I saw an episode of "Twist the Throttle" on HD Theater featuring Ducati. The hour-long program showing the gorgeous Ducatis being ridden among the rolling hills of Tuscany tugged at the strings of my heart, so much so, that the next day I dragged Mary down to the Ducati dealer in Albany. I looked them over, I sat on a couple and we settled on the left-over 1098 Superbike. The salesman said he was expecting a yellow one next week, so I told him to call me and left with euphoric feelings. The call never came. I looked at it as an omen.
The next show featured MV Agusta. This had the same effect on me, so I started to look at ones for sale on e-bay. I've been doing this off and on for a couple of years. Of the ones I saw my favorite was the F4 in blue and silver. Someone had one for sale in Connecticut, offering delivery and I thought hard about it but didn't act on it.
A few months later another appeared, this one in New Hampshire owned by a "29-year-old single female with too many toys". I watched the bidding for a while, read the two questions people had for her, waited a few days and made her an offer. I was shocked when she immediately accepted it! So I bought this bike sight unseen.
Son-in-law Don was gracious to drive me to Morgan's house to pick up the bike. It was a rainy May day that we arrived. Seeing the bike brought mixed emotions. It was physically small with a very high saddle. I could barely touch the ground straddling it. Morgan started it for me and it sounded awesome.
Don secured the bike to the trailer and we were ready to start back home in the rain. Mary came out as we unloaded it and it wasn't long after that that she named the new addition "Lightning" to go with the Moto Guzzi Norge's "Thunder" moniker.
So, "Lightning" is officially a 2005 MV Agusta F4 S1000. It is a "monoposto" or single-seater. Its engine is afuel-injected 1000 cc in-line four-cylinder producing 166 HP, red-lined at 12,700 RPM. The dry weight is 423 pounds and the observed top speed is 187 MPH. It's awesome on paper but in real life it is even more so. Morgan had a full "racing" exhaust system installed, along with a Power Commander, adding even more power and raucus exhaust note to the standard amount.
I got to clean it a lot in the garage while waiting for the title to be mailed to me. This bike is billed as "Italian art" and I wholeheartedly agree. It looks gorgeous from every angle. Every piece fits perfectly and appears to be hand-made. Despite bringing it home in the rain it wasn't dirty at all, so Morgan did a nice job of taking care of this bike.
After a week of looking and cleaning I finally got the itch and I took it for a little ride around the block. This bike is FAAAAAAAST!!
Weeks have passed and it's legally registered. New York state has just released a new license plate, wich is rusty brown, a color that would clash with this bike. I was upset with this prospect but we lucked out and when Mary took it to get it registered, she was given a choice of the new and old plates. As the old ones were blue, she wisely made the proper choice and I was happy. Sometimes I feel guilty about the miniscule size of my insignificant problems but I thank God for it at the same time.
As of late I've been raising the RPM limit and the current high-water-mark is around 10,000 in second gear, at which level things happen at a very rapid rate and I found myself letting up.
In October 2010 I enrolled in my very first "track day" at Pocono Internation Raceway. A track day is an event held on a racetrack during which you get to ride your own motorcycle as fast as you want or are able.
We borrowed Don's trailer and hooked it up to the Honda, loaded and secured Lightning but not without several rookie mistakes and drove to the racetrack the day before the event. We found a motel and were parking the rig when a couple of guys came ove to talk to us. Turns out they were there for the same event and were enamored with the the whole setup: car, trailer and the bike. We drove to the track the next day and I was totally surprised by what greeted us. There were trailers (mostly enclosed) and bikes all over the place. There were generators running to keep tire warmers operating, bikes were all on pitstands and people were all wearing leathers.
When I found a place to park and drove in (didn't want to back in) several neighbors came ove to talk to us. One offered to help us unload the bike, saying that now he'll be able to say he pushed an MV Agusta. The two guys from the night before came over and offered to show us how to better secure the bike for the trip home.
After unloading the bike on a chilly morning, the bike refused to start. I panicked and went in search of a good samaritan, who was only a few yards away. I told him I would be back wuith the bike but walking back I remembered the Christmas present from Don and Catherine. I used the portable battery and a screwdriver to successfully start the bike.
Then I had to go through tech inpection. The taped-over headlights and turn-signal lights were okay and my front tire barely passed. Then over to get fitted for my rented leathers, which shamefully advertised Suzuki but fitted me perfectly. I used my own gloves and the freshly purchased Sidi motorcycle boots. Then I had my suspension settings performed by a professional (there are three settings (preload, compression and rebound) each for the front and rear suspension) and I was ready for the track.
Track day consists of 5 or 6 sessions on the track after a classroom instruction/discussion between each. I was grouped with the novices and after being reacquainted with apexes and entry and exit points, still fresh enough in my mind from the Audi track days in Watkins Glen, we were let loose.
I was excited but surpprisingly calm and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Many people passed me and I didn't pass a single bike but it was still a blast. I would like to do it again but not on Lightning. The seating position is very uncomfortable for a prolonged time. The footrests are very high, the reach to the ground from the seat is long and the handlebars are low and forward making the task of holding your head up a little difficult. Maybe I'll take the Triumph.