DUCATI MULTISTRADA 950S (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Semi-active suspension
  • Good touring option
  • Great engine with good noise
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At a glance

Power: 111 bhp
Seat height: Medium (33.1 in / 840 mm)
Weight: Medium (456 lbs / 207 kg)

Prices

New £13,335
Used £11,800 - £13,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With its heady mix of comfort, practicality and performance, the superbike-engined Ducati Multistrada teases riders away from their sports, adventure and touring bikes on a daily basis.

But it’s not always the magic sports adventure bike you’d imagine – that title goes to its little sister: the Ducati Multistrada 950. It has all the big bike’s good bits, but it’s even smoother, more agile and best of all, cheaper. With its 19-inch front wheel it’ll even roll up its trouser legs and get its feet dirty, too.

Watch our 2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S video review

A smattering of small upgrades doesn’t add up to a huge difference to life on the 2019 version, although its new cornering ABS and traction control could be lifesavers. It didn’t need much in the way of improvement, anyway, but with its electronic ‘S’ trimmings the 950 offers you more luxury, refinement and enjoyment. For first time it’s a true alternative to its bigger, more expensive Ducati Multistrada 1260 and Enduro sisters.


Ducati reveal 'GP White' livery for the Multistrada 950S

Ducati Multistrada 950S with GP White livery

On Wednesday, July 8 2020, Ducati revealed a 'GP White' paint scheme for the Multistrada 950S, to be available in dealers before the month's end.

Inspired by their MotoGP racing successes, the new colours sit alongside the traditional red option and see the bike lathered in licks of white and grey, with a smattering of red details - including the frame and rim graphics.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

First seen on the 2012 Multistrada 1200 S (and BMW HP4) the 950 S gets the latest evolution of Ducati’s ‘Skyhook’ suspension with semi-active damping and electronically adjustable rear preload. 

Ducati have refined the system to the point where the damping constantly self-adjusts in the background without you noticing, but you do feel the way the suspension changes between firm and sporty, to soft and comfortable, within the riding modes. You can tune the standard settings further by diving into the menu.

It’s so much easier to throw the 950 S around than its big sisters. With smaller engine parts whizzing around beneath you it’s easier to turn and with less clattering, low down power to contend with the 950 doesn’t overwork the rear tyre, set-off the traction control, or tie the chassis up in knots.

Ducati Multistrada 950 S left side

The 950 S is balanced and neutral, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II rubber oozes black, sticky grip and its 19-inch front wheel steamrollers nicely over nasty ruts and gnarly tarmac. Brembos haul you up with the sweet race bike-like ferocity.

The 2019 950 has 0.5kg lighter wheels and (Enduro styled) swingarm. Spacious ergonomics and a daylong comfy seat are unchanged, but wind noise is still excessive at speed.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Power comes courtesy of the same 113bhp 937cc V-twin motor that lives in the Hypermotard and Supersport. It’s unchanged for 2019 except for a new exhaust can and clutch, which is now hydraulically operated for a lighter lever and has one fewer plate (now 10).

Unless you’re touring with a very heavy load, or are hell bent on going everywhere at warp speed, there’s never a time on the 950 S where you long for more get up and go. Power delivery is a lesson in ride-by-wire seamlessness and its hollow, cackling airbox roar is somewhere between a factory 916 and Barry White.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Our online owners’ reviews report no major problems with the previous Ducati Multistrada 950, so expect more of the same with the new model. Service intervals are generous, with an oil change every 9000 miles and valve check at 18,000.

In November 2019, Ducati also introduced the '4Ever Multistrada' scheme; giving all machines in the 2020 Multistrada range a four-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Ducati Multistrada 950 is a rival to the BMW F800GS, Moto Guzzi V85 TT, and Yamaha Tenere 700. We think the standard 950 is the one to pick, instead of the higher-spec S model.

Ducati Multistrada 950 S vs Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro vs Ducati Multistrada 950 S

What you’re looking at here are two of the most desirable adventure-shaped sports tourers. One’s a V-twin, the other a triple and both are designed, in theory at least, to handle a spot of light off-roading.

On the face of it they’re very much alike. Triumph’s new Tiger 900 GT Pro and the Ducati Multistrada 950 S are both generously equipped, power and torque are similar (the Ducati edges it slightly), they have 20-litre tanks with 220-mile-plus fuel ranges and they’re both designed to waft their occupants big distances in comfort and skip serenely through backroads.

So, we decided to see how they fared head to head on the UK’s toughest test route, the MCN 250.

Compared to the Triumph the Multistrada 950 S feels bulky and top heavy at first, especially at low speed, but it’s actually lighter and that sensation soon melts away to reveal a soft, but sporty long- distance performance bike. It’s stable, floats over bumps, always goes where you point it and most impressively its tyres claw into wet tarmac like it’s dry.

The motor takes time to seduce and feels quite mellow at first, but the V-twin is grunty and comes alive when you work it. It’s the more visceral, exciting and involving one, snarling through its airbox like a 916 at full throttle - front wheel skimming off B-road crests.

Despite their plaudits neither blow you away at first. They’re relatively heavy for their modest power and that leaves you thinking: ‘Is that it?’ But after spending time with the Ducati and Triumph on B-roads and busy motorways they soon get under your skin.

They’re supremely versatile, well-equipped and can be calm and relaxed one minute and dish out big thrills the next. They’re not cheap but if you’re after a really capable, comfortable and desirable sports tourer with some off-road potential, they’re worth the stretch.

The new Tiger 900 GT Pro is fast, refined, sporty and can ably handle anything your throw at it, but it’s easy to find the limit of its skinny off-road tyres on tarmac, especially in the wet and its motorway weather protection could be better.

The Multistrada 950 S might cost nearly a grand more, but it’s the more rounded machine. It cossets on the long haul, is more sure- footed in the corners and ultimately more exciting.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

Just like the Multistrada 1260 S and Enduro, the new 950 S comes with an embarrassment of silicone riches included in the price. A new Inertial Measurement Unit (also now fitted to the 950 base model) facilitates lean-sensitive traction control and combined ABS, as well as cornering (LED) headlights, a hill hold system and self-cancelling indicators.

You also get an up/down quickshifter and cruise control. Granted, you could take all of the electronic trinkets away and it would still delight, but they add convenience, refinement and for the first time with the 950, that warm, fuzzy feeling only a special Ducati can give.

Effortless gear changes are guaranteed with the new quickshifter, but it always seems a bit brutal on the gearbox using an autoblipper on a big twin. It works well enough, but using the clutch won’t make you wince as much.

Ducati Multistrada 950 S dash

Traction control and ABS, on the other hand is a whole different bowl of pasta and a topic that always sparks debate. Few riders deliberately brake or accelerate up against rider aids and when we rode 950 S at its launch, the Ducati’s electronics remained untroubled, so is there any point? Well, it’s nice knowing they’re there and they only ever need to save you once…

At the heart of the Ducati’s new electronics system is its classy new 5” TFT colour dash. Not only does it harbour lots of useful information and controlled seamlessly by new back-lit switchgear buttons, it’s the main interface for all the electronic rider aid adjustments – from traction control to engine power, ABS, quickshifter settings, suspension and everything in between.

There are over 400 electronic settings, which may sound like a minefield, but on-screen graphic and pictorials make it a piece of cake to adjust…or you can use the Ducati Link app and do it via your phone.

You get a lot of classy Ducati for your money and as you’d expect there are also a huge range of official goodies to choose from, including four accessory packs:

Touring Pack: Panniers (31/26 litres), heated grips and centre stand.

Sport Pack: Termignoni exhaust can, billet aluminium water pump cover, LED indicators.

Urban Pack: top box, tank pocket, USB port

Enduro Pack: auxiliary lights, crash bars, radiator and sump guard, steel footpegs. 

There’s also a Multistrada 950 S Spoked Wheels model, or the spoked wheels are available separately as an option. A GP White livery was also introduced as an option in July 2020.

Specs

Engine size 937cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 840mm
Bike weight 207kg
Front suspension 48mm Showa forks, semi-active damping. Mechanically adjustable preload
Rear suspension Showa shock, semi-active damping. Electronically adjustable preload
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston radial monobloc calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 265mm rear petal disc with twin-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 170/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
New price £13,335
Used price £11,800 - £13,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Four years

Top speed & performance

Max power 111 bhp
Max torque 71 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2017: Multistrada 950 released, featuring 111bhp, 937cc V-twin motor from Hypermotard and Supersport. Chassis is similar to big capacity Multi with slighter lower spec cycle parts.

2019: Lighter wheels, swingarm, Inertial Measurement Unit, cornering traction control and ABS, hill start, self-cancelling indicators and hydraulic clutch. S version introduced with electronics lifted off Multistrada 1260 S and Enduro.

Other versions

Multistrada 950: Base 950 has mechanically adjustable suspension and fewer toys. It comes with S model’s new wheel, swingarm and clutch, is 3kg lighter and still comes with riding modes, cornering ABS and traction control, hill start and self-cancelling indicators.

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