I loves me two wheelers.
Petrol or not, or even if they're crap, I loves 'em.
Or should that be man riding Streetfighter?
Yep, my choice was the Streefighter 848. Mid June delivery blew out till October, then came back to mid July, as I was bumped up the queue. So now I've had it for four whole days, and about 750 kms.
The first ride was horrible, 20 minutes after leaving Fraser's, the heavens opened, but dammit, I had the day off and I was going riding. 160 kms later, I was home, freezing cold and soaked through, after my most nana-like ride along the Bell Line of Road ever. Not the best introduction to a new bike. Other than the rain, the biggest problem was low throttle surging or jerkiness - call it what you will, the result was me doing a good impression of a nodding dog on the back parcel shelf (that's a bobble head, for you young uns). I wasn't at all happy with that, especially as my 848 Superbike had been so smooth. It was fine when I was I was on the gas, just not at light throttle between 3500 and 4500 rpm. I'm hoping the surging gets better as the motor loosens up.
I've since done some dry rides, and they were much better in every regard. The surging's reduced (but hasn't gone), and corners are much more fun in the dry. ;^)
I'll do a proper review soon, suffice to say ...I think I'm developing feelings!
Yup, I've sold my 848. It's gone to a good home in Canberra, and I was more than a little sad to see it go. Fortunately, the new owner wanted to meet me halfway to handover the bike. I was hesitant, but agreed. The night before, the owner sent me a message to confirm the changeover. I was still reluctant, and tempted to pull the pin. Then I remembered the facts.
But back to the handover. We were to meet in Appin, and I googled for the best way to get there. Highway, M4, M7, Appin Road. What? Surely there had to be a better last ride.
And there was. At Penrith I turned off for Wallacia, then headed towards Warragamba Dam. I turned off to Silverdale, on to the Oaks, back to Camden, then Appin. The weather was beautiful, the roads clear, the bike sublime (once I got going - my last ride and I stalled going up my drive...). My wrists were mainly good, and I even managed to touch a toe at one point - I couldn't think of a better way to say goodbye to a fine steed.
I've since ridden the Monster 1100 Evo and Streetfighter 848 on a back to back extended test - we went to Wiseman's Ferry and back to Frasers. Another beautiful day, empty roads, and not one, but two great bikes! I made a decision, and slapped down a deposit.
Read the review for the details, but after three years and 18,000 km the love is still there. The 848 is a great bike in its own right - it's not just the little brother of the 1098/1198.
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?
WELL... I have to face facts. I can no longer ride the 848 for more than very short bursts without experiencing considerable wrist pain. It's not the bike's fault, it's age, and old injuries. When I bought the 848, I was complaining about wrist pain on the Falco, but the 848 was honestly more comfortable, and amazingly, was more comfortable than the 2009 Monster 1100S - for me. If I was free of wrist issues, I'd be hard pressed to find a reason to part with the 848. If I was 20 years younger, I'd definitely be keeping it. But I'm not, so my next bike WILL have a more upright riding position.
I'm torn betwen the latest Monster 1100 Evo and the Streetfighter 848. I test rode both, and was surprised at how much improved the revised ergos of the Monster were. I felt immediately comfortable and at home. The motor feel is very different to the 848 - much lazier and more relaxed. The Streetfighter 848 is also comfortable, just not as "at home" as the Monster. I tend to slide into the tank a bit more, and the angle of the bars isn't as good. The motor feels much like the 848 - as you'd expect. If there were such a bike as a Monster 848 Evo, I reckon I'd have already bought it.
Streetfighter 848 - better economy (just), great motor, very sexy, bigger tank. No ABS! WTF? Not as comfy. Feels initially weird - there's nothing in front of the rider, so it almost feels like you're sitting over the front wheel.
Monster 1100 Evo - better comfort, good motor, ABS, tiny (13.5 l) tank, better for pillions.
But they're both good.
848 at Narrowneck on day 2 - those chicken strips soon got much smaller!
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 1098. I test rode a Triumph 675 Street Triple R, and couldn't get the stupid grin off my face - what a hoot to ride! Don't like the colour - matte grey, but geez it was 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 Ducati 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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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!|
The Aprilia replaces a 1995 Ducati 750 Supersport. Pantah based 2 valve engine and full fairing. A complete change from a BMW R100GS, 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.
As it turned out, the previous owner - you know who you are - lied about the condition, and hid some serious frame damage. It had massive reliability problems - although it went well, it stopped every time I rode it, after about 30 mins on the road. Pull off, wait a few seconds, start her up again, and I'd be on my way like nothing had happened, but damn it was annoying! Bah - in the end, I fixed the cracked frame and traded it in for peanuts.
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.
|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|
another fAt hIpPy production