HELP, I’VE GOT DUCATI FEVER!
May 26, 2009 at 9:27 am #2895
OK, get this. The wife wants me to have a Ducati. Before we were married, she wanted to get one. Now that we’re married, she wants me to keep up my man’s man image she says. HA! What’s next? Seriously, the first time I heard a Ducati, I said to myself, “WTF is THAT?!” It had to be just about the coolest sounding motorbike I had ever heard. Once I saw one, I was awed.
Fast forward to today. It would appear that my dreams of getting back on a bike may come true, and I am eager to have that kind of fun. I live just outside Portland, Oregon, near the Chehalem Mountains and have lots of cool places to go. The Ducati 696 looks like the Ducati for me, but I thought I’d throw it out there for some opinions. I originally thought I’d go with a lightly used Honda, around 500cc but when the wife said Ducati, my eyes lit up.
My background: At age 7 or 8, my cousin Mike cut me loose on his Honda XR75. The older cousins said, once they saw me open thing up to full-throttle the first chance I had, that I should be RACING! I loved the speed and being in the dirt, and rode that bike every chance I got that summer. Well, as life goes, I never got a bike of my own until age 18, when I inherited my older sisters Honda 200cc cruiser after she dumped it and got scared. I rode it for a year or so before this 65 year old lady cut me off as I road over an overpass (into the late afternoon sun) and T-boned her Mercedes, tossing me over the hood and f*cking my back up. I recovered, but ditched the little under-powered cruiser forever – my last memory of it being a pool of blood (oil) pooling up under the slain motorcycle where it lay in the gutter.
Years passed, and I got into BICYCLE RACING – big time. I now own 7 bicycles including a state-of-the-art Cannondale Super Six (15 lbs) that is the same bike being ridden to a top 5 placing in the General Classification of the Giro d’Italia at this moment. I have raced mountain bikes in the “Expert” class, road bikes as a CAT3, toured, and raced tandems (off-road & on). I mention all this cause I want y’all to understand I’m no stranger to two wheels. Last two moto’s I road were a beat up old Triumph (650cc) and Cannondale’s proto-type motocross 250cc 4-stroker. The new, more powerful bikes were quite a handful right at first, but I settled right in after a moment or two and only scared myself a couple of times. I’m a bit older, and wiser now, with a baby at home as well, so I’ll undoubtedly be more cautious than in my youth (I’m 41). I still work in the cycling industry and race “cyclo-cross” in the fall (think roadbike criterium steeplechase), so I’m fairly athletic and in descent shape.
Here’s the deal and what I want to post in the forums. How do I know if the Ducati 696 is the best bike for me? Can I test ride one? What if my local dealer doesn’t have demos? I had a motorcycle endorsement 20 years ago, do I need to re-test? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Where do I start? I need a license to get a bike, right? If I take a class, I understand they have some loaner bikes, but what about the DMV? Don’t I need a bike to get a license endorsement? (I suppose I can research all this out for myself…. but thought I’d share in hopes someone would give me a clue.) Anyway, I’d use the 696 Ducati for fun and transpo to work when it was dry. I can’t imagine I’d get to crazy on it, and am hoping it will be comfortable as well. What are some other options you guys recommend? I remember the vibration and windblast was horrible on the little Honda 200 at 50MPH (just shy of it’s 57-58MPH top speed). The Ducati doesn’t have much of a fairing shown, are there bigger, after-market units or is that just too un-cool? You might think I should get a cruiser, but they corner like sh*t don’t they? With that front fork all choppered out like they are, I would think they would plow through corners like an overloaded banana truck on a crooked mountain road. I’m not looking to scrape my knees in every corner or anything, I just want a LIGHT responsive bike that is fun to ride, looks cool, and won’t cost me a ton of dough to buy or repair. I don’t plan on dropping the thing, and if I do, I wouldn’t blame any of you for recommending such a nice “first bike” to this returning rider. I’m 5’9″ 175 lbs, BTW.
Got some words of wisdom? Share some first buying mistakes with me? What should be considered when choosing the right bike? How important is where you buy it from? I have two dealers in town (same name, same ownership?) and one a little further out. I wont’ be attempting much in the way of maintenance, just simple adjustments. I am thinking I’d keep the moto for a long time, taking it out for a rides a few hours a week, maybe more. Some surface street/minor highway commuting, some open country roads and narrow mountain wine country roads. I may need to hit the freeways from time to time, but only when ABSOLUTELY necessary. I hate riding next to cars at 60+MPH, it’s the other guy that freaks me out.May 26, 2009 at 11:52 am #18942KellisanthParticipant
Hello! Ducati’s are pretty, yes.
As for the License…
Your DL still has the M endorsement right? If so, then there’s no need to retest. Really. Unless you let your license lapse a long time ago and never renewed it.
If you need to get a M endorsement again, you’ll very likely will need to take the Written test at the DMV to get the Permit. After that, take your test (if you have a friend’s bike to use) or use the bike from a trainer.
If possible and if you haven’t ridden on a motorcycle in a while, take the Motorcycle Basic Riding Course, as a refresher. Just in case. In some states, doing the BRC gives you access to the M endorsement after completing their course, therefore bypassing the DMV riding test. If not that, then the trainers usually have DMV folks at their places that will give tests on the bikes you’ve rode on.
Many places giving training will have bikes and partial kit (mainly gloves/helmets) to use thus really no need to bring your own. In general, they mostly use 250 – although I read in Sports Rider (I think) that one place used Ducati’s which must have been a treat; however I think that might have been a one time thing in showing off their bike. And they’re generally a three day thing, at least mine was. 1 day was classroom (a couple of hours), two days of riding (about 5hrs each). If you miss a day, you loose out on a couple hundred dollars or more. 😮May 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm #18952eonParticipant
Welcome. Ducati’s are very pretty but I’m not sure they are the cheapest bikes to maintain. There are some owners on here so maybe they can give real world experience.
If I were you I would look at and sit on other bikes as well. Plenty of threads on here about suitable beginner bikes (I know you have some experience but it was a long time ago). While image is a large part of why we buy things I would not let it box you into a corner. There are no shortage of sexy looking bikes around.
You should sign up for some MSF training and get yourself some gear. In the meantime you can be browsing the dealers picking out the bike for you. Also start reading on how to be safe on the road. It sounds like you have a head start on the basic controls of a bike but taking responsibility for your safety (even when the other driver is at fault) is a whole new game and all part of the fun.
Have fun shopping!May 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm #18954
Thanks for the advice guys. I do want to prioritize safety. I know I won’t be able to get this idea off my mind for quite awhile! So, I’ll take your advice and sign-up for a basic safety and handling course. We never stop learning and it will be good to refresh. I may know a friend with a 600cc Ducati.. .and I think he’d let me try out his bike.
Anyone else with an opinion/advice?May 27, 2009 at 12:04 am #18959SantaCruzRiderParticipant
It’s always a good start to ask lots of questions. Except perhaps for your having your wife pick your bike, your questions about Ducs and the suitability of certain bikes for beginnings are well addressed throughout this site. If it helps, you might try searching for “bestbeginnermotorcycles” and “Ducati” on Yahoo! or that other search engine.
I second the idea that you sign up for MSF training. No offense to your own estimate of your riding skills, but it sounds like the bulk of your experience was 20 years ago. All the bicycle experience will certainly give you a leg up on returning to the sport, but I would humbly submit that it does not equate to MC experience.
As for the Duc — it’s a beautiful bike that will typically cost more to buy, maintain, repair and insure than the same size Metric, but that’s probably part of the allure. I like that you don’t plan to drop the bike. It’s always good to have a plan, but it’s fair to say that your plan is one that was shared by at least half of all bike riders — at least right up until the moment they found themselves prone on the pavement.
Actually, when I read about where and how you intend to ride, I have to wonder if you wouldn’t have more fun on one of the bigger dual sports (KLR650) or road/dual sports (V-Strom 650 or Versys). They are great for twisty roads and are perfect for backroad exploring where transitioning uneven surfaces is part of the fun.May 27, 2009 at 4:21 am #18963
Thanks for the words of caution, SCR. I have already signed up for the first available safety training course…. at the intermediate level. I have to wait a few weeks, which seems like an eternity when your ready to go. I think I might have a bike to borrow for the test at the DMV and be able to get legal sooner. This way I might be able to actually use the bike I’ll own for the training. I also found out today, my local shop has a 696 Ducati demo that I can try… as soon I get insured and endorsed.
For the record, I have lusted over the Ducait’s long before my wife thought I deserved one. It was just a funny coincidence that we both thought Ducati’s were the coolest bikes. I did also speak with a friend of mine today, who has 12,000 miles on his 695(?), and he loves it. He’s not tall (5’6″ to my 5’9″), and it was his first bike. I trust his opinion would be similar to mine, as we’re both relative newbies to motorcycles and of similar statue (and both coming from strong cycling backgrounds.) He’s encouraging me to go for it, and thinks I’ll love it (though he admits, he has no point of reference.) I will check out the other bikes you’re speaking of though, SCR! My main concern is control though, it ranks well before power to me.
Does anyone have an opinion on this bike: 2005 Ducati 620 Dark? Cycletrader shows one nearby w/2800 miles. The owner is asking $5,000.May 27, 2009 at 10:28 am #18971eternal05Participant
You and I share a very similar history with respect to two-wheelers, though I was never on a motorcycle as a kid. I spent my late-teens/early-twenties road racing Cat 2, and doing a fair amount of mountain biking. I’ve been riding bicycles since I could walk, and pretty intensely since the age of maybe eight to ten. Let’s get this straight now. There are certain things you can get from racing bikes (the kind you power), things like looking through turns, getting a feel for braking and leaning, carrying speed through turns, and counter-steering. That’s where the similarity ends.
Who knows. You could be more gifted than most, but I bet that in getting back into things you’re going to have the most trouble with the two aspects of motos that don’t come up on man-powered bikes: throttle and shifting. The bike you’re drooling over has way more power than you’ve ever experienced based on your account. And yes, you shift on a road bike, but there’s no clutch and no matching engine revs, etc.
It all depends on money. If you can afford to loose a grand or two in the long run, I HIGHLY recommend getting a dummy bike to get you back into the swing of things, especially before buying a Duc. It’ll get you reacquainted with the feel of powered bikes, the weight, the speed, and give you a sense for what you like and don’t like in your dream bike. Spend six months to a year on it, then ditch it! At that point you’ll know exactly what you want and you won’t have to speculate.
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