|Friday, 10 December 2004|
Son of the Beast (link)
Whilst in the middle of a bike related conversation with Special Agent 748 last week, I casually reminded him with all the subtlety of a brick that I had not yet had the pleasure of riding his new pride and joy, suggesting he'd better hurry up and let me ride it before he trades it in on some other beasty thing.
Much to my surprise he casually nodded and indicated that sometime this week we might head out for a wee ride. This afternoon he appeared at my office door, a little earlier than usual for our afternoon espresso, with a grin on his face and the keys to Son-of-the-Beast jingling in his hand.
I took a quick millisecond or so to consider the offer, then before you could say "Beggagellant" I was into my boots, jacket and gloves pulling on my helmet and skipping out to the carpark to swap keys and receive operating instructions.
The 748R is the same geometry as his 996sps I rode last year so position wise there weren't any surprises. It has that terrifying rattly dry clutch too and similar thumpy exhaust note to the 996 so audibly it was also very similar. Agent748 reinforced the need to ride the clutch in 1st to get off the mark which was also 996-ish feel wise.
A couple of engine cut-outs at low revs until I got the hang of blipping it a little to keep it ticking over, then we were off out into open-road. First thing that made an impression was the close ratio gearing, no surprise I guess considering its an 'R' model configured for track use.
Next massive difference compared to me Kwaka was the effortless line change and angle/bike roll initiation. I know we're talking a reasonable weight difference but the balance of the Duke is just so much better and its so easily shifted about.
Body position definitely takes some getting used to, adapting to having legs a little closer together than you do on bikes with wider tanks/frames, and being pitched further forward is weird for awhile, but even on the more relaxed geometry of my old SS the secret is in sliding off the fwd-side of the tank.
Stopping power on the machine is friggin awesome, and suspension is so sweet you kinda forget about ride comfort and stability, its just doing the job, no bumps, flexing or rattling. Then again, we are talking some best of breed componentry here with the wicked-spec Ohlins suspenders and Brembo brakes.
Power and 'thrust urgency' (OK, I made that up :-) are down on the bigger SPS of course, a little less torque that I expected but it feels and sounds fucken cool working across the rev-range. Impressive too how quickly the engine seemed to spin-up when working the throttle just a little. Quite weird for a twin how similar in character the power delivery was to the 4-cyl Kwaka.
We were out for about 20mins so there's no way an egit like me can give a machine like the 748R an objective review in that sort of time, but overall its a very impressive package, less intimidating than the SPS, but the same dreamy handling, wicked brakes/suspension and design to die for. Its not the ideal commuter of course, but if my budget's ever gonna stretch beyond its current limits this is the kinda thing I'll be gunning for.
o Steam motorcycle
o UFO Area: Our Special Reports
o SOA Facts
o xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe
o Helen Clarks marijuana speech 1994 Waikato University