The AD­VEN­TURE TEST

Road Trip - - TRIP GEMS - Story and cap­tured by Jus­tus Vis­agie

The ad­ven­ture bike mar­ket is quickly be­com­ing in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive. Jus­tus Vis­agie puts the new­est con­tender on the mar­ket – the 1200 Du­cati Mul­tistrada En­duro – to the test on a 250 km road trip along some of the windi­est passes in the Western Cape.

Like a Ger­man em­peror of old, the BMW R1200GS rules the do­main of the large ad­ven­ture bike as if by divine right. And, though it is an ex­cel­lent mo­tor­cy­cle, the big GS is nei­ther per­fect nor in­vin­ci­ble. KTM has slowly been chip­ping away at the ar­mour of the GS; and, more re­cently, an un­likely an­tag­o­nist has joined the bat­tle: the Du­cati Mul­tistrada En­duro.

From the Du­cati deal­er­ship in Capetown, I col­lect a satin white 1200 Mul­tistrada En­duro with less than 50 km on the clock. “I will run it in gen­tly,” I say to re­as­sure the sales­man. “Don’t bother,” he says. “We’ve con­ducted tests and it makes no dif­fer­ence – the bike is built for ad­ven­ture, af­ter all.”

I start off in Ur­ban mode, which lim­its the out­put of the engine. But, the knowl­edge of Sports mode that un­leashes ev­ery shred of power and torque from the 1,198 cc L-twin engine, soon be­comes a temp­ta­tion too enticing to bear.three presses on the menu but­ton and the Sports mode is en­gaged; the throt­tle – al­ready re­spon­sive to even the slight­est touch – be­comes a nu­clear launch but­ton on the desk of Kim Jong Un.

It is no sur­prise. Of all the bikes I have rid­den, the Du­cati Xdi­avel is the most ea­ger to gain speed. It just so hap­pened that the Xdi­avel shares its engine with the En­duro. At only 3,500 r/min, its 1,198 cctes­tas­tretta twin al­ready churns out 100 Nm, charg­ing to a max­i­mum of 128 Nm at just 7,500 r/min.

To the East of Devil’s Peak, the speed limit jumps from 80 to 120 km/h. I open the throt­tle and it seems as if the traf­fic slows en masse. Feel-good chem­i­cals flood my brain as the big tourer surges ahead. The flat and dreary N2 high­way has be­come an un­likely amuse­ment park.

As progress slows where the N2 di­vides Strand and Som­er­set West, I am faced with a choice be­tween sweep­ing over Sir Lowry’s Pass or tak­ing the scenic, twitchy coastal road that is Route 44. But, it is get­ting a fresh lick of tar in places, so the Multi and I rocket to the foot of Sir Lowry’s.though it is named “En­duro”, the Multi wears smooth Pirelli road tyres as stan­dard. For now, I am thank­ful for the road-bi­ased semi-slicks as I cau­tiously lean the bike into the sweep­ing right-hand turn. It feels con­fi­dent and com­pli­ant.

At Pere­grine farm stall, I turn right into Viljoen­shoop Road, free­ing the Multi from the crowded mo­tor­way. This is a wind­ing and hilly tar road that passes or­chards and farms. I ride for six kilo­me­tres and turn left onto High­lands Road. Af­ter an­other nine kilo­me­tres the Multi gets its first taste of gravel and I switch it to En­duro Mode.

The abun­dant torque from the L-twin engine causes the rear wheel to lose trac­tion on dusty patches, and then the trac­tion con­trol cuts the power. I stop the bike, ad­just the anti-slip reg­u­la­tion to zero, and ride on.

It is hot as hell and I turn onto Iona Wine Estate for a glass of wa­ter – and maybe just

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