First ride: Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro
The new Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro takes a big step in the right direction and gets more grounded
AT THE START OF 2018, the Ducati Multistrada got a new engine. Capacity was increased to 1262cc in pursuit of more torque and now the Italian manufacturer has adopted that engine in its 2019 Enduro.
Ducati says its aim was to make a more user-friendly package by producing a smoother engine and pairing it with a lower centre of gravity and seat height. This has been achieved by physically shortening the suspension by 10mm and reducing the swingarm length to keep the overall geometry similar to the outgoing 1200 Enduro. The bike also gets a host of incremental improvements such as a new wheel design, increased payload and a vastly improved dash interface.
On the road, this adds up to a bike that’s familiar but pleasantly improved. The outgoing 1200 Enduro is a great bike but it was found wanting in a few areas, with a lumpy bottom end and suspension that always seemed a touch soft for a confident road rider. The engine is the most noticeable change on the new version, specifically at low speed or when riding at low revs. Rolling on at low rpm is now a far more refined experience and the new powerplant has the low-down torque to pull any gear you want. It makes casual, cruisey touring more pleasant than before.
When you push on, that smooth feeling sticks around, provided you pull gears and stay below 5000rpm. If you’re riding in the meat of the power, the Enduro has an inconsistent throttle delivery. It’s not horrendous but it took time to bed into and could be improved.
The performance of Ducati’s Skyhook Suspension system appears to have made a jump forward as well, giving the 1260 a more planted feel than the previous version. The performance is consistent, both under braking and mid-corner. The bigger bonus of the new settings is the balance between enjoyable handling on twisty roads and a good level of comfort on bumpy and broken tarmac. The street riding at the launch event consisted of twisty mountains roads of varying quality, which the Enduro took in its stride. The brakes perform fantastically and the electronics are unobtrusive.
Moving off-road, Ducati has addressed the three flaws in the previous bike. That initial throttle response from low revs is infinitely better. The added torque in the lower end of the rev range has made the bike an easier ride in technical terrain too. And the rear shock performs a lot better on unexpected impacts, while the lower centre of gravity helps stability.
Ducati has also overhauled the user interface of its electronics. The new system is a much-more intuitive experience than before and has better balance between simplicity and adjustability. The riding position on the road could be a little more comfortable but the off-road riding ergonomics are fantastic. The seat is firm and wide, so getting both feet to the ground can feel a stretch. The low option seat is worse for forcing your legs out when sat still: the Multistrada still feels a little tall.
The final point was an inconsistency with the quickshifter. Several times during the day, it found neutral or clicked back into the gear when downshifting for corners. It was highlighted as an issue on pre-production units that Ducati says has been fixed on the production bikes.
All in all, Ducati has made some notable improvements that result in a much more rounded package. It’s better at every type of riding, from touring to traffic or hitting some trails. Generally the ride is easier and the user experience better but the handguards will probably still break if you fall over. If you want a big adventurer but don’t want a BMW GS, the 1260 Enduro is a phenomenally good alternative.
“The Enduro is better at every type of riding”
Improvements are obvious off-road as well as on — great fun
New bike is lower but it still feels tall