Ducati Multistrada 1260 S

The Ul­ti­mate Sport-Tour­ing Ma­chine

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - | BY JAKE BRIGHT

For mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, get­ting the sport-tour­ing equa­tion right can be an elu­sive af­fair. There’s ei­ther too much sport, mak­ing long treks feel like en­durance ral­lies. Or more com­monly, the de­sign fa­vors tour­ing com­fort—at the cost of ag­gres­sive styling and per­for­mance. If there is an op­ti­mal bal­ance of sport meets tour­ing, Ducati found it in the Multistrada 1260S. The bike is ver­sa­tile, eye-catch­ing, wrapped with loads of ride en­hanc­ing tech— and with 158 horse­power, hauls some se­ri­ous hiney.

I dis­cov­ered this test­ing a Multistrada for a week from New York City to Con­necti­cut. The bike’s Ital­ian name trans­lates to “many roads”. So from Tribeca to I-95 to twisty sea­side routes, I took the bright red Ducati on as many paths as pos­si­ble.

THE BIKE

The heart­beat of the Multistrada 1260S is its 1262cc, twin-cylin­der, elec­tron­i­cally fuel in­jected Tes­tas­tretta mo­tor. The en­gine’s 158 ponies are com­pli­mented by 95 ft/lbs of torque.

At $20,995, the 1260S is one of seven Ducati Multistrada vari­ants. There’s a smaller 950cc model ($13,995) the base 1260 ($18,695), most ex­pen­sive Pikes Peak bike ($24,995) and two dirt friendly En­duro ver­sions.

For a cou­ple grand ex­tra the 1260S brings more com­fort and per­for­mance tech than the stan­dard Multistrada 1260. That comes first in Ducati’s dig­i­tal Sky­hook Sus­pen­sion pack­age, which al­lows rid­ers to ad­just damp­ing on the fly, and for pas­sen­gers specif­i­cally.

The 1260S also adds Ducati’s Quik/ Shift (DQS) for up­shifts on the 6-speed trans­mis­sion at full-throt­tle sans clutch. It has cor­ner­ing ABS—which al­lows for an­gled anti-lock brak­ing through arced turns. The Multistrada 1260S also has Ducati’s Trac­tion and Wheelie Con­trol EVO, which can be turned off for those with an affin­ity for burnouts and front wheel pop­ping.

From the bars and dash, the Ducati al­lows for mul­ti­ple op­tions to dig­i­tally pro­gram the bike’s han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Op­er­a­tors can make it easy by se­lect­ing one of four pre­set rid­ing modes: Sport, Tour­ing, Ur­ban, or En­duro. Tour­ing soft­ens up the sus­pen­sion and brings mo­tor out­put down to Medium. Ur­ban brings the en­gine down to 100 horse­power and soft­ens the ride even more. En­duro re­duces ABS, nixes Wheelie Con­trol, and stiff­ens the rear shock. And Sport—where I kept the 1260S most of the time—de­liv­ers full en­gine torque and horse­power and op­ti­mizes sus­pen­sion for ag­gres­sive rid­ing.

And all these set­tings (and more) can be man­aged on a smart­phone us­ing Ducati’s up­dated Link app.

On com­fort and con­ve­nience side, the Multistrada 1260S has cruise con­trol and a pocket de­tectable, elec­tric key fob—so you to jump on the bike, press the start but­ton and go, with­out in­sert­ing any­thing. One of my fa­vorite non-tech fea­tures was the bike’s wind­screen, which can be ad­justed up for more wind-pro­tec­tion by hand while rid­ing.

For a lit­tle more cash, there are ad­di­tional com­fort and con­ve­nience op­tions for the Multistrada—like heated grips or lug­gage racks—through Ducati’s Ur­ban and Tour­ing Pack up­grades.

THE RIDE

When it comes to the per­for­mance, Ducati’s Multistrada 1260S has a very wel­come split per­son­al­ity. You can ride the bike as tourer or daily com­muter in rel­a­tive quiet and com­fort—al­beit with the panache of the Multistrada’s hall­mark Ducati de­sign.

In any rid­ing mode—at low to mid RPMs—the Tes­tas­tretta mo­tor runs so qui­etly and smoothly its power can be de­ceiv­ing. I learned this early cruis­ing out on I-95. In 6th gear, from 60 to 75 mph, the bike is so quiet and smooth there were sev­eral times I thought I’d stalled it.

On each oc­ca­sion, a throt­tle grab awoke Ducati’s sig­na­ture roar and sent the bike fly­ing to­ward three dig­its on the speedo. So the Ducati Multistrada 1260S can be com­fort­able and tame, but turned naughty in an in­stant. You can spank this bike and when you do it lights up and per­forms su­perbly in ac­cel­er­a­tion, high speeds, hard brak­ing, and cor­ner­ing. It’s a rare and wel­come di­chotomy for one mo­tor­cy­cle to pos­sess.

NITPICKS

Af­ter a week rid­ing the Multistrada 1260S it’s a stretch to sug­gest any­thing ma­jor for Ducati im­prove. I gen­er­ally harp on man­u­fac­tur­ers to put 400 pound plus mo­tor­cy­cles on a diet, but the bike’s 467 pound dry-weight is ac­tu­ally rel­a­tively light for a twowheeler pack­ing a 1200cc plus mo­tor.

Of course, shed­ding a few pounds would only add to the Multistrada 1260S’s sport ca­pa­bil­i­ties, though the bike cur­rently feels lighter than spec weight out on the road. My two small sug­ges­tions for Ducati would be a lit­tle more stop­ping power from the rear brake and a few mil­lime­ters more sur­face area on the rear brake pedal— which I found a bit nar­row. That’s it.

THE SKINNY

Ducati’s Multistrada 1260S of­fers an op­ti­mum bal­ance of tour­ing and sport ca­pa­bil­i­ties in a stylish de­sign pack­age that sets it apart from the crowd. If you want a mo­tor­cy­cle you can tour on com­fort­ably with a pas­sen­ger one day—then hang with your sport bike pals on the next—it could be the ideal ma­chine.

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