Hunter S. Thompson reviews the Ducati 900SS

Hunter's story 'Song of the Sausage Creature' of his time with a Ducati 900SS

Posted: 30 July 2010
by Hunter S. Thompson

Article first published in Cycle World Magazine

There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, hunch-back, warp-speed 900cc cafe racer is one of them - but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one. That is why they are dangerous.

Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack - and even there, they will scare the whimpering shit out of you... There is, after all, not a pig's eye worth of difference between going head-on into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.

When Cycle World called me to ask if I would road-test the new Harley Road King, I got uppity and said I'd rather have a Ducati superbike. It seemed like a chic decision at the time, and my friends on the superbike circuit got very excited. "Hot damn," they said. "We will take it to the track and blow the bastards away."

"Balls," I said. "Never mind the track. The track is for punks. We are Road People. We are Cafe Racers."

The Cafe Racer is a different breed, and we have our own situations. Pure speed in sixth gear on a 5000-foot straightaway is one thing, but pure speed in third gear on a gravel-strewn downhill ess-turn is quite another.

But we like it. A thoroughbred Cafe Racer will ride all night through a fog storm in freeway traffic to put himself into what somebody told him was the ugliest and tightest decreasing-radius turn since Genghis Khan invented the corkscrew.

Cafe Racing is mainly a matter of taste. It is an atavistic mentality, a peculiar mix of low style, high speed, pure dumbness, and overweening commitment to the Cafe Life and all its dangerous pleasures... I am a Cafe Racer myself, on some days - and it is one of my finest addictions.

I am not without scars on my brain and my body, but I can live with them. I still feel a shudder in my spine every time I see a picture of a Vincent Black Shadow, or when I walk into a public restroom and hear crippled men whispering about the terrifying Kawasaki Triple... I have visions of compound femur-fractures and large black men in white hospital suits holding me down on a gurney while a nurse called "Bess" sews the flaps of my scalp together with a stitching drill.

Ho, ho. Thank God for these flashbacks. The brain is such a wonderful instrument (until God sinks his teeth into it). Some people hear Tiny Tim singing when they go under, and some others hear the song of the Sausage Creature.

When the Ducati turned up in my driveway, nobody knew what to do with it. I was in New York, covering a polo tournament, and people had threatened my life. My lawyer said I should give myself up and enroll in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Other people said it had something to do with the polo crowd.

The motorcycle business was the last straw. It had to be the work of my enemies, or people who wanted to hurt me. It was the vilest kind of bait, and they knew I would go for it.

Of course. You want to cripple the bastard? Send him a 130-mph cafe-racer. And include some license plates, he'll think it's a streetbike. He's queer for anything fast.

Click here to read Hunter S. Thompson's final page of his Ducati 900SS review

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Discuss this story


Just brilliant....

RIP Hunter S. 

Posted: 30/07/2010 at 16:34

Twaddle, but entertaining twaddle none the less.

Think I might borrow this for a forum sig. 

"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba...."

Sausage Creature??? 

Posted: 03/08/2010 at 17:58

what a load of crap. If your going to review a great bike, do it well ot not at all.What i have just read is rubbish nothing more. ?It barely made sense. Sausage cresture! wtf.

Posted: 16/12/2011 at 22:19

Dear Kev

Im sorry that you had to read a review so uninformative. Nothing can give you back the precious minutes that you wasted frustrating your parochial mind to the point you felt it necessary to add your incoherent two cents. Which, at best contributes absolutely nothing to the internet, and at worst misleads onlooker's opinions of the writer in question. Maybe this time would have been better spent masturbating over brake callipers whilst listening to Papa Roach. In future please try not let this get to you. I can even offer you relief from making the same mistake twice by suggesting you restrict your motorcycle review reading from now on to journalists such as Tiff Needell. Im sure that you could relate well to his ability to list a vehicle's many mechanical components and describe, using many one syllable adjectives, how much grip the tyres have through an apex. However I do ask in return that you try to consider, for everyones sake, this a piece of writing that transcends facts and explores creative writing and soulful truths. To wrap up, and to make sure that you recognise your crime, I will let you know that what you have managed to do is simultaneously cheapen everyones reading experience and insult one of the greatest writer/ journalists of our time with your ignorant mindless typing. Congratulations. Read a book. Open your mind. Or at least keep it to yourself. Thanks Kev.

RIP Hunter S. Thompson.


Posted: 17/03/2012 at 02:54

Well said indeed Jack.
I, being an owner and regular rider of a Ducati 900SS, was honoured to have had the great man (Hunter, not Kev) give his 'two cents' about something so dear to my heart. Wonderful reading from a genius writer.

Posted: 07/05/2013 at 17:04

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