2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring

22 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring
Ducati Multistrada 1200

2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring launch – The suspension rises

Ducati Skyhook Suspension; what a name! It sounds like a component out of Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder. Just like a Jedi the Skyhook suspension system uses “the force” or an imaginary X figure to calculate what it should do.

Skyhook is truly high tech and the result of thinking outside of the box. Skyhook is a fantastic feature and I’ll try to explain more in this test.

Words: Tor Sagen/Photo: Milagro

I take a seat in the 850mm tall saddle. The 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring is parked just one block from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao so the first thing we do is to negotiate our way out of the Basque capital in the morning rush hour. Before turning on the ignition the Multistrada Skyhook suspension is in its hardest spring mode (Sport basically) as a security measure should all systems ever fail.

For this reason the Multistrada 1200 S Touring isn’t going to feel the most comfortable for the showroom testers out there. Fire up the engine and the suspension softens up to the selected riding mode.

Urban mode is one option if you’re a careful rider in the city but to me it’s more of a rain mode with too much intrusion from the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) and reducing horsepower from 150 horsepower to 100 simply isn’t my style. Sport mode from the beginning it was then for me.

The ergonomics are roomy and comfortable and the adventure bike style gravel protectors keep the wind of my hands. The Multistrada S Touring has heated grips as standard but there were no need for those on this pleasant morning. Soon enough we were on the motorway headed towards the coast and I got to test the squeeze and slide wind fairing for the first time.

Even though the fairing only has two positions, up or down, it’s such an intuitive mechanical solution which is so easy to use compared to the old solution. The fairing is also higher and wider than before which made it easier for me to avoid wind on the motorway. Good as the new slide mechanism is it’s got a very sort of plastic feel which could be improved by making the travel smoother.

During acceleration or hard braking there’s remarkably little dive. I guess it’s possible to say that it resembles BMW’s Paralever/Telelever action but more comfortable with a conventional fork and shock. Conventional it’s not I hear you say and I suppose that’s true as the 48mm Sachs fork and shock is controlled by the Ducati Skyhook Suspension system which is semi active by way of electronics and complex algorithms.

An imaginary point is created above the bike to compare calculations from both sensors at the unsprung and sprung side of the motorcycle. It works almost like a suspended vertical gyroscope trying to keep you, the rider, floating through the air in the same position at all times.

Skyhook does an impressive job at this and I can particularly notice the Skyhook system working over speed bumps and uneven road surfaces where in the past you would have big dives and bottoming out the front or rear suspension. There are additional refining opportunities with the DSS to personalise the suspension by a plus or minus two steps for softer or harder than standard. If riding fully loaded with a pillion and luggage you can simply choose from the LCD display and the Skyhook sorts out the rest for you.

The 48mm front USD fork in particular feels solid and gives lots of confidence for the more sporty part of the ride. In sport mode the engine breathe freely and the DTC only plays a part when it has to and believe me I did test this by pushing hard. Full throttle whilst the foot pegs were scraping I managed to provoke the rear 190/55 ZR17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail into big slides before DTC kicked in.

I basically showed full confidence in the electronics and the Multistrada rewarded me by not kicking me off.

Entering corners hot was the name of the game as the Skyhook suspension doesn’t dive much when hard on the brakes so you can be very precise and change direction ultra fast and that’s pretty amazing on a motorcycle as big as the Multistrada. The new ABS brakes can now be adjusted to three levels of intrusion plus off and now the system remembers your selection so if you turned it off before stopping ABS is still off when you start again. This of course is particularly useful when riding on gravel so that you don’t have to go through a tedious turning off the ABS each time you’ve had a break in the riding.

The other three ABS modes are controlled by the Sport, Enduro and Touring/Urban modes. Sport mode is more like on the Panigale, Enduro mode is ABS all but off and Touring and Urban gets the safest setting for a wide variety of riding scenarios including when it’s wet and slippery.

The Multistrada’s new ABS brakes are very good with plenty of stopping power provided by the radial Brembo callipers. The brakes need to be good because the Multistrada is powered by the 150 horsepower Testastretta II Dual Spark engine. The 1198cc twin has received several upgrades including a reintroduction of a two spark plugs per cylinder for better and faster combustion.

The fuel injectors now spray fuel towards the back of the intake valve where it’s hotter making the fuelling more efficient eliminating the chance of fuel droplets messing up the combustion process and catalyser. Consistency in cycle to cycle variations has hence been improved creating more combustion stability and for us a nicer throttle feel.

All this has resulted in a smoother more powerful midrange where a 6Nm increase in torque is achieved @7.500rpm. The Testastretta II DS is definitely a sweeter L-twin than before as a result and super easy to control on the throttle compared to something like the 1199 Panigale. When it comes to how the ride feels this engine improvement should be high on anybody’s list of reasons why to give one a try.

Ducati Multistrada 1200

Whilst making the Multistrada the perfect touring companion the Testastretta II DS is of course also a very powerful engine in terms of horsepower and will easily cope with extra weight and entertaining mountain crossings regardless of pace. A claimed 10% increase in fuel economy if riding at a constant pace of 90km/h is a nice touring bonus. The Multistrada has a 20 litre fuel capacity so being frugal with the throttle will quickly get you a little further than before.

After lunch I decided to finish my test ride in Touring mode. Sport mode isn’t for comfort but I must admit that I at no point suffered even in Sport mode. The difference isn’t a big one but the Skyhook suspension softens up enough for comfortable cruising whilst you really don’t need to change to Sport should you still wish to up the pace.

The 2013 Multistrada 1200 S Touring handles even better than before because of the Skyhook suspension that compliments anything you want to do whether it’s slow cruising or high speed touring. Under it all you still have the trademark Ducati Steel Trellis frame and single sided swingarm keeping everything in place.

The headlight has been upgraded to also include a low beam LED light and only the high beam remains conventional with a bulb. Working together there’s now more light for a rainy Autumn afternoon.

The Touring model tested comes with a 58 litre luggage system and centre stand which adds 10 kilos to the standard Multistrada. Should this not be enough then you’ve got the Granturismo version with 73 litre of pannier space and a 48 litre topbox. The Granturismo is a maxed out Touring version of the Multistrada and comes ready with the full luggage option, taller wind screen, comfier seat, extra spot lights, engine protection bars and new high mileage Pirelli Angel GT tyres.


We didn’t get to test the GT but it weighs in at another 11 kilos heavier than the Touring so you’ve got to be serious about your touring to want one. Finally the Pikes Peak Multistrada which weighs a whopping 23 kilos less than the Granturismo. The Pikes Peak is a stripped down Adventure Superbike with forged Marchesini wheels and a flash paint job.

The Pikes Peak is for those that wants something different than a sportbike but with no particular touring aspirations.

Conclusion

The 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring is pretty much as exciting as any touring bike can be and it’s remarkably well suited for the sport part of the touring. The new and groundbreaking Skyhook suspension developed with Sachs is one of the best features anybody could add to a touring bike and it easily rivals BMW’s ESA II. Riding the Multistrada with Skyhook suspension didn’t feel unconventional at all and particularly at speed over uneven or poor roads the system shines.

Skyhook obviously works really well also on motorways and on twisty mountain roads even if you don’t notice it being there as much in these scenarios. I still feel that Ducati should work harder on finding a better more shall we say “tiptronic” way of changing riding modes whilst on the move. The upgraded Testastretta II DS L-twin is turning more and more into a gem of an engine and whilst being allowed to run richer, producing more torque it’s still more efficient than ever.

With DTC, ABS and DSS I reckon all the Multistrada now needs is an automatic transmission and a flashier LCD for the instruments. Surely Audi will have something here.

Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati Multistrada 1200
Ducati Multistrada 1200

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