Ducati Multistrada 950 ridden
‘All the style & comfort of the 1200, but at a fraction of the cost’
Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 has been a huge success. In the UK it’s Ducati’s second biggest seller, nestling in just behind the Scrambler. The 1200 family comprises five models, starting at £13,795 for the base model, and ranging up to the top-spec Pikes Peak at £19,995. But now Ducati have launched a new addition, using a smaller engine, and opening up a new segment of the market, with the Multistrada 950.
The 950 may be a new model – but it’s not the first time there has been a smaller-capacity Multistrada. Remember the Multistrada 620? No, most people don’t, it wasn’t a rampant success – but if our test is anything to go by there are no such worries this time.
The spec is impressive. Ducati have kept their unique Ducati Safety Pack that includes three-level ABS and eight-level traction control. There are four rider modes – Sports, Touring, Urban and Enduro – which automatically change the power and engine characteristics along with the ABS and traction control settings. The new 950 really is a 1200 clone, only cutting a little off its most expensive corners, and using a 937cc Testastretta in place of the bigger bike’s thumping 1198cc DVT unit.
The suspension is fully adjustable, but it doesn’t have the Skyhook semiactive technology of the 1200 S. The 48mm KYB fork is very similar to the standard 1200’s, but with revised internals, while the side-mounted fully adjustable rear shock doesn’t use a linkage. Traction control comes as standard, but without an IMU, so it’s not lean angle sensitive. Likewise, there’s multi-mode ABS as standard, but it’s not the top-spec cornering ABS featured on its sibling. The rear wheel has reduced in section and increased in profile from a 190/55 R17 to a 170/60 R17, and the 950’s front wheel is a 120/70 R19 instead of a 120/70 R17.
With so many shared components it should come as no surprise that the 950 feels like the 1200 once you’ve thumbed the starter and pulled away. The comfort levels are identical to its bigger brother, and the 20 litre fuel tank and frugal 950 motor should mean even longer in the saddle between fuel stops. The suspension is set on the comfortably soft side straight out
of the factory, ideally set for touring rather than thrashing. The dash is neat and informative and it’s easy to scroll through modes. It’s such a wellrounded package that you have to start questioning why would anyone opt for the pricier and more imposing 1200.
But while the new engine is smooth and linear, just one effortless tide of torque and power, and it’s perfectly fuelled at slow speed – it’s not thrilling. Even in Sports mode it lacks punch. It’s more than sufficient for fast overtakes and high speed touring, even two- up fully loaded, but I wanted a bit more of the 1200’s excitement. Ducatis are synonymous with power and speed, but this 950 lacks the pizzazz of its forebear. Furthermore, because Ducati have shared so many 1200 parts, the 950 only weighs 5kg less than the 1200, while also giving away 47bhp. If you’re never tried the 1200, or you’re jumping up from a smaller adventure bike like a V-strom 650, you’ll be more than impressed – but if you’re scaling down you’ll feel the deficit.
The suspension has excellent ride qualities, and it’s easy to adjust the remote preload if you add luggage or a pillion. But when you want to have some fun, and carve up a mountain road like the 1200 does so well, it ultimately lacks the same support on standard settings. The front-end dives too quickly in the first part of the stroke, which inturn lifts the rear, robbing it of some stability, making you yearn for the Skyhook – but again, let’s not forget the price difference between the 950 and the 1200 S. Plus, with some tweaks to the compression and rebound, the fork was much improved without any damage to my bank balance.
No Skyhook but the 950’s an impressive beast
Visually there is little to give away the smaller capacity Scroll between four riding modes 950 opens up a new market for Ducati Seat’s designed for touring comfort