A Motorcycle Adventure with Tudor and Ducati

DSC05245I was riding the new Ducati Scrambler Icon off-road in Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean glistening in the background, the new Tudor Fastrider Chrono peeking out from under my motorcycle jacket, when it hit me—the watch and the bike fit perfectly in the California lifestyle, with their high performance and sporty style. Also, I realized I could really get used to this…

How I Got Here

When Tudor first announced its partnership with Ducati several years ago, I knew that I would one day be testing a watch and a bike together, I just didn’t know when. This year at Baselworld, when Tudor introduced the Fastrider Chrono, linking it to the ground-breaking Ducati Scrambler Icon, I knew I had my chance.

The folks at Tudor were kind enough to arrange the bike and the ride. Starting in Ojai, Calif., and riding up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to Carmel, the trip would culminate with a showing of the bike at the Tudor stand at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering, where Tudor was the main sponsor. It was to be a three-day trip, with two full days of testing both the bike and the watch. I flew from Geneva to LA, and then made the hour-and-a-half trek to Ojai, where the ride was to begin.

When I turned up at the Ojai Rancho Inn, the bright yellow Ducati Scrambler was already there, waiting for me in front of the door to my room, parked under the shade of a banyan tree. Sitting there, it spoke of great adventures to be had on the way up the California Coast. I couldn’t wait to get started.

DSC05551The Bike

Before the people from Tudor showed up, I took the Scrambler for a spin around Ojai. The bike is smallish; at 5’11” I was able to plant both feet firmly on the ground, but it was solid and had the feel of a real motorcycle, not a toy only fit for bopping around town on the weekends. The Ducati is  comfortable and inviting, highly versatile, and houses a powerful engine. All great signs for an exciting adventure ahead.

The Scrambler is produced in four variations: the base Icon (yellow), the Urban Enduro (green), the Classic (orange) and the Full Throttle (black). With designs inspired by the Ducati Scrambler from the ’60s and ’70s, the new Scramblers combine retro design with modern technology and a large dollop of fun.

The advertising campaign for the bikes focuses on the cool factor, which can be a little annoying, with lots of posing in the ads, but the bottom line is that the bike is a stunning departure for Ducati—a motorcycle aimed at bringing biking back to its roots.

The Scrambler has a 803cc SOHC L-twin, air-cooled engine churning out 75 horsepower with plenty of down low torque—and its top end isn’t shabby either. The bike is deft on twisty roads, capable on fire lanes, grass and dirt, and it just puts a smile on your face when you climb aboard.

The Watch
DSC05577 copy

The Fastrider Chrono is a rugged sports watch supremely well-suited for adventures on the Ducati. Available in colors inspired by Ducati and the Scrambler (yellow, red and green), it was a great companion to the bike. The rattle, rumble and shaking of a motorcycle, especially off-road, can be really trying for a mechanical watch, so it’s important that the watch be durable and resistant to shocks. The Fastrider Chrono proved to be up to the challenge, and it looked as good under my motorcycle jacket as it did on my wrist at the luxurious dinners we had on the trip.

At 42mm, the Fastrider Chrono makes a statement, but a subtle one. The timepiece is definitely eye-catching, with its colored dials and white subdials, and it was a great conversation starter everywhere we went. It is powered by the ETA 7753 chronograph, and the case is stainless with a ceramic bezel (complete with tachymeter scale, which is perfect for speed calculations).

Everyone needs to have a chronograph in their collection, and the new Tudor Fastrider Chrono could be the perfect watch for you.

JP__0792_2The PCH—It All Comes Together

From Ojai, really the only way to get to the coastal curves of the PCH is to take the freeway, and that is not an ideal place for the Scrambler. Without a windshield, the wind kept trying to rip the helmet off my head. The chase car, which was holding all of my luggage and the photographer, John Pangilinan, became the lead car and due to the blasts of wind I had trouble keeping it in sight. 55 to 60 mph on the highway was manageable with my head tucked down, but 70 was out of the question. By the time we finally pulled off the freeway onto the twisty bits of the PCH, I had had about enough.

But then I started down the coastal road, with its snaking, climbing, turning tarmac, and the sun came out, literally and figuratively. On this legendary road, the Ducati really came into its own. Perfect for carving corners and blasting up straights, the Scrambler and I quickly left the chase car behind and I was hooting for joy inside my helmet.

We stopped several places to take pictures, to ogle at the sea lions lying on the coast and to fill up with gas and get a well-deserved drink, but as the night’s accommodations got closer, I could have continued for another 200 miles. I was in heaven—a great road, beautiful weather, incredible vistas and an amazing bike to explore every bit of it.

The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur came way too early, and as I rode up the windy road to its entrance, I promised the Scrambler we’d be out early the next day, exploring more of the countryside and going off-road a little bit.

After a phenomenal dinner at the Post Ranch Inn, a morning run through the trails on this spectacular property (including a dip in the eternity hot tub overlooking the Pacific Ocean), and a fantastic outdoor breakfast, we were back on the road, this time heading for Carmel and the Quail Motorcycle Gathering.

When we were checking out of the Post Ranch Inn, a very recognizable movie star was in the lobby at the same time, but the Ducati Scrambler outside was getting all the attention, and I think he was a bit miffed.

All the employees of the Post Ranch Inn came outside to look at the Scrambler, asking to sit on it, listening to my tales of adventure on the Pacific Coast Highway. I asked one of them if there was someplace we could take the Scrambler off-road. He pointed us to a 12-mile cut-through road that would be perfect for the Ducati. We headed onto the dirt and gravel cut-through a few miles down the highway from the Inn.

JP__0900_AWhen I turned onto this path, the Ducati made even more sense. This was serious off-roading, and the Ducati performed impeccably. It had plenty of torque to launch up the steepest of upgrades, it held its line through corners no matter the surface, and it was light enough to flick back and forth and go just about anywhere. I enjoyed every minute of the 12 miles of dirt road, so much so that I wanted to go back and ride it again. Unfortunately, as the Ducati was headlining the motorcycle gathering at Carmel’s Quail Lodge, we had to keep moving.

The Quail

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, held every year at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, is a mecca for motorcycle enthusiasts. Where other motorcycle events limit themselves to certain time periods or motorcycle brands, the Quail is inclusive, welcoming just about any bike to display. At the Quail, it’s all about celebrating the motorcycle experience, and a judged event gives credit to the best bikes shown in a variety of categories. The result is an incredible display of the art and culture of motorcycling.

“I wanted something everyone could love,” explains Gordon McCall, director of motorsports for the Quail. “I wanted the gathering to be a complete reflection of motorcycling. Here, it’s not about what these motorcycles are worth, it’s about the history. Tudor is a perfect fit for the Quail, because there is such a tie-in with watches and motorcycles. People who love the mechanics of motorcycles also love mechanical watches, and Tudor is affiliated with one of the legendary brands of motorcycling, Ducati.”

What was really cool about the Quail is that there is so much diversity. For example, there was a military motorcycle exhibition, including the new Indian Scout Military custom, and just next door Kawasaki was showing its new ground-breaking H2. Actor Keanu Reeves was even there with his new Arch Motorcycle Company. The Scrambler in Tudor’s booth garnered a lot of attention—one guy mounted it and starting the engine without asking! Needless to say, Tudor took the key out of the Scrambler from then on.

The Quail gathering is a fixture on the West Coast motorcycle calendar, and an event I will certainly go back to in the future.

Two days on the Ducati Scrambler, wearing the new Tudor Fastrider Chrono was not even close to enough for my appetite, but I’m glad I got the experience. I was impressed with the bike and the watch, especially so by how well they complemented one another, and I can’t wait to see the next creation to come out of Tudor and Ducati’s dynamic partnership.

Keith W. Strandberg