YEARS OF DU­CATI

AN­NIVER­SARY SPE­CIAL Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Si­mon Har­g­reaves MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

ile upon mile of damp, slip­pery fire-trail wiggles like a gi­ant, lazy worm across a warm, soggy land­scape. The last tar­mac is an hour’s ride ago. Since then we’ve been slith­er­ing over the rough sur­face, rear tyre spray­ing a moist plume of gravel and dirt into the Mediter­ranean air, 19in front glid­ing se­curely over the track. This is a mas­ter­ful dis­play of con­trol from the big V-twin, flat­ter­ing its ner­vous rider when the go­ing gets tricky with fan­tas­tic chas­sis bal­ance and wel­come elec­tronic trac­tion and brak­ing man­age­ment. But it also lets off-road ex­perts do their thing and have fun ac­cess­ing the en­gine per­for­mance.

And Du­cati’s new Mul­tistrada 1200 En­duro is just as com­pelling later in the day on the rel­a­tive safety of Sar­dinia’s grippy coastal black­top. It’s se­cure, sta­ble and slings it­self through cor­ners with an en­tirely chuck-able com­pe­tence be­ly­ing its long-travel springs. But then the En­duro is built around the stan­dard Mul­tistrada, and that’s a hell of a start­ing point be­cause it’s one of the most ver­sa­tile bikes on the road. With its flex­i­ble, vari­abl­e­valve timed mo­tor mak­ing 160bhp and spread­ing torque about like but­ter, yet with a lux­ury tech-spec that would put head of­fices in Sil­i­con Val­ley to shame, the 1200 S is both stag­ger­ingly rapid in the bends and in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able over any dis­tance.

But al­though the ex­ist­ing 1200 S has En­duro mode, it isn’t fool­ing any­one. It’s only bril­liant while it’s on a rel­a­tively solid sur­face. Un­til now.

The 1200 En­duro is Du­cati’s first ad­ven­ture bike with true off-road po­ten­tial. But as soon as you ride the En­duro, the con­cept be­comes such a blind­ingly ob­vi­ous idea that it’s amaz­ing they didn’t build it years ago.

The first thing an off-road bike needs is long-travel sus­pen­sion to cope with bumps and ruts. The 1200 S al­ready has that, but the En­duro gets 30mm longer springs for its semi-ac­tive Sachs forks and shock, and re­vised Sky­hook damp­ing soft­ware re-cal­i­brated to suit the weight and chas­sis dy­namic. Wire rims re­place cast spokes Ð heav­ier, but stronger over bumps Ð with an all-im­por­tant 19in front open­ing up

Mop­tions for bet­ter trail rubber and mak­ing steer­ing on the loose stuff less hap­haz­ard than the 17in hoop on the 1200 S. A dou­ble-sided swingarm re­places the Multi’s sin­gle-sider Ð it’s stronger for a given weight Ð and gives a longer wheel­base. Fur­ther ge­om­e­try tweaks and a damper calm the front end.

Af­ter that, the En­duro gets a se­lec­tion of prac­ti­cal dirt de­tails: flex­i­ble steel brake and gear levers in­stead of brit­tle alu­minium (a nice touch is the springloaded rev­ersible rear brake lever, to set at dif­fer­ent heights for off-road use), higher bars for a stand­ing-up rid­ing style and off-road con­trol, a longer front beak to keep mud spray down, and a nar­rower, deeper seat for bet­ter body­weight po­si­tion­ing.

Now you can con­tem­plate rid­ing a Du­cati on a round-the-world trip as eas­ily as think­ing of a BMW or a KTM etc. And to back it up, Du­cati are keen to stress they have a global net­work of 766 deal­ers and ser­vice cen­tres ready to scoop up your bat­tered En­duro and make it good again should you throw it off a cliff in the middle of nowhere.

Of course, Du­cati wouldn’t ad­mit this but the cus­tomers who elect to go on year-long ad­ven­tures are re­ally un­paid am­bas­sadors. For ev­ery Mul­tistrada En­duro out­side a ho­tel in Ba­mako, there’ll be hun­dreds out­side ho­tels in York­shire, Nor­folk, Scot­land, Wales and Corn­wall, whose own­ers have been in­spired and em­pow­ered to have their own, more mod­est ad­ven­tures.

And this is the En­duro’s real tar­get mar­ket Ð which is why it also comes with a 30-litre tank (with alu­minium knee pan­els for stand­ing-up wear and tear) for 250 miles be­tween stops; tank range is the first thing many po­ten­tial own­ers will check in the spec panel and it’s a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion on a flag­ship ad­ven­ture bike (41.5mpg av­er­age on the ride gives a the­o­ret­i­cal 270 miles).

Po­ten­tial own­ers will also be grate­ful

‘Such a blind­ingly ob­vi­ous idea it’s amaz­ing they didn’t build it years ago’

With spe­cially tuned semi-ac­tive Sachs sus­pen­sion giv­ing 200mm of wheel travel front and rear (30mm more than the 1200 S), the En­duro’s Sky­hook al­go­rithm is adapted for off-road per­for­mance. The Du­cati also adds a steer­ing damper, to keep the 19in front wheel

point­ing straight.

A re­designed off-road seat is a non-ad­justable 870mm, an inch higher than the 1200 S on its max set­ting – a lower (and taller) seat is op­tional. Bars are 50mm higher for bet­ter off-road con­trol (with repo­si­tioned mir­rors), and steel pegs are off-road style with re­mov­able rubber in­serts.

Fea­tur­ing the same ex­haus­tive list of elec­tron­ics as the 1200 S, the En­duro fea­tures Sport, Street, Ur­ban and En­duro modes for var­i­ous en­gine power, trac­tion con­trol, cor­ner­ing ABS and wheelie set­tings, plus cruise con­trol, hill hold start, Blue­tooth hands-free and multi-colour TFT

clocks

Like BMW’S R1200 GSA and KTM’S 1290 Su­per Ad­ven­ture (but not Tri­umph’s Tiger Ex­plorer), the En­duro has a 30 litre tank and a 270mile range. Brake and gear levers are made from flex­i­ble steel in­stead of brit­tle alu­minium. The foot­pegs have ser­rated treads and re­mov­able rubber

in­serts.

The En­duro uses the same 160bhp, 1198cc Tes­tas­tretta as the 1200 S: same power, same torque, same vari­able valve tim­ing, same en­gine map­ping, but with a higher ex­haust for re­ally big pud­dles. The rear sprocket has three more teeth, mak­ing the mo­tor feel

more re­spon­sive.

19in and 17in wire rims make more sense off road than the road ver­sion’s cast 17in wheels, adding strength (and weight) but al­low­ing a wider range of off-road rubber. Pirelli Scor­pion Trail IIS are stan­dard, but the more tech­ni­cal Pirelli Scor­pion Rally is an op­tion. Du­cati haven’t skimped else­where – the En­duro is no cut-down road bike. It has the same 160bhp, 1198cc 90° Tes­tas­tretta V-twin as the 1200 S – the same power, same torque, same vari­able valve tim­ing sys­tem to de­liver op­ti­mum drive from tick­over to its 9500rpm peak. They haven’t trimmed the elec­tron­ics ei­ther; the En­duro fea­tures the same in­cred­i­ble list of tech­nol­ogy as the 1200 S – four rid­ing modes that change en­gine power, throt­tle re­sponse, trac­tion con­trol, wheelie con­trol, en­gine brak­ing, cor­ner­ing ABS and semi­ac­tive sus­pen­sion all at once, at the press of a but­ton. The En­duro also gets cor­ner­ing headlights, cruise con­trol, back­lit switches, Blue­tooth mul­ti­me­dia in­te­gra­tion and, for the first time, hill hold con­trol – where the bike senses it’s on a hill and ap­plies a brake so you can hold the clutch in with­out rolling back­wards. Heated grips are still only an op­tion, but a cen­tre­stand is stan­dard.

And the key find­ing from a day of 50 miles off road and 100 on tar­mac, is Du­cati have hit the tar­get. The En­duro is no less long-dis­tance than the S, de­spite its off-road er­gonomics. The bars are high and wide, great for lev­er­ing the bike from side-to-side through bends. And the ex­tra ride qual­ity from the lanky springs re­duces road noise even more than be­fore, giv­ing the new bike a com­posed, coast­ing feel over most road sur­faces. In terms of ride dy­namic it’s closer to the ac­tive, ag­gres­sive KTM Su­per Ad­ven­ture, and more gan­gly and in­volv­ing than the mel­liflu­ous, tour­ing waft of the BMW R1200 GSA.

Du­cati have also given it one of the most pop­u­lar home-tun­ing mods, with three ex­tra teeth on the rear sprocket so it feels more feisty in ev­ery gear.

As with the road-based 1200 S, the En­duro comes in four ‘packs’: Tour­ing, Sport, Ur­ban and, er, En­duro. But the var­i­ous op­tions of mas­sive Tourat­ech pan­niers (Tour­ing), Tourat­ech top­box (Ur­ban), titanium Ter­mignoni (Sport) or even crash­bars, grilles and chain guard (En­duro) are all de­signed as a start­ing point; you can cre­ate your ideal Mul­tistrada En­duro from there us­ing the wide range of ac­ces­sories.

So whether you cross con­ti­nents by road or by trail, the Du­cati Mul­tistrada En­duro is a se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. And about bloody time.

High-speed S-bends on a 19in front? That’s no prob­lem on the im­pres­sive En­duro

Sus­pen­sion Dou­ble-sided swingarm for greater strength Rid­ing po­si­tion Sprung and ad­justable brake pedal is classy Elec­tron­ics 870mm seat gives com­mand­ing view, and good com­fort Tank and con­trols Get spec’d up for round-the-world ad­ven­ture

En­gine Wheels & tyres The Du­cati’s full colour LCD screen is de­tailed yet clear and easy to nav­i­gate

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