‘Multi feels like a light­weight dirt bike in a fat suit’

Andy learns the skills to make the huge En­duro float off-road

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - Andy.david­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com ANDY DAVID­SON Ad­ven­ture and long-dis­tance rider with nine years’ ex­pe­ri­ence HEIGHT 5ft 7in WEIGHT 73kg

‘With all the hill tech­niques we learnt ear­lier the Multi felt more like a toy’

DU­CATI MUL­TISTRADA 1200 EN­DURO £16,690 FUEL 30 litres @ 47.82mpg = 316 miles WEIGHT 254kg SEAT 850mm POWER 157bhp TORQUE 100ftlb

Rolling green hills spread out in front of me, laced with hid­den trails and rock-strewn tracks. I look down, won­der­ing how the hell we got up here as the wind re­ver­ber­ates in­side my hel­met. It feels as though we are as high as we could get in South Wales, and I never ex­pected to get up here so eas­ily on the Mul­tistrada En­duro.

But then again, I wouldn’t have got up here at all if it wasn’t for Dakar racer Craig Bounds. I signed onto a one-to- one class with Black Desert Train­ing (£ 185, www. black­de­sert­train­ing.com) with the aim of get­ting ex­pert tu­ition on how to ride this mon­ster on the rough stuff.

The three-and-a-half-hour ride from the of­fice was spent wor­ry­ing about han­dling this big beast off-road and tim­ing my petrol con­sump­tion so I wouldn’t have a full 30-litre tank to man­han­dle. Once I ar­rived, we stripped off the pan­niers and top box, flicked it into En­duro mode, whipped the rub­bers out of the foot­pegs and dropped the tyre pres­sures. I then fol­lowed Craig onto some of the most stun­ning tracks in Wales, where we went through the ba­sics of body po­si­tion­ing, get­ting on and off such a huge bike and cov­er­ing the clutch and brake levers.

Care­fully watch­ing my ev­ery move on the mighty Multi, Craig picked up on my body po­si­tion­ing bad habits, and quickly cor­rected them. On top of a lime green hill we went through turn­ing drills in ever-tight­en­ing cir­cles. El­bow up, body weight on the out­side peg and chin raised. Sud­denly, the once hugely in­tim­i­dat­ing and heavy Mul­tistrada En­duro now had its bars at full lock, on grass, go­ing round and round in cir­cles like it was noth­ing. I couldn’t help but laugh as Craig en­cour­aged me to take my in­side foot off the peg to prove the point that as long as you weight the out­side peg with your body the bike won’t go down.

Turn­ing this mon­ster at 2mph, fully locked on grass with one foot in the air was both bril­liant and re­veal­ing – this beast can be tamed. This spe­cific skill was the Holy Grail for me, as I’m 5ft 7in and I of­ten end up hav­ing to mus­cle big­ger bikes around off-road. But trans­fer­ring my body weight to the out­side peg al­lowed me to turn in in­cred­i­bly tight cir­cles on tracks where I would have once done a three-point turn. As our day went on the Mul­tistrada’s weight melted away un­til I even­tu­ally be­came con­vinced it was a light­weight dirt bike in a fat suit.

Ev­ery­thing on the Du­cati is built for pur­pose − not one com­po­nent feels gim­micky. Du­cati re­ally pulled out all the stops in turn­ing this into a se­ri­ously com­pe­tent and ca­pa­ble off-road weapon. The sus­pen­sion is im­pec­ca­ble.

“It’s the best sus­pen­sion I’ve ever tried on an ad­ven­ture bike, full stop. It feels like a sea­soned rally rider has tuned it to be per­fect,” said Craig, an EX-BMW off-road in­struc­tor. “As soon as I rode it I felt at home, and wanted to find big hills and en­duro tracks. It has a lovely engine, is very pow­er­ful and has an old-school kind of torque to it, where it pulls rather than spins.”

To prove the point, Craig took me to the steep­est hill I’ve ever rid­den up. Tricky, nar­row and pep­pered with jagged, pro­trud­ing rocks − with no run-up to help me get up it. While I would have thought twice about it on most bikes I knew the Multi could han­dle it. The 100bhp on tap in En­duro mode was more than enough to blitz up. Com­ing back down was trick­ier, but there’s still a slither of ABS on the front wheel in En­duro mode and that stopped the front from lock­ing. And with all the hill tech­niques we learnt ear­lier in the day the Multi felt more like a toy.

The Mul­tistrada is still a weapon, se­ri­ously ver­sa­tile, su­perbly set up and pow­er­ful, but a day’s worth of ex­pert train­ing has opened all of that up to me and made it use­able. It’s amaz­ing what dif­fer­ence a day made to my con­fi­dence and skill level. And now I can’t wait to tackle a big­ger, longer off-road ad­ven­ture on the Mul­tistrada En­duro.

5323 MILES

Dakar racer Craig Bounds of Black Desert Train­ing gives Andy some point­ers

Su­per-smart Col­lie was on hand to help Andy with his tricky new rearsets

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