Staff Bikes: Ducati Multistrada - loan leaves an impression

By Andy Downes -

First rides & tests

 22 November 2010 16:36

Getting my hands on the Editor’s Ducati Multistrada 1200 was meant to be for just one afternoon so I could do some advanced rider training, but after some begging it turned out to last nearly a week.

The reason was simple…I bloody loved it and the thought of giving it back to Marc Potter, or indeed anyone, was horrible.   

I’d ridden a Multistrada 1200 back in Spring when MCN did the world’s first group test and I loved the combination of performance, comfort and the safety from ABS and the Ducati Traction Control system. But that was in lovely warm riding conditions when even a shonky old bike feels like fun.

Without beautiful sun, dry roads and tyres that warmed up by the time I had got off my driveway, how would the Multistrada fare?

Incredibly, riding it through a week of crappy, wet, cold, slippery, salty and muddy roads has been even more fun than the bike was back in Spring. To me it’s an indication of just how far the Multistrada has taken the game on. No superbike could be this much fun or feel so safe and secure in such rotten conditions. No adventure bike has the performance to match the Multistrada when there is the slightest glimpse of a dry bit of road. It combines the best talents of both without the compromises of either.

If I’d been able to keep the bike longer I may well have played about with the settings within the four riding modes. I never used Enduro mode (and see little point in it as I would never take a bike like the Multistrada off road no matter how good Ducati may say it is). Urban mode was great for getting around town with a nice soft throttle response backed up with the ABS and traction control.

The Touring mode was a good way of riding in the recent slippery conditions with softer suspension for more feedback with Sport mode giving a snappier throttle and harder suspension. In the winter conditions of recent weeks and given a bit more time I would have upped the traction control level within Sport and Touring to give a bit more of a safety margin.

The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres fitted to the Multistrada play a big part of the overall feeling of security. They could well with wet and cold and seem to find grip where any other road tyre from even a few years ago would have struggled to cope with.

The bike isn’t perfect though. There are definite areas for improvement you only get to notice after a few miles. Take the 12v power outlets which don’t seem overly keen on keeping hold of a plugged in jack for my heated Keis waistcoat. Or the fact that one is angled backwards towards the back wheel and gets full of road crud.

The same road crud that covers the back of your right boot as it sprays up from the back tyre and covers the front of both boots as it splashes off the front tyre. For a bike that can do touring getting constantly wet boots is going to make your feet cold.

It needs a bigger windscreen (and Editor Potter has one waiting to go on) to keep the windblast down. It desperately needs heated grips and at the thick end of £15k that shouldn’t be an extra cost option. It also needs the big, finger freezing holes in the handguards removing or closing in a better way than some duct tape I used. Oh, and for some reason the fuel gauge takes ages to realise there is fuel in it after a fill up. On a recent trip the low fuel warning light stayed on for the whole of a 30 mile journey after filling up.

All of these are niggles rather than anything else and detract little from the overall appeal of the bike. Over the space of six days I’ve notched up just under 400 miles and each and every one of them has been a laugh; despite and in some cases, because of the rubbish weather.

Further reading:
Staff bike blogsDucati Multistrada blog

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