I am not a very experienced rider so please leverage my review with caution. I got my motorcycle license last year (2013) and Multistrada Pikes Peak 2012 is my 3rd bike. My previous bikes were BMW K1300S (2009) and BMW K1300R (2013) and that’s all I have to compare my MS against. MS is distinctively a more comfortable and easy to get on and off bike. I can easily cover double the miles on my MS on a single long stretched trip as compared to my BMW. Initially, I was not very comfortable with the cornering abilities of the bike as the steering used to wobble. Like others, I then got familiarized to a term “steering stabilizer” which was non-existent in this bike. However, after going through some sensible reviews, I adjusted the bike’s suspension electronically according to my weight and the bike became ultra-stable magically without requiring a steering damper. Now it’s is so stable that despite high ground clearance and my limited riding experience, I dragged my knees to the ground during my first day on the track. At the same time taking a tight U-turn is still an enjoyable activity with MS due to the absence of the resistance applied by a Steering Damper. The BMW on the other hand gave me so much of confidence at corners that I never felt the need to even understand the bike's suspension but the bike is a little too heavy for sudden maneuvers. MS is around 36kg lighter than a BMW K1300 which makes the maneuvering faultless.
Another commendable aspect of MS is styling which is second to none, although for some people nothing can stand against a BMW K1300R.
If you compare the 2 motors, the BMW motor is more smooth / linear with infinite power and very aggressive stock sound. In MS the power is relatively not as high as the BMW, but pushing it to the limits is still beyond many professionals’ reach. The sound of MS is more rhythmic yet exhilarating (Pikes Peak version comes with Termegoni slip on).
In terms of build quality, I would rank BMW higher. If you have an eye for detail, you can make it out without having to live with the bike and then appreciate. My MS side stand switch malfunctioned at 6000kms (replaced under warranty though) and the worst thing is that the bike does not show any errors. Overall, I don't know why, but I have not yet been able to let go of my fear of the bike breaking at a place where nothing is accessible. It’s just been 2 months now since I own it so I hope someday it will win my trust as BMW.
In terms of rider aids, I clearly felt the need for a tire pressure monitor on the MS. Also, I noted that the fuel indicator seems to be not very intelligent. It displays very wide ranging estimates and keeps changing the distance that bike can cover in a given amount of fuel with abnormal frequency. The gear shifting is smoother and clutch is lighter than a BMW, but the absence of a quick shifter make it all together a less supreme package. The key less start, electronic fuel opener (optional), ease of fixing panniers makes MS equally attractive for touring as it is for sports riding. One of my considerations when buying the MS was the comfort of a pillion which I believe can be a reason alone to buy this bike. Pillions have just loved it. The Ohlins electronically adjustable shocks takes the experience to a different level all together both for a pillion and the rider alone.
I am not very keen to use different riding modes MS has at hand, but I like the flexibility of the bike to adjust to the conditions when instructed. I use it in Sports mode with two rider’s option to increase the preload. This makes it a lot firmer.
Overall if one can spare more money, MS is a better choice due to its wide ranging usability. But if you are a power freak and expects a lot of sports instinct, BMW is a slightly better option with a lot of bang for the buck. While I am a German engineering fan and was wishing if BMW can produce something similar, I just read that this Italian beast (MS) was awarded this year the “best all-rounder motorcycle of the year award” in GERMANY – YES, IN GERMANY. This concludes my review.