Ducati Multistrada 1000DS
* Ringleader: Cat
* MSRP: $11,995
* Miles 6928-8375
* Average Fuel Mileage: 36 Mpg
* Accessories And Modifications: Ducati Performance and Givi top cases
Never has so much been written about a bike that has been ridden so little. No fewer than nine installments (this makes 10) since April 2005, most consisting of Senior Editor Charles Everitt bemoaning how few miles he'd put on his Multistrada since the previous update. That tends to happen when one lives 1.5 miles from the office...
Charles is no longer with us-the magazine, that is-and the one good thing to come from that is I inherited his long-term Ducati. Good timing, too, seeing as I'd just wadded my MV. There, I said it.
Anyway, buried in the rubble of the late Mr. Everitt's office were two large boxes-one from Ducati Performance and the other from Givi. Inside of each was a color-matched top case plus a mystifying array of mounting hardware. In the interest of investigative journalism, I installed and tested them both.
As one would expect, the Ducati Performance rear top case kit ($554.60; www.ducati.com) bolted right up. As Charles has noted here before, DP accessories come without printed instructions, and alas, this was the case again. But examining the hardware it was apparent where it all belonged. A neat factory touch was the inclusion of replacement rubber tailpiece guards, each of which has a hole through which the aluminum-alloy rack's mounting hardware passes-you won't get that from an aftermarket company.
Once installed, the 46-liter, high-resistance polyamide trunk proved cavernous and easy to attach or detach. The locking system takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it's a no-brainer. Initially snug-fitting, our trunk became looser over time on its mounts, probably because we routinely exceeded its 3-kilogram (6.6-pound) maximum weight rating-one demerit for that. But bonus points for the included passenger backrest, which you have to drill a couple of small holes to attach. The DP trunk clearly wins in the looks department, too, its array of circular red lenses resembling a UFO. The last one I saw, anyway.
The Givi E260 Micro2 Monolock setup ($331.10 www.giviusa.com) isn't quite as slick, the rack requiring the proverbial two men and a small boy (or in my case, the wife) to install due to a couple of nuts in tight confines. Once mounted, however, it functioned just like the DP system-which shouldn't be surprising considering that Givi makes the larger trunk for Ducati; it's called the V46 Monokey in Givi parlance. Originally designed for scooters, the 26-liter Micro2 barely swallows one helmet, let alone two. Aside from its lower price, its only advantage is it's easier to carry off the bike.
I've never been much of a fan of top cases-they just look goofy. But using these two proved how much sense they make in an urban environment, which is why they're so popular in European cities. They afford secure, waterproof storage that doesn't make a bike 4 feet wide like saddlebags do. The first time I arrived at work after a rainy commute, popped open the trunk and fetched my dry briefcase and lunch from within, I became a believer.
MV Agusta F4 1000S
* Ringleader: Cat
* MSRP: $21,495
* Miles: 6375
* Average Fuel Mileage: 0 mpg
* Accessories And Modifications: Agostini Replica paint job, eMoto Ltd. rear hugger, Evoluzione Cyclesports license-plate relocator, Zero Gravity indscreen.
The F4 hasn't turned a wheel under its own power since its accident a few months ago, but there's been plenty of progress. As of today the repainted bodywork is back from the painter and ready to be reinstalled.
And what a paint job it is! Boris Landoff of California Cycle Design (www.calcycledesign.com) plastic-welded and Bondo'ed and sanded and primed the damaged bodywork, then laid on a beautiful coat of red and silver, clear-coating over the big yellow number-one plates that will transform the bike into an authentic-looking Agostini Replica. Let the hate mail fly. The paintwork cost $1500, which was a bitter pill to swallow. But it was less bitter than the cost of replacement bodywork-a single replacement side panel costs $721!
The decals came courtesy of eBay, from a British firm called eMoto Ltd ($88: www.emotouk.com). Unfortunately, the set didn't include the "37 stars" decal that adorns the top of a real Ago's fuel tank, so purists will be able to spot mine as a fake. Then again, mine doesn't have a red-suede seat, either-and won't any time soon. Boris also noted that the tailpiece decals are shorter than they should be, but again, only the faithful will notice.
While I was perusing eMoto's Web site, I found the Holy Grail: a rear hugger with integrated chain guard to prevent the rear tire from burning a hole in my right boot. If you remember, I had a problem with that. Available in various colors and materials ($355 for carbon-fiber), I chose a classy-yet-conservative red-painted fiberglass piece with lacquered-in MV logo that sells for $235. It bolted right up without drilling any holes, but clearance is pretty tight against the 180/55-17 Dunlop Sportmax currently fitted. A lower-profile 190/50-17 tire will likely increase clearance, as will tightening the chain with its eccentric adjuster-it's a bit loose, anyway.
Because the stock windscreen was broken in the crash, I ordered a smoked double-bubble replacement from Zero Gravity ($84.95; www.zerogravity-racing.com). And in keeping with the subtle visual mods, I hit up Evoluzione Cyclesports for one of their clean license-plate relocators ($69.99; www.evoluzione.net). So long, rear fender.
Now if I could just get a day alone in the garage, I might get the bike back together again...