First middle age fumblings with a Ducati

By Jeff Patrick -

First rides & tests

 03 June 2013 11:17

On a weekend where the sun sat high and my adrenaline ran free, it seemed appropriate in the infancy of middle age to throw my leg over my first ever Ducati and see what Hampshire's bountiful roads had to offer.

The bike in question was a 2013 Panigale, which, with its £5,000 insurance excess had the temperature up before the very obliging salesman even turned the key and fired up what can only be described as the best assault on my senses since those first teenage fumblings of three decades previous.

Introduction over, race, sport and wet modes comprehensively not understood, I straddled the beast and set off on what can only be described as the closest I will ever come to participating in the Battle of Britain.

It was, without any exaggeration, like having a Spitfire dangling from my testicles, or the Flying Scotsman wedged part way up my... Werther's Original anyone?

But what a ride! The handling was exquisite - better than my 2010 Daytona, which didn't seem at any point possible. And to be honest, I'm still not sure it has any right to be so good.

I stalled it at the crossroads, which, for the onlookers, must have been like witnessing a tornado dying, except no one laughs when a tornado dies and the earth settles.

Hey-ho, the benefit of age is that such incidents merely add to an already long list of self-depravating cock-ups to pass on to anyone caring to listen.

Wet mode lasted all of half a mile before I pulled into a garage and selected the full 195hp sport mode, pulling back onto the dual carriageway in search of the elusive A272 the salesman had advised I try.

And there it was, suddenly off the roundabout, stretching before me like Aladdin's rug mart. The A272 with only a smattering of early Saturday morning cars to scare senseless as I thundered past.

Jesus, Mother and Mary all wept as I twisted the throttle in second gear and took this fire breathing beast into its revvy comfort zone.

Thor's own two-wheeled time travel. God's own Saturday morning twister of reality. I smiled for an hour.

The Panigale wasn't without its niggles for me. I found the seat a little short, which made it tricky to tuck in, and it didn't much care for low speeds. The heat through the seat? So what, if you're not wearing leathers you shouldn't be on it.

To sum up, I rang my wife afterwards to let her know I was still alive and laughing she said this; "You sound like a little boy, it's kind of nice".

I rest my case because surely that is the whole point of any motorcycle, to transport us to somewhere, it doesn't matter where, just somewhere.