Ducati's corporate philosophy is moderately complicated: the Italians always want to be the first and build the sportiest bikes of the respective class. Now adventure bikes are more suited to comfortable travel with a shot of off-road suitability, how should the combination with a super athlete fit? By buying the Multistrada 1260 S, Ducati says. The test clarifies it.
Before we clarify whether the Ducati Multistrada is an uncontrollable adventure, let's take a look at the wider range of models. Because when it comes to sportiness, the enemy often lurks in his own stable. Example Triumph: The 1200 s are pure with itself, its kilos and the rich torque and does not have to win a curve duel with the far more bubbly 900 tiger. Not quite as clear, but also noticeable, it goes between the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and 1050 – the smaller one is always the sport gun in direct comparison.
And at Ducati? The 230 kilo light Multistrada 950 is ready to take the crown from the 251 kilogram 1260. To start with, she can't. The 950 is the more balanced machine, but the 1260 always drives around your ears, positioning itself differently from the competition in the model range.
The Ducati Multistrada is another example of how targeted model care can keep an old bike modern. The extreme example of this is the Monster series, which has been on the market since 1993. The Multi doesn't exist for so long, because at first glance an adventure bike does not fit the image of the Italians, who have grown up with super athletes. The first Multistrada series was not necessarily a success in 2003, which was also due to the design with the partly handlebar-resistant cladding. Today's second series started in 2010. After several revisions, it now stands with variable valve control and drilled V2 with 1261 cubic meters and 158 hp.
In the course of model maintenance, each body part was touched. The wind protection improved enormously, but two things also fell victim to the austerity diktat. There used to be a practical lever that helped to balance the machine onto the main stand. Also no longer there is the small, extremely practical compartment in the right part of the cladding. Credit cards and small money fit in here, which was especially helpful at toll stations.
There are six versions of the Multistrada (1260, 1260 S, 1260 S Grand Tour, 1260 S Dair, 1260 Pikes Peak) and an "Enduro" variant, which is said to be the most talented with its revised chassis, sturdy aluminium cases and stud tyres. Because one thing is clear: all other versions make it clear with the wide 190 sloppy at the backhand that they are pure road mopeds.
Ducati is trying to get the full power of the 158 hp that we will see right away through the full arsenal of electronic helpers, all of which have one goal: to prevent wheelies, slingshots and long braking distances, or at least to make them manageable. Previously unthinkable, Ducati now shows itself to be the pioneer of this technical armada, which we were already able to examine with the brutal streetfighter and which worked perfectly there.
Because let's go, look for adventure.
Let's clarify one thing in advance: Anything that goes beyond a gravel road is forbidden terrain for the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S. It simply cannot, neither the engine below is blessed with a good torque, nor do the tyres participate or the ground clearance.
Off with the Duc on the street. And there is joy. Even when idle, the V2 makes it clear where the frog has the curls. Although the KTM 1290 has a whole 2 hp more, the red-cheeked nature of the Multi is simply unbelievable. Despite all the competition, the Duc is still the department's best in terms of Rabatz and aggressive athleticism. Quick a glance at the clear, clearly structured display: Everything set correctly? If not: Ducati shines with previously rather unfamiliar skills, because for the operation of all functions it only needs a switch, which can be operated with one finger. One wonders: why don't the others get there?
The thought only circles briefly in the brain, because the horizon is racing towards us. This may be due to the fact that we put in the first gear and made a sporty start. As a result, the multi-fired car stormed off, forgetting its weight and turning on the afterburner from 4,000, both in terms of performance and sound. It could be breathtaking if you hadn't stopped them in terror. With an impeccably functioning quickshifter we load the gears through and could stay on the gas up to the top speed of 251 km/h.
Incidentally, this is done with an excellent windscreen. Best of all, aerodynamically optimized bikes are usually sensitive to crosswinds. During comparison rides with other motorcycles, their riders complained of strong crosswinds, the Ducati driver had not noticed anything.
The magnificent V2 shapes the ride with the Duc like no other adventure bike. Performance-hungry goes in the right direction, but it describes the quick-living sportiness, even aggressiveness, insufficiently. Ducati attests to the highest torque of all competing bikes at 4,000 rpm. But grey, as always, is all theory. It may be that the multi is better than the rest here, but despite Shift Cam technology, it is still not good. Yes, 90 km/h in the big gear, which corresponds to about 3,100 tours. 100 km/h, important nowadays thanks to ever more extensive speed limits, also go in the sixth gear with around 3,500 tours. In reality, however, if you don't look at the rev counter, you drive in the fifth. The Ducati can do it, but it doesn't like low-speed driving at all.
Fitting definitely does the chassis, especially in the S version with the semi-active damper scare in the positions touring or sport. A total of 400 parameters can be set on the Multistrada spacecraft, but one thing should be left behind: to set all parameters in the direction of comfort. This does not make the Duc spongy, but the ultra-precise Ducati feel has eaten up the bits and bytes. In the sportier modes, the Multi feels much more comfortable, to which also the small 17-inch front wheel contributes its part (Multistrada 950: 19 inches).
This shows the best side of model maintenance. Those who ordered a main stand in the first 1200 Multistradas had a big problem with appropriate movement. The main stand set up first in curves. And if it got stuck on an edge, a double salto departure would not have been preventable. As you can see (picture gallery) the main stand is now integrated in shape and position so that it can no longer occur. Where we are at the top of our praise: Over several thousand fast test kilometres, the enormously powerful bike consumed only 5.4 liters of the finest super on average.
The front-wheel-oriented seat position of the perfectly integrated driver has a confidence-inspiring effect, so that the Ducati actually picks up the sporty-oriented rider.
All peace, joy, egg cake? No. In addition, a short excursion into the realm of prejudice, which refers to this test, is that BMW builds the thick toads, while Ducati builds the delicate athletes. Well, the boring thing about prejudice is that they never vote. In this case: the Multi weighs a whopping 232 kilos, in the Enduro version even 254 kilos, the BMW R 1250 GS five kilos less.
One has to pay the highest praise to the Ducati engineers that one hardly notices these extra pounds. And yet the multi is at a crossroads. The whole electrics are not only for safety because of the bearish engine, it must be to make the heavy vehicle manageable. The most striking example of this is the electronic parking brake. At the push of a button, the rear brake can be activated to pin the Duc to a hill for a start, thus facilitating uphill start-ups. The Multistrada 1260 S has nice but completely unnecessary things like the backlit switches on board. Impossible for serious use off-road would be the delicate blinkers in the hand protectors, which lead their meaning ad absurdum.
Ducati actually has the most sporty adventure bike in the range with the Multistrada 1260 S, because the competition from BMW or Triumph can't keep up (and probably won't). With her rousing style she won many friends in the Test team and gave us a lot of fun.
On the other hand, it is comfortable enough for the long tour, great to use and well crafted. That she can't get into the terrain – as a gift, she would only lie down next to all the other adventure bikes that were sunk by her riders there in a nod to reality.
The test bike was provided to us by Ducati-Hamburg.