Skin Deep

Let’s face it, we can’t all have chiseled abs, perfect teeth and great hair. Most of us have to settle for being average at best and try to make the most of what we have been given. While we cannot ignore the appeal of appearance, the desirableness of someone or something goes far beyond what’s on the surface. It is often true that the more you know a person, the more attractive they become to you.

Now before you think I’ve gone off the deep end and turned this blog into a dating advice column, let me take a firm grasp of the helm and turn this ship around. I’ve been outside today “uglying up” one of my motorcycles. I put a tank bag on my KTM 690 Duke and eventually I’m putting soft saddlebags on it too. By my standards, the Duke is a great looking bike. Actually it has more of a Bad Boy look than anything. Trim waist, sharp lines and a muscular stance. Even though I hate to start strapping luggage on it, taking away from it’s appearance, I didn’t buy it because of its looks. I bought it because it is an absolute blast to ride on a twisty backroad. And when I ride, I go places. And when I go places, I need to carry stuff…even if it is just a growler from Upland or West Sixth Brewery.

In fact, of all the bikes I have owned in my life, appearance was rarely ever a consideration. I realize that for some riders, looks are what draws them to a machine. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy looking at finely designed machines myself. Just head down to the local MV Agusta dealer and I can drool over a Brutali all day long. But when it comes to riding…I like to ride. I want a bike to do something to my soul. I take good care of my bikes, but I’m not big on washing and waxing. I ride in the sun and I ride in the rain. Actually I think my Vstrom looks better the dirtier it gets! Sort of adds to the ambiance!

To be fair, I’ve had some good looking bikes. My current Triumph Scrambler is one fine looking machine. I get complements on it all the time and I suppose looks did play a part in its purchase. And I’ve had some Ducatis that I just wanted to go out to the garage and stare at, but those are the exceptions. I want function. I want performance. My old 1150GS was, as far as I was concerned, a very ugly bike. But I loved riding it and once I was in the saddle, all I saw was the road, so what did I care? Same for my 1000 Multistrada. Ugly…but what a bike! I liked it so well I bought a second one.

Once in a while it all comes together, such as with the Duke. It looks great and it is an awesome machine. Same for my old Street Triple: great looking machine and a fantastic performer too. But when it comes down to it, I’m going to go for performance and function every time. That’s why all my bikes end up strapped down with luggage, GPS mounts and other unattractive bits; I buy them to use them.

And that leaves me with my latest lust: the KTM Super Duke. Personally, I think it looks fantastic. If the 690 Duke is a slim, trim model, the Super Duke is a body builder. Powerful, brimming with subtle, explosive strength, just waiting to be unleashed. I’m pretty well hooked on this bike, which means sooner or later it will likely end up in my garage. Which is why I headed down to Commonwealth Motorcycles to kick tires last week. They’ve got one Super Duke left…and they offered it too me at a great price…and it is orange. I don’t mean KTM orange. I mean bright frickin’ neon orange! I just don’t know if I could live with that, day in and day out. On the other hand, once you swing a leg over, punch the starter and wring the throttle, all notions of beauty rapidly fade into the disappearing horizon. At least, that’s what I keep trying to tell myself. Beauty is only skin deep…but this orange…is pretty damn hard to ignore!IMG_2691




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