WHEN DID YOU START RIDING?
Technically, my first ride was when I was around 13. I used to convert lawnmowers into mini-bikes while growing up in Miami.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST BIKE?
Before I started our design firm, Segura Inc. here in Chicago, I was an art director in Pittsburgh. I moved there to work for Ketchum Advertising and it was there that I got the bug to ride (again).
Looking back, my first bike was a bit weak – it was a Honda Rebel 250. I had never ridden a "real bike" and had just sold my car, so I had no transportation. At that time, funds were tight, so I went with a bike.
I made a few calls to locate a Honda dealer (before the internet) and found one a few miles away from my home. I took a bus there, walked in and fell in love with this Harley-looking copy of a bike which to me looked big. I spoke with the owner of this little mom & pop shop of a dealer and asked him if he wouldn't mind taking the time to teach me to ride in his parking lot – and if he did, I'd buy the bike. He thought it was fantastic idea and we made the deal.
After a few hours, I was set and took off. Not a mile down the road, I almost got whacked by a car that didn't see me which almost threw me over a mountain side (I was able to come to a stop just before this potentially tragic end).
It took me a few more weeks to get my confidence up to get on that bike, but soon, I was going everywhere on the new Rebel.
Eventually, I moved back to Chicago, rode it for a few more years and bought a real Harley Davidson (Softail), and put the Rebel in my loft's living room. A year later I sold it.
TELL ME ABOUT THE BIKES YOU’VE OWNED
I've had quite a few, starting with the (previously mentioned) Honda Rebel.
The next bike was a 1992 Kawasaki Ninja 750. Man, was this thing fun! I cannot begin to tell you all the places I went to and all the things I did on this bike. Additionally, It was the bike I rode with my wife the most, so it has extra memories on that point.
It was red and white, sounded fantastic, and had a great little mean streak. Very comfortable and not too difficult to handle.
At the time, I lived on Lake Shore Drive and Ohio Street, in an old, converted loft. I used to park the bike in the bottom floor of the parking lot, just below the up ramp. I always put at least five locks on the thing, but that didn't stop someone from rigging the garage door, coming in, (with what I suspect was a truck) and throwing it in the back and riding off with it. I suspected this because he was able to remove every lock I had on the bike, except the front disc lock. Since he couldn't remove it, once he got back to his place, I imagine he simply removed the entire front disc system and took it for a joy ride – without any brakes in the front.
I know this because about two weeks later, I got a call from the police at 4am to tell me that my bike had been found. The guy had crashed my bike into the retaining wall on Lake Shore Drive and North Avenue and in the process, killed himself. He was only wearing shorts, nothing else. No shoes, shirt, helmet or gloves. Nothing. And, no front brakes!
To replace this bike, I got a 1994 Suzuki GSX-R 1100. Jesus God, this thing was bad-ass! At the time, it was the fastest production bike on the market. You really had to be careful with this thing. In truth, it was way too much bike for me. As one of my friends put it, I looked like a bug on a skateboard on this thing.
This was followed by the 1994 Harley Davidson Softail. I had always wanted this bike and during this time there was such demand for it, there was a two-year wait. I put my name on the waiting list and everywhere I looked, it seemed like there was one taunting me.
In desperation, and purely on a whim, I passed a 7-Eleven on Racine and Belmont one day and decided to pick up a Cycle Trader. Something I had never done before. The very first page I opened, there was a listing for this bike. It was unbelievable. The right bike, the right color, the right model, and it was even new. It had 150 miles on it with the factory wrapping. It had been purchased by a hotel owner in a town about 60 miles west of St. Louis, but was so busy, he simply never rode it.
I called him, made a deal, flew to the shop, and rode it back. It took me all day. I'd never ridden such a big bike and it rained all the way to back to Chicago. On the way, I stopped at a bike dealer to buy some rain gear and instantly burned a hole on the leg after leaning on the hot pipes.
Next, I got a 2000 Ducati 748 Mono and then the 2001 Ducati 748s Mono (more on this later).
I also had a 1999 Ducati Monster Cromo 900. I pulled my first wheelies on this thing. It was another beautiful Ducati.
And my last Ducati was the limited edition 2000 Ducati MH900e –Art on wheels. Really! This bike was only available for purchase at midnight, at the turn of the century, via the Ducati website.
What an amazing piece of work this was. Another momentary lapse of judgment on my part for selling this.
Riding it was fun but limited. It only had a 2.2 gallon tank, so I’d have to stop every 60 miles or so to fill it up. It also sat a bit too high for me, but again, a great bike.
While I had all of these "real bikes," I also got into classic scooters and had a few like the 1952 Rap, 1967 Honda Dream 170, 1955 Lambretta 150si and a 1974 Vespa 150 Piaggio.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
Visually, it was my 2000 Ducati MH900e...but I'd have to say that my 2001 Ducati 748s was absolutely perfect. It was designed just for me.
My beloved 748s…I have no idea what came over me that led me to sell that bike, other than to admit that I am a complete idiot! But I did.
I just loved that bike so much.
A stockbroker came to look at it, fell in love with it and asked me to hold it for a day while he went to go get a loan. He came back a few days later, made the deal, and he rode off. A few days later he came to ask me if I’d sell the matching Suomi helmet and Dainese jacket I had, so I did.
The following week, he calls again, this time with a crack in his voice. He asks me if I can give him any history, pictures or other information about the bike. I said of course, but wondered why. He then told me that he had gone to the Water Tower on Michigan Avenue in Chicago to go shopping and parked the bike in the lot of the building. When he returned, it was gone and he never saw that bike again.
I think I actually cried when he told me this.
A RIDE TO REMEMBER (OR FORGET)
The 2000 Ducati 748 Mono was my first Ducati and the beginning of a love affair with this brand. Honestly, If you haven't owned a Ducati, you haven't ridden to the fullest. Even the color was perfect (in my view, at the time, all 748s should be yellow and all 996s should be red).
I had this bike tricked out to the max with every possible upgrade. I had to wait over three months for some of the parts to come in.
Two weeks after it was all finished, we went for an all day ride in Wisconsin and during our return trip, I crashed.
I had had a bad feeling all day. It started very early in the morning and I was underdressed for this very cold day. We even had to stop at a friends house in the burbs so I could borrow a sweat shirt. He only had a "large," and me being a "small," it was not good.
The two guys I was riding with were pushing it to the extreme all day. I honestly thought they were going to go down at any given moment.
At around 4pm, we stopped at an outdoor restaurant right by the Fox River and had lunch. Pretty tired from riding practically non-stop, we sat there for about two hours before we finally got on our way again.
As we were about to get on the highway to head back home, out of the corner of our eyes, we saw this beautiful, hilly, curvaceous road and we all looked at each other... "One more time?" This is where I made my mistake.
The curves were non-stop left, right, left, right, until the last one, which was a left, going up-hill. Someone had removed the "left" turn sign at the top of the hill and by the time I realized there was a turn to be had, I was simply going too fast. I hit a patch of dirt on the side of the road and slid into a drainage ditch, then on to someone's farmland. The bike slid into an enormous rock and burst into pieces. I was fortunate to be able to kick myself off the bike which was on top of me, right before the bike struck the rock.
I was wearing Dianese gloves with carbon fibre knuckle protectors, Vanson Jacket and an AGV helmet – the only reason why I am still here today.
My insurance company actually bought my helmet which had countless embedded stones on the right side for their gallery of helmets that saved people's lives.
While I was lying on the ground, a farmer drove by on his tractor, saw me laying there and actually continued on, as he waved his finger in disgust. That blew me away. Eventually, the other two guys I was riding with came back and got me to the hospital.
I had a few broken bones; collarbone, ribs, and my body was completely covered in all kinds of colorful bruises.
I did not start to feel any pain until the doctor told me my status, then it hurt like hell. It took me over 8 months to recover.
That was my first crash and it got me thinking about if I should stop riding. In some ways, I am glad it happened because I was fearless prior to this. The bad part is that I had become fearful. It took me a while but I just could not get my love for this bike out of my system, so I got another better bike – a 2001 Ducati 748s Mono – a better, more stunning machine.
WHY DO WE RIDE?
There is nothing that can match the feeling on a bike. Especially when there are bright blue skies above you with just a hint of a few fluffy clouds. The birds are all singing and the wind revolves around your body as you cut through it with your machine. You can smell nature as it passes you by. It gets you in a good mood.
I've never been one to put on headphones and listen to music while I ride (it seems a bit dangerous to me), but to hear what is around you, not to mention the sound of the Termignoni pipes under you, is just unbeatable.
Carlos Segura is the founder of the Chicago-based design firm Segura Inc., among other ventures such as T26 Digital Type Foundry and 5inch. He is also the creative mind behind several car and other assorted vehicle related blogs such as Cartype, Trucktype, Biketype and Mototype.
Carlos came to the United States from Cuba at the age of nine and found himself in the creative world of advertising and graphic design. Since forming his own design firm, Carlos has been recognized by just about every design publication and organization in the world including being named by Taschen Publishers as one of the 21st Century’s 100 Best Graphic Designers in the world.