Friday, June 22, 2012

The Ohlins Effect

What the Ducati M750 looked like in 2001
I have finally conceded a loss to the recession.  I had been looking for a replacement for my 2000 Ducati Monster (750, no snickering, please; power isn't everything, bitches) and had even tossed an offer toward a dealer on a lovely used, but "new generation" Monster and later a Triumph Daytona 675 demo model.  I don't have the money for serious offers so neither went far, but then the wife and I have a chat and we peacefully come to an accord to wait it out for a while.  After the swelling went down, but still waiting for my left testicle to re-descend, I carefully considered my options.  

Rebuilt Ohlins shock with remote reservoir
Now thankfully I had been saving for a while so I wasn't lost at sea, yet.  But if you had $1000 sitting in what was probably one of those evil banks responsible for all this trouble, what do you do?  Some new gear would be fantastic, but why get a new leather suit when I'd plonk back down on old bessie?  So gear was out.  My suspension was 20 years old and from the budget Ducati "Dark" line, that might be the ticket.  I began to ask around and cruised ebay for suspension ideas.  Many of them were unreliable, exotically expensive, or little worth the trouble of the labor costs.  Through a chance posting on a sport-bike bulletin board (USBA) I found sometime Paris-Dakar KTM mechanice and Western United States Ducati God, Matt Spencer and gave him a call asking what my money was worth.  "Oh, I'm an Ohlins rep. now and I have a used shock that I'll rebuild and put on your bike for a reasonable fee, and you can get Ducati SuperSport forks off of Ebay and I'll rebuild those too; so when can I pick up your bike?..." "Hello?"  -oh yes, thank you indeed, my testicle suddenly just descended and I was distracted for a moment. So about six months ago, near Christmas time, the bike left for the clinic.  Now the thing about hiring a God of any make or model, is that everyone else is struggling to have an audience too, so it was a long wait. When it arrived at a Miller Motorsports Track Day, I felt like the parent of a kid who is suddenly found after being lost.  I was filled with anger that I was still chained to this engineering atavism, and I wanted to hug it at the same time.

Now I've heard said that an aftermarket suspension revamp is the best money spent before any other choice -and recently parted with all of my money I was ready to find out.  I set out on a hot day to hit the local canyon and everything felt remarkably not different than when my wallet was full.  Ah well, I thought, at least now I can buy an Ohlins sticker and lord it over folks after I take 15 minutes to explain why they should be impressed; being a sporting motorcycle enthusiast in the United States can be tiring at times.  Then suddenly, I had a first gear right-hand corner that opened onto a highway.  There was a yellow light so I hustled a little bit and at the moment of transitioning from brake to throttle and in mid-lean, I felt from the pit of my stomach a very distinct and indescribable feeling that I could easily have doubled and maybe tripled my speed through the corner.  And now I'll be cursed for the rest of my life trying to explain why this feeling is worth a thousand dollars or more.

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