Meet reader Ted Clough, who’s got a great collection of bikes and has found a way to make his career as an airline pilot work to further his hobby of motorcycling – he rents bikes when he’s on international layovers and explores the countryside! Consider me very jealous.
What’s your motorcycling history?
I’ve been on and off bikes since about 1973 or so. As a teenager, I had posters of motorcycles taped to my walls, but with all the damage I had done to both my and my sister’s bicycles in my youth, there was no way my Mom would let me get one. Around Junior year in college I rebelled and bought a Suzuki TS185 for all of about $250, I think. I rode that thing all over every dirt road, fire trail and power line I could find in and around Sudbury, Mass. Can’t tell you how many taillights I ground off over-cooking wheelies on that thing… Took it to school and used it to get around, even in the snow of upper New York State….Sold it to a fraternity brother when I headed off to the Navy.
In flight training in the Navy in 1975, I finally had a paycheck, so I bought a Triumph Bonneville – my dream bike. I thought I was pretty cool – not quite Tom Cruise Top Gun cool, but pretty close. Rode that thing all around Southern Cal until I headed off to sea on the carrier Saratoga. When I got back, had to have another bike, so ended up with a 74 Trident – That was my daily driver for about 2 years in Florida, rain or shine.
This was pre-Gore-Tex (which I couldn’t have afforded anyway), so it got really old having to count on a bike for everyday transport, and that burned me out on bikes for a while.
So there was a break from 1982 or so to the early 90’s, while I got out of the Navy, jumped jobs a few times, moved back and forth across the country, eventually ending up in Florida, working as an airline pilot. I had a good friend who was into Italian cars – mostly Alfas, and I was seriously looking for a cool old car to work on, but then realized that cost and space limitations meant a bike would be much more reasonable. I think I heard that George Barber came to that same conclusion. Anyway, I started poking around – this was not-quite internet days, so it was all Cycle Trader and Walnecks for old vehicles. I found a running Ducati 750GT in Atlanta. I kept it in Atlanta at my sister’s for several months, to ride in the mountains, then rode it to Jacksonville, where I lived. Got involved with a bunch of vintage guys there – the ABVMC – Atlantic Beach Vintage Motorcycle Club, where we starting doing track events on off-duty Military bases down there – that got me hooked on track days. In the meantime, I stripped and restored that 750GT, and eventually got a 1993 Ducati 900SS – that classic silver-framed red Duc. Now, I could really enjoy the track days, and got to be somewhat of a regular at USDesmo events in the Southeast.
That of course led to exposure to more Italian exotica, and I later ended up with an 2004 Aprilia Tuono, which I absolutely love and still have.
I’ve had 2 Ducati ST4’s come and go, to be replaced by a 2012 Multistrada, which is an awesome, do anything bike. Also got crazy on Craigslist one weekend and found a low-mileage 2005 MV Agusta F4-1000 that had been traded in to a local Harley dealer. That was another dream bike of mine, and I snagged it for what I think was a steal. I’ve had that bike at the track, both Barber and Road Atlanta, and it still scares the crap out of me every time I ride it. I can’t even imagine what the current crop of Superbikes are like!
Over the years I have also dabbled in dirt bikes – Suzuki DRZ-250, Kawasaki KLX-400, and did a couple of trips in the Rockies with the KLX. Lately I have been distracted by old Ducati singles – restored a 1969 350 Scrambler last year and sold it – Dumbass!
It looked just like the new one they are coming out with…Oh well…
So what’s in store for you now?
Now working on a 1966 Monza that I am going to turn into a special – stay tuned…
As an airline pilot, I’m extremely fortunate to travel all over the world, and when I have time on layovers, I try to rent bikes for day trips. I’ve done that in Milan, Venice, Rome, Paris, Santiago, Chile, San Francisco, and Honolulu. Awesome perk to the job! I’m not an Iron-Butt sort of guy, but I do like week-long trips in a cool area where you are not trying to cover distance, but just see the sights. I’ve done that in Southern Spain as well as Italy and Sardinia. So cool to ride in Europe where they are used to motorcycles, respect them, and get out of your way. What a concept!
Anyway, I live north of Atlanta now. We just built a house with multiple garages AND a small shop for me. The wife got her dream kitchen and bedroom/closet, so everybody is happy, and it’s all on one level – the old guys will know what I’m talking about…It’s 2 hours to Barber, and 1 hour to Road Atlanta AND, it’s also only about 30 mins from some of the best riding roads in the world in the North Georgia mountains! Life is good….
What’s your favorite piece of gear?
Got to be my helmet. I have an XL “long oval” head, and the only helmet that fits me is the Arai Profile. [Editor’s Note: The Profile has been replaced by the Signet Q]
Luckily it’s also a great helmet. I keep my eye out for sales, and try to snag one every five years or so when I find one at a discount.
Assume for a moment that money is no object, and importation laws aren’t a problem. What’s the next bike you’d buy, and what would you do with it?
Tough one – there are so many outrageous bikes out there right now. I’m 62, so the hard-core sportbikes, while visually appealing, are just not practical. So that rules out a Bimota DB8….. I’ve been on an Italian kick for a bit, so maybe a new Aprilia Tuono V4 R.
Mega power with a reasonable riding position and all the bells and whistles – that would be fun until I lost my license…
What’s the most memorable motorcycle trip you’ve ever taken?
Definitely touring Italy. Flew into Milan, rented a Ducati ST3, spent 5 days in Tuscany, ferry to Sardinia, and 3 days there, ferry back and return to Milan.
You have $25,000 to spend on anything in the world of motorcycles – 1 new bike, several old bikes, track days, a trip, you name it. How do you spend it?
Well, one item on my bucket list is a week at the Isle of Man – 25K would be overkill, but it would make for a nice Business Class flight over to Ireland for myself and the wife, spend a week there, rent a bike and ferry to the Isle, stay a week in a decent place and enjoy the racing….The rest could go to track days. Could always use more tools – compressor setup in shop, welder, the list is endless…
Do you listen to music while riding? If not, why? If so, what are some of your favorite tunes to listen to while on the bike?
No, never have – Most of the riding I do is on curvy roads in mountains, so no time for the mind to wander. If I was riding cross-country, maybe…plus, most of my bikes make their own music… 🙂
What do you expect from the future of motorcycling, good or bad?
The continuing pace of technological development is breathtaking. Who would ever imagine multiple engine maps, adjustable ABS and traction control on a bike available to the masses? I think the public has realized that we mere mortals can never actually use 200HP, so bikes will continue to be “right-sized” to the middle-level, say 650-800cc, so they can still have plenty of power, yet be light and maneuverable enough to enjoy.