I’ve been chatting with friends who’ve ridden the latest phenomenon, Ducati’s Panigale V4. Phrases ‘game changer’ and ‘revolutionary’ were banded around. It’s not ‘just’ the 214bhp (in standard, warranty-friendly road trim) V4 MotoGP inspired engine. Hardened racers talked of the near-perfect balance, the counter-rotating crank and one ex-Superbike racer said “It’s the only bike with electronically controlled suspension I could race.”
With all this excitement the price is almost forgotten – £24,000. Oh, that’s for the poverty-spec model – the limited edition V4 Speciale, with more power (because you need 226bhp, don’t you) and various parts made from exoticum – will cost you over £35,000.
Game changing, maybe, eye-watering; definitely.
It seems crazy, but you can easily spend that and more on a bike that was built decades ago, has no safety features whatsoever, almost no electrics, let alone electronics, and as far as warranty goes… An original Triumph X75 will cost you around the same as the Panigale V4. You could find a Vincent Rapide, though only one that – dare I say – doesn’t have matching numbers – oh the shame. A restored-to-concourse Kawasaki Z1A would allow you some change, maybe enough for a little Tiger Cub or Starfire for bombing around. Or how about a Velo KTT? Racing provenance like the Ducati and as focused, but hardly useable. At least the Panigale has a starter and lights. And a clock. Or how about an MHR900 or Jota?
You could play safe. £30,000 could buy you a nice pre-unit T120, a trials bike for winter fun and a project, with crucially the funds to finish it. Or swap the project for a touring bike, spending the time you would disappearing into the garage for seeing the sights. Or go mad and spend it all on racing…
Money is an ugly subject. The term ‘investment’ is one I personally despise when it comes to classics as it tends to come hand in hand with inflated prices beyond the realms of helium. Your Panigale V4 may hold its value for the first few months, maybe a year, while demand out-numbers supply, but depreciation is inevitable. Yet spend your money on classics and as long as you choose wisely, your money is pretty safe. But bikes are not a business decision, they’re meant to be enjoyed.
If you buy a new Ducati, you’ll love the performance whether you use it all or not, the attention it gets, the sound and the sophistication. Some could say: “You can’t use that kind of bike nowadays.” But then if you’d spent similar amounts on a classic, how often would you use that? “I’m not taking the Brough, it might rain.” Oh yes, because they melt if they get wet, don’t they.
Buy a classic and you’re buying history, character and can rest safely in the knowledge it shouldn’t depreciate. But only you know what you want from bikes. So stick with what you want – not what’s most financially sensible. Personally, I’d like a modernish mode of transport, like a used BMW GS (sorry, but they are a great donkey), a rigid single, a twin-shock mud-plugger and an old racebike. Not a big collection, but one realistic to my means and time constraints. That’s still not enough for a Panigale, but I’d be more than happy. After all, value doesn’t matter when you’re riding, only when you come to sell. Though I may put on my best leathers and ask for a test ride. Just to see what 214bhp feels like compared to my 350’s 17 pit-ponies…
In the meantime, stay warm and be good, Matt.