By B.C. Manion
When most people hear that the Ducati motorcycle company has just released a new bike and that it’s not a race bike, it probably doesn’t even register on their radar.
But for those in the know about the Italian motorcycle maker’s history, it creates quite a buzz.
Aaron Sprague, owner of Euro Cycles of Tampa Bay, thought it was such a big deal he had a party on March 25 to unveil the highly anticipated bike and about 275 people showed up to check out it.
“Traditionally, Ducati is a race bike. That’s their claim to fame,” said Sprague, who became the owner of the dealership at 8509 Gunn Highway in Odessa about two months ago.
The Diavel, which starts at $16,995, is not business as usual for the motorcycle maker.
“It puts Ducati in a market where they’ve never been before. This is the first time they’ve departed from that to something like this,” Sprague said.
Of course, the new bike wasn’t the event’s only lure.
There was also free food and a band, Sprague said, laughing.
Beyond that, Sprague himself was a key attraction, said David Picou, the dealership manager.
“A lot of people know Aaron,” Picou said. “He rode a motorcycle around the world.”
Sprague traveled around the world on his BMW Enduro, including a journey from London to Beijing, via Tibet, that he took with a UK-based expedition company, “GlobeBusters.”
Of all of the places that Sprague traveled through during his year on the road, he figures that Tajikistan and Tibet were the most interesting from a “culture shock” perspective. The best food, he said, was in Central America.
So, when Sprague talks about motorcycles, he brings more than an average rider to the conversation.
“Motorcyclists, in general, are very loyal — no matter what you ride,” Sprague said, which may explain why so many Ducati lovers were curious about the new model.
The Diavel has the same engine as a race bike, Sprague said.
“It’s the fastest thing on the market right now,” he said, noting it has 162 horsepower engine. But it also has a management system, so riders can adjust the power of the engine based on what they want the bike to do.
Ducati has been around since the 1920s. It used to make calculators, juke boxes and compressors for radios before it got into making motorcycle motors.
“They started out making little bitty motors you could put on a bicycle frame,” Picou said. That was popular during the 1940s and 1950s.
“After World War II, they got into building motors and motorcycles,” Picou added.
The company began production of its first complete motorcycle in 1949, according to Ducati’s website.
“The interesting thing about the bike is that it doesn’t fit into any of the common niches for motorcycles,” Picou said. “People like to categorize motorcycles as people sport bikes or cruisers or adventure bikes or naked bikes and this doesn’t clearly fit any of those categories,” he said.
Instead, it combines elements from the sport bike, cruiser and naked bike, he said.
The new model is pricey.
Still, it’s attracting a considerable amount of interest, Picou said.
“We sold a bunch of them already,” Sprague said. The dealership’s typical customer is over 25 years old and earns $45,000 a year and up.
Its primary market is Florida, but it also attracts some out-of-staters with its used bikes, which are selling quickly these days, in light of spiking gasoline prices, Picou said.
Many drivers want to switch over to a motorcycle because it costs far less for them to commute, said Sprague, who lives in St. Petersburg.
Euro Cycles is a full service dealership that sells, services and supplies parts for luxury, high performance Mv August, BMW, Ducati and Triumph motorcycles.
It also offers a broad selection of branded apparel, merchandise and motorcycle gear.
Anyone who takes a test ride on one of the dealership’s motorcycles is required to wear protective gear, said Sprague, who owned medical-related companies before shifting gears to buy the motorcycle dealership.
“We’re trying to change the culture to a ‘Wear your gear’ from a ‘Flip-flops, hat and T-shirt, no helmet’,” Sprague said.
The shop also encourages riders to take advanced safety courses.
“The best motorcyclists are people who are constantly varying what they are doing when they are riding and they’re constantly aware of what’s going on around them at all times.
“They are always looking at what they are riding into,” Sprague said.
They’re paying attention to the traffic patterns and what’s happening in the intersections they’re about to enter, he added. They’re making sure they are visible to other drivers and they’re not drinking and riding.
Riding under the influence is the No. 1 problem and not being seen by other drivers is the second biggest problem in Florida, Sprague said.
When riders are killed, drivers who hit them frequently report they didn’t see the motorcycle, Sprague said.
“Whether it’s not having the lights on the bike bright enough, or not wearing gear that is bright enough to be seen, or just traveling too fast for the condition that they’re riding in — there’s a million causes.
“The rider is assuming they’re being seen.”
That’s a dangerous — and possibly deadly — assumption, Sprague said.
For more information about the dealership, visit www.ridetampa.com. To learn more about the Diavel, go to www.ducati.com.
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