Weather: 9Â°F (-13Â°C) under clear skies.
Road Conditions: Snow and ice in patches, salty everywhere else.
“New Blue”; an homage to the original California Hot Rod Ducati.
“New Blue” is a modern replica of the famous Ducati once built and raced by the Cycle Magazine team of Cook Nielson and company. Officially named The California Hot Rod, that formidable beast was soon christened “Old Blue” by the crew. â€œOld Blueâ€ was a 1974 750SS, and it was the first Ducati ever to win at Daytona. I have the full story in print around here somewhere, and it is a fascinating read.
Objects of Lust. We all know what they are, though the definition differs from rider to rider. For some, they are rare or custom-built motorbikes which will be ridden rarely, if ever, but still lovingly cared-for and polished. Occasionally shown to the public at events like this, their owners live for those moments when a rider stops and stares, and gets that far-away look in their eyes. I’m not a big fan of them, but there are some you just have to stop and look at.
For others, like me, they are bikes which, though they may not be a practical everyday commuter, still fire the imagination with visions of wild weekend rides out on the back roads, or even the racetrack. In recent years, I have expanded my lust to include exotic scramblers and trials bikes, like the ones pictured below.
Knobby-shod exotica, all in a row…
Though I am just beginning to learn about vintage off-road legends, I have a worthy instructor in the one we call Buster Brown. When he is not expounding on the virtues of ice screws, he is a veritable encyclopedia of ancient off-road lore. If he has a sufficient supply of Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, and there is a campfire going, you can count on lectures `til dawn.
Alright, enough wool-gathering. There were so many incredible examples of elite motorbikes at The Show that this blog is becoming impossible to download on dial-up. I apologize for that, but the images tell more than I could ever hope to.
Getting back to my area of expertise, I found this curious creature parked at the end of a long line of Royal Enfields, of the kind currently built in India.
The Royal Enfield Continental, an old-school cafe racer.
Gazing at this gorgeous beast, my heart began thumping like the 500cc single mounted between it’s frame tubes. But then I did a little research. Although it has all the right cosmetic components and really looks the part, you would spend about five grand on the new Bullet, another twenty-five hundred or so on the Continental Kit, and still have a bike with only 22 horsepower.
“Sorry, mate, but that won’t crack the ton, unless you ride it out the backside of an aeroplane at ten thousand feet.”
No, I guess if I were to ride a Royal Enfield, I would opt for the Bullet Military. Is that not the coolest name in motorcycling? The Royal Enfield Bullet Military has no pretensions to speed, but features all-metal panniers and crash bars for those dangerous missions out there in banjo-country. I didn’t include it’s image here, because it might actually make a pretty decent commuter. This is going to require further investigation…
It just so happens that R.E. Headquarters is in the town of Faribault, some sixty miles south of Ton-Up Manor. As soon as the salt clears the roads, Frogwing and I are going out on a reconnaissance ride. Call it “Ramble Plan Bullet”.
No “Objects of Lust” feature would be complete without The Shadow.
Staying in the British vein for a moment more, I had to include this venerable classic. While there was nobody present to tell me about it, and the plaque or whatever had not yet been displayed, I know the Vincent Black Shadow when I see it.
This bike goes beyond legend into the almost mythical. Only the Brough Superior can give it any competition as a classic motorcycle icon, at least to a relative layman like myself. And, as far as I know, the Brough doesn’t hold any land speed records. Local hero Steve Hamel and his Vincent just recently clocked one at Bonneville, and that’s why I included this photograph here. I don’t know who owns this example, but it is truly spotless, and absolutely breathtaking to look at.
Now, to get back to the more accessible lust objects, we have the current Ducati Sport 1000.
Finally, a bike that faces left in the frame!
I’ve left this beautiful motorbike for last because it was the one that drew me most strongly. I could actually see myself owning one of these, if I were irresponsible enough to take out a second mortgage on my house.
The Sport 1000 combines all those elements that get my motor running; rearsets and clip-ons, cafe saddle, sexy, sculpted fuel tank, and a naked front end. The stance, proportions, and attitude are all perfectly suited to my vision of the Cafe Racer. The robust, modern components ensure high performance and reliability, while the whole bike harkens back to an atavistic age, when cracking the ton `round a curve in the rain was the ultimate challenge to the young Rocker, on his way to the Ace Cafe.
Maybe if I took up Yoga again, I could ride one to work every day.
Triumph’s Bonneville Thruxton might give this bike a run in the parking lot, but certainly not on the road or the racetrack. And that’s where our dreams live, when we are talking Objects of Lust. Triumph never made it to this show, and shame on them. It was left up to my friends at Motoprimo to carry their water. I’m going to make some calls and get to the bottom of this. I like Triumph, and I can’t stand to see them absent from this, our biggest event of the Winter.
So that’s it, the end of my Cycle World International Motorcycle Show coverage. It’s still bitterly cold outside, and there’s plenty of black ice on the roads, so I won’t be riding any time soon. Let me know if you like the Cafe Racer Retrospectives, and I’m sure I can come up with another one next week. Quasi-Moto, my 450 Honda Cafe Scrambler is up next. But only if you want it.