Love at first Ride
I was fully prepared to like this bike. After I low-sided my Multistrada 620, I’d been leaning towards the simplicity of naked motorcycles more and more. No plastic to get scraped up (and replace) if you go down. Plus, I’d recently been reading (and rereading) Peter Egan’s Leanings and Leanings 2 books. In the books, Egan recounts many snowy days and late evenings spent looking at one or more of his bikes. I tried this once with my ‘Strada—shortly after getting it back from the shop (when it was nice and clean)—and found myself getting hung up on all the plastic, wishing I could take it all off to see the “real” motorcycle underneath. Alas, I’ve come to realize that, although people have stripped bikes like mine of all their extra bits, the bike really wasn’t meant to be seen naked. So I started thinking thoughts…dangerous thoughts.
Having developed a taste for all-day 500-plus-mile rides since acquiring my current bike, my thoughts have generally stayed away from more sporting, less comfortable bikes (like Ducati’s original naked, the Monster). Instead, I’d been imagining bikes I could actually ride all day—that still managed to look good. Although this limited the list somewhat, I felt I still had a couple of real contenders: Triumph’s Bonneville and Ducati’s GT1000. Having sampled a base Bonneville earlier in the summer (I tend to prefer the Scrambler version), I finally found a spare day to sample the GT.
Throwing a leg over the bike, I was immediately struck by two things—how small it seemed (even compared to my baby ‘Strada) and how comfortable the seat felt. Could this be the first Ducati I’ve sampled with a truly comfortable seat?
Turning the key to the on position sent both hands on the analog gauges sweeping around through their full range before settling back to their starting positions. I’d read about this—and seen it before—but has never stopped being cool.
A quick stab of the starter button brought the engine eagerly to life. After a moment it settled into a nice steady idle. The reach to the bars—a slightly sporty (but still comfortable) position—reminded me of my old ’97 Monster.
First on my list of to-dos was finding out how the bike felt at highway speed. I headed up the Cascade Lakes Highway for a few miles, easily keeping up with traffic. The bike felt solid beneath me, so much so that when I hopped back on my ‘Strada later, it felt a little twitchy. Wind blast was bad, but I didn’t mind. This bike wasn’t made to fly down the highway at warp speed.
I put the GT through a series of sweeping curves and appreciated its stability again. I had to work a bit harder than I’m used to aboard the Multi, but the GT rewarded my efforts by holding its lines beautifully, inspiring nothing but confidence. I tried running around in town a bit—the last test for the bike. Its small size, low center of gravity, and excellent mirrors (another first for my experiences with Ducs) made it easy to ride on congested city streets.
When I reluctantly pulled back into the parking lot where my test ride began, I realized my cheeks hurt. Then I realized why. I’d been smiling hard throughout the entire ride. I took a good long look at the bike and my smile widened. The Ducati GT 1000 is an easy motorcycle to like, but I realized I’m past liking it now. I’m in full-on lust mode, trying to concoct a good reason to ditch my bike and buy this one here and now.
Probably sensing my moment of weakness (or watching me grin so hard my face might break at any moment), one of the co-owners of the shop came over and to say the bike I rode was an ’07 model and they wanted to make room for the ‘08s. My reverie ended with that statement as I realize how close to a cold bed at home I really was. I muttered something about a trade in (knowing full well that they don’t really like to take trades even though they do–and that this would likely end what had become a very dangerous conversation) and she walked away to help another customer. Whew.
I stood lingered on a little while longer, allowing my eyes to travel along the bike’s lovely curves, shiny chrome, and finally land on that wonderful two-valve engine. Thinking back on it now, I can still feel its deep bass rumble. The bike has soul. Its connection to the past is tangible in a way that can only be experienced. For me, that experience also revealed the bike’s connection to the future–a future that may soon be intertwined with mine.
I was prepared to like this bike. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love. After running through four bikes since riding this one, I still don’t know why it isn’t in my garage.