So no doubt you’ve heard about the new Ducati 899. The general consensus is it’s a great bike and a better road bike than the 1199, so I thought I would see for myself what the rage was about.
First things first, it is a sexy looking machine that you would gladly trade your first born for. Seriously, you could just buy the 899 on looks alone, put it in your living room and then yell at your wife when she speaks to you for interrupting your staring.
After a long wait I was finally handed the keys and disappointingly I had to go out with a baby sitter. He said something along the lines of ‘Just follow me while I ride like a meandering old women…’ Having not ridden a sports bike in a while I was surprised to find that the baby Panigale’s seat did not try and penetrate me when I sat on it. ‘It cant be a Ducati then!’ You say incredulously. I know its hard to believe, but Ducati appear to have made a reasonably comfortable sports bike.
Turning the key I was met with a familiar Ducati dash from the last couple of models. Its an all digital LCD unit and while it doesn’t have the pretty colours of the 1199 dash, it still looks good. On top of that its easy to read.
Firing up the 899 I was shocked at how good it sounds with the standard pipe. I seriously don’t think I would get an aftermarket exhaust. These thoughts were confirmed when I saw the bloody price of them too! Revving the Ducati also gave me a serious erection. The new over square engines just spool up so quick and have a great hi-tech sound to match.
After 10 minutes or so when my erection subsided I was able to take off. The seating position is pretty good, my legs certainly didn’t feel cramped and my weight was not all on my wrists. The 899 felt like it was generations newer than the 848’s I’ve ridden in the past. The engine vibrates less and the components feel refined. I was able to turn the bars to full lock without hitting the top fairing (unlike the 848). It feels like a well put together, expensive piece of machinery, and so it should costing $22000.
Right, enough with the boring shit. How does it go? To be honest I expected more power. Take this with a grain of salt though as my test ride was disappointingly short and there was some traffic to deal with. I still got to wind her out in first and bang into second on a couple of occasions, but I certainly wasn’t blown away. The power lacked the torque down low you expect from a Duc. The power band was smooth and linear, constantly building power, nothing like the angry 848/1098’s. The bike also handles extremely well which no doubt contributes to the controlled feeling. The Panigale is still a quick bike, just not explosive or mind blowing.
The quick shifter worked flawlessly, maybe not as fast as the latest Aprilia’s, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. There is just something about being able to bang through the gears while holding the throttle on that gets me going. I did notice a slight fluffiness on throttle pickup, besides that fueling was top notch.
Handling was fantastic. The 899 feels light and flick-able. Where you look, it goes. You can tell this baby is meant to rail corners and I have no doubt that if I took it into the mountains I would be dragging a knee in no time. Another highlight was the suspension; it took bumps like a champ, the brakes worked well too.
So after a short ride I took the bike back not knowing what to think. You can tell this bike isn’t meant to be ridden around town and would thrive in the mountains. It felt stable and turned so well. Is it under powered? Probably not, I mean this thing has 148hp at the crank. I was just thinking ‘A 148 hp v-twin, this is going to be a mean son-of-a-bitch!’ Instead I was met by an easy to ride motorcycle. And wtf, I never thought I would see Ducati and easy to ride in a sentence. The big question is, could I see myself riding one? Definitely, I mean look at it. I know I’ll be able to thrash it in the mountains on the track, but can I happily commute on it too? That’s a question I’ll have to ask myself when it’s time to buy. Maybe the 1199 is a better option for me with the added grunt. One thing for certain though, if I do get a 899, I’d look shit hot commuting.