First ride: Ducati Mul­ti­strada 1260 En­duro

The new Ducati Mul­ti­strada 1260 En­duro takes a big step in the right di­rec­tion and gets more grounded

RiDE (UK) - - Contents -

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

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