8 FOURTY 8

Its always with a sense of delighted anticipation that I get onto a Ducati. Like the little fat kid who’s been given a bag of sweeties all the pleasure center lights in my brain start to go off even before the experience begins.

Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
Photos by: John Hensley/ Ducati

Its like turning on a Christmas tree. Complete with all the baubles and the hot blonde angel stuck on top wearing Agent Provocateur. Of course the problem with this like every experience you anticipate with great expectations is the chance that your treat won’t be quite up to snuff.

The treat for this particular trip was Ducati’s new 848, in Evo Corse trim.  Which aside from the fancy paintwork and magnesium marchinesi wheels also entails some steroids to put 140 horses between your legs.

I was lucky enough to have a fellow bike nut to share the day’s fun with, in the form of actor and former hell raising wrangler, John Hensley.  I didn’t even know what a wrangler was, apart from a brand of jeans.  But I guess I do now. And it definitely involves him wrangling his way up the tarmac faster than any mortal has any right to.

After much debate we decided to meet at Leo & Lily in Woodland Hills for breakfast and head out from there.  In honor of the almighty jetlag I was suffering from having spent more than a week in Europe I suggested a 4am start. Needless to say I was told to shove my suggestion where the sun doesn’t shine.  So come 8am and change we sat and shot the shit over coffee and eggs while the rest of the sleepy neighborhood nestled at the base of the Malibu canyons came to life.

Its always fascinating to me how much glorious driving road exists just a stone’s throw away from the casting couch of Hollywood. The kind of roads you may just get down faster on a bicycle coasting than you can in a 500bhp supercar. They’re that twisty. I’d highly recommend them if you get a chance.  It’ll be good for your soul.

The Evo was a surprisingly docile and easy companion around town and drew the usual smiles an grimaces any Ducati does.  Loved by the lovers, hated by the haters.  It had me wondering for a moment if it had the guts for the glory as it was simply too well behaved. But then I realized it was a classic case of “treat em mean, keep em keen”…give it a full handful and you’ll rapidly find yourself riding a very expensive uni-cycle.  And from there on out its much the same hooligan behaviour.  Keep your right wrist wound open and you’ll find yourself holding on with taught forearms for dear life as a joker-like grin involuntarily spreads across your face and the digital readout blurs in time with the scenery.  Its easy to be tricked into thinking these things are easy to play with but as I’ve said before, they don’t call them donor cycles for nothing.  Which is why supreme concentration is required.  The reward is a zen like calm and the ability to point the thing wherever you want it to go with pinpoint accuracy.

Its always fascinating to me how much glorious driving road exists just a stone’s throw away from the casting couch of Hollywood… They’re that twisty. I’d highly recommend them if you get a chance.  It’ll be good for your soul.

I arrived back in West Hollywood after about 300 miles with a dusty grin and a sore arse.  Its certainly not the most comfortable bike in the world, but god forbid it should be.  I’ll take lithe, agile and a little bony every day over “built for comfort not for speed”.  As I left the keys with the concierge so that it could be picked up I couldn’t help but wish I had another day or two on the left coast to blast up through Big Sur and suck in the sea air.  I didn’t want to give it back but needs must.  And although it didn’t scare the life out of me it still gave me a full on afterglow from having ridden to within an inch of needing a new set of pants.  And that, after all, is the sign of a very good ride indeed.

848 Evo Corse:
****1/2 Some of the best
Christmas tree lights in town

Mulholland Drive:
***** Twisty heaven

Runyan Canyon:
***** Run it before you eat your eggs

Words by DUNCAN QUINN Photos by John Hensley / Ducati