By Marissa Baecker
The full Ducati experience begins from the moment you slide your arm into a fully armoured, Italian leather, snug fitting Ducati jacket, pull your full face helmet over your head, tighten the straps, and then work your fingers into slick leather gloves that form to your hands like a paraffin wax. Your whole attitude changes.
When it comes to the Ducati Multistrada I don’t’ know where to start. Within the framework lay four separate riding modes at the touch of a button or in other words – the Multistrada is four bikes in one. On top of all that, there are two versions – standard and S.
Steve Hicks of Ducati North America explained at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, “The main difference is the electronic suspension on the S version versus the standard version. Both are equipped with the same engine, ABS, traction control, four riding modes but on the S version, the electronic suspension actually changes when you change the riding modes.”
To start the bike is simple – once you have embarked on the task a couple of times. The hands free ignition is activated with a key code and fob. When the fob is in the rider’s jacket pocket and within about six and a half feet of the bike – the system will engage by depressing the kill switch past the starter button. If the key code within the fob is outside the 6.5 foot radius, the digital computer will ask the operator to plug in a pin number before activating the system. No fob, no key code, no pin = no bike.
Once the system is on, a fully digital on-board computer with two separate digital LED displays becomes visible. Not the light show that the Diavel offers but pretty close. From there, the starter button will engage the motor if the bike is in neutral with the kickstand down, if the bike is in gear on the stand, the engine will not start.
The main screen offers the time, gear display, temperature, gas gauge, speedometer, odometer and trip meter as well as digital RPM gauge and the more bars you have showing in that part of the display (the higher the rpm) – the happier the bike is. Should you run the gears with low RPM, the bike will be the first to let you know as it begins to ‘chug’ like a manual transmission vehicle.
The circular display window is the same as the Diavel but offers an additional riding mode. With the Multistrada, you can choose between Sport or Touring – each offering 150 HP or Urban and Enduro with 100 HP.
“You can change this motorcycle from a sport bike with a relatively stiff suspension to a really soft suspension in touring mode at a push of a button,” continued Hicks. “Then you can adjust for passenger, pre-load and full load.”
In the changing terrain of back-country roads, the Urban or Enduro mode is perfect to get you where you need to go without the added gravel fan from the rear wheel. On smooth pavement and highway riding, Sport or Touring mode delivers that extra power right off the start line. Each riding mode comes with an adjustable traction control range with eight levels of sensitivity.
If you are not a computer saavy rider and the thought of all this computer technology on a motorcycle makes you cringe, rest assured the electronics on this bike may seem over whelming but in actuality are easy to operate.
“The electronics on the bike are made by Mitsubishi – a high end Japanese electronics company and we have not had any issues whatsoever,” said Hicks.
The Multistrada is definitely designed for the taller rider with an 850mm seat height. The seat sets the rider in riding position perpendicular to the bike. Leg angle is perfect and the second level passenger seat conforms to the rider’s back adding support. Knees fit perfectly within the design of the 20 litre fuel tank further securing the rider’s position.
In the words of Ducati, “the design focussed on form and cushion density to ensure maximum comfort during long journeys and user-friendly lateral shaping to help give sure-footed ground contact when stationary.”
Riding the highway on a windy night, sitting straight up made me feel like a bit of a wind sock,. The windshield, even though it was adjusted to maximum height, didn’t provide the type of protection I expected. On the bright side, the two halogen lamp headlights provided fantastic visibility at night and the added LED’s provided directed brightness.
Long distance is just what this bike is for. The Multistrada 1200 S boasts a Touring model with side panniers, heated hand grips and a centre stand or the Sport model with “front air-intakes, cam belt covers, rear hugger and lateral air extractors.”
There is also a Pikes Peak edition – a replica of the 2010 winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The Multistrada houses the Testastretta 11° engine shared with the Diavel. “The Testastretta 11° is an engine for all environments and the perfect ‘game-changer’ for the four bikes in one concept.”
Fuel consumption – depending on the riding mode – can provide up to 400 km of travel at 120 km/h. I didn’t get the opportunity to find out which mode would deliver that distance but from my experience riding the mountain passes in B.C., the bike is thirsty. Definitely not a camel in the desert.
If you are searching for a multi purpose bike that you intend to have for many years and many kilometers, check out the Multistrada. Black, white or Ducati red and Ducati guarantees all their bikes for a period of two years and unlimited mileage.