"words and pictures Liz SeabrookAndy Watkins is a self-confessed motorbike geek. In his basement garage in Bristol sit five beauties: a 1937 Ariel, a Hailwood Ducati replica, a ’66 Harley patiently awaiting attention, a Norton 650 and the apple of his eye, "
words & pictures Liz Seabrook
There’s more to Ducati than hardcore knee draggers and retro obsessiveness. There’s also more to Ducati than the perennially successful Monster that has characterised so much of the brand’s sales these last few years. With accessibility and reliability catching up with what was always a stylish aesthetic, the Ducati tendency is a broad church these days. We met a fistful.
In comparison to some of the old boys at the owner’s club Sean is relatively new to bikes. A little over 10 years ago – much to his mother’s disapproval – he was drawn from four wheels to two. Starting out with an Aprillia, Sean had a couple of brief flings with the Japanese, before permanently allying himself with Italy.
Lured by beautiful styling and the exotic persona of Ducati, three years ago he swapped his Aprillia RSVR for his current Sport Classic 996. Unlike his earlier Ducati 749, the Sport Classic is a simple beast, an old Monster engine, no electronic gremlins and a V Twin to make the rider work as hard as the bike.
We surrender to the Monster, it would be a travesty to leave old faithful out. Besides, it’s not every day you see a lady in vintage leathers bombing around Bath on an 1100s without baffles. After growing up in awe of a neighbour’s bike, Fi was onto trail bikes before most kids had even thought about driving.
By all accounts the Monster neatly summarises Italian motor engineering: fast, passionately designed and styled with a penchant for unpredictability. And the noise! “She’s fierce!” laughs Fi as she revs the engines to an audience in Bath’s Royal Crescent. Like mother like daughter.
In a happy twist of fate, Duncan was lead to Ducati after winning a Monster in a competition. Several years later and always with a project on the go, he took to this initially unrecognisable Paso , otherwise known as “the van driver’s choice of Ducati”. With a steady hand and a lot of patience, like a phoenix from a mess of fibreglass he returned this abused Ducati to its original glory.
Designed and built in the late Eighties, the Paso is something of an austerity bike for Ducati. A Ducati-Cagiva mongrel, this full-faring clad tour bike’s numbers are dwindling from a lack of love. Rare beauty or beast? You decide.
Not content with his beautiful un-restored Norton International featured a couple of months back, Andy is also the owner of a much sought after Hailwood replica. Still chasing the freedom he discovered tearing around on scooters in the years before, much like Sean, Andy revels in the bloody-mindedness of the V Twin.
To get your hands on one of these today isn’t a cheap option; Andy’s has more than doubled in value in just six years. What do you get for your money? A finely engineered machine, easy servicing and style in spades.
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