2004 Ducati 999R | Me & My Bike

Name: Steven Ottaviano
Home: Boxford, MA
Occupation: Program Manager
Age: 52

As a young man in the '70s I'd occasionally see an older gent riding the back roads of Boxford, Massachusetts, on an MV Agusta. One afternoon he pulled into Jack's filling station for fuel, and I was up instantly to watch him. Wearing a half-helmet of Italian colors, he started his bike, smiled and rode off. No words were spoken, and none were needed. The torch had been passed, and I knew one day I'd own an exotic Italian motorcycle.

"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.

"Admittedly a financial stretch, I've not regretted it. My 13-year-old son Max calls my bike 'Beauty' and asks to roll it out now and again just to look at it. My wife says nothing, indicating she at least doesn't hate it. I enjoy the controversial Pierre Terblanche styling; it pulls the crowd, even non-motorcyclists. But its appearance isn't the point; the emotional involvement and pride of ownership is. The superlative motor, brakes, suspension and chassis serve to justify the cost of a dream; to ride the bike is to truly understand what the additional expenditure nets.

"Ducati North America tells me it's one of 75 brought to the U.S. Regardless, my longstanding desire for an exotic Italian is satiated. So now I'm the old fart riding the rare (and very red) Italian bike-and loving every minute.

"Cut to August of '07 and a local bike hangout. A young buck on a Gixxer approaches the Ducati and is completely overwhelmed by it. He knows what it is. I observe in him exactly what I recalled in my youth when coming face-to-face with that MV. After a spirited conversation, I slip on my full-face helmet of Italian colors and, smiling intently, realize that the exotic-bike torch has been passed once again."