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.