MCN Fleet: Ducati V2S ticks all the boxes, but can it excite like its big V4 brother

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When the latest evolution of the Ducati Multistrada V2 was unveiled in November 2021, the overriding feedback from the launch in Italy was that it was every bit as good, if not better than its big brother the Ducati Multistrada V4. The testers raved about its engaging ride, ease of use and impeccable manners making it more useable in the real world and every bit as much fun.

But I have to say that after eight months of running the V2S I’m not sure I quite agree. While there is no question that the V2S is an accomplished bike. In fact it does everything so well, with such minimal fuss that it never really got my juices flowing. With a claimed 113 bhp, it’s obviously fast enough for the road and while it has plenty of power you do have to work at it and exploit the slick quick shifter and auto blipper assisted gearbox to make rapid progress. Handling is solid and precise while the overly wide bars give good leverage and control, but can be a bit awkward when filtering in traffic.

Ducati Multistrada V2S

The addition of the excellent Dunlop Road Smart IV after I got a puncture on the way back from the Isle of Man TT also helped sharpen up its handling with notably increase grip levels compared to the original fit Pirellis. The electronics are typical top notch Ducati, with a plethora of options to enable you to really personalise your ride. Plus it’s loaded with a suite of un-obtrusive rider aids. And the brakes offer a tremendous amount of power, feel and accuracy thanks to the quality of the Brembo calipers and the advanced lean angle sensitive ABS.

But having ridden a V4R with it’s breath taking 170bhp motor, the V2R, as good as it is, left me a bit cold. The V4R is as MCN’s chief road tester Michael Neeves so aptly explained ‘a Superbike on stilts’. It’s a brilliant description of a bike that is not only incredibly fast, but engaging and useable. Yes it’s significantly bigger and also significant more expensive (£5,100 to be precise) than it’s little brother, but it’s also something special, a trait that it personally reminds you of every time you start it up and pull away.

I’ve spent the last few years wanting to ride smaller capacity and lighter adventure bikes off-road as I enjoy them more and find them more capable, but when it comes to the road – and eating up big miles – you can’t beat cubes….

Update eight: Michael braves the elements as temperature plumets to -4 in central London

Date: 14 February 2023

With hindsight I should have taken the car or jumped on public transport, but running late and needing to get to South London from my home in Hertfordshire I elected to take the bike. It also gave me the opportunity to ride the big Multistrada in London to see how it handled congested streets, filtering and the general attitude of our capital’s finest road users.

Twenty minutes on the M1 immediately took its toll on my core temperature but with my Keis heated bodywarmer on I still remained comfortable. Expecting the air temperature to climb a little as I got to the capital I was still left wanting with the digital dash displaying 0 degrees – only a little better than the -2 it registered at the start of my journey.

On board Ducati Multistrada V2

I lived in London for ten years a couple of decades ago and in terms of traffic – not a lot has changed. Yes, there are less bikes on the road, more scooters, the cars are physically bigger than they were, even though the roads have stayed the same size. Motorcyclists can now use a lot of the bus lanes, which is a good thing, but I’m always wary as I remain convinced distracted car drivers still aren’t expecting or looking out for bikers.

The Ducati Multistrada V2S did its thing and got me to my destination far quicker than any other form of transport, but it’s no city commuter. The single biggest issue is the width of the handlebars. Yes they’re great for control and fast changes of direction due to the leverage they give you, but when it comes to squeezing through gaps of stationary traffic where uncooperative drivers are generally more interested in their mobile phones – it’s a big bike. The mirrors are even wider and I don’t know if it’s the type of cars now on the road, but they seem to be the perfect height to make contact with the glut of big 4x4s on the road.  

On the plus side the grunty Ducati Multistrada V2S is quick off the lights, despite having such a high first gear, meaning that you can be in any lane and quickly get to where you want regardless of the ambitions of the other road users.

Ducati Multistrada V2 iced up

Having stayed over in London overnight I was greeted with a white, not red Ducati when I went to leave the following morning due to the ice covering the bike. It was a big sluggish to turnover, but it started without issue and the dash now read a chilling temperature of -4. I expected that to be a bit of a false reading and once I started riding it would climb, but it didn’t. In fact by the time I arrived home, and away from the urban sprawl it showed -6 and I was cold. It was mainly my hands which were the problem and despite the heated grips they went through the numb, cold feeling and into pain and being unable to really move my fingers. Like lots of heated grips that come as original equipment I find that when it’s really cold they don’t actually get hot enough to keep your fingers from freezing. The Ducati also has the benefit of hand guards which help reduce the wind chill, but I can tell you that after an hour of riding I couldn’t wait to get off the bike and start to warm-up.

It’s probably a little unfair to be critical of the Multistrada’s commuting credentials but Multistrada essentially translates to ‘all roads’ so it’s good to test these things. But on this occasion the incredibly competent Ducati isn’t in its comfort zone for baltic London commuting – but to be fair nor was I.   

Update seven: Injury forces Michael to miss out on a final big ride before autumn got hold

Date: 2 December 2022

With the weather closing in and the scorching summer days very much a distant memory I’m lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to do a final big ride when the weather was good. The reason was down to injury. A torn quad muscle when competing in the final round of an off road Baja style event in Wales onboard a Ducati DesertX put an end to that!

It meant that while the sun was still shining, the kids had gone back to school I missed the golden opportunity for a few days on the road onboard the sweet and easy to live with Ducati Multistrada V2S.

So far I’ve covered nearly 3500 mile son the bike and while it ticks all the boxes it’s never really wowed me like I thought and hoped it would. Being a Ducati I guess I was expecting something a bit special, a bit quirky even. But the V2S is instead a very accomplished bike, capable of doing everything from commuting to big motorway miles and everything in between.

Riding high on Multistrada V2

But it’s over arching abilities means that it’s essentially a jack of all trades. I sometimes think I’m judging it too hard. If it was a Japanese bike it may have more than met my expectations, but being a thoroughbred Italian middleweight I guess I expected a little bit more flare and excitement.

As a complete package it’s hard to fault. The electronics are excellent and completely in tune with the dynamics of the bike. The screen is very easily adjusted. In its low position it’s out the way and looks great, while its highest setting gives very good wind and weather protection while being just low enough for me to see over the top of it without it taking my line of vision.

On the flip side it’s hard to be anything but disappointed with the rusty and mis coloured exhaust. The bike had a good coating of protection spray prior to use and while it’s been used in the rain, it hasn’t seen any truly bad weather or salt on the roads.

Header pipes wearing

My other gripe, which I have to admit is very much a first world problem, is that there is very little room or option where to put my phone for directions or a sat nav.

I have just about managed to fit a Quadlock phone mount but because of the bend on the bars and the remote reservoirs for the front brake and clutch its far from ideally placed. Not being able to mount a phone or sat nav just feels like a surprising oversight for a bike aimed at covering big miles of touring and adventure.

Update six: Ducati’s flagship off-roader tested to breaking point at Sweet Lamb Baja

Date: 2 November 2022

From the moment the handsome Ducati DesertX was unloaded out of the van in the paddock of the final round of the Baja series at Sweet Lamb in Wales it’s fair to say it got a bit of attention. Rocking up at an offroad event on a brand new £14k bike isn’t necessarily the done thing and I was under no illusion how fortunate I am.

That evening there was a constant stream of people asking me about the bike, what it was like to ride, but to there surprise I couldn’t answer the question as I hadn’t ridden it yet – tomorrows race would be the first time.

The morning briefing described what the course was like – 13.5 mile loop, all off-road, all on private land with a mix of fast flowing fire tracks and more technical off piste sections. But first a sighting lap to familiarise the 150 strong entry as to what lay ahead.

Our man in the mud

It all started well, the bike felt good, well balanced and just as my confidence started to grow on the untimed sighting lap a stupid mistake when I got a little bit throttle happy on a wet grass, up hill climb. The rear came around and within a second of hitting the deck, in what was essentially an innocuous 15mph crash, I was hit by a blameless rider on a KTM 890 that I’d just overtaken. Sorry! Total amateur hour!

The biggest injury at the time was my embarrassment and broken pride. Fortunately, the following riders’ 890 was essentially unscathed but the Ducati wasn’t. A broken screen, badly bent rear brake lever and now a mis functioning left hand switch gear meaning that my hazard lights were on and wouldn’t turn off no matter what I did – talk about highlight my error to the world!

With no time between the end of the sighting lap and the start of the first two hour race, I made it back to the pits and after considering removing the fairing altogether I instead went to see Martin Wittering and his incredibly experienced and affable Torque Racing team ( who were on site.

With decades of experience of race support at Rally’s around the globe I was in safe hands. In a matter of minutes, the screen had been drilled and cable tied back together, the rear brake lever straightened and I was good to go. My little finger had taken a knock in the crash, but I elected to keep my glove on and go and start the race and worry about that later (it turned out to be broken-ed).

Getting down and dirty

The delay meant everyone else had gone so I was able to ride my own race before I started catching people towards the end of the first lap. With two hours of riding ahead I tried to settle into a brisk, but sustainable pace while also trying to get used to the Desert X in what was my first competitive ride since 2016.

Getting dialled into the Ducati wasn’t hard with smooth linear power, well balanced chassis and probably the best brakes I’ve used on an adventure bike in terms of feel, control and off road specific ABS intervention. The two hours went well.

I didn’t make any mistakes, passed a fair few riders and despite starting last managed to complete the same amount of laps as the leaders. In the case of riders completing the same amount of laps, the fastest lap time dictated your finishing position. The race one results posted at lunch time revealed I’d finished 22nd overall and third in the 800 – 999cc class which was way above expectation.

The result was also testament to how a completely standard bike (apart from fitting Metzeler Karoo Extreme tyres) could go head to head and deliver against a plethora of well sorted, well ridden race prepped rally and adventure bikes.

Update five: Puncture leads to tyre change on the Ducati Multistrada and what a difference

Date: 18 Sep 2022

I was waiting in the queue to board a ferry when the guy on a bike next to men lent in and said: “You might want to look at rear tyre mate.”

There it was the head of a nail stuck just to the left of centre of the sub 2,500 mile Pirelli Scorpion Trail II. Although the Ducati Multistrada V2‘s tyre clearly wasn’t flat it did look on the soft side. A dab of spit onto the nail head revealed there were no bubbles or big leak. With no pressure gauge on me to check I was soon being invited onto the ferry where I’d have a couple of hours to make a plan for my 200 mile night time ride home.

Upon arrival I embarked apprehensively and made a b-line to the nearest petrol station. The air line read 18psi. Clearly way below where it should be and a serious concern with over three hours of motorway riding ahead of me, but actually not as bad as I thought. I pumped it up to the recommended 38psi and made a sharp exit with plan to check it again within 30 minutes of riding.

Guido enjoys a quick pitstop on the Ducati Multistrada V2

By this time I was on the motorway. Another £1 charged for the air and the gauge read a reassuring 36psi. This time I topped it up to 40psi given I was loaded with luggage and got going.

I stopped three further times over the remaining 165 miles and each time I’d only lost a psi or two and arrived home with 36psi and a sense of relief.

Although technically repairable given the location of the nail in the tyre, it felt like a good time to look at options and replace the OE tyres which never seem to perform quite as well as they should – regardless of bike or tyre manufacturer.

Too tyred for words

With zero desire to ride the V2S on anything but tarmac, my search for options was focussed around pure road performance combined with good wet weather attributes and warm-up times given the seemingly abrupt end to summer and the imminent arrival of autumn.

After doing my research I plumed for a set of the highly regarded Dunlop RoadSmart IV. I’m only a few hundred miles into life with the new tyres, bur initial impressions are positive – in fact the bike feels better in every area.

From the profile which seems to aid turning in, mid corner grip and the confidence and feedback when getting on the gas. I’m yet to really use them in anger or in the wet and how they wear remains to be seen, but they are definitely a welcome addition to this accomplished bike.

Update four: Charting the hits and misses of the Ducati Multistrada V2

Date: 18 Aug 2022

Sunny ride out on the Ducati

Hit: Styling and build quality

There’s no question the Ducati Multistrada V2S is a good-looking bike. Cast your mind back to the first ever Multistrada back in 2003 and even if you liked the quirky early style, you have to admit the 2022 bike has come a long way. Ducati have some serious pedigree in building stunning looking bikes, but there is now undeniable quality and practicality to go with the super model looks.

The near 15k price tag dictates the quality of parts but it’s not just the Brembo brakes that ooze class, the way the bike is built, the way the body work fits through to the plush seat – the V2S lets you know it’s a premium product where ever you look.

Hit: Fully loaded

From the moment you turn the bike on (it’s a keyless ignition) the whirring begins, and the sequence of lights burst into life it’s apparent that this is a complicated and hi-tec motorcycle. In addition to the active suspension which can be set with different pre-loads (solo rider, solo and pillion, solo with luggage, solo with pillion and luggage) there’s options for suspension stiffness, engine braking and off course power maps ranging from enduro, urban, touring to sport. And the changes all make a tangible difference unlike on some bikes, which means you really can personalise the bike depending on what type of rider you are or what type of riding you are doing.

The cruise control is also a hit, really simple to operate and a pleasure to use.  

A little adjustment needed

Hit: Multi roads

Multistrada in Italian translates to Multi Roads and there is no denying the bikes capabilities. Unfortunately to date I’ve spent more time covering big miles on motorways through necessity rather than being out purely for pleasure and getting stuck in to some twisties. But I have been able to enjoy some spirited riding along with the motorway monotony and the V2S takes it all in its stride. It’s the type of bike that is incredibly competent whatever you’re doing, but the harder you ride the more fun it becomes. It’ll sit at motorway speeds all day without complaint, tackle rush hour traffic whist being as equally at home on your favourite A or B road.

Miss: Hard to love

Despite its unquestionable credentials that make it an almost faultless package, I’m yet to fully engage with the V2S. I think a lot of this is down to the riding I’ve done to date (I need to take on the Alps or the Pyreness!) but its complete competency makes it a little bit underwhelming to ride. Another reason is that it feels incredibly long geared which is great for high-speed touring, but despite a more than respectable claimed 113bhp, it lacks any real urgency or bottom end punch unless you start to rev the bike hard where you are no doubt rewarded for your efforts.

Handling is good and the active suspension is impressive, but again it’s so refined that it’s only when you start to push that you begin to feel one with the bike.

Pannier woes

Miss: Pannier space

Now this is a first world problem/gripe because I love the way the panniers are very much part of the design and integrated into the styling. But a recent trip to the Isle of Man for the TT revealed that even the bigger (non-exhaust side) pannier won’t fit my off-road helmet in! It’s so close to fitting and I did manage to get it in by not only removing the peak but also the small GoPro mount on the top of the helmet.
I’m a fan of the panniers, but a bit more capacity wouldn’t go a miss for real world travel.

Update Three: Ducati Multistrada V2 is feeling flat…

Date: 18 July 2022

Posing with the Ducati Multistrada V2

It’s hard to describe the feeling of deflation when you hit the starter button on your bike and it fails to…well…start. There I was panniers loaded, helmet on, ready to set off to Dorset to meet my family, but the three month old Ducati Multistrada V2S had other ideas.

My attention immediately turned to the battery. The bike hadn’t been used for nearly two weeks and whilst it would turn over, there just wasn’t enough umph to make the 937cc motor burst into life.

After a brief and fruitless attempt to bump start it, I pushed it back to my garage for investigation. The voltmeter read 12.51v. So although not flat, not enough power to turn it over fast enough to start. In the end it was an easy fix, I connected a car battery with some jump leads and hey presto the Multistrada was alive again. I could see from the volt meter that with the motor running the battery was charging so with some trepidation my journey South began.

Flatter than the Fens

I managed to cover 50 miles before needing to stop for fuel and I have to admit to being pretty apprehensive about turning the engine off and even more so when the moment came to see if it would start again.

It turns out my worries were unfounded and the rest of my journey went as planned. Since then I’ve covered another 750 miles on the bike having been at the Isle of Man TT, but despite daily use on the Island the memory of it not starting flashes through my mind every time I hit the starter button.

So far I’ve had no repetition of the problem, but it remains a niggling thought in the back of my mind, a niggle that is going to take a while longer to extinguish. I’ve racked my brains as to why it lost charge first time round and have found few answers. No lights were left on, there was no sat nav connected and it had been used for long journeys, not short ones. Yes the bike had been unused for two weeks and I had been running the heated grips, but it’s not an issue I expected to be writing about and hope I won’t have to again.

The bike hasn’t been used for a week now and the voltmeter shows 12.76v – which is more than enough to start it without issue so I’m starting to regain some lost confidence.

Update Two: Ducati’s Multistrada V2S soaks up all the challenges

Date: 18 June 2022

Spring time ride on Multi V2

You learn a lot about a bike riding it for 800 miles over three days. The trip in question wasn’t a leisurely jaunt around the countryside – it was essentially commuting. I went to interview road racing royalty for our big Isle of Man TT preview in last week’s issue.

That meant a tour of the North leaving my home in Hertfordshire and heading to Bradford to see Dean Harrison, then a trip to hook up with Peter Hickman and his FHO BMW team in Louth, before meeting the man himself, John McGuinness, in Skipton and travelling with him back to his home near Morecambe.

I got lucky with the weather and dodged the showers until a final day ride with McGuinness on his 30th anniversary Honda Fireblade and a very wet and surprisingly cold 230-mile ride home taking in the Friday night delights of the M6 and M1.

Action stations for the Ducati Multistrada V2

Although I’ve ridden plenty more miles a day than this over the years, due to the type of miles I rode it equated to a lot of seat time and I can now confirm that Ducati Multistrada V2S is a comfortable place to be.

The ergonomics of the bike suit my 5ft 9in frame well. I wouldn’t say the riding position is lazy, as it puts you in a good position to control the bike through the wide bars and foot pegs, but it’s spacious. Even on the monotonous final ride home there wasn’t much saddle shuffling needed to stay comfortable. The adjustable screen is also a simple and effective delight.

It’s a bugbear of mine that I really don’t like looking through a screen or having my vision compromised by the top edge, so as a default I run it in its lowest setting. There’s plenty of wind noise but the view is not disrupted. The screen can be adjusted in seconds on the fly with one hand and while the highest setting does put the top of the screen in my eyeline, it’s nice to be able to have it there for the extra wind protection and reduced noise.

McPint showing our man how it's done

Whilst this type of ‘adventure’ bike can suffer from poor aerodynamics due to the height, styling and position of the mirrors, the Ducati does a good job at keeping the rider protected. Yes, there is still significant wind noise, but there is no actual buffeting, and this is the key to completing big miles without fatigue.

With a stack of luggage onboard and the electronic suspension dialled in for the optimum settings for my weight and load, the V2 felt planted whether I was trying and failing to keep up with McGuinness on his Fireblade or negotiating the waterlogged M6.

I’m not a fan of riding with panniers. Whilst my spatial awareness homes in on the width of the handlebars, I struggle to register the width of the rear of the bike with panniers – especially when changing direction. I normally do anything to avoid riding with luggage, but the Ducati is different from the big adventure bikes I’ve ridden before with the panniers far more integrated in the overall design and as a result considerably narrower. I’ll still take them off whenever I don’t need them, but the V2S has helped me turn the corner in embracing hard luggage!

Update One: Ducati’s Multistrada V2 ticks all the boxes

Date: 18 May 2022

Having spent the last decade onboard dedicated adventure bikes it’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a road focussed bike such as the Ducati Multistrada V2. It may look like an adventure bike, but its intentions remain firmly on the road.

I haven’t done many miles on the bike yet, but the initial impressions are of complete competence whether that be sitting in the fast lane of the motorway, negotiating London traffic, riding my favourite twisty road or cruising two up with luggage.

I love the keyless ignition, which initially takes some getting used to, but once you have makes complete sense as you just keep the key tucked away in your jacket – avoiding the inevitable key hunting we’ve all had to do at some point in our life. The only downside is that you still need the key to open the fuel cap, which, while being a first world problem, I find annoying as other keyless bikes I’ve tested the fuel cap can be opened if the key is within range.

Fuelling up the Ducati Multistrada V2

The moment the ignition is on, you’re greeted with a comprehensive, if slightly busy TFT dash. The information available and settings you can control is mind blowing and it enables you to adjust the parameters of the power, suspension and ABS.

The electronic suspension is top class and perfect for my needs as with three kids, who seem to be getting more interested in bikes with each year that passes, I seem to be riding two-up more often than I thought.

While the dash has a plethora of information on display and seemingly endless options, it is all remarkably intuitive given just how many parameters of adjustment are available.

Dashboard shot of the Ducati Multistrada V2

So with the weather improving it’s now time to get out and about and I’ve got a few trips planned where I should be able to get a real taste of whet the Ducati is like to live with.

The bike came with panniers which will make carrying my worldly belonging around a synch and unlike some of the panniers you get on adventure bikes, these are neater and feel like part of the bike rather than an awkward ad on.

I’m not the biggest fan of riding with panniers mainly because I’ve got form in forgetting they are there! But these are fully integrated on the Ducati so shouldn’t compromise filtering should that be required.


The V2 may be the little brother of the V4 but it promises to be every bit as good. I’m planning adventures including a trip to the TT. And then in June I’ll be swapping it for the all-new Ducati DesertX so that the off-road fun can begin…