But I did that in my 30s; a brief two-wheeled relationship that fought me in every terrifying corner and barked so loudly from its straight-through pipes that I felt I should apologise at every red light. The bike screamed ‘look over here!’ and I felt self-conscious. It wasn’t for me, although with over a quarter of a million Harleys sold every year, it clearly is for a lot of people. Noise and steering aside, I understand their popularity; I too appreciate the call of feral engineering and the desire to straddle a raw, unforgiving motorcycle.
So what to buy now middle age calls?
After the Harley I had an Aprilia 1000. It entirely out-performed me, rewarding my tentative attempts at riding it fast with an experience much like an aircraft breaking up on take-off. Cheating death for a whole 12 months, I traded it for the newly launched, wonderfully solid and boringly reliable BMW R1150GS. It looked purposeful, even maybe beautiful in a Mad Max sort of way and with all that Boxer Twin weight down low, it reacted predictably to being thrown around country lanes. Press reviews were unanimous - it won accolades and awards - and in lots of way it set the tone for the many road-biased touring enduro models that followed. Seventeen years on, I still have the BMW. It was the bike that changed the way I rode; racking up over 100,000 miles, it took me to Europe, the States, Alaska, Canada and New Zealand. It’s a bit of a dog now; the cylinder heads are flaky, the spokes are rusty and the grips are bare. And all the bits that could have fallen off, did so some time ago.
So with this capable lump already in the garage, you might think there’s no need to appease my 40-something angst with another motorcycle. But I am just ‘man’. And regardless of existing ownership, I can’t possibly retaliate effectively to the challenge of middle age without buying another one, something different. Something red.
From its early 20th-century roots in aeronautics, MV Agusta began developing motorcycles in response to a decline in the civil aviation industry and in 1945 launched their first model, the ‘98’. With the development of a 125cc engine, racing success followed with Carlo Ubbiali taking 1st in 1955, going on to claim the World Championship nine times in his career. Capitalising on competition success, further road models were offered throughout the 50s and investment into racing development grew.