Ride Review: Ducati Multistrada 1200S

As the earths population has grown the last 20 odd years, roads have carried ever increasing volumes of traffic and road surfaces have deteriorated somewhat. In the mean time bikes have got faster. Sport bike ergonomics have been designed with only one thing in mind, speed. This has created the need for bikes capable of multitasking. Go out with your buddies for a fast breakfast run and strafe corners with the best of them, then get home, pop your missus on the comfy pillion perch, and take a leisurely ride in the countryside for lunch. If the fancy takes you, add factory fitted panniers and cross a continent or two. No problem! The Ducati Multistrada, as the name implies, is such a motorcycle.

At the heart of the bike is a Testastretta motor sporting variable valve timing and churning out 160 odd snorting Italian horses. No problem with go then! Couple that with Sachs Skyhook electronic suspension and you are able to harness those horses effectively, even when they get the bit between their teeth.

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The most ardent playstation aficionado will be satisfied by the degree of electronic adjustment on the Strada. Keyless ignition allows the dash to become alive at the touch of a button. Scanning the dash you glean more info than that in the cockpit display of an F-18 Hornet! Well almost! There are four riding modes, various suspension settings and eight, yes Luigi you heard right, eight levels of traction control to choose from. Thank heavens there are default settings in the middle somewhere!

As with the Diavel, I found the touring mode the most pleasurable. The high strung engine characteristics of sport mode calm a tad, like you after your first toot following a really rough day. All the power is still there but accessed in a slightly less frenetic way. Your other two options are Urban and Enduro. Personally I would be happy with one mode and control the plot with my right wrist, but that’s just me!

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When you have the bike set up the way you want, it really delivers. Comfortable ergos, good seat and a nice bend to the wide bars make for a very pleasant ride. The effective screen has an ingenious manual adjustment easily accomplished with one hand. Crack the fly by wire throttle and the bike surges forward accompanied by an intoxicating honk from the airbox. I rode back to Pretoria at night after a massive Johannesburg hailstorm. The road was strewn with remnants of storm debris and hail and the traffic was intense. The Strada didn’t bat an eye! Smooth and sure footed, it carried me home through pockets of driving rain.

The cornering LED headlights are intense! If an oncoming car is on brights, you don’t just flash him, you virtually melt him. The sharp white light omitted by the handsome headlights is simply astounding. Going about my business for the next few days I found the Ducati to be both willing and able. The panniers work excellently and make the bike very versatile. Strange how one changes… There was a time where I even threw the chain guards off my sport bike, seeing it as excess weight and not adding to the function of my bike! Here I am now riding a bike with an upright riding position, tall screen and panniers and absolutely loving it!

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The Multistrada 1200S is a fine multitalented bike. It fulfils all its roles with aplomb. Is it electronic overkill? Hell yes! But don’t let that bother you. Take the time to set it up to your liking then forget about it! Just ride this Italian thoroughbred with soul and enjoy the experience! I most certainly did!

Really good gravel roads would be as “Enduro” as I would like to go. You are probably well advised to stick to black top on this version of the Multistrada. Wait until the Enduro version arrives in 2016 if baiting GS’s in the dirt is your thing. In the meantime most Strada pilots will revel in the comprehensive skill set of this versatile, handsome Italian stallion!

 

My name is Dave Cilliers. I consider cars as four wheeled shopping baskets and only worth using as a last resort! For years bikes have been my primary transport. Racing, touring, commuting or just kicking up dust on African tracks, I have owned over 270 motorcycles and ridden millions of kilometres. I am happiest when sharing my passion for motorcycles with like minded people whilst traversing Africa in search of adventure.