More sporty than before

Back in 2010, Ducati chose the Multistrada to be the very tip of the spearhead that brought in cutting-edge technology and electronics to the motorcycle world. Now, once again, Ducati has used this motorcycle to bring in a new world of technology and ever-increasing usability to this space. Ducati touts it as four bikes in one – Urban, Sport, Touring and Enduro. Now packed with a whole load of tech, could the new-generation Multistrada 1200S be the right Ducati for India?

Well, not exactly. In some areas, the Multistrada is still playing catch-up with its own siblings and other premium motorcycles. At the heart of the technological update is a multi-axis gyroscope (IMU). It is the electronic brain that reads and then controls how a motorcycle behaves. Electronic aids such as wheelie control, traction control are expected, but you also get cornering ABS functionality. Yes, this is the system that lets you heave at the front brake, but makes sure won't land up on your face. The IMU on the Multistrada also controls cornering lights. Yes, Ducati offered full LED headlamps on the Panigale 1299 first, but cornering functionality is new. And in case you missed that, there’s also an electronically adjustable Sachs suspension front and rear. The system, called Skyhook Evo, is a semi-adaptive system and helps the Multistrada ride over poor surfaces with a surprisingly flat feel. But the biggest news here is the inclusion of a wide acting variable valve timing system called DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing). Yes, the Multistrada isn’t the first motorcycle to use variable valve timing, but it has a special significance here.

The downside to Ducati’s L-twin engines has been their somewhat rough manners at low speed and low rpms. The engines feel a bit lumpy and jerky when operating at low speeds. With DVT, that problem should be fixed.

Right, it’s a Ducati. And don’t be surprised, it feels like it too. The Multistrada builds speed rapidly, there is a slight lull in its tug forward between before picking up pace to frantic levels past 6,000rpm. Well, not Panigale or Monster levels of franticness, but thanks to the 160bhp on tap, it has plenty of ferocity. 200kph comes up in two blinks of the eye and a snap of your fingers.

Then there is the chassis, a new trellis frame and cast alloy sub-frame at the rear, and the Multistrada feels nice and narrow. From the saddle it’s hard to tell how much it weighs, because the Multistrada steers with a lightness that actually catches you off-guard at first. It transits from one turn to the next with the agility of a sports bike. Thanks to this, riding it with a bit of aggression is particularly rewarding, especially on a stiff suspension setting. Yes, you can feel the rear spin up at times on the exit, as you wound on the gas and the deluge of torque from the engine seemed to get the better of the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres in terms of grip.

But let’s jump straight to the bottom-line first - the Multistrada takes the ‘Touring’ part of Sport-Touring just as seriously as it does the ‘Sport’ bit. The rider’s seating is comfortable and spacious. The new front-end design that is wider and taller claims to poke a bigger hole in the air, keeping the air off the rider. There is no strain as the wind blast is effectively deflected event at speeds of over 160kph.

Considering the 20-litre fuel tank on the Multistrada, you should be able to spend approximately 300km in the saddle without the need for refuelling. Ducati’s engineers suggests that the DVT motor is ready to handle a diet of regular 91-octane petrol, and the inclusion of a knock-sensor should add the extra safety net when premium fuel isn’t available.

About the cornering ABS the bike comes equipped with a system that lets you brake hard even when leaned into a corner. Normally, this is very tricky as steering forces and braking forces fight for the limited grip available from the front wheel. Emergency brake application mid-corner is the easiest way to land up in a low side.

The front brakes are Panigale-level kit. The braking is astoundingly good in terms of bite and modulation. But bear in mind, the version tested was the 1200S. The standard 1200 does with a smaller disc and less exotic Brembos. It also does without the full LED headlamps and cornering lamp functionality. Skyhook Evo is replaced with manually adjustable suspension. The rider also has to make do with a simpler black-and-white LCD display for the instrument panel. But, the essentials such as Ducati traction control, rider modes, Ducati wheelie control and ABS are with multitude levels and combinations. Backlit switches and keyless go are welcome luxuries.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 9:44:43 AM |

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