"Many years and 27 bikes came and went. Fast-forward to the introduction of the Ducati 999. Horrified by Internet pictures but intrigued in the flesh, I promised myself that if an R version was released I'd break the bank. The R bike finally materialized, the titanium, magnesium, carbon fiber, forged and machined wheels, sand-cast engine cases, hlins suspension and the promise of 150 horsepower upping the drool-factor substantially. I took delivery in July of '04. The bike was-and still is-beautiful. All my pent-up anxiety over the purchase was instantly eliminated by the visual stimulation of something so special, so rare and so very, very cool.