Traveling Long Distances on a Motorcycle and Ducati V4

Answers

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Tim Carrithers, Gary Eagan

Q I just got a screamin' deal on an '09 Kawasaki Concours14-ABS, and it occurs to me that getting the most out of a tool like this is a combination of art and science. I'm beginning to stack up the miles much quicker than on any other bike I've owned, mostly because the big Concours makes it so easy. Call me crazy, but laying down 500 miles before lunch is beginning to sound like a normal ride. All those Iron Butt guys I always thought were crazy don't seem so crazy anymore. Never mind what that says about me.

It also occurs to me that you guys may have a few tips to make covering lots of miles in not so much time a little more efficient and less painful. For instance, how do you go about maintaining a suitably brisk freeway pace without attracting the wrong kind of attention? Any other tips you might be willing to pass along would be greatly appreciated.
Clay Howell
Beaumont, TX

A If endurance is a virtue, Gary Eagan is the patron saint of high-mileage road warriors. The '07 Ducati ST4 that took him from San Francisco to New York City in 36 hours and 57 minutes is enshrined at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Eagan and the ST4 won nine of the 10 endurance contests they entered. Here's his counsel: "Focusing on the Three Bs-brain, body and bike-is the best way to prepare for long-distance fun and games, and approaching them in that order works best for me.

"Ride between your ears. Too many riders focus too much attention on which gadgets to slap on the machine rather than finding their own mental comfort zone and riding within it. All riders are eager to share their methods with the world, but how you prepare and how you ride is very personal. What works well for one may not work at all for you. As you add miles to your rides, remember that place your brain is in when you're most comfortable, and strive to stay there.

"Physical preparation is invaluable for chewing up big mileage, and it plays right into the mental aspects. The stronger and more flexible you are, the more comfortable you will be on the bike and the more focused you brain will stay. If you're out of shape and your back is stiff or your rhomboids are burning, it's hard to concentrate on the ride. The same goes with clothing, especially undergarments. Good seamless microfiber shorts eliminate pressure spots on your butt and thighs. They also wick away moisture, eliminating that clammy feeling. A microfiber shirt does the same for your upper body, making it easier to focus on the road and the ride.

"Now it's time to work on the bike. Start by finding a seat that fits you well, then get the handlebar and footpeg positions dialed in. After that, determine the windscreen height and position that appeals to you. It all starts from the seat. If you fix everything else and then change the seat, it can throw everything else off so badly you may have to start over.

"Just enjoy yourself, stay focused and munch some miles. As far as attracting the wrong kind of attention goes, there is a time and a place to play-and not to play. Common sense and your comfort zone will tell you when to light the wick."

Chariot Of The God
I really liked your V4 issue (MC, April), but I think you left something out. I know Ducati's MotoGP bikes use that layout, but they built a pretty cool V4 streetbike back in the day too. You guys should look into it.
Raul Penning
Athens, TX

We have, or at least Sir Alan Cathcart has uncovered Ducati's V4 roots on our behalf. As any resident of Athens should know, Apollo the Greek god of the sun was born on the island of Delos, but Apollo the ill-fated 1256cc V4 prototype sprang from the Bologna drafting table of one Ing. Fabio Taglioni in 1963. Intended to steal a chunk of the police-bike market from Harley-Davidson, the Apollo's wet-sump crankcase housed a single 180-degree crankshaft, with each pair of rods sharing the same caged roller bearing. Laying down an alleged 100 horsepower at 7000 rpm, Dr. T's design was too much at a time when Harley's 1215cc Police-Special Panhead made 55 ponies. Factory test pilot Fuzzi Librenti was just happy to be alive after the 600-lb. beast's 16-inch rear Goodyear whitewall disintegrated on the autostrada. "It's a miracle I never crashed," Librenti said. "I just wrestled it into submission with the back wheel locked, like a cowboy with a bull." The detuned, 80-horse version would roast the Harley, but it did the same to early-'60s rubber.

Despite brochures that said it would be available in the summer of '65 for $1500, the Apollo project was officially scrapped after only two prototypes had been completed. One lives in the factory museum, and it's unclear what happened to the other. Taglioni kept a spare engine in his office until he retired in '89. He applied the same mechanical DNA to create Ducati's first overhead-cam 750 twin. There's also the 994cc Bipantah V4 that Pierluigi Mengoli designed in '81 with some help from Dr. T, but that's a story for another day.

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