28 Apr 2012

My next bike should be a KTM 690

I have already mentioned here my current (and dreadfully recurrent) Ducati woes. Ducrappi perhaps we should call these things, despite their excellent performance, usually good looks and general sex appeal. And the attitude of the French importer is beyond description in terms of after sales service!

I have had a kind of a love affair with the first version of the Multistrada, and have owned 2 of them. The second one (a 2005 1000S model) has had SOOOO many problems due to defects in its materials that I have now fallen heavily out of love with the thing. The new Multistrada is too heavy, too complicated, and too expensive for me. And I find the thing a bit ugly to boot. Plus I do not feel like putting any more money in these people's pockets. 

This winter I have had the time to consider my needs, as well as my financial capacity, quite carefully. I went to the Paris bike show last December and had a good look around.
(see here:  http://morethanjustwine.blogspot.fr/2011/12/paris-bike-show.html). I have come to the conclusion that too many modern bikes have gotten heavy and over complicated. This is partly due to masses of electronic devices that we don't know how to fix and in some cases barely need. We also have no idea how long they will last. These machines are also, on the whole, uselessly powerful. Unless you are going to run a bike on a racetrack, where on earth can you use anything more than 100 horsepower? All machines sold in France are limited to this level, but if a machine has been designed for 150 horsepower or more, it seems rather likes chopping off one foot to bridle it to that extent. Then there is the price factor, which cuts out all those mouthwatering specials from artisan builders. I already have the rebuilt Norton Commando anyway. 

So, as soon as the latest painfully expensive repair is completed on my Ducati, it will be sold and I will emigrate from Italy to Austria, go down in size and get something light, fun, simpler and (I hope) solidly built. And I will sell it while it is still under guarantee and go buy another one (if the bike is good) or something else.


This is the picture I took at the bike show of KTM's latest Superduke 690. Although I am not a fan of orange on a bike, the looks will do. KTM have softened the very angular look that the previous version had and which did not attract me. I will probably go for the black version and lose those nasty decals on the tank. A couple of other accessories (KTM have been smart and brought it out with an extensive catalogue) to make the thing a bit more practical, and we will be back in business. Here are some more pics:





I have read a few road tests and done one myself. It seems this version is far more useable and comfortable that previous ones, and that one can even do distances with it. Not much wind shelter up front though, is there ? Back to long treks on a single? Maybe not. It can always go on the trailer and be used wherever. But this is the most powerful single ever sold as a road bike. We'll see if I can stand the vibration! When I road tested it for a short while on some twisties, I had a lot of fun instantly. The bike is very light and well balanced and you can just throw it about. I was so busy anticipating the next corner that I didn't feel any vibration. In fact it seems amazingly smooth for a single, but doesn't much like pulling away from under 3000 rpm (then neither does my Ducati). Braking is very good, even if the fork dips a bit when braking hard, and you can even brake when leant over without it righting itself much. Nice feeling when you are running out of road! 




Not sure that I'll be doing a lot of stunting, but it certainly feels like it would enjoy that stuff too...




So let's hope those guys at Ducati finally find the parts and we can all go to Austria for a change of scenery. Been a long time since I has a single-cylinder road bike. In fact the last one must have been this venerable BSA Bantam 150cc two-stroke, back in, what, the early 1960's! Mmm, think I'll feel the difference...