‘05 749R, ‘89 851/926, 749R/999RS project
Great answer Sherp, thanks for taking the time.Hmm. That’s an interesting question. I guess that’s part of a bigger philosophy. I don’t really like tracking the new new fast bikes. I like these mid power bikes that are really competent. From 125hp to maybe 160hp at the wheel are my sweet spot, maybe? These are the bikes I can ride the best and enjoy riding the most. I love the trellis frame machines that you can really send fast into the turns and lean way over and they just track gracefully while leaned way over.
What about this particular bike? It’s hard to say exactly what. I have three 748RS’s and a 996RS, plus a 916 Corsa and an 848 race bike built for Daytona. I don’t have anything like this. I always felt that it would be hard to find a nicely sorted one and I don’t want something that’s a moneypit or real pain in the ass to sort. But they’re really beautiful and there has always been an appeal. I’ve thought about an 888 Corsa or 900SS track bike too but this is a different era and has a special appeal.
So when I got on it, I didn’t know what to expect. But it was immediately clear that this was not some rickety piece of junk. It was tight from the start and accelerated so cleanly. And it is so light, you can just rip it. I don’t have anything like that: a lightweight air cooled 2v Ducati that just rips. And the more I would fling it into turns and zing out of them, the more I realized that this is a very unique and thrilling experience. Between the weight, the small feel, and the more than ample power, it is just right.
And even though on paper it doesn’t sound like it has a ton of power, it’s plenty fast enough. I was passing guys coming out of corners fast enough that it was surprising. Not so fast that I felt like I was taking their paint off but certainly not to where I thought the bike could use any more power
I didn’t know what I would use it for as I have a hard enough time figuring out where and when to use my other bikes, but I figured it was a problem worth having. Again, I’ve thought about adding something a little older like an 888 Corsa or 900SS race bike.
I don’t know if I need any more race bikes. I am kind of at the limit of what I can use. That doesn’t mean I won’t buy another one; it’s just that I’m really at the point of diminishing returns.
Anyways, I hope that answers that a little
And I hear you: my first Ducati 20 years ago, a ‘94 916 Strada built to SP spec (right bike at the wrong time, took me a while to get back here) and I remember thinking “this bike, with 150hp, would be perfect” This being the era of the game changing R1 and GSXR1000.
Fast forward a few years, I’d fallen in love with the track, and raced an HRC’d CBR1000RR: I’d never been a “Honda guy” but the damn thing just worked. I eventually upgraded to a later, supposedly superior, Yoshi’d GSXR1000.... only to find it didn’t “just work”. It taught me a hell of a lot but it wasn’t always pleasant. As they say failure asks many more questions than success.
Sick of Superbikes eating tyres the way a Labrador eats breakfast I found myself with a 749R, and falling back in love with Ducati’s. Fuck me if the the thing didn’t “just work”: it gave so much confidence, the perfect balance of poise, power and braking.
These days I find myself chasing more of that “just works” feeling. If I had a 165kg bike with 150hp and faced with a choice of -10kg or or + 10hp I’d take the -10kg every time.
It’s been a while since I raced (intentions to do more with 851/926 classic build) but 2 images spring to mind : neck and neck with another superbike alongside, wheels lofted as we accelerated alongside each other. And chasing a National level 600cc rider on my superbike: so frustrating watching him slowly eke away as he cornered faster/got on the gas earlier as I couldn’t find anywhere to unleash the extra hp I had at hand. I’d just be making inroads as we got to the next corner: aaaargh!
So yep, completely understand: accessible performance is far more important than something difficult to use.
Thanks again for your thoughts