Ducatis Run in the Family


Guy Palmiotto, 66, a retired photo technician living in Rockaway, N.J., and his son Nicholas Palmiotto, 32, a culinary professional living in Hopatcong, N.J., on their Ducatis, as told to A.J. Baime.

Guy: In May 1980, I went looking to buy a new bike. I had worked some overtime at my job. The Italian bikes at the time were hard to find, but in my opinion the design was better than what the Japanese were making. I saw this 1980 Ducati SD 900 Darmah on the floor at a dealership in Brooklyn, and I paid $3,800 for it. That was a lot of money for a motorcycle. Being of Italian descent, I couldn’t resist.

I met my wife in 1977 and we spent a lot of time on this bike. We rode all the way to Montreal, 15 hours in the rain, with her on the back. I called the bike ‘The Duke.’ When my first son Nicholas was born, I thought about selling The Duke because I thought I would be limited in funds. But I got cold feet.


A Family Affair

Guy Palmiotto and his son Nicholas share a love of Ducati motorcycles

Guy Palmiotto, right, bought his rare Ducati Darmah new in 1980. ‘Being of Italian descent,’ he says, ‘I couldn’t resist.’ His son Nicholas, left, is on his second Ducati, a 2014 899 Panigale.

Bryan Anselm for The Wall Street Journal

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Nicholas: When I was a kid, when we lived in Brooklyn, I would walk out into the garage and my father and my uncle would always be working on one of their bikes. Motorcycles were in the blood. My father wanted me to start out on something smaller, so I bought a 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250 when I turned 18. That is what I learned to ride on.

I got my first Ducati after that, a 2010 848 Evo, which was more of a superbike compared to my father’s Ducati. The bike I have now is my second Ducati—a 2014 899 Panigale. If you have ever been in a high-end sports car that will put you from zero to 60 in the low 3-second range, that is this thing on two wheels. It has 148 horsepower and the power-to-weight ratio is like a Ferrari.

Guy: I have owned my Ducati for 41 years. Nowadays, I baby it. It is hard to find parts for it. When you start it up, it is loud. It has this drum-like cadence: da-dump da-dump da-dump. If I want to go ride 100 miles, I take my

Honda.

The Ducati I ride around the neighborhood, to keep it warmed up and keep it busy. I’ll do 30 miles, get some curves and wind.

Nicholas: Compared to my father’s bike, mine is a more modern machine with more electronics, which goes against the old-school mantra. The purists love bikes with no electronics, the straight-up machines. But times change and this bike is a little safer and more reliable. It has a more aggressive riding position compared to the older style, more-upright bikes like my father’s. After 100 miles, your arms are like Jell-O and you need a break. But it gets me around.

Guy: During pre-pandemic days, we would go to bike nights here in New Jersey. You would see Hondas, Kawasakis, all the usual bikes. My son and I would show up on our Ducatis. They are always conversation pieces because you don’t see a lot of them.

This bike is in my DNA. It is likely that my son will get it when I pass on to the great motorcycle shop in the sky.

Write to A.J. Baime at myride@wsj.com

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