Swellboy on… the Ducati Scrambler

Our man calculates the cost of a late-onset midlife crisis – and is thankful for a street full of trees

Image: Brijesh Patel

I wonder if one can spot the symptoms of a midlife crisis coming on, like the start of a cold or flu.

I only ask because I have been thinking about motorcycles. My track record with any form of motorised transport is not too brilliant, but anything that begins to look like a motorcycle seems to bring out my inner hospital patient. As an undergraduate, I used a variety of motorcycles and mopeds, none of them with any particular degree of success, and I was forever sliding along Oxford High Street tearing the knees of my prized Levi’s 501s and Liberto jeans – luckily, I could pass this sartorial damage off as being an important component of the hard-times look.

Later in life I tried my hand at snowmobiling and drove into a tree. Even more remarkable was my brush with quad-biking, when I also drove into a tree… not in itself perhaps extraordinary until one understands that I was driving this thing around a desert. After finding the only tree amid a sea of sand, I then tried to ride up a dune, only to use insufficient power and find that, unable to reach the summit, I started to roll down the steep face of sand, hit a rock and vault over the handlebars, landing on my back. A few months later, I had the opportunity to use a jet ski and, fearing that I would encounter a tree in the middle of the Mediterranean, I decided to give it a miss.

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However, at the Basel fair I found myself sitting on a Ducati Scrambler at the Tudor booth. I like Tudor watches and I have been following what Philippe Peverelli and Davide Cerrato have been doing over the past few years. I used to like Tudor because it was under the horological radar and the vintage models were relatively affordable. Now I like it because Messrs Peverelli and Cerrato have taken a sleeping beauty and gently roused it from sleep, rather than shaken it rudely awake. Using the classic models of the past as inspiration, they have made some cracking timepieces and I reckon that the Pelagos, their decidedly contemporary titanium diving watch, with the blue dial and bezel, will be one of the watches of summer 2015 – it is cool with a capital K and, as far as Swiss watches are concerned, given away for almost nothing.

Tudor has also tied up with Ducati and so I blame Messrs Peverelli and Cerrato for allowing me to clamber onto the Ducati Scrambler; this motorcycle is clearly aimed at middle-aged men such as myself, and I do not mean that because it has an easy step-through frame to make life easier for the older gentleman (it does not), but rather that it is styled to look like the motorcycles that we might have wanted when we were growing up.

Of course, my friend and colleague Simon de Burton is better placed to comment on the mechanical and engineering aspects of the Ducati Scrambler. However, I can tell you that I would like mine in canary yellow with the matching Tudor Fastrider Chrono and perhaps a tattoo.

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Those are the symptoms upon which I base my diagnosis of late-onset midlife crisis; the only problem is that while you can try and blast a cold with Beechams Powders, echinacea and Lemsip, treatment for the midlife crisis is rather more expensive. I will need to take my motorcycle driving test, buy a motorcycle, a watch and a tattoo. However, at least I will be unable to injure myself or my trousers too badly. Given that I live on a street full of trees, the closest of which is a metre from my garden gate, I will hardly have had a chance to get up any speed before I acquaint myself with my first tree trunk. As George Orwell might have described my relationship with motor vehicles: two wheels lethal, four wheels marginally less dangerous.

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