Image: Dries van der Walt
Johannesburg - With its combination of rugged looks, superbike-like performance and touring prowess, the Ducati Multistrada has been well received, but it is has been fighting a tough battle against other adventure tourers, such as Aprillia's Caponord, KTM's 1290 Super Adventure, and lately, BMW's S 1000 XR.
Image gallery: 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200S
The latest iteration of the Multistrada it looking to level the playing field with the addition of more electronic wizardry, such as semi-active suspension and lean angle-aware ABS. It also comes shod with a brand-new version of Pirelli's Scorpion tyres, which seem to work a great deal better than the old ones.
As a rule, adventure tourers handle fairly well, and the 1200S is no exception. It will leave superbike riders having to work very hard to beat it, despite the huge size of the bike. My first impression of the suspension was that it was too soft, even in Sport mode (the Multi also features Touring, Urban and Enduro modes), but it firms up appreciably once you pick up the pace.
Whilst the review period was too short to play with all the individually adjustable parameters of the suspension, no doubt as an owner you will be able to set the bike up to your liking if you invest some time. The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is the electronic brain behind the suspension, and it measures five different parameters – roll, pitch, yaw, lean and the rate of change to adapt the Skyhook semi-active suspension, cornering ABS, anti-wheelie and traction control systems optimally for the current ride conditions.
'117kW on tap'
Ducati's "big thing" on the new Multistrada is the Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) which, the Italian manufacturer says, is the first constantly variable valve timing system with multiple aims: from smoothing out low-rev clatter, to boosting high-rev power, to maintaining a more constant combustion cycle throughout the rev range. The latter is also intended to improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions.
With 117kW on tap it is seriously fast, even in the twisties, but it is also a seriously comfortable tourer. The screen is adjustable by 60mm, using the same one-handed mechanism as the old Multistrada. Unlike with some other bikes, it is easy to adjust it on the move. The seat was just firm enough to be comfortable, without being too hard. It is the kind of bike with which you can aim at distant horizons, knowing that you’ll get there very quickly.
As mentioned before, the bike offers four riding modes, and the throttle response varies notably between the modes. It is also possible to alter the pre-settings in each of the modes, allowing you to customise the ABS, wheelie and traction control to your liking (the latter two can also be switched off if you choose).
Ducati is selling the off-road aspect of the bike, but I am not convinced that I would want to do serious off-roading on it. That doesn't make it less of an all-purpose machine – highway, city streets or twisties: pick your strada, and the Multi will happily oblige.
Model: Multistrada 1200S DVT
Type: Four stroke, 90° “L” twin, Desmodromic Variable Timing, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement: 1198.4 cm3
Maximum Power: 117.7kW @ 9 500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 136Nm @ 7500 rpm
Fuel supply system: Bosch electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded, 95 octane RON
Fuel consumption: 6.3 L100 km
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 190 X 1 000 X 1 480
Curb weight: 235 kg
Fuel tank: 20L
Front: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc Evo M50 4-piston callipers, 2-pad, radial pump with cornering ABS as standard equipment
Rear: Single 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with cornering ABS as standard equipment
Front: Sachs 48 mm fully adjustable usd forks. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS)
Rear: Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheel, front: 3.50" x 17"
Wheel, rear: 6.00" x 17"
Tyre, front: Pirelli Scopion Trail II 120/70 R17
Tyre, rear: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 190/55 R17
PRICE: R227 000