Ducati Multistrada 1200 on Tour – Sport Mode Ducati News Today

26 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ducati Multistrada 1200 on Tour – Sport Mode Ducati News Today
Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Sport

Ducati News Today

Ducati Multistrada 1200 on Tour – Sport Mode

Ducati News Today has tested the Ducati Multistrada 1200 before but we wanted to put the many roads machine to a real test.  How well does it really cope with the different demands of three of its 4 modes – commuting, touring and sports riding?  We decided to take it on a week long tour of some of the best roads in New Zealand along with (mostly) Ducati mounted buddies to find out.

 The Ducati Multistrada made a good fist of commuting. proved a competent tourer but now the road has turned twisty and its time to turn up the wick.  How is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 as a sports bike?

The road has turned twisty and undulating but I’m surprising myself because I’m not happy.  Sure the guys leading the way know the roads, are riding bikes better suited to these conditions (Ducati 998S FE, Ducati 1098, Ducati 750 Supersport) and  ingest the road like only ex-racers can but that would have been no problem for the last Ducati Multistrada 1200 (the S version) I rode.

At a pace up to 8/10ths the Ducati Multistrada 1200 is happy and relaxed – turning effortlessly in with its big wide bars, healing over in a neutral fashion and then propelling itself out of turns, almost irrespective of the gear selected, on a crushing wave of mid-range torque.

Now something has changed.  The pace has gone up and the corners are coming faster and faster. Consequently there is less and less time between the need for rider control inputs and the Multi doesn’t like it.  The soft comfy ride care of the plush spring and damping rates along with the long travel is making the Multi pitch too much.

 On corner entry the front end plunges with the brakes using up most of the travel and making trail braking a brave proposition.  I have little confidence and riding at this pace has become too work.

The wide bars may be low effort but at speed the truth is the Multi is still a pretty heavy and long wheelbase bike which doesn’t flick so much as glide into turns.  There are problems on corner exit too.  The bike squats under drive pushing the front wide and delaying the moment when the bike’s trump card, its power delivery, can be played.

 The only solution is to be ultra smooth and pour the bike through the turns and don’t carry too much entry speed as the bike ties itself in knots under high effort braking.  Any surprises in where the road goes has my stomach run up into my throat. Time to slow down and when we stop next we pull out the tools.

Although fairly soft all round the culprit is the rear shock which appears to have almost no rebound damping.  A quick play with the adjuster shows that it is almost on full, so we make it full but there seems to be no difference, the rear bouncing back up like a pogo stick when depressed.  As an aside on this base model to adjust the compression damping on the rear you need to remove the seat and then remove a small cover that requires a Torx screwdriver not included in the toolkit.

Why oh Why?

We press on and I do my best to ride around the problem. During an excursion in light weight, no saddle bag configuration flying up a hill the Ducati Multistrada 1200 is transformed.  With less weight on board the shock gets an easier time of it but crucially uphill, the suspension is mostly compressed because of the almost ceaseless drive pull from the chain.

 Here the Multi can be ridden more aggressively and gives just a good account of itself as the sports bikes until speeds rise to silly levels.  A few more clicks of compression damping have stopped the excessive squatting so now the Multi can catapult out of the turns.  Still not perfect but much, much better.

The engine continues to be a charmer.  It is so strong through the mid-range that you rarely have to venture higher.  On the occasions that you do, the pull is so strong it surprises each and every time just how fast this bike is.  I’d love to ride an 11º 848 powered version please Ducati.  I leave it in sport mode on the basis that any other just doesn’t have the throttle response I crave.

 At one point descending a mountain pass in the pouring rain I try both Urban and Touring modes but soon switch back to Sport.  I’m settled now.  If I owned a Multi I’d put it in Sport and never touch it again.

I’ve never been much of a wheelie guy and was hanging my head in shame on this bike until I realized that the traction control system was the cause of my problems.  The Multi pops up on the throttle in first and with a little throttle chop in second since as my friend Duck pointed out, most Ducatis are NCR for wheelies –  No Clutch Required.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Sport

The problem is that the DTC system detects the slowing front wheel speed, decides you are having the mother of all slides and cuts the power with plunging and embarrassing results.  Knocking the traction control setting from 3 to 1 seems to fix this problem.

This test didn’t really include the off-road Enduro mode but I did try riding a few unpaved (shingle) roads. The bike felt comfy and confidence inspiring but the Enduro mode has so much traction control on board that it is almost impossible to accelerate out of a turn.  Switching to (you guessed it) the Sport mode made it easier to drive nicely out of turns with just a little slip and slide.

When I returned the bike to Ducati, the tech agreed there was something amiss in the rear suspension rebound damping but a quick feel of another identical bike in the showroom showed the same problem.  If you fancy a Ducati Multistrada 1200 and plan to ride it pretty hard in the turns factor in your budgeting for a new shock or simply buy the S model with the trick adjustable Ohlins suspension.  In the end the rear suspension issue was a problem for me but it could be remedied pretty quickly, however for the money I’d expect a good rear shock even on the base model.

After nearly 3,000 miles I was very reluctant to hand the Multistrada 1200 back.  It had made riding for long periods of time and over considerable distance much more pleasurable than a race replica bike but without too many compromises save for the shock issue.  For most people the Multistrada 1200 is really a bike that can do anything they want to do on two wheels with aplomb.

 I still find the styling challenging and that is the biggest issue for me personally (I have now started perusing eBay for used Ducati ST2/3/4′s).  If you love Ducatis, like the styling and can’t justify or afford having several motorcycles then the Multistrada sure is a fun solution to an age old problem.  If you’re up for it, so is the Ducati Multistrada 1200.

 It really does make you full in love with riding all over again.

Ducati Australia / New Zealand supplied the Ducati Multistrada 1200 and a tank of gas care of Haldanes Motorcycles

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