Amore di Ducati Desmo.
Say "Ducati" and try not to feel pure love for Italian motorcycles. The marque is the embodiment of sensuous velocity. Looking, touching, mounting, riding one of Bologna’s beauties is an invitation to amore that obliterates all logic. The love affair has heated up with the release of the firm’s new 848 middleweight superbike-already praised by the pundits as best of breed and a marked advance over the 749.
Consider, then, the acquisition of two uniquely enhanced examples. One is specially prepared for our Ultimate Gift Guide by Ducati USA. The other, is a multiple podium finisher built by the factory’s top American racer. Both offered,together, in this package. It is a temptation even the most virtuous cannot resist-the ultimate street and track bikes. Ducati USA’s John Paolo Canton describes this 848R Superleggera- so named for its light weight-with mellifluous enthusiasm. "This bike is for the rider who realizes the 1098 is just bragging rights. The 1098 really requires an expert hand. It is the not the most practical street machine," Canton admits. "Let’s face it, it can bite you." He smiles. "But the 848R is a street-able bike that delivers enormous pleasure and solid performance on the road and at the track." The all-new 849cc 134 hp Testastretta Evoluzione Desmodromic L-Twin engine features an innovative crankcase, MotoGP elliptical throttle bodies, and bore/stroke ratio approaching its big brother. Making this 370-pound greyhound even leaner calls for an exhaustive list of competition-quality components. "A new rear subframe saves signifi cant weight," Canton reveals. "The wheels are actual magnesium rather than forged aluminum, and we swapped out the hubs to make them fit." Carbon front fender, heel guards, and tail section; billet gas cap, rearsets and brake/clutch levers; a Termignoni exhaust; and Öhlins suspension are just a few of the refi nements. Pricing for this Ferrari-eater is $39,880; Canton advises delivery will include the opportunity for a fitting of bespoke leathers and custom-painted helmet (for an additional fee) to ensure that owner’s appearance and performance are a match. Passion dictates that we indulge ourselves to the maximum, and the respected Larry Pegram’s 848 Formula Xtreme race bike does its best to satiate us. The Ohio-based Pegram, a Ducati loyalist, has been lighting up AMA cir-cuits for years, but the arrival of the 848 was a revelation. "It just does every-thing better than the previous model," he remarks. This particular example is the actual 848-sponsored in part by Ultimate MotorCycling-he rode in his most successful season to date, with four podiums to his credit. "Hmmm, what didn’t we change on this motorcycle?" Pegram chuckles. Upgraded to Formula Xtreme champi-onship-level spec, it is ready to climb the Daytona banking, slice through Laguna’s corkscrew, and take on any other challenges for those bold enough. The Pegram Racing 848 is uniquely yours at $65,000, a mere pittance in terms of economies of ecstatic scale. If you choose to take to the track on your new mount under Pegram’s astute supervision, depending on the level of ambition and desire, his time can be had for $2,500 to $10,000 per day, excluding circuit rental and attendant costs. Since Ancient Rome, Italians have maintained that the Art of Life and Love supersede the vagaries of an unpredictable universe.Epicurus declared pleasure as the sole intrinsic good. Each moment with these Desmo divas will confirm that assertion. www.ducatiusa.comPhotos by Riles and Nelson ULTIMATE MOTORCYCLING DECEMBER 2008 / JANUARY 2009