DUCATI MULTISTRADA V4S (2021 - on) Review
- 170bhp V4 replaces previous V-twin
- World’s first radar cruise control
- First non-Desmo Ducati since 1978
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The new Ducati Multistrada V4 S is one of the most fabulously accomplished bikes you can buy, loaded with an almost perfect blend of extreme performance, supreme comfort, market-leading practicality and unrivalled levels of technology. Inserting the supremely potent Panigale V4 motor into a big, lofty all-rounder sounds like a recipe for a mis-matched disaster – but Ducati have pulled it off big time.
It stretches the definition of an all-rounder – the Multistrada isn’t just capable of riding on its eponymous 'many roads', it excels on them. From touring to track days to off-road to hammering round town, there will be few bikes can match the Ducati in any one discipline, let alone all of them.
- Related: Ducati Multistrada V4 - the development story
- Related: How to ride off-road on a motorbike
- Related: Best touring motorbikes
- Related: Ducati Multistrada 1260S review
This bike replaced the Ducati Multistrada 1260S.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S on UK roads
First published on 25 January, 2021 by Michael Neeves
We know about the new engine and also that its steel trellis frame has made way for an aluminium monocoque, the riding position refined, electronics overhauled and that in November during its Italian world launch it impressed the hell out of us. But how will the Ducati Multistrada V4S fare on wet, one-degree MCN250 tarmac in mid-January?
We’re riding the ‘Full’ S spec, which costs £21,495 and is as loaded as it can be (the panniers it should come with weren’t available for our test). There are cheaper Performance, Travel, Travel and Radar packs and a Sport coming soon, but whichever way you dress it the Ducati is an expensive beast.
At a glance the new Multi doesn’t look that different from the old V-twin, until the anorak comes out and you notice the V4 badges, its new traffic-parting, cornering LED-encrusted beak, subtle restyling and the addition of more strakes, wings and scoops. It doesn’t take too many miles on its luxurious, heated saddle to realise the whole ethos has changed, too.
When it was released in 2010, the outgoing 1198 superbike-based Multistrada was the bike for those who craved the performance of the race reps they’d left behind. It was a genuinely comfortable superbike and such a hit it quickly influenced its two main rivals: BMW’s S1000XR and the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Many would even hustle their Multis on track, indeed there’s a lap timer on the new 6.5in colour dash, but it doesn’t take long to spot the clues to the new direction, like that relatively lowly four-cylinder redline and the controversial move from a 17in to 19in front wheel.
Despite what some may think, the big wheel doesn’t take anythingaway from the sportiness. The V4 waltzes around our B-road loop with breath-taking poise and its dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres somehow find mind-boggling grip on cold and wet roads.
Just pick a line and the Multi follows. What’s most impressive is it does all this despite its physical size and huge (243kg) bulk - it would make a Yamaha Tracer 900 feel like a pocket bike by comparison. I’m six-foot and feel dwarfed by it.
That 19in front wheel will let you go off road, if you’re brave enough, but precludes the use of anything stickier than sports touring or dual-purpose rubber. That’s no biggie for the road, but it’s a statement of intent: the Multistrada V4 S is now a fully-fledged adventure bike, albeit heavily biased towards tarmac.
From its wide-barred riding position to its calm steering, juggernaut-like stability and monster grunt, it’s become rather BMW GS-like and that’s exactly the party Ducati wants to crash. It’s their take on the theme, of course, with its deep 916-like airbox roar, shiny paint, smart detailing and healthy dose of ‘emozione’.
The Ducati hasn’t gone soft, though. It makes 155bhp at the back wheel on our dyno, will loop in the lower gears without its anti-wheelie and on track would hit 160mph before you’d have time to say gosh. The engine doesn’t clatter at low revs like the old twin, it fuels like silk and there’s so much thrust you can get a serious wiggle-on without troubling the gears.
Electronic rider aids enjoy a new level of refinement, staying silent until you need them and the new dash and switchgear are class-leading in their elegance, usefulness and simplicity, once you’ve got your head around the tonne of information available at your fingertips (Ducati’s online tutorial videos are well worth watching).
Adaptive cruise control is a first for a road bike. It works like a normal system, but when the radar senses a moving vehicle ahead it throttles back to keep a constant distance. It can be handy but takes some of the fluidity out of riding and often locks on to slower motorway traffic when you don’t want it to. But the new blind spot detector is extremely useful, warning you of vehicles closing in.
There are a few ripples in the V4’s lake of tranquillity. There’s a lot of engine braking, which isn’t an issue on motorways or scratchy back roads, but the engine holds you back rolling on and off the throttle through flowing corners and forces you to use higher gears to maintain momentum and smoothness.
The Brembo Stylemas don’t have the power you’d expect, which is probably down to touring-spec brake pad material and the bike’s all-up weight. And although the Multistrada V4 S is supremely plush, spacious and quieter at speed than before, thanks to its new screen, the bars are a long reach.
On the longer stretches it was making me stoop uncomfortably unless I sat right forward. A 37mpg average and theoretical 179-mile tank range is a real disappointment, too.
Niggles aside, the Multi is a very special bike and one that becomes more impressive the more miles you pile on. It’s still an incredible performance bike, but now more civilised, refined and for those same sporty riders than loved the original, more grown up too.
Ducati’s new Multistrada V4 S crushes motorway miles like a full-blown tourer and scorches through B-roads in a way that belies its size and weight. It combines comfort, superbike speed, excitement, practicality and tech in one beautifully rounded Bologna ball of brilliance and to be able to genuinely enjoy a ride on such cold, wet roads speak volumes for its capability.
The new engine’s smoothness, grunt and superbike airbox roar is what makes the new Multi such a great road machine, but it now feels more like an adventure bike with its 19in front wheel, giving it a newfound sure-footedness.
Fuel range is poor for a tourer, the bar position might not be perfect for some and the V4’s strong engine braking can be an irritation on flowing roads. It isn’t cheap either.
That said, the new Multistrada V4 S is still hugely impressive. In truth even our MCN250 route isn’t far enough to appreciate a machine that genuinely gets better the longer you spend with it.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The key to the Multi V4’s handling dynamic starts, oddly enough, with the engine. Because it’s substantially more compact and mass centralised than the V-twin it replaces – shorter front to rear, shorter top to bottom and only slightly wider – it means Ducati can place it optimally in the chassis (which is itself all-new). This means although the engine is higher in the frame for better ground clearance off-road, the centre of gravity is lower for a more steady, sports-touring handling feel.
The smaller engine also means the front wheel can go up to 19in from 17in for better off-road performance and a lighter, more agile steering, and yet the steering angle can also be reduced because there’s more clearance for the front cylinder bank. At the back, the shorter motor allows a longer swingarm in a shorter wheelbase, giving greater leverage control over the shock and giving better ride quality and better pitch dynamics.
A stiffer, 4kg lighter aluminium monocoque frame replaces the old steel trellis. A double-sided swingarm replaces the old single-sided arm, because it has to take either cast or wire spoke wheels. Coupled with the next generation of semi-active suspension, this means the new Multi has an unrivalled combination of ride quality and handling stability. It feels immediately more stable and less fidgety and active than the lively 1260 V-twin, which was constantly chattering and nattering away to the rider with its agitated steering, like an excited puppy.
The new Multi is smooth, sophisticated and rides like buttermilk in comparison, sliding impressively up bumps instead of arguing with them, refusing to engage with dips and potholes. It’s a serene and hugely impressive performance.
EngineNext up: Reliability
An all-new V4 using the 200bhp+ Stradale unit from the Panigale and Streetfighter as a start point. It retains the Twin Pulse firing order and interval for V-twin feel and sound (like two small V-twins firing in quick succession), the backwards-spinning crank for more agility and better stability, and rear cylinder cut at standstill for better heat management. But everything else is different.
The Multistrada’s V4 is big bored by 55cc from 1103cc to 1158cc, but retuned to make 170bhp at 10,500rpm instead of over 200bhp at 12,750rpm. Torque is 92lbft at 8750rpm; on par with the Streetfighter’s 90lbft, but at much lower revs. So this is, effectively, compressing the V4’s power and torque curves into a shorter rev range, losing the top end but adding a stack of midrange shove.
Compared to the out-going 1262cc V-twin, the V4 is 12bhp up, but makes slightly less peak torque – and after the effects of gearing are taken into account, and the differences in engine feel, the Multi V4 feels just as substantially powerful on the road, but with more smoothness and flexibility. It will trickle along in top gear at tickover without drivetrain lash more common on big V-twins, and has none of the lurching shudder when it’s pinned.
Instead, the V-four delivers the perfect mix of V-twin charisma matched with inline four performance, driving forward with a deceptive midrange bulge, but without an inline four’s screaming top end. It’s a wonderful, intoxicating engine to use, fast or slow.
For the first time since 1978 on a big Ducati, the Multi V4 runs with valve springs instead of Desmo valve gear – it’s cheaper to assemble, lighter, puts less stress on the valve train, and increase service intervals. Ducati are happy to trade a bit of tradition and heritage in return.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The Multitrada is Ducati’s technology flagship with a typically Italian flair to its design and detailing. Every user component, from pegs to levers, switchgear to software functions, is considered with convenience and ease of use in mind, as well as quality.
Ducati also consider durability as a cornerstone of their brand value – which is why the Multi V4 comes with a 9000-mile oil change interval, and 37,000 miles between major valve clearance services. On top of that, the ease of servicing is improved too, with a quick-release air filter needing no bodywork removal, and the switch to valve springs instead of Desmo valve gear reduces workshop time, and labour costs.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Ducati say their intended rival for the new Multistrada is BMW’s R1250GS, which is an odd thing to say at first because the rival that springs immediately to mind when you see a 170bhp motor in a tall rounder chassis with tons of gadgets and continent-crushing capacity is BMW’s S1000XR – a bike against which the Multi V4 is most obviously similar.
But comparing the V4 to the GS shows how Ducati have sought to expand the Multi’s role. Previously, if you wanted a big-bore Ducati adventure bike you bought the Enduro. Now, you buy the Multi V4 and spec it to Enduro spec with wire wheels and knobblies. It’s the same bike, apart from that, as the model you’d have with cast wheels and happily take to a track day. Or, put another way, imagine putting wire wheels and knobblies on an S1000XR.
So on the face of it, the new Multi V4 is, depending on what shoes it puts on, designed to be as capable off-road as a GS, and as capable on road as an XR. Which is the very definition of a Multi-Strada...
Its other main rival is the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Insurance is likely to be similar to the outgoing Multistrada 1260, and the V4 has no additional security measures beyond, on the V4 S model, keyless ignition.
Service costs have been reduced (see above), but increased fuel consumption over the 1260 V-twin will more than compensate. Ducati claim the four drinks fuel at 43mpg compared to the 1260’s 54mpg; it has more power and twice as many cylinders and throttle bodies.
To compensate, Ducati have increased tank size from 20 litres to 22 litres. But that’s a 10 per cent increase in volume and a 20 per cent increase in consumption – a theoretical 1260 tank range is 240 miles; the V4’s is just over 200. But that’s on paper; in the real world, the V-twin averages around 170 miles (some owners get much more, some less, depends on riding style).
The Multi V4 indicates 38mpg – which means a tank will last 180 miles, if it uses all its fuel and runs out opposite a pump. In reality, you’ll be looking to fill up at around 150 miles.
Ducati won’t say if there are plans to build a 30-litre adventure V4; the range is designed as per the 950 Multistradas – you basically spec the kind of the Multi you want online; which model, which Packs and which accessories; say, a V4 S Sport in Enduro-spec, with wire spoke wheels, Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres, crash bars, etc – and the factory assembles it just for you.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S vs BMW R1250GS
First published on 25 Faebruary, 2021 by Michael Neeves
With a V4 tuned for real-world grunt and cheaper servicing, dual purpose tyres and a shift from a 17in front to 19in, the 2021 Multistrada V4 S has moved away from its superbike roots and into adventure territory.
It’s all sorts of clever mechanically, electronically and as we discovered at its launch and around our MCN250 route, it impresses more the longer you spend aboard. After a long day’s riding, you’ll be gagging for more.
Swift, stylish and comfortable, the once raucous Multistrada is now more sophisticated and has its sights set on adventure domination… and there’s none more dominant than BMW’s R1250GS.
Both have the kind of meaty midrange thrust that makes an overtake a mere centimetre of throttle away and the Multi’s new ‘Grantursino’ V4 engine acts and even sounds like a big V-twin, thanks its twin-pulse firing order.
It doesn’t rev to the moon and back like the racier, slightly smaller-cubed Panigale/Streetfighter ‘Stradale’ desmo V4s, but its crank spins backwards like a MotoGP bike’s, to keep a lid on understeer, wheelies and backing in.
The GS’s grunt comes from its variable valve timing ‘ShiftCam’ system and gives the flat twin unbridled eagerness from walking pace to its 9000rpm redline (just 1000rpm shy of the Ducati’s). The Multi’s engine is less vibey, but with its extra cubes and fewer pistons the BMW is more urgent on the throttle.
The BMW’s screen is quieter at speed and its wheel adjuster is easy to use, but not as elegant as the Ducati’s one-finger mechanism. Bars are closer to the rider on the GS, making it kinder on your back and its heated grips are hotter.
At 70mph it’s revving at just 4000rpm in top, compared to the Ducati’s more fidgety 4600rpm and the constant tugging from the Multi’s strong engine braking can become tiresome on flowing A roads.
So for long distance serenity the BMW just edges it, but what about the Ducati’s radar-controlled cruise control? Well, there’s nothing quite like your right wrist when it comes to blending and flowing in motorway traffic and the same is possible with a deft twiddle of the BMW’s cruise control switch. The Multistrada’s (always) adaptive system takes all that finesse away.
Even with its newfound adventure focus the lofty Multistrada doesn’t hang around. The 168bhp Ducati is ultimately quicker than the 134bhp GS if you ride it very hard and thanks to its stiffer chassis, shorter travel suspension and grippy Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres it’s more stable through corners. Does having a 19in front wheel instead of the old 17in ever hold it back? No.
The Ducati would leave a GS in its wake in a straight-up race, but at normal road speeds the BMW is more engaging. Its flat twin has more poke off the corners than you can shake a Charley and Ewan at and it always feels more urgent and ready to go. Its raw, racy exhaust note is about as far away from the GS’s pipe-and-slippers beginnings as you can get, too.
Ducati might have entered BMW’s territory, but the GS doesn’t take it lying down. The Multistrada V4 S is full of tech, raw straight-line speed, huge stability through corners and outright flair.
But the Beemer melts away the miles more easily with a more comfortable bar position, less windblast, hotter grips and a less intrusive cruise control system. The GS is more engaging on back roads thanks to extra punch and fluidity from its boxer engine, has stronger brakes and more effortless handling. It’s more vibey than the mellifluous V4, but you’ll never tire of its deep, cracking exhaust note.
The sky’s the limit when it comes equipment, but generally the BMW is cheaper to buy at equivalent spec and better on fuel… but the Ducati is cheaper to service. They yo-yo in our affections every inch of the way, but the BMW just edges it.
That said, if you’ve always fancied the idea of a GS but want something a bit different… a bit more Italian, the new V4 S is the bike for you.
The Multi V4 range comes in three basic specs; V4, V4 S and V4 S Sport. All three have the same engine, core electronics (traction, cornering ABS, rider modes) and frame, but the S and S Sport come with semi-active suspension, a larger 6.5in TFT dash (5in on the base model) and uprated electronics spec (adds quickshifter, cornering headlights, hill hold, anti-weave control, keyless ignition) and uprated brakes. The V4 S Sport adds an Akrapovic can and carbon hugger. The V4 S and Sport come with a USB port and two 12v sockets.
All three are even more upgradable with a host of the usual accessories, including the aforementioned wire wheels, heated grips, crash bars, centrestand, luggage options (including panniers with an anti-wobble, lateral movement).
And the Multi V4 is the first bike to offer radar-assisted cruise control and radar-assisted blind spot detection. Two sensors on the nose and tail of the bike scan forwards and backwards up to 160m (the front radar range can be controlled via up and down buttons on the left switchgear).
The cruise control uses the information to gently alter the speed of the bike, so when it detects a vehicle in front on the motorway it gradually decelerates to match the vehicle’s speed and maintain the specified distance, then accelerates gently back up when the object has moved. At no time does the bike 'take control' or do anything untoward. You can’t exactly switch off and have a snooze – instead, it’s just to avoid having to constantly disengage cruise control when you come up behind a slightly slower vehicle in front. In use, it’s very effective.
The blind spot detection simply spots a vehicle approaching from behind and alerts the rider with a soft amber light set into the mirror. It’s not annoying and is genuinely useful.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 90-degree V4|
|Frame type||Aluminum monocoque|
|Fuel capacity||22 litres|
|Front suspension||50mm fully-adjustable upside down forks|
|Rear suspension||Fully adjustable monoshock|
|Front brake||2 x 330mm discs with four piston Brembo Stylema calipers. Cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||265mm disc with two piston Brembo 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||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||170 bhp|
|Max torque||92 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- 2003: Multistrada 1000DS – Ducati’s first Multistrada – 'Many Roads' – is an oddity: a 992cc air-cooled 2-valve 90° V-twin making 80bhp and hitting 133mph, on stiff, long-travel suspension and dressed in the same whacky Art Deco Pierre Terblanche styling as the 999 (with a split fairing – the top half was handlebar mounted and turned with the steering).
- 2005: Multistrada 1000DS S – alongside a revamped 1000DS, the DS S came with Öhlins suspension, black wheels, wider bars and various carbon cosmetics.
- 2007: Multistrada 1100DS and S – larger 1078cc engine, various suspension and ergomic refinements.
- 2010: Multistrada 1200 – retuned 1198 Testastretta V-twin making 150bhp, styling (by Giandrea Fabbro, who also penned the 1098 and Panigale) and a swathe of flagship electronics including traction control, rider modes and switchable electronic suspension. Pikes Peak model introduced in 2011 with uprated Öhlins suspension and many cosmetic and performance extras.
- 2013: Multistrada 1200 – suspension on the S model now semi-active system, using Skyhook algorithm to self-level bike. Engine revised with more power and torque. Granturismo model with panniers added algonside Pikes Peak (now with semi-active suspension).
- 2015: Multistrada 1200 – adds Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) to vary cam timing for a more flexible (and clean) power delivery. Power a claimed 158bhp. Semi-active suspension now informed by a 5-axis IMU for better control, and more electronics with cornering ABS, cruise control, backlit switches, and a TFT dash on the S model. Enduro model with 30-litre tank and wire wheels introduced in 2016.
- 2018: Multistrada 1260 – enlarged 1262cc DVT motor from the Diavel adds fatter power and torque curves, with further chassis, styling and ergonomic tweaks to both 1260 and Enduro models. Electronics packages now include updated TFT screen, quickshifter, improved semi-active suspension, keyless ignition.
The 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 is available in three flavours; a standard model, an S and S Sport version.
Owners' reviews for the DUCATI MULTISTRADA V4S (2021 - on)
5 owners have reviewed their DUCATI MULTISTRADA V4S (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Never been more disappointed! by the standard version that I’ve puchaced! I can’t believe the lack of equipment on this one . No, cruise control , no led , not even a double stand .(really Ducati ? For 21000€ this is what you give? All tour rivdd as le throw in everything in a better price.) it’s gear is worse than any other bike I’ve ever came across! So frustrating, if I knew that is such a cheap - poor version I’d definitely buy the bmw ..
Was expecting way more power
Poor compare to others
Pathetically poor on standard version Should’ve cost no more than 16k
Buying experience: Fan moto co. Greece (exp Very good )
Version: V4S Tourer
Over the last 45 years of racing and road riding, this is absolutely the best and most comfortable bike i have ridden.
Extremely comfortable riding position, but, a bit high for the average rider. Two seat height positions as standard. Dropping down by 20mm. They advertise a 'low seat' accessory giving a 30 drop for over £200. What they don't say is that this measurement is taken from the setting standard seat in its high position. So £200 for 10mm is very expencive.
Having owned a Desmosedici and experienced the super smooth yet amazing torque. The Multistrada V4 is sublime and the nicest engine i have ever had.
At only 150 miles it broke down after dumping all it's oil over the engine, my boots and the high street. Blowing the seal above the rocker box. The technology I think has not had enough testing as the 'Maps' app will not connect the bike and is also a subscription (kept that quiet) and will not run with Google Maps. The adaptive cruise stopped at 110 miles as well as the right hand heated grip.
Doing away with the Desmodromic valves has cut down servicing considerably. But the MPG is not good for a touring motorcycle.
The adaptive cruise was one of the reasons i took a £4000 hit on the insurance payout after being knocked off my XDiavelS 2020. By not accepting the 'like for like' policy payment. Also there is a compartment under the passenger seat with a puncture repair kit that Ducati never mentioned.
Buying experience: I bought mine from Riders of Bridgwater during lockdown and the quality of service was second to none. It was deliver to me on the day it was promised with the personal hand over by Jason the same person who soled it me. At a very good deal.
Version: V4 S
Better than my GS!
Pro's: Excellent suspension, electronic gizmos (if you care) and top wind protection.Con's: Fuel consumption/Range, weight, chain+ double sided swingarmI have a 2012 Multistrada and my main reasons for buying it was the sporty character and the touring ability. Why I have given the V4S only 3 starts, because for my use of the bike, two things are evident, the bike is flawed as a touring bike, load it two-up, panniers, top box and tank bag and I'm under the 30 mpg, around 140 miles the reserve light comes up, that is simply too low for a touring bike. The other thing is sportiness, everyone is raving about it, maybe because they are driving it in cold and grease roads, in the dry and warm roads of Portugal, start pushing it hard and the bike is heavy, you cannot un-notice the mass entering the corners, I'm also not fond of the Pirelli Scorpion tires, the originals where bad, these are average, unfortunately the 19in front limits the choice of my favourite rubber.Then come the niggles that add to that, first off the loss of the single-sided swingarm, adjusting the chain tension is much more of a pain, the wings in the bottom of the fairing, funnel cold air and all the road grime into the legs, they should made them foldable or very ease to attach/detach for the winter.Ultimately this bike fails in the primary design aspects, which sport, adventure and touring, unless yours aren't very far from any petrol station or your bladder has less autonomy than the Multistrada V4S. As for sportiness, the original MTS felt better the hard I pushed, this one is the opposite, start to push hard and things start to feel more like I'm fighting the bike.I guess it's a Euro 5 thing but don't bother getting the Akrapovic, the bike doesn't really sound anything special, it's neither a V2 nor a V4 sound, unlike the Streetfighter/Panigale which does at high revs.PS: Most of these things you won't pick-up in the typical 60min test drive.
Suspension is great, very comfortable bike, the mandatory fuel stops ensures plenty of breaks before feeling anything like tired.Brakes are better than the original MTS but not in the same league of Streetfighter, I would say they are just adequate, especially when fully loaded.
V4's are thirsty engines by default, what I've noticed with the Multi is that the gearing is very short, I guess since they didn't added DVT and they lack torque compared with the twins, they simply used short gearing to have the engine in the meat of the torque curve, that had the side effect or.... you guessed it, increased fuel consumption. Other than that is smooth, brilliant fueling and very linear, never feels like 170bhp until you look at the speedo. Doesn't sound that special even with the Akrapovic.
Can't comment on reliability, general quality is good but then again anyone would for a bike costing this much.
Best motorcycle customer in the petrol stations for sure.No idea about the service costs yet. Honestly I think the bike is priced £1500/£2500 above what it should be to and the accessories are also over-priced, if looking for value for money.
If you can live you the flaws get the V4S, the suspension alone is worth it. Optionals are quite expensive, so choose wisely. When buying the top box, you have to get the that and extra the colored insert with backrest. Don't waste your money on the Akra, doesn't make the bike sound better and it's only slightly louder.