Regret the Second: Selling my ’08 Ducati Multistrada 1100S

I’ve bought and sold a lot of bikes. Too many, some would say. Maybe so, maybe not, but when you buy and sell enough bikes, you can spot the steals.

This ’08 Multi was one such bike. Some of you might not recall the ’08 financial crisis. It came close to being America’s Great Depression 2.0. If the government had not stuck its thumb in the eye of capitalist orthodoxy and temporarily nationalized America’s biggest banks, we would still be lining up to eat lunch at government soup kitchens instead of our favorite biker bar.

The government did, eventually, return those banks to stockholders, thank goodness. But yeah, shut up about the government interfering with free markets, will ya? Sometimes it actually rescues free markets.

Needless to say, around 2010, brand new ’08 motorcycles were relatively easy to find on showroom floors. And dealers wanted them gone. When I walked into my local Harley Davidson dealer in Colorado Springs, this shiny new S was sitting there, winking at me.

My first reaction was that it sure was odd looking, Pierre Tremblanche or no Pierre Tremblanche. Plenty of journalists thought the same thing.

Pic courtesy of TopSpeed

And yet, the more I looked at it, the more I was drawn to it. And little by little I realized that the design is inspired. Sure, it’s challenging at first, but then it flows. It surprises you. And it fits how the bike rides.

Oddly enough, many years later, I bought a BMW S1000XR, my favorite bike in a very long time, and it has dimensions eerily similar to those of the 1100S:

When I realized the ’08 was brand new and that the dealer was very anxious to get rid of it, I stole it. Then I rode it all over the Colorado front range. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was too busy having fun.

I don’t actually remember what made me sell it. Probably the same angst that made Shel Siverstein write and Johnny Cash perform A Boy Named Sue.

Some girl’d giggle and I’d turn red. Some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head.

That was Dear Old Dad’s favorite song. Social media spreads such a strong sense of prosperity in American that it’s easy to forget that not so long ago life was hard around these parts. Real hard. And it’s still hard for a lot of us. The trauma of that hardship still gets passed down from generation to generation, so much so that we sometimes confuse it for our national character. It ain’t our national character. It’s just shame of who we are and what we love, passed down from one generation to another.

Anyway, after another year of grinding away at a soul-sucking job, or maybe after getting yet another performance review that included phrases like “egregious offenses” and “doesn’t follow direction,” I suppose I arrived at the conclusion that I wasn’t cool enough to hold up such an odd-looking bike. I probably bought something that made me feel cool, made me feel like I had a soul again.

Too bad, because the 1100S was one helluva bike. It was light. It was nimble. It had character. It was comfortable. And I loved to look at it. Just plain loved looking at it.

Years later, Cycleworld agreed with me. Comparing it to the newer Multistrada, they said:

Handling on this 13-year old Ducati is a revelation.

By turning its gaze further afield, by adding more tech, more performance, and more capability in its journey from Multistrada to Molto-Multistrada, did Ducati abandon what made the original recipe such a delicacy?

A delicacy indeed. I’m no fan of the 1200 Multi. I tried real hard to get used to the design, but have always hated it. No matter how much lipstick they put on that beak, it’s just plain wrong.

Pic courtesy of CycleWorld

And the 1200 engine kinda leaves me … I dunno … dissatisfied. CycleWorld again:

As excellent as the engine is, the V4 lacks presence compared to the Multi 1100′s desmodue. When cruising at 60 mph, turning 4,000 rpm in top gear, the engine all but vanishes from thought. The desmodue makes an impression that never quite leaves the consciousness, being so visceral and engaging that the experience of using it stays with the rider long after hitting the kill switch.

So yeah, whether by caring too much what others said about me, or by burying my real self beneath the responsibilities of the job, I wound up doubting my own preferences, doubting my own good taste, doubting my true self, and I sold a special motorcycle I should have kept.

It was not the first time I did that, and it would not not be the last.

– Rick

Regret the First: Selling My ’02 Softail Deuce

The ’02 Softail Deuce was not my first motorcycle, but it was the first motorcycle I fell in love with.

I was living in Massachusetts at the time, a place that specializes in slow emasculation. That’s what the “mas” in the state name refers to. Live there long enough and you’ll understand.

To deal, I had to get out of town on what my riding buddy The Donster called “rage rides.”

They lasted about a week. I rode to Georgia. I rode to Wisconsin. I rode to Maine. I rode to West Virginia. Didn’t matter where. What mattered was getting out of Massachusetts. No better bike for a rage ride than the 5-speed 88″ Deuce. A 95″ motor would work, too, so long as it had a 5-speed.

And no windshield, please. Windshields on cruisers are fascist.

See, at 80 mph and up, a 5-speed kept you in the meat of the powerband. And the pipes loud. With my teeth clenched, my neck hardened against the wind, and my hands in a death grip on the bars, whatever was ailing me disappeared in the vibe of the motor, the roar of the pipes, and the blast of the wind.

I loved my rage rides.

I loved them even more when I started meeting up with other Deuce riders across the country for no damn reason except to check out each other’s rides and laugh. Damn, we laughed a lot. It was a time when laughter was valued more than sensitivity. People have forgotten how to laugh at themselves. And each other.

When I got home from my rides, I got to spend lots of time in the garage cleaning and caring for my Deuce, preparing it for the next ride.

What a treat that was.

Lo and behold, Covetousness crept into my little slice of heaven. The riding season in The State of Eunuch was short, and even shorter in the good riding country of Vermont and New Hampshire.

I was already using thick wind-proof fleece jacket and pants from Aerostich, plus gloves big as sleeping bags. It was not enough. So I bought a windshield to protect me against the New England November cold. That introduced me to the torture of buffeting. I tried to man up and deal, but I could not keep my eyeballs from rattling in their sockets no matter how long or hard I grit my teeth, so I bought fork-mounted wind deflectors.

The combination worked well, but it was, as someone in eMasculateachusetts would say, aesthetically inappropriate. Translation: fugly.

Now, you may not respect a Harley’s agility, comfort, or performance, but you must respect its beauty. That is non-negotiable. If you disagree, die.

Under the influence of Queen Covet, I set about looking for a bike that I could ride longer in colder weather. I ignored my instincts, told my gut to shut up, and forced myself to sell the Deuce so I could buy an ’04 Road Glide.

The Road Glide is a better bike. No doubt about it. It let me ride in colder weather and in more comfort. Unfortunately, it didn’t satisfy. I kept it about a year.

Many years later I bought another Deuce, just to relive the joy of the original, but I had changed. Motorcycling had changed.

Though I enjoyed riding it back to Colorado, Deuce 2.0 failed to satisfy. I wanted more than just a sweet engine. I wanted lean. I wanted a bike that could dance.

It’s true what they say: you can’t go home again.

Buying Motorcycles Is Maddening

The most maddening thing about buying and selling motorcycles is that it’s not the same person doing the buying and the selling.

Men have traditionally complained about women being like the sea, every changing, unpredictable, emotional, defying logic, caressing you one moment, bashing you against the rocks the next.

That is no doubt true, but thinking we are different is a delusion.

Inside five minutes, I can go from adoring Harley Davidsons …

… to hating them.

From concluding that BMW’s are the only logical choice for every single motorcyclist alive, bar none …

… and then deciding if I were seen in public sitting on one, I would die of shame.

Living inside my head I have a wild child, a safety-conscious boy scout, a teenager who just wants to be accepted, an artist who jumps for joy at the sight of a glorious paint job on a swooping piece of sheet metal, and snarling, drooling beast begging for somebody to start something.

Complicating matters further, is the memory of perfect moments that we are perennially seeking to relive.

Plus the fact that we never stop changing. One year we care about following our bliss, the next about announcing our presence with authority.

As if that’s not enough, there’s marketing. Do you feel uncool? Let us sell you a motorcycle that will make you feel cool.

Want to be perceived as adventurous? We have just the model for you right here. Charly Boorman, watch out!

And then you have the opinions of well-meaning friends.

“A Harley?” What’s WRONG with you?”

“A BMW? What, you never want to get laid again?”

“WTF are you riding? A Ducati? You look like a monkey doing unspeakable things to a football.”

All of this, plus the wife and perhaps grown children raising an eyebrow just a little bit higher each time you go out and spend your hard-earned money on yet another decision the neighbors will never understand.

It can sometimes be too much.