Everyone has a favorite road for sightseeing, to go for a drive or in my case to go for a ride. I created a 200 mile loop for when I don’t have a specific destination for a ride. The loop is the destination itself. It starts at my house and soon I’m on nice country roads with very few cars and nice views. Then some mountains on the coast range until I hit the Pacific. Then it goes for several miles of Hwy 101 with nice ocean views with a few options of good places for lunch along the way. Then back through some more of the coast range mountains and more country roads before heading back home.
Perfect for a relaxing and fun day ride. It offers variants as well. Except for the basic route, I don’t think I’ve done two trips that looked exactly the same. This time, though, I went for the basic route. It was, after all, the first time I did the loop this year.
The ride I report here took place Saturday, May 12th, about a week ago. The day before, May 11th, I had taken this bike to its first ride. Now it was time to go deeper. I started at about 10 in the morning. This Saturday was one of those typical days of Spring, when everything aligns perfectly well in terms of weather. It is bright sunny, and the temperature is on that magic not-cold-but-not-too-hot zone.
Even before I bought it, I had been thinking about trying this bike on this loop, that I call my loop, for quite some time. You know, different bikes make you like different parts of a same route differently. As a matter of fact, it might make you see a set of curves for the first time while making you miss landscapes for the first time. I started on the usual counter-clock direction by going north on Territorial Rd. towards the back roads that lead to Philomath. From there, there are several options. I took the easiest, as the bike is still on the 600 mile break-in period. Soon I was on 101.
This is the first time the Streetfighter saw the Pacific (at least when outside of its box). And the temperature continued to be ideal. In the summer, it is always cooler by the Ocean than in the Willamette valley. In the winter is the other way around. Today it was showing we are getting closer to the summer, it was cooler by the ocean.
On the Ducati Streetfighter forums and boards I’ve read posts of people complaining about “surging” at the 4,000 rpm level on the 848 SF. On the first 250 miles my bike was plagued by the same surge. Someone had mentioned that turning the DTC off had solved this problem on his bike. Others are going the usual “full termi” route to solve this common problem. I consider it an absurd for someone to have to pay $2,000 to have a bike work as it should have worked from factory.
Many bikes of other brands, and which have fuel injection, have had similar problems. Welcome to the result of finding a way to make a bike perform and, at the same time, reduce fuel emissions or pass fuel emissions tests. This surge problem, which is basically an engine hesitation, is usually attributed to bikes whose motors are running very lean fuel to air mixtures. Of course, this problem can be compounded by other factors as well. But usually it is the result of fueling programming that needs to be adjusted for real life settings. The people who buy into the “full termi” are actually solving the problem not by what the new exhaust brings in terms of freer flow of ehaust, but via the modified fuel map, the so called ECU kit, that comes with the Termignoni exhaust.
As I was riding and experiencing this issue, I was thinking about everything I had read on this subject. I remembered coming across the post of a person who turned DTC off on his 848 SF and claimed it worked for him. I had been riding the bike on DTC Level 8, the default setting. I had noticed the red DTC lights on the dash, the ones indicating the traction control had engaged, would come on very often. The tires were new, so they are supposed to be a bit on the slippery side. I would see the red dashboard lights on almost every slow corner on which, off the apex, I got on the throttle with slightly more twisting of the throttle than my normal exit. Obviously Level 8 is very intrusive. So perhaps DTC could be behind the surge or hesitation problem. So I stopped the bike and turned the DTC to OFF. As I started riding again, I did not perceive any changes to engine performance, the bike performed as usual with the hesitation there, still especially notable at 4,000 rpm. So I stopped gain and turned the DTC back on, but this time I took it down to Level 7 (level 8 is the maximum, most intrusive level, the default setting from factory). No changes either, except that DTC would engage, but a lot less than at level 8 for how I was riding.
At some point after having turned DTC off and changed to Level 7, I turned the engine off for about an hour when I had lunch. When I left the restaurant, I realized the hesitation was gone! I don’t know if it was taking it down to Level 7, or if it was that I had turned DTC off and than back on and then had the bike re-set its computer when I turned it off at lunch time. Could have been something else as well.
What matters is that the clear hesitation is gone! Not even at the 4,000rpm level I notice anything. Brilliant. By the way, although some people say the “surge” happens at 4,000rpm, at least on my bike it happened all over the RPM spectrum that I could use (limited to 6,000 rpm). It just was more noticeable at 4,000 rpm when you are riding at a steady speed, especially when on 3rd or 4th gears.
Back to the story, by the time I was passing through Yachats I was really hungry, so I decided to stop for a burger. After lunch, a little photo shoot session by the ocean. This bike is such a hot model.
There is no wrong angle.
It even makes me look good.
Well, not really.
Hey, what’s that small thing on the side of the tank?
A lady-bug, a good luck charm. I found one of these on the tank of my Triumph once as well. This is quite a friendly looking little bug.
Time to lift camp and head back to the fort. If you don’t know Hwy 101, take a look at the video of this stretch of road. This is just a small sample and not the best at it. The Oregon coast is phenomenal. But I should not advertise that.
I stopped by the Mapleton gas station to fill it up with non-ethanol gas.
The fuel light had come on at about 129 miles on the clock. I took it really easy to make it to this gas station. I filled the tank at 155.7 clicks with 3.798 gallons. It makes for 41 mpg. Not bad at all.
And soon we were home. Mission accomplished. 218 miles completed, making a total of 338 miles, 262 miles to go for the first service and completion of the first step of the break-in period.
I had a work trip coming up. So it was good to arrive early, as it was time to rest and get things ready for my trip to American Samoa the following morning, starting at 5:30 am.
But before I end the story, here are some impressions of that ride. This bike made me see parts of this route I’ve ridden so many times but had missed or not paid attention to before. It made me understand the expression “to carve a corner”. Of course, I’m not talking here about race performance. I’m an average rider and I’m not taking this bike to above 6,000rpm, and I’m riding on public roads. But whenever the conditions were perfect and I pushed it to its 6,000 rpm on slower corners, she responded with more than what I had asked from it. I haven’t felt this good about my riding ability on the road. The merit belongs to the clever team who made the modifications to this bike to make it perfect for the average rider like me. But I’m sure it is not going to feel tame for the aggressive rider who wants to push it to its limit. After all, it has 132 hp, it has plenty of room for aggressive riding. I don’t have the skill nor the interest to make use of all of it.
This bike is growing on me. It is a Ducati, it looks great almost by default; every detail of its design makes sense and it is surprisingly balanced considering its nonconforming looks. But when you turn its motor on and you hear that rumble and then slowly get it going, there is that sensation of something that is rough on the edges, unfinished. It feels more like a Formula 1 race car of the 60’s than a high revving F-1 engine of today. It won’t scream at you like sport bikes with an inline four do. It will pulsate like a heart at its peak performance. It is a more organic feel.