My 690 Duke is in the shop right now getting a “performance enhancement.” I’m very excited to get this little Tasmanian Devil back so I can give it a proper spin. The big challenge, however, is how to keep from turning a performance enhancement into a performance award!
You would think that a 690 thumper, putting out a paltry 67 hp, would be the last bike you’d worry about causing an impromptu meeting with Officer Friendly, but you’d be wrong. Pure adrenaline is pumping through those fuel lines. Combine that with razor sharp handling and a wet weight that is lower than an NFL linebacker and what you’ve got is an invitation to driving school!
I learned long ago that there is a lot more to a motorcycle than horsepower and that certain bikes have an unspoken quality that coaxes the juvenile delinquent right out of your Brooks Brother’s suit. My very first Ducati had that effect…and it wasn’t even a sport bike…or the color red, but that ST2 got my blood running every time I hit the start button. As I ran down the highway it would whisper in my ear, “No one is looking, do a wheelie, now!” “Here comes a curve, lean me over, hard!” So I did.
I spent a year on a Yamaha FJR 1300, a bike with no shortage of brute force. There were about 145 ponies under that tank. It pulled like a runaway locomotive. I distinctly remember heading dow the Interstate on my way to Florida and coming upon a semi who was trucking along at a healthy 80+ mph. I cracked the throttle of the FJR, whipped out left and passed the trucker hard and fast. Next thing I knew I was doing xxx miles per hour and looking for my ripcord. Fast bike. Never got pulled over once.
After about 10 months I got bored with the inline 4 and traded it in on a Ducati Multistrada 1000. About 58 less hp than the FJR, but one of the most enjoyable motors I’ve ever owned. I wrung it to redline every time I rode it. It begged me to…and who was I to deny this lovely redhead? I had my first speeding ticket on this bike within a week of taking ownership.
So, you see, the Duke is a dangerous creature in stock form, let alone the improvements currently being bestowed upon this little firecracker. I was thinking that when I pick it up I should probably just head on down to the courthouse and sign up for driving school. You’d think a 55 year old man would know better, and I do…but I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face.