Tom from Napier telling us all about the Manx Norton
On our previous motorcycle adventures we have had the pleasure of riding with “SB” (Steeple Bumpstead) on our first tour of Europe in 2009, and “Howard” on our 2013 tour. Names for our bikes don’t happen overnight but emerge after a little time together. So after three weeks, we are pleased to introduce you to Dudley, our Desmodromic Ducati and our valuable partner in our New Zealand adventure. While it hasn’t all been plain sailing we are warming to Dudley and we think he is also enjoying our company, despite us parting ways unceremoniously a week or so ago. Unfortunately Dudley received a few cosmetic scars to his paintwork and I a fractured rib, Annie was unscathed from our gymnastics. This episode seems to have brought us closer together. Anyway enough about us, what about Dudley?
Dudley is a 2002 Ducati ST2 (ST = sports tourer) with a 944cc 4 stroke 90 degree V twin water cooled engine, sporting a dry clutch, desmodromic valve control and a 6 speed gearbox. All up, including a full set of hard luggage with our posessions Dudley probably weighs in at around 250kg before we get on. Once on we both find Dudley quite comfortable, Annie thinks the seat is better than our VFR back home and for me the low seat high is a great help. The big V twin engine is a delight, making gear changing less frequent than on Howard or our VFR, although I don’t think Dudley displays the raw power of either the Triumph or Honda. Still it has plenty of get up and go when we need to overtake.
Dudley having new wheel bearings fitted
It has taken us a while to get Dudley set up to our liking. Unfortunately Machismo Testosteroni had a bit of a hand in some of Dudleys design and hence the C spanner for adjusting the rear shock preload actually cannot be attached to the shock! Hence we had a number of visits to motorcycle shops to try and get it set up right. It’s crazy to think that large motorcycle shops can get it horribly wrong, and do the opposite of what they said they have done! Presumably Machismo is also responsible for the standard tool kit which does not include a spanner for adjusting the chain! Anyway after three weeks on the road Dudley now has a new set of rear wheel bearings, a couple of notches cut out of the rear mud guard to give clearance on some mounting nuts (not mine!) and a serviced fuel cap which was leaking substantially and provided a few scary moments when we were lying on the ground with Dudley!
Tying Dudley down for the ferry crossing across the Cook Strait
One thing we have noticed is that Dudley gets more attention from Joe Public than other bikes we have ridden. I’m not sure if it is the absurd clatter clutter of the bikes dry clutch, the thumpa tump thumpa tump of the big V twin engine, the red colour or the Ducati and Desmodromic names which catch peoples imagination, or perhaps it’s all of the above. Whatever it is wherever we go people like to come up and talk Ducati to us. I must confess to being a bit disinterested when they can only talk Ducati because I can speak motorcycles but not Ducati. There seem to be a lot of Ducatiphiles out there that have owned six or seven of them and can’t talk about anything else. As someone who’s only had a Ducati for four weeks I don’t have a lot to say about it.
Dudley's unique new livery
There are others though who are really interesting motorcyclists that Dudley introduces us to. Like Tom from Napier who was very keen to talk to us about his Norton Manx 500 that he used to race. He even raced at Cemetary Road in Wanganui in days gone by. He told us the top speed he achieved was 138mph but he didn’t manage to get to the 150mph he was after. It was a delight to talk with Tom, he had a good whiff of Burt Munro about him, a true gentleman and motorcycle (not brand) enthusiast who liked to go fast.
Dudley getting ready to go on a date
We took Dudley across Cook Strait on the ferry, which it seems he quite liked. He asked us for a wash and a tart up, including a new moniker. Then we realised he was keen on Gina who we had just introduced him to! We will be travelling together for the next couple of weeks, I do hope he behaves himself in front of his “new friend”
Dudley's with his new friend and travelling companion, Gina