Ducati’s (Damn) Desmo Demons

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Lieback’s Corner (#18) / 6.06.2012

Back in the Middle Ages, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri wrote “Beauty awakens the soul to act.”

This quote could have only arrived from an Italian, just as the design of the 1994 Ducati 916 could have only arrived from an Italian. The Divine Ducati designer I’m speaking of is Massimo Tamburini, who likely has a direct link to Dante somehow due to his genius approach on art.

Tamburini’s bodylines on that original 916 speak of beauty, and have continued to awaken my soul to act throughout the years. And as time progressed, so did the 916, growing in stunning stages to the 996, 998, 999, 1098 and the 1198. Of course, there’s the all-new Panigale 1199, but without the Trellis frame and that new Superquadro motor, it’s in a league of its own. A very fast league of its own…

With the beauty of the Ducati superbike arrived many dreams of owning one throughout my 20s. These dreams seem beautiful on the surface, but sometimes they turned into nightmares because I simply couldn’t have one. The problem? Like most, money. Between college and working at a local newspaper, money was scarce. But those Damn Desmo Demons would never leave me alone, and really have grown over the past few years when I delved into the motorcycle industry full throttle.

But after owning many Japanese motorcycles throughout the years, I finally laid those Desmo Demons to rest. It took some time, but two weeks ago I bought my first Ducati – an 1198 base model with a full Termi exhaust and Ducati EVO Slipper Clutch. I’ve been so amazed by simply looking at it I didn’t even scrub the tires in yet…

I was originally set on the Ducati 848EVO Corse SE, the supersport one of my all-time favorite motorcycles to ride on the street and slide around corners on my personal “Mountain Course” near my Northeastern Pa. residence. But this 1198 was just traded in at the EuroSports in Coopersburg, Pa., and all I had to do was sit on it and start it. Those Desmo Demons inside flared up, immediately possessing me.

I drove home that evening from the dealer, battling with one of the toughest – and most amazing – decisions to make: either purchase an 848EVO Corse SE or the 1198. An awkward thing happened, also, considering the fiancée and I witnessed some of the darkest clouds on the way home aboard my VFR 800 (red, of course). Although threatening, this dark was contrasted with dry conditions.

In my awkward thinking, which was tainted by the 1198’s growl, I was pondering that maybe these contrasting conditions were a sign from above (or below) to go with the 1198. Yes, I was losing it.

Throughout that night, also, those Desmo Demons kept awakening me, telling me to take home that 1198. Wanting to lay those demons to rest, the next day the fiancée and I returned to the dealership. I allowed those Desmo Demons to rule the soul, and I went with the same machine that Carlos Checa won the 2011 World Superbike Championship on – the 1198.

It’s now my new obsession. And when I mean obsession, I mean obsession. I feel the 1198’s jealousy when I take one of my other bikes out, although they are for vastly different riding styles. Well, except the CBR 929 Erion I restored last year…let’s just say the battery is currently out of that bike and on the Battery Tender since the Ducati is now my main sportbike…

These Italians just know how to create beautiful art that quickly turn into an obsession. And it started long ago with Dante right on through to Tamburini.

As Dante said, beauty awakens the soul to act, likely referencing something from the heavens. But the thing is, in the eye of a Ducati lover, this beauty is by no way from above; rather, this beauty arrives in the form of those Desmo Demons.

And they have taken full control of my soul…

Stay Twisted; Throttle yr Soul
– Ron Lieback

Lieback’s Corner is the Online Editor’s column, which delves into RL’s recent motorcycling mind breaths and wanderings.