Du­cati Mul­tistrada 950 rid­den

‘All the style & com­fort of the 1200, but at a frac­tion of the cost’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - ADAM CHILD SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER adam.child@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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

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