In my road-tests and comments on bikes, I talk a lot about practicalities: bikes being practical things to own and ride. For example, I talk about the ergonomics of the riding-position, particularly as it relates to us older folk. Yes, when we buy a bike we need something sensible, practical, and comfortable. Or do we?
Regular reader, Dave, wrote to tell us about his new bike. His story was a great reminder to me that we don’t always have to go for bikes that are practical and suited to our age.
Dave bought a 2013 Ducati Panigale; a bike that, as he describes it, is a bike, “totally unsuited to someone our age.” But why not? Why not buy something totally impractical, just for the sheer enjoyment of riding it? Well, that’s what he did. As he said, he decided to get a bike like this, before he really was too old to ride it.
Here (below) is what he wrote about the bike.
I thought I would jot down few reflections on another Old Bloke's ownership of a bike totally unsuited to someone our age. I've always admired the Ducati Panigale but figured I was past the age of seriously considering one. (I'm 57). But I recently realised that I was not in fact getting any younger(!). Maybe I should get one now before I really am too old to ride it. The next obstacle of course was the exorbitant cost of these things. Over $35k new! But maybe I could find a used one. They don’t hold their value terribly well. So, I found a 2013 Panigale 899 owned by a young guy in Queensland for $14k. These bikes are still 150 hp which is nearly twice the power of any bike I have previously owned. I figured I'd just go and “have a look” at it. You know, like my missus just goes to “have a look” at puppies. (This is why we now have 4 dogs).
      Well, after a quick ride on the bike I was totally hooked. It was an absolutely unbelievable experience. I've always owned bikes but never had any bike give me the thrill of riding the way this one did! The power, handling, noise, vibration: these were all the feelings I had missed out on from my other bikes. It was love at first ride. I handed over the dollars without a quibble.
      It is definitely not a sensible, practical bike by any stretch of the imagination. It needed a major service which, with tyres, set me back $3200. (Oh, so that's why it was cheap to buy!). That was twice as much as I paid to buy my first new motorbike! Gulp. But here's the thing: I paid happily knowing it’s like having a mad, beautiful Italian girlfriend who will give you the ride of your life but is just as likely to ruin your life at any moment!
       The other downsides are, firstly, it gets really hot! Like, burning through your pants hot. It’s uncomfortable: but surprisingly, not toomuch. I rode 600 kms in one day and could still walk (as well as I can walk at the best of times with a plastic/steel knee). It’s hopeless in the bush and on gnarly fire-trails. (You took a Ducati Panigale on a fire-trail?? Elwyn). Hardly any ground clearance and the guards fill up with mud really quickly. But the thing is, I have other bikes if I want to be comfortable or go bush. This bike is all about the incredible experience.
       I'm not a skilled rider but I do have a lot of experience. I recently rode it around Victoria for a week. Caught up to a guy on a Hayabusa who looked like a serious rider: full leathers and race can for a muffler. I wondered if the little Pani could keep with him. Well, it was a longish race over the top of Mt Hotham and I have to say, the little bike held its own. The big 'Busa would leave me under sheer acceleration but the Duc was right on him in braking / cornering.
       The baby Pani is just right for me – not too much power but has unbelievable handling and brakes. Lots of electronic aids to deliver the power and avoid lockups. Weighs only a bit more than my dual-purpose trail bike. At no stage (yet) have I felt panicked or out of my depth.
        I would say to your readers .... take the opportunity to buy a modern bike, and there are many like this one, because we are not really old blokes. We're not heading off to the nursing home just yet, thanks God.

Thanks, Dave; well said! We can be too focused on practicalities and forget fun. I suppose it works best if, like you, we have different bikes to ride (one for touring, one for off-road etc), but even if we only can only have one bike, having something like the Panigale, even for a short time just to enjoy that excitement, would be a very inspiring experience, and one I’m sure we would always be glad we had. Enjoy!
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