There’s something about two wheels and a motor that fosters obsession. Something in that combination of metal and rubber gets in our blood and won’t let go. It’s one of those things that you can’t explain to people who don’t share this particular ailment, and something you don’t have to explain to people who do. Simply put, a motorcycle will take over your brain if you’re not careful.
The obsession can manifest a number of different ways. For some, it’s putting dozens of thousands of miles on their bike each year — criss-crossing the country or even the globe chasing whatever is around the next corner. For others, it’s shaving tenths off their lap times at the track. Yet for some of us, there’s a two-wheeled obsession that doesn’t even involve getting out on the road. It’s that undeniable impulse to chase perfection in the object itself — to fuss and fiddle and tweak to first make a bike ours, but eventually and without warning, start chasing perfection in the machine.
I admit, this is my own primary obsession when it comes to scooters and motorcycles. Fixing the machine is more than just making sure it’s in perfect running order. No, it’s about first undoing all the harm dealt by well-meaning health and safety regulations. It’s about reducing clutter, adding character, and more often than not, it’s about finding the soul of the machine. It’s Michelangelo revealing the sculpture hidden inside that block of marble. It begins with reduction, but for most, it doesn’t stop there. Eventually, it’s time to make substitutions — time to add back on what regs and price-point pressure mandated as a machine’s starting point. Yet that’s all it is, a starting point. Stock is just the Prologue to the story of any bike.
As I made my Saturday rounds through Motoworks last week, I didn’t meet the man, but I met his obsession with perfection head-on in the form of a 2006 Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic on Jonathan’s lift. From blacked out heads to a stripped Termignoni exhaust system, to a whole host of race-spec parts — I recognize obsession when I see it. That particular day, the Ducati was in for a brand new pair of bright gold Euro-spec Öhlins front forks shipped in from Italy. Yet from wheel to wheel this bike has been tweaked and adjusted and built up from basically scratch with a host of what are obviously hand-picked components. Yet it’s not a racing bike. It’s not on the show circuits either (that I know of). Instead, it’s simply one man’s machine, and the two of them are on a quest for perfection.
Now some just don’t get it. The expense, the time spent, and the seemingly endless fiddling with something that for them, was just fine coming off the factory floor. That’s fine. They don’t have to understand. When you have this obsession, it’s really just between you and the bike. Other people don’t have to get it. Yet every once in a while a fellow obsessive will come across your work. They’ll understand, and sometimes, that’s more than enough.
So here’s to obsession, to chasing perfection, and to one beautiful, elaborate Ducati.