Long term update: Sublime come slime time

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Suddenly my favourite road has disappeared under a carpet of rotting leaves and November slime. I’m wearing fat-finger gloves, and through the small window of visor that isn’t misted up I can see little more than the refracted beams of undipped car headlights. Yup, as I fumble uncertainly for the full-beam switch, I concede that my two-wheeled fun is probably over for another year.

Or maybe not, not completely. I’m still plugging away on my 185bhp Panigale – a beautiful bike that was built for sun-drenched racetracks, not the onrushing British winter – and it’s doing all right. Surprisingly well.

It is, for starters, very good in the wet. Its agility and poise, plus the intimate connection it makes between throttle hand and rear contact patch, give me a sense of absolute control. The brakes don’t need masses of heat to work and have fingertip feel right from rolling out of the garage door.

I’ve opted for earlier traction control intervention and also switched off the auto blipper – ie switched to manual downshifts – for the sake of grip-promoting smoothness. You have to ride it with positive intent, stay in the revs and on top of the bike, but what works on a soaking wet racetrack also seems to work on a soaking wet A606.

Meanwhile, one of the 1299’s few annoyances has turned good guy. All the engine heat that sinks into the seat and subframe and cooks your legs in July becomes a lovely tartan rug and hot water bottle in freezing cold November.

The LED headlights could and should be brighter for a £21,000 machine, and I haven’t been able to ride the bike this week at all. I cleaned it on Sunday – an all-afternoon job – and simply can’t face coating its exquisite, ruby red rear end in tractor shite. For this I deserve nothing but ridicule, but there you go. The 1299 Panigale does autumn remarkably easily, it’s me who struggles.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Long Term Fleet…

Tim Thopmson

By Tim Thopmson