If you were to bump into Rauf Abdulla at a coffee shop, you would have no idea that beneath the stylish exterior beats the heart of a passionate biker. Look up the word “Ducatisti”, however, and you will probably find a picture of Rauf. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a “Ducatisti” is a Ducati enthusiast. Rauf is a civil engineer who runs a consultancy and several other businesses. “I think that I have always been a biker at heart,” Rauf says, explaining the origins of his love for biking. However, growing up in Botswana, he found it difficult to find a place to purchase a motorcycle and to find people to ride with. His family also felt that riding a motorcycle was a dangerous activity. In 1995, Rauf succumbed to his urge and purchased a Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. He kept that bike for 10 years. It was his main form of transport. He even commuted to work daily on it. Rauf was a self-taught rider. Eventually, though, he felt that he needed to improve his riding skills, so he went for training with the Michelin Superbike School and California Superbike School in South Africa. His training made him re-evaluate his love for Harleys. He came to the conclusion that although Harley Davidsons were good to look at, sounded awesome, and had great legend attached to them, they were not the safest of bikes. “They don’t turn, they don’t stop,” he says bluntly. He, therefore, decided to switch to Ducati. His first Ducati was a Monster S4RS, which he bought around 2002. As Rauf puts it, his “love affair” with Ducati has continued since then. “That was an amazing bike,” he recalls fondly. Riding on the racetrack was much more pleasant on the Monster than it had been on the Harley; thus began his love for track riding. Rauf’s current bike is a Ducati 1299 Panigale S, which he bought in 2015. “For me (the 1299 Panigale S) is the pinnacle of bike design and technology,” Rauf says. He says that it is “made for the track” and he loves the V-twin engine. He also felt a need to have it because Ducati would soon discontinue V-twin engines.
Rauf also owns a BMW R90, which is a custom café racer. He uses the R90 to ride around town. Whenever he feels that he has the spare time, he takes it out for spin – even riding with his partner, who also owns a motorcycle. At the time when he purchased the BMW, Rauf was riding exclusively on track. This year, he says, he has not had much time to ride on track because of work and family commitments. Ducati is developing a V4 superbike which Rauf plans to make his next superbike in future. His loyalty to Ducati is that strong. Being the Ducatista that he is, Rauf’s dream bike is a no-brainer. It is the big daddy of all Ducatis - the Superleggera. This is one of the most exclusive bikes that money can buy and is enough to make any biker’s mouth water. As far as Rauf is concerned, in terms of current biking technology, it doesn’t get any better than the Ducati Superleggera. He describes it as a “world superbike class motorcycle available to the public”. Rauf describes biking as a discipline and lifestyle that needs to be respected. He has always encouraged other bikers to go to the track to refine their riding skills and to learn the limitations of their bikes. In his view, it is only then that one can ride safely. As a living testament to this view, he points out that he has never had a serious motorcycle accident. He points out that a rider has to respect his or her bike, respect traffic and be visible. He also says that a rider should never think that he or she has the right of way on the road. Revealing his philosophical side, Rauf says, “There is a certain Zen and meditation to riding which you can discover on the track, and once that clicks, it’s amazing. If you get into that zone and everything is working and you are gelling with the bike, then you don’t want to get off the bike; you can ride all day”. He feels that biking is a fantastic lifestyle and that he has met good people through biking.