When David from Ducati Malaysia first approached me and asked if I am interested in joining him for a Ducati Riding Experience in Bangkok, I hesitated a long time. Why me? Why not kampungboy? Why not others?
The Ducati Riding Experience is a riding school par excellence and a reference point for those wanting to improve their riding, become a faster rider learning by the greatest champions or get on track for the first time. Of course, I fell into the latter category. David told me that, this year they want to have some “fresh” riders who have no prior experience in riding before. Well, I can cycle but riding on a Ducati bike is a complete different expericen.
So I hesitated a long time and finally said “YES”. I think it is going to be a true Ducati experience, full of excitement and fun. Imagine riding Ducati’s newest bikes in famous tracks and locations, supported by a team of professional instuctors, staff and mechanics. Not many people get to do that, and it is going to be a very rare but incredible experience while being well taken care of.
And so, during one of the weekends in April, we were being flown in to Bangkok and checked into W Hotel.
We started our day with a presentation, and meeting the Ducati Monster 797 for the very first time.
Ducati might be known as a maker of scary superbikes and powerful nakeds, but even aspirational brands need entry-level bikes. That’s where the Monster 797 steps in. Although this is the cheaper end of their range, it’s every bit as classy as their bigger bikes. I love the one-piece trellis frame, prominent round headlamp that oozes style and passion. The Monster 797 is powered by the air-cooled 803cc Desmodue twin, which puts out 75hp at 8,250rpm and 50.8lb/ft torque at 5,750 rpm.
Sporty, compact, essential but also sophisticated and contemporary, the Monster 797 is a great option for those looking for an easy, intuitive ride as well as sheer sports enjoyment.
Find out more about the Monster 797 here.
Now that we know what it looks like and how it’s supposed to works, let’s find out for ourselves how it performs. And what better place than being on the track.
The location is Motor Sports Park near Suvarnabhumi Airport and we were greeted by our group of instructors.
We all appeared to be both nervous and excited during the briefing.
We were told to put in protective gear such as helmet, knee guard, elbow guard and gloves on.
I’m all ready!!
I was being assigned to a Malaysian certified DRE Instructor, Remon. The first part of the programme is designed to slowly ease you in to two-wheeled locomotion. At first, we just sit on the bikes to get a feel for their weight and where all the controls are before pushing the ignition button.
Next, I was trying to familiarise myself with the clutch levers, gear shift levers, beams, rear brakes, ignition switch and all. It was not easy at all, as I need to repeat these combinations of hand-foot movements until they’re instinctive and precise, leaving my eyes and mind free to scan the road.
And then, it is time to “hit the road”. Once the motorcycle is moving, the momentum will keep you balance and moving. It is also important to look where you want to go, not directly in front of you.
April is Bangkok’s hottest month, so I was feeling sore, dehydrated and a little frustrated. I’ve learned how to how to turn, brake and more. However, I’m having problems putting it all together in multi-skill exercises. My lack of coordination and hesitation is causing me to fall for a few times.
However, Remon is being very patient and he never gave up on me! We spent one whole afternoon practising and finally I can do a “8” shaped track, albeit at a very low speed. I pity Remon as he was running by my side all the time. I considered that as a great achievement, because in just a few hours, I can finally ride! I felt “free” when I was able to ride on my own, and lean while I make turns. No wonder there are so many hardcore riders out there! That feeling is out of this world!
Watch the video here!
We found time to take some hero shots! I’m going to miss you so dearly, Monster 797.
Thank you so much to Ducati Malaysia for the great opportunity. I’m definitely more aware of any motorcycles riding close to me, or weaving through traffic, and I have learnt to respect them because riding a motorcycle is not easy at all.
Ducati Malaysia will be organising a similar DRE programme in the second half of year 2017, in Malaysia. I will definitely be there because this is such a fun and well-organised programme. All motorists or non motorists are welcome too, we hope to see you there!