maaate! Went and took a couple of bikes for a run on saturday, looking for a dual sport - actually I was just kicking tyres, while a mate of mine tested something he wanted, but i've been surprised by some things before and bought them every though I wasn't expecting to. Anyway, grab your keys... The ulysses (buell XB12S) vibrated even more than the harley i took for a run in newcastle. Was a nice bike let down by the engine. From cold, the fuel injection kept stumbling heaps worse than my car does to the point where I was afraid to enter an intersection with less than a hundred metres free everywhere! Got a little better as it warmed up, but still hunted and surged all over the place. The cooling fan ran continuously for the last half hour of the ride, even though we were doing 60 and 70km/h most of the time. Noisy fooker it is too. The mirrors were surprisingly clear, what with the rest of the commotion going on, but the instruments kept reflecting sun glare from a huge range of angles. Wind protection I though was quite reasonable, but I may have been distracted by the need to keep checking that all of your teeth were still with you. Brakes were great, although it dives terribly, even under light braking. I thought I might have been spoiled by the GS, but the next bike I tried was heaps better and it had the same or more travel and the same conventional forks. Clutch was very interesting. Nice and light, and you let it out until it bites and off you go. When you are rolling you think "i'll let it go now", so you do and it grabs more - and you do the same thing from that point and it grabs more AGAIN. Really hard to get used to - must have had a range of engagement that would be 3/4's of my hand span. Kind of felt how I think a drag clutch behaves. The sweep rider I was with got me lost, partly due to the fact that I wasn't willing to bust a long orange right turn light covered in bright green radiator coolant with a surging bike with 90kms and brand new tyres, so we returned a little earlier than planned. This was no bad thing though, and in the time I was waiting for Gaz to turn up, I booked a ride on a Ducati multistrada (1000DS). This thing was a dream - really smooth (although the bloke who got off the S2R before said they vibed like nothing on earth - sucker!) and made a little of that booming twin sound that ducks seem to make - certainly better than the strangled buell. Clutch was very heavy compared to the buell though, and while everyone warned me of how hard the dry clutch was to get used to, it was just as much of a doddle to use as the GS. Much heavier than the GS I might add, but just as nice and easy to use. Really light steering, feels very light and flicks around nice on the road. The chap on the harley behind me told me after the ride that I looked like I was having a ball! Good instruments and I took one with the hard panniers as well - looked good and didn't make the bike that much wider and unlike the 41's I had on the bird, they don't obstruct the view in the mirrors or feel like you just added a fat granny to the back seat. Went like buggery too, spins very readily but the small fuel tank would make me take the panniers most of the time so i'd have somewhere to put the jerry cans. Engine was a curious beast: like most twins, it doesn't like much throttle from rev's below a few grand. This one though is very unhappy below 4500rpm. Keep it above that, and things are smooth, good power reserve for roll ons and everything is just peachy. Get the speed down and pick your way over a few gutters in the maccas car park while noone is watching and it starts to buck and behave like a spoilt or petulant child. Gearbox was nice and slick to use once on the move, but even with nearly 6000km on the clock of a demonstrator, I had to work hard to get neutral from a standstill, although it was easy to get if you found it on the way to a stop. Getting going again though was something else - I kept thinking my left foot must be pressing against the frame of the bike and I had missed the gear lever - nope, just requires a titan shove to get it into first gear. The wide bars with hand guards were well spaced and good height, although not really great for a standing ride position as you have in the dirt. Felt weird too - the angle wasn't as far back as I like them - kind of like those old cafe racers you see, with the bars bent down toward the ground so when you ride you feel like you're holding the legs of an A frame rather than handlebars. The multi was kind of like that, except the bars didn't come back toward you enough at the end, so you felt like you were holding onto a chinese designed bicycle where they didn't quite get the "scale it up for the big people" thing quite right. That said, I could live with it quite easily if someone else looked after it. Servicing cost is practically double that for the GS, with a major service being $800 and a minor being $400. And that's without an ABS system to bleed! (not offered on this model). Would be a great almost all road and a tiny bit of gravel bike (especially on the supersport tyres and 17" front wheel) but very comfortable, nice instruments and good seat. Final joy was taking an hour and a half to get back into the city from homebush - ggrrrr, paramatta road just won't lay down and die!