Duc smokes it on the tar

Strad­dle the new Mul­tistrada for thrills, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorbikes -

LIFE is a com­pro­mise. And any bike that pur­ports to be four in one will also be a com­pro­mise. But the Du­cati Mul­tistrada 1200, with its four car-like elec­tronic wizardry modes, is per­haps the best com­pro­mise bike yet pro­duced.

The new Mul­tistrada is al­ready the top-sell­ing Du­cati, out­strip­ping the 1198 su­per­bike. It fea­tures a re­tuned ver­sion of the su­per­bike’s high­revving Tes­tas­tretta en­gine (110kW in­stead of 138kW) and weighs 217kg, so its sports­bike cre­den­tials are guar­an­teed in ‘‘Sports’’ mode.

The Multi runs cool on the rider with a low-slung ex­haust and is nar­row and up­right, so in ‘‘Ur­ban’’ mode with 75kW and smoother power de­liv­ery, it’s a great com­muter.

With tidy lug­gage, com­fort­able seats and re­laxed rid­ing po­si­tion it goes the dis­tance in ‘‘Tour­ing’’ mode.

But with that 17-inch front wheel, limited dirt-tyre choices and low clear­ance, it seems limited as an ad­ven­ture bike.

The hand guards are made of flimsy plas­tic, don’t at­tach to the end of the bars, don’t pro­tect the levers and in- clude the blink­ers. They look nice, but ex­pen­sive to re­place if dam­aged.

Apart from its phys­i­cal at­tributes, the key to its ver­sa­til­ity is elec­tronic wizardry: key­less start, trac­tion con­trol, elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion, ABS, se­lectable en­gine map­ping modes and fly-by-wire throt­tle.

Its clos­est com­pe­ti­tion is the BMWR 1200 GS and these prices line up closely with sim­i­larly-equipped Beemers. How­ever, the Du­cati has more power and adds a slip­per clutch, more dis­creet lug­gage fix­ing, slightly more on-board com­puter in­for­ma­tion, key­less start, elec­tronic steer­ing lock and more on-the-fly sus­pen­sion ad­just­ment.

With wide bars and a 17-inch front wheel, it steers quickly and is bril­liant on twisty tar, but on the dirt, the front pushes, so you have to steer with the power through the rear wheel.

The stan­dard sus­pen­sion is sur­pris­ingly good, but the Oh­lins on up­per-- spec mod­els is bril­liant, es­pe­cially the forks which eat up sharp hits.

At a claimed fuel econ­omy of 5 litres/100km at 120km/h, it tech­ni­cally has 400km of range from the 20-litre tank, how­ever on the launch it was more like 6 litres/100km.

The BMW GS is much bet­ter of­froad and more com­fort­able as a tourer with its shaft drive and lazy boxer en­gine.

But the Duc smokes it on the tar.

Ver­sa­tile: four elec­tronic modes make Du­cati’s new Mul­tistrada 1200 most things for most rid­ers.

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