Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring (2013 – ) expert review – Bike Trader UK

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring (2013 – ) expert review – Bike Trader UK
Ducati GT 1000 Touring

Bike Trader

Powerful and characterful V-twin engine

Practical and comfortable tourer

CONS

Not built for serious off-roading

Expensive, especially in S form

Semi-active suspension unproven

PERFORMANCE

The Multistrada’s thunderous 1198cc desmo eight-valve V-twin engine is what gives the bike its character, along with far more straight-line performance than any rival dual-purpose bike can manage. (Not that Ducati’s road-biased rocketship really has a direct rival, though Aprilia’s recently revealed Caponord might give it a run for its money.) As before it has four riding modes, and kicks out 150bhp in Sport or Touring, with softer delivery to a maximum of 100bhp in Urban and Enduro. Updates for this model are aimed at improving refinement and fuel efficiency rather than increasing performance, though a revised fuel-injection system and new twin-plug cylinder head design have added a little to the already awesome midrange torque.

There’s also a new secondary air system, aimed at curing the original Multi’s slightly rough feel at low revs. On the new Ducati’s launch in Bilbao its smoother running in city traffic was welcome. This model also has an updated version of Ducati’s DTC traction control system, which works mainly by cutting ignition rather than fuel, and gives a smoother feel with less of the previous model’s stuttering.

The powerful Brembo brake set-up’s updated ABS system now automatically adjusts to suit the riding mode. In Urban or Touring modes it also adds some rear brake when the handlebar lever is used.

Our rating: 5 out of 5

RIDE AND HANDLING

The original Multistrada’s unique appeal was also due to its light and capable chassis, which gave roadgoing handling that more typical adventure style bikes couldn’t approach. The upmarket Multi 1200S model, with its Öhlins suspension, was better still. Now this S-model’s conventional units are replaced by the innovative Skyhook semi-active system from Sachs, adapted from a system developed for cars, and modified in collaboration with Ducati’s engineers.

The semi-active system uses sensors located around the bike’s chassis, plus info from the traction control and ABS braking systems regarding speed, acceleration and throttle position. Skyhook then takes an imaginary fixed point above the Multistrada, and varies its suspension damping – every ten milliseconds or less – to keep the bike on an even course. Ducati say the advantage is improved comfort without compromising performance.

Skyhook definitely works, though the old Multistrada’s Öhlins set-up was so good that I found it hard to decide whether the semi-active system gave a significant advantage. Its main benefit perhaps came when the Multi was on its softer Urban setting, and Skyhook reacted near instantly to firm up the forks under hard braking. Another useful change is the adoption of a dual-rate rear shock spring, to answer some owners’ complaints that the old one was too soft when carrying a pillion.

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

VALUE

The Multistrada is not a cheap bike, especially in this higher specification S version. But Ducati have done well to introduce the sophisticated Skyhook system while keeping the price unchanged at just over £15,000 for this Touring model, which comes with heated grips, centre-stand and panniers. Alternatively the standard Multistrada 1200, which gets the engine and bodywork changes but not those extras or the Skyhook suspension, costs a considerably lower £12,395 – and is still a mighty entertaining and versatile motorbike.

Ducati GT 1000 Touring

Touring models in grey and red.

PRACTICALITY

The brilliance of the original Multistrada 1200 was that it combined the performance and Italian glamour of a Ducati with the practicality of a genuine all-rounder. This latest Touring model is better still thanks to a slightly bigger screen that can now be adjusted on the move, with one hand. There’s also a new, more practical still Gran Turismo model, complete with taller screen, higher bars, comfort seat, bigger panniers and top-box.

No price details yet but it’s likely to cost about £16,300.

The original aircooled Multistrada 1000 was praised for its all-round ability when launched ten years ago, but slaughtered for its dumpy looks – and sold poorly, partly for that reason. No such worries for the much sharper Multi 1200, whose styling is a big part of its appeal. Best looking of the family is the racy 1200S Pikes Peak model, named after the famous Colorado “Race to the Clouds” won on Multis in recent years.

This comes with red-and-white paint, carbon-fibre bits, forged Marchesini wheels and Termignoni pipe, and costs £17,250.

RELIABILITY

The Multistrada had a pretty good reliability record, as do most recent Ducatis. On this model’s launch it was interesting to ask the Bologna firm’s development chief Andrea Forni about a few problems with the original 1200 model – and hear him reply that he was aware of the cylinder head and rear brake issues that some owners have experienced and has made changes to prevent them. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

ACCESSORIES

By Ducati’s high standards the Multistrada’s accessory list is fairly modest, comprising a dozen or so carbon-fibre parts plus a couple of alternative seats and a Termignoni exhaust system and silencer. That’s largely because the 1200S now comes in the three options of Touring, Gran Turismo and Pikes Peak, which are essentially the standard model kitted out with various accessories as well as the Skyhook suspension. Should be enough options there for most people, we’d have thought…

Ducati GT 1000 Touring
Ducati GT 1000 Touring
Ducati GT 1000 Touring


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