Four Bikes in One
Ducati’s all-new V4 Multistrada takes adventure biking to a new level. This 170-hp Ducati cleverly mixes superbike power with real-world performance, backed up by the very latest electronic rider aids, including adaptive cruise control. This is high-speed
Adam Child ‘Chad’
Ducati’s neW muLtistraDa v4 for 2021 is completely different from the now discontinued v-twin multistrada 1260 — it’s a huge makeover and a big step forward over the previous model, itself an excellent bike. virtually nothing remains of the old bike. there’s a completely new v4 engine, a new, lighter chassis, new wheels, including a more off-road oriented 19-inch front. there is also class-leading technology never before seen in the motorcycle market, such as rear- and forward-facing radar and a new stunning look and style.
this v4 represents a dramatic departure from the multistrada 1290 v-twin, a class-leading adventure bike in its own right. can you imagine claudio Domenicali, Ducati mD, at the bike’s original briefing? ‘Okay, we already produce a world-class, market-leading adventure bike, but i want a new and vastly improved one, with a new chassis, new engine, new tech, new look — and i want more off-road ability with a 19-inch front wheel.’ a huge ask.
so, where do we start? the new v4 is derived from the panigale superbike with a counter-rotating crank, but very little of that 214-hp motor remains. the big talking point is the switch to conventional spring-operated valves, rather than desmodromic actuation which has been used on virtually every Ducati since the 1970s. the main reason for this is to extend the service intervals to an industry-leading 60,000 kilometres before the clearances need checking, as opposed to 30,000 km on the Demo v-twin.
compared to the Panigale V4 engine, capacity is up by 55 cubic centimetres from 1,103 cc to 1,158 cc, with a larger bore of 83 millimetres, out from 81 mm. Peak power of the conventionally valve operated engine is an impressive 170 hp at 10,500 revolutions per minute and 125 nm of torque at 8,750 rpm. compared to the old V-twin, that peak power figure is up by 10 hp and, like the torque, higher up in the rev-range while peak torque is down from 129.5 nm to 125 nm.
now, like me, you might be thinking that the V4 must be heavier and larger than the twin, but it isn’t. in fact, the new V4 is 1.2 kilograms lighter than the previous model, 8.5 cm shorter, 9.5 cm lower, and only two cm wider. the V4 now sits higher in the chassis, which gives the new Multi 220 mm of ground clearance, 46 mm more than before.
However, it’s not just an adapted, conventional V4 engine, because the Multi has the very latest cutting-edge technology. For the first time in the motorcycle market a bike is equipped with adaptive cruise control (acc) as an optional extra and Blind spot detection (Bsd), which is also an optional extra, with front and rear radar detection.
this very clever and simple-to-use system has been designed in partnership with Bosch. if you’re afraid of new technology, don’t worry, it is intended only as an aid — you remain in control of the bike. in basic terms, you set the cruise control at any speed between 30 km and 160 km and the adaptive system will control your speed, gently accelerating or decelerating depending on the information gathered via the radar’s detection.
the blind-spot detection uses the rear radar, monitors vehicles approaching from the rear, and illuminates an led in the rear-view mirror as a warning. Both systems are similar to what you’ll find in a modern-day car, but this is a first for a motorcycle.
as you’d expect, the new Multi V4 is laden with other advanced rider aids, including corning aBs, lean-sensitive traction control, wheelie control, cornering headlights and hold control (both standard on the V4 s or optional) plus multiple rider modes, sport, touring, urban, and enduro. each mode changes the power, power characteristics, the eight-level traction control, cornering aBs, and on the s model changes the base setting of the electronic skyhook Marzocchi suspension
relaying all this information are all-new full-colour clocks, five-inch on the standard model and a 6.5-inch one on the s model. interestingly, ducati have also added stability control while the adaptive cruise control is activated. should the bike encounter a weave, the iMu will detect this and automatically reduce the power to reduce the weave.
the chassis and dimensions are completely new. For the first time, the new Multi comes equipped with a 19-inch front wheel, as opposed to the conventional 17-incher on the previous model. the rear wheel is also reduced in width. this is a major step for ducati and a clear indication of the new bike’s ability off road. the second big change is the introduction of a new aluminium monocoque (like the Panigale) with a new trellis subframe bolted to it. the chassis is also four kilos lighter than earlier. wheelbase is shorter and there are more aggressive, sporty rake and trail — which, i presume, have been introduced to compensate for the larger front wheel.
i told you this was a dramatic change for ducati; so much more than just a ducati Multistrada with a V4 bolted in. For me, extra touches really set a new benchmark and justify the price — every component has been cleverly re-designed or introduced. there is a neat little cubbyhole just behind the fuelcap, which comes with a usB charger and easily accommodates an iPhone. there are further 12-v sockets upfront and under the seat plus new switchgear, which is backlit. the screen is “one finger” adjustable — ever so easy. and the large 6.5-inch full colour dash can be repositioned on the move to stop glare and facilitate Bluetooth connectivity.