It's been a little quiet on the biking front lately, due to work and domestic commitments, though Janet has already got her FZ1 run in and serviced. The main event for me in the last couple of weeks was the Fowlers KTM demo day. I'd been fancying a go on the new KTM Duke 690R for some time, so when I heard it was coming to town, I booked the first ride of the day on it.

Test day dawned wet, but with the promise of brighter weather later. So we hopped in the car and drove to the dealers. The rain showed no sign of easing, but I ignored my instincts, common sense and wife, and instead rolled up at the dealers and signed in. The Duke was lined up alongside about 10 other demo bikes, and in a brief glimmer of sunshine, seemed quite appealing. This proved to be the last sunshine of the ride. We pulled out of the car park, and the skies opened. As we trickled through the traffic, the rain was trickling too - everywhere. Down inside my gloves, my neck, my ....

I was finding that the bike, a single cylinder 690, was getting pretty lairy in these conditions, and on the greasy city streets the back tyre broke away at the slightest throttle indiscretion. By the time we were on the open road, the rain was hammering down. I had long since given up on using my visor, which was running with water inside and out, and instead I pushed it up almost out of my line of sight, and used it as a peak, to try to deflect some of the needles of rain! I had also given up on any prospect of getting through the ride with any part of me dry, though looking round me at guys on RC8s, in perforated race leathers (I was wearing a textile jacket) I realised that some people had it even worse.

Nobody was pushing it in these conditions, so I had no trouble keeping up with the guys on the 1200 race reps, but I confess that I was struggling to get on with my ride. Perhaps I'm too used to smooth fours, and in fairness it would have been difficult to enjoy any bike in those conditions, but the single cyclinder delivery was hard to manage, especially at slow speeds. On the open road it was easier, though of course lacking the top end BHP rush of a big sports four.

Anyway, we made our way slowly back to Bristol, a task made even wetter by the need to sit in queues of holiday making car trippers! Eventually we got back to Fowlers, and frankly I was glad to get off the bike, back to the car and out of my wet gear.

It was one of those rides that you are much happier to look back on, and smile at your stupidity! But thanks to KTM and Fowlers, for the chance to try out one of their shiny new bikes in such truly challenging conditions.