Duc smokes it on the tar
Straddle the new Multistrada for thrills, writes Mark Hinchliffe
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.