And now for something different... what's it like to live with a rare, modern classic Italian superbike in South Africa?
The Italians know a thing or two about styling. Some of the greatest automotive designs flowed out of the pencils of Italian designers during the 20th century. Thankfully this is still the case, particularly when it comes to superbikes.
However, in terms of engineering, too, the limited edition Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera was the pinnacle of a long history of twin-cylinder superbikes. The technical and engineering details are tantalising. For example, carbon-fibre have been used to manufacture the frame, swingarm, subframe and wheels. After all, "superlegerra" in Italian means super light, which this motorcycle is indeed at a wet weight of only 167 kg. It is a true masterpiece… and thankfully not parked by its current owner.
This example (number 142 of 500)
“I actually didn’t have my eye at all on this bike. It came up on a Facebook ad. I have a bunch of Ducatis, both older and newer models. I have a 996, 999 and I had a 1098 Streetfighter. I also own the new Ducati V4 which I use for track days. I found that I preferred the character of the twin-engined models. They are a little bit more violent, torquey and full of character compared to the new V4 engines. The latter is very powerful and very fast, but also very smooth.
“I’ve never owned the 1299 and the Superleggera was the penultimate of these twins. When it came up for sale I realised that it was is a bit of a once in a lifetime opportunity – so I bought it. It has 6 000 km on the clock, which is quite a lot, seeing as most of these bikes end up as display items. It has been used and I can continue enjoying it without feeling bad.
“It is just a completely different bike compared to the newer V4. It represents the end of an era. The new bikes will always be faster and better. It happened with sports cars around 10 years ago when they were still very mechanical, put also very powerful – and then all of a sudden everything went digital. There is a none of the animal spirit in these new machines.
“I’ve only done about 500 km with the bike so far since acquiring it. All of this mileage have been on the road, but I’ll be honest, I’m dying to take it on the track. It is about 30 kg lighter than the new V4, and you can feel it on the road, so on the track it will really be a lot of fun.
“As the bike is still so new, the standard service includes changing the fluids and filters. That is all it has needed up to now. Every few years it needs a bigger service which include timing and valve adjustments.”
The bike is also stored with a trickle charger to keep the battery it optimum condition. “My plan is to ride and enjoy it!”
What should potential buyers look out for?
“I’ve been told that seven were imported into South Africa, but I’ve never seen proof of this number. I’m pretty sure it is not more than 10. You take a bit of a chance if you buy something this special. You can’t really ask the owner if you can ride their Superleggera, so I looked at it and started it. I could see there weren't any obvious issues. You do take a leap of faith and yes, I have been burned once or twice, but that is part of the game.”
Some collectors would pull up their noses for this high mileage. But for other collectors it indicates the bike has been used and looked after, elements some new owners would like to continue doing.
Special thanks to Crossley & Webb for making this article possible.