Long term update: Is more bhp always best?

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As commutes go, my twice-weekly run from Slough to Peterborough is pretty boring; sat upright on motorways, longing for the respite of seven roundabouts, three sharp turns and one long right-hand swooper. But thanks to my V-Strom it is an easy ride.

I’m always met by a red ants’ nest of flickering brake lights as I join the M4 in the morning. But the little 650 V-twin twists, wriggles and glides through it all. And once we’ve joined the free-flowing A1, the Strom relaxes and eases into a smooth hum for the rest of the journey. I have never sat on the Strom wishing for more – but last week I pulled up at MCN and laid my eyes upon a gorgeous Italian.

The Multistrada was sat waiting, 160bhp and 100ftlb of torque dripping from its Desmo V-twin. It looked delicious; I had to ride it home. Swinging a leg over the bigger, badder V-twin is like stepping into a realm of luxury. Variable valve timing, brimming with electronics, semi-active suspension and more sex appeal than Nigella Lawson whispering Fifty Shades of Grey in your ear. But it comes at a price; you can buy two V-Stroms for the price of one Multi – with £533 change.

The 1198cc motor thumps like a mad man as it growls and howls its way onto the A1 for an hour-and-a-half of testosterone-fuelled riding. Forget a comfortable 85mph cruising speed, the Italian Stallion hits triple figures and doesn’t even break a sweat. Riding along, thinking I’m doing the speed limit, only to glance at the speedo and see more numbers than an A-level maths equation was terrifying. As soon as I got home, I sat in the corner rocking, convinced I’d receive an envelope with more points than my mum’s Nectar card.  

After a more… conservative ride back to the office, I was glad to get back on the Strom for the next commute, if only to calm myself down. But what surprised me most was that my run from Peterborough to Slough on the V-Strom was actually seven minutes quicker than my ride on the Multistrada. And on the round trip the V-Strom was an impressive eight minutes quicker, with a 4.92mph faster average speed, and cost 66p less in fuel than the Multi. I’m putting it down to maintaining a consistent, smooth speed on the Strom and it being an incredible filtering machine.

So the Ducati is rip-roaring fun – but my solid Strom gets me home quicker and for less money. Perfect. 

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Andy Davidson

By Andy Davidson

Former MCN Feature writer