evil Griso 1100 I rode - and the new 8V 1200 was good, but ginormous, and had low speed fuelling issues. Grisos are solid lumps of bikes, bigger again than my big Aprilia. And what of Aprilia? No more Falcos. I enjoyed my Tuono test ride, but it just brings out the inner hoon. I reckon I'd lose my licence in no time. The Shiver isn't bad, but I'm not exactly a fan of its look. Maybe I'm getting too old. ;^) I've tried a Mana and it was weird. CVT autos may be alright in cars or on scooters, but not motorbikes! RSVRs tempt, but probably not. I think if I go that sporty I'll get the smaller 848.

But why a new bike? Well, there's nothing wrong with the Falco, and it's been a great bike for the last four years. But because I bought it two years after it was built, it's effectively a six year old bike. It's just ticked over 60000 reliable kms, and while I think it will tick over many more, I'd like to sell it while it still has some resale value. High mileage will kill that quick smart. I still feel a little perched on top, but I did grow accustomed to that feeling. I'd like something lighter, because I'm not a big boofhead (that 750 SuperSport I had was an ideal size). And while a few of the bikes on my list have low bars, I'm getting old enough to appreciate less of a stretch, and less weight on my wrists - especially the arthritic one. Dare I say I wouldn't mind something more sensible? Damn - that only leaves the BMs!

I can't believe that another three years have gone past, and another bike has moved in. Yes, the Ducati has gone, traded on a demo Aprilia SL1000R - yet another big Italian V-twin. I don't mind admitting that there was a tear in my eye the night I made the deal, but it had to be done. I'll miss the superb handling, the feeling of being part of the bike, rather than perched on top, but I won't miss the faults (largely caused by neglect from the previous owners). I still think the SS has been the best looking bike I've ever had - my wife says my beautiful black/gold Guzzi Le Mans II was the best, but I reckon the sleek, flowing lines of the Ducati won the day. That bike and I had something of a love/hate relationship, I'm afraid. If only I'd spent a bit more and bought a really good one in the first place.


aprilia in front of narrowneck plateau - tony fathers Anyway, what of the Aprilia? I've bought it new, but it's actually an 11/03 built bike. No matter - they haven't changed at all. The SL1000R is known as the Falco in some markets, and earlier versions in Oz were sold as Falcos. The bike has been dropped from the range for 05, which is a shame - the RSV1000R is a great bike, but I can't quite get comfortable on it, I don't like the upright riding position of the Tuono, which is also a bit tall for my short legs, and I've done the dual sport thing of the Caponord for now. The SL1000R still has quite a forward lean, but more comfy peg placement. I do feel more like I'm sitting on the bike rather than part of it, but I think some of that will just be getting used to it.


Still running it in, so I'm restricted to <6000 rpm. Restricted, eh? Hmmm... All I can say is "what the hell will it go like when it's run in and I can give it the berries? Yikes!!". Boy oh boy, this bike lifts up its skirts and gets going in double quick time. As fas as I'm concerned, power is more than "adequate". ;^) Another quantum leap from the Ducati, but given a newer engine design, and 250 or so more cc, it's no wonder. Handling wise, it's a bigger bike, and I can feel it. I think this is going to be a bike that appreciates a bit of muscle through the twisties, and might be more of a handful in tighter stuff. Feels great powering through a sweeper - or three. aprilia in front of narrowneck plateau - tony fathers


aprilia in front of narrowneck plateau - tony fathers I've fitted Staintunes instead of the original pipes, but it still doesn't have that glorious Ducati note - with or without the spuds fitted. Still, they promise a bolt on six hp across the range without other changes, weigh considerably less than stock, and do sound somewhat ,,.err...fruitier. ;^) I'm going to run with the spuds for now, in the interests of neighbourliness - apparently with spuds fitted, the pipes are still under legal limits.


well, I reckon it looks like a cicada!  not sure why it suddenly looks so orange - tony fathers It looks a bit like an insect from some angles - I reckon the headlights and fairing remind me of a cicada's head, while the rear end has a definite alien bug look, with demonic red eyes glaring. a relative of Darth's - tony fathers


To top it off, my mate Hodgie bought himself a new 04 Aprilia RSV1000R to replace his Suzuki SV650S the day after I picked my Falco up. He'd been looking at Ducati 999s and ST4s for a while, but was less than happy with one particular dealer and inconsistent histories on the same same bike from different salesmen - and I mean very inconsistent. He went for a ride after I raved about my test ride, and signed on the spot, just like I did! at least the bikes are new... - helen mcmullen photo

The Aprilia replaces a 1995 Ducati 750 Supersport. Pantah based 2 valve engine and full fairing. A complete change from the BMW, and much harder on the wrists, but a ball to ride. Plus it sounded like a motorbike should! The SS was very nice to ride, but I did miss shaft drive - chains are icky and rattly. I still laugh about that dealer who told me the Ducati wouldn't be as quick as the BMW, so I'd want a bigger model (which he just happened to be selling). He was wrong. Very wrong. The motor might be 250cc smaller, but it goes like the clappers - weighing at around 50kg less helps. Admittedly there's a bit less low end grunt, but not much, and once you knock it down a gear that all becomes irrelevant as the Ducati's top end leaves the BMW for dead.

oooh, it's red - tony fathersmmmmm.... - tony fatherssex on a stick - tony fathers

I also have an old (1969?? not sure!) Ducati 250 Mk3 that I've started restoring. So far, I've pulled out the motor and removed the head, barrel and cylinder. One of the oil rings is stuck in - it wasn't sealing at all. No wonder compression was low. I can't get the bugger out, so it may be a new piston job. I'll take it into Gowanloch's and see what they reckon. Hmmm... It'll get there one day.

I sold the BMW as I was lusting for an old bevel drive twin, or maybe a Pantah - it'd been a long time since I'd had a going Duke. I thought about another Guzzi Le Mans or maybe a BMW R100RS, but the lust for a Duke was too strong. Guzzis still feature highly on my lust list, ease of maintenance, looks and a shaft score good points for their sporty models.

The Aprilia SL1000R is the latest in a long line that ranges from my first bike - a Gemini mini bike powered by a lawn mower engine, through a whole range of Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki chook chasers, then road bikes, Ducati 500GTL(!), Ducati 860GTS (kitted with kickstart 900SS desmo motor, SS fairing and front brakes), Honda CX500(!!), Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II, BMW R100GS and the 750 SS. I've never owned a Kawasaki, British or American bike. Not sure how I managed to get two bikes as ugly as the CX500 and 500GTL in there, although the R100GS was no beauty either. Hmmm.. just as well I had the GTS, Guzzi and SS to make up for those lapses in style.

Who said you can't combine motorbikes with mountain bikes? Not me!

I'm not sure I really recommend it, but here's proof! and another view. No, the photographer cut off the top of my head, not the idiot running the scanner...

Motorbike links:

aprilia Oz the home of aprilia Oz
aprilia international the home of aprilia
Ducati the home of Ducati worldwide
Ducati Suite straightforward maintenance guides
Ducati Owners Club of NSW err... the Ducati Owners Club of NSW?
Road and Race for all your Ducati singles needs
Gowanlochs great service and boast the largest stock of bevel drive parts in the world - also do aprilia spares and service
Ducati Australia Norm Fraser Imports
Club Desmo Ducati's official owner's club


Standard disclaimer:
Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, thoughts, comments, opinions etc expressed herein are mine, and should not be taken to represent anyone else. If you don't like anything I've said, sorry, just change the channel.

Copyright: Tony Fathers, 1997 - 2009