MCN Fleet: 5000 miles on Dunlop’s dual purpose Mutant tyres has proved their impressive skill

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My annual New Year’s Eve rideout was an absolute peach – 268 miles from Stamford up into the Peak District for a swan around on warm dry roads and a quick stop-off at the Cat & Fiddle to take on fluids (and expel some), before heading home again. The jaunt pushed the Dunlop Mutant tyres I’ve been testing over the 5000-mile mark, too – so it feels like a good time to talk about them.

The Ducati Multistrada V4S arrived on a set of Pirelli Scorpion Trail II hoops and, to be fair, there’s not much wrong with them. Slight numbness aside, they’re a pretty good tyre, but the Multi deserves something to allow it to shine, and Dunlop’s Mutants lets it do just that.

Dunlop Mutant tyre

From the first miles ridden at the beginning of August it was clear that they offer rapid warm-up (now also proven on very cold days) and consistent grip and composure whether they’re stone cold or red hot. This means that on short hops they’re confidence-inspiring, but after a 500-mile day in the saddle ion a scorching day they haven’t turned to slime.

More long-term tests

The block pattern and supple nature means they did exhibit an almost imperceptible ‘squirm’ at about 35mph when new, but as the tread has reduced, this sensation has gone away. Wet, dry, hot, cold, motorway-cruising or corner-abusing, on rough roads and glassy ones, and light off-road trails – they’ve been superb. But best of all has been the increase in feel and confidence. Turn-in improved, feedback increased, and they allow you use all of the Multi’s performance like it’s a big superbmoto.

And after 5000 miles of spirited use, they’ve still got plenty more left in them, too. The front is coping exceptionally well and will probably manage to deliver another 2000 miles without any significant drop in performance. The rear is now squaring, but not dramatically – there’s no nasty transition lip, either – and tread depth is still 3.5mm even at the shallowest point (7mm at the deepest). I’d expect them to be in need of replacement at 7000 miles, but that’s epic performance for aggressive use on a big, heavy adventure-sports bike. There’s also no damage – no big nicks, tears, chunks, torn edges or heavy graining. Impressive.

Rubber aside, I think the Multi also deserves a mention for its backlit switchgear at this time of year. Almost every ride at the moment includes a period in darkness – and having clearly backlit switchgear is a massive benefit. The Multi may not be over-encumbered with buttons like some competitors, but it’s still great to be able to the press the right one each time instead of randomly prodding the switchcube in the hope of good luck. Every bike should have them.

Ducati Multistrada V4 S previous updates:

 


 

Update seven: Adding protection and effortless usability to the Ducati Multistrada V4S

Published: 04-05-2021

In my last update I promised to talk about the very few non-standard bolt-ons that I’ve, er, bolted on in the pursuit of protection and usability. It’s not a long list. I’m not really a trinkets magpie, and more importantly, the Ducati Multistrada V4S just doesn’t need much.

First up, let’s cover off a simple bit of functionally formed packing assistance. Side-opening panniers are, to be frank, a pain in the arse. Whoever decided it was the ideal design has clearly never tried to put anything in one, or suffered the frustrating ignominy of everything falling out when simply trying to retrieve a solitary item from within.

Give me a top-loader any day. But – there is a way to dramatically improve life with your vertical clamshell: use liner bags. Ducati designed a set of shaped ones for the Multi, and they’re superb.

Multi Pannier

You get a three-bag set: One for the left pannier, and two for the right (one main bag, and one slim little jobby to slide into the otherwise tricky over-exhaust cavity).

Not only does it make it a doddle to pack off-bike and use every available millilitre of their literage when slid into place, but they prevent unwanted exits, and give you a handy off-bike solution to carrying your kit. Worth every penny of the £108 ticket price.

My other two mods are both from Evotech Performance – designers and creators of superb bolt-on enhancements for your pride and joy. They’re both pretty much invisible to the casual observer, though.

First up is a three-piece set of radiator protectors (£110, evotech-performance.com) to prevent errant stones putting a hole in your cooling capabilities.

Being all black powdercoated aluminium, they’re completely recessive – but it’s great to know they’re there, especially if you do venture off-road (and especially with mates who think it’s funny to roost you on a gravel track) .

The other addition is a pair of their handguard protectors. Protection for protection? Yes – because while the standard guards will deflect vegetation and give you a good chance of not suffering lever-induced finger damage, they’re not robust enough to deflect a big branch, or offer unwavering protection during an interaction with the ground.

More long-term tests

The Evotech items (£160) are fitted over the OE guards, secured at the bar-end and by mating with the mirror mounts via a clever bit of bracketry. They’re superbly robust, fit perfectly and you don’t really notice them. Great additions, both.


Ducati Multistrada V4 S previous updates:


Update six: Tyre swap and dash update add some icing and a cherry to the Multi’s tasty cake

Published: 27.09.20

Ducati Multistrada V4S navigation system

Is there anything more frustrating than something brilliant failing to work properly? That’s exactly the situation I’ve been wrestling with for months as the Ducati Multistrada V4S’s connectivity continued to be sporadically seamless and infuriating in increasingly inequal measure – with 'infuriating' taking an increasingly dominant role.

The problem? The Ducati Connect app and the dash would randomly refuse to talk to one another, or hold on to the connection on the occasions when they did decide to be friends – a bit like that ex who keeps following, then unfollowing, you on Instagram…

After a discussion with Ducati it transpired that my (very early) bike hadn’t yet received the dash update aimed at boosting connectivity ease and reliability.

A static view of the Ducati Multistrada V4S

That update has now been done – and it’s connected faultlessly ever since. It’s still slower than one would wish for on initial start-up, but once connected it’s a good system, made even better by the Multi’s sublime dash.

Amidst a sea of TFT competition, I genuinely think the quality and functionality of the V4’s dash is peerless – further boosted by the intuitive interactivity of the command joystick and other backlit switchgear command buttons. Other manufacturers should take note and make theirs this good.

If Ducati could now just add a permission tickbox that allows the whole kaboodle to connect without you needing to do anything other than start the bike and ride, that’d be close to perfection.

The Bluetooth connection establishes itself shortly after start-up, so if the WiFi one could join it (providing you’ve started the App), it would make getting on board much less of a faff.


Tyre changes on the Multistrada V4S

Ducati Multistrada V4S by the coast

The OE rubber – Pirelli’s Scorpion Trail II – wasn’t giving me the feel I was craving, and appeared to be slightly dulling the Multi’s delivery.

Grip is good and they operate with great consistency and poise – but they also feel slightly too rigid, slightly anesthetised, and on wet tarmac you just don’t get the feel you want from the front to give you the confidence to use the available grip. So 1500 miles ago they exited the rims in favour of trying Dunlop’s Mutant (circa £280 per pair plus fitting).

More long-term tests

This is my first experience of the Mutant – and I like them a lot. On the Multi they have given the ride a softer plushness and increased sense of feel and grip. But even better, they’re sharpened the steering response and give the confidence to push harder.

The result is riding the big V4 like a skinny supermoto. And in the wet, the increased feel and confidence is revelatory by comparison. Gone is the glassiness of the Trails IIs, and replaced with the ability to ride as if the road were dry.

Dual-purpose tyres are often buzzy and noisy on the road, and some tyres really hum at speed. There is tyres noise from the Mutants, but you have to concentrate on hearing it to pick it out – so it’s certainly not intrusive.

Negatives? Only one so far. At 32 to 38mph there’s a barely detectable squirmy sensation from the rear. It’s exceptionally subtle, but if you concentrate, it’s definitely there – presumably caused by the blocks just moving around a little.

At any other speed though, it’s like you’ve got sports tyres fitted. I’m yet to try them off-road – but on the road they’ve really brought out the Multi’s cheeky side, while being effortlessly grown-up in terms of competence.

Too much icing?

My Multi was on our stand at the MCN Festival a couple of weeks ago, and a fair few showgoers mentioned my lack of bolt-on goodies. As I told them, there’s a good reason for this: The Multi in this S Full spec simply doesn’t merit bolting much else to it.

The only non-stock mods I’ve made so far are adding a Beeline nav device (invaluable when the dash was temperamental), and Evotech radiator guards (£110) and handguard protectors (£160) – both of which I’ll review here next time. If you can’t wait for the full report – the summary will read: superb.

Jump to previous updates


Update five: the world’s worst garage queen?

Published: 13.08.2021

Rich gets ready for a long ride on the Multistrada V4 S

Anyone who buys a Ducati Multistrada V4S and leaves it languishing in their garage, treating it only to adoring looks, caressing coats of carnauba wax and the odd Sunday bimble (providing there’s no moisture in the air, the mercury is over 18-degrees and the airborne insect count is below three midges per square meter) should be flogged publicly for cruelty to motorcycles.

This is the world’s worst bike to treat as a garage queen – not because it ain’t pretty or jewel-like (it is, after all), but because it’s just so bloody good to ride.

Saddle-dwelling happiness

With my commute now reduced to walking from bedroom to home office, the daily dose of two-wheeled hedonism is sorely lacking right now. So, I’ve been smashing out big days in the saddle to compensate.

And this month’s most committed was a wee jaunt from my Stamford base over the Peaks and down through Cheshire into Wales. Then onto Anglesey before plunging south via Snowdonia, Bala, Newtown and Crossgates, to then hook East again and wend my way back to base. My Beeline Moto says that was 520.9 miles in 14hr47min.

It was a scorcher, too, not dipping beneath 22-degrees all day and peaking at 29. The carefully pre-planned route delivered mile upon mile of jaw-dropping biking roads, and the Multi was sublime every inch of the way. Everyone always wants to hear the negatives – but they are very few.

The dash connection is still glitchy, despite now trying both iOS and Android. Ducati say there’s a dash update, so that’s top of my to-do list. The powered phone compartment on the tank gets so ruddy hot that my iPhone went into a temperature-induced lockdown, claiming it needed to cool before further use (not handy when it’s running your nav functions).

You could heat a pasty in there, if it were more capacious. The OE Scorpion Trail IIs lack suppleness, feedback, and the rear is squaring. They’re coming off now in favour of a trial of Dunlop’s Mutants. The lack of keyless filler lock is tedious. Erm. That’s it. The good points? Everything else.

Feeling the tension

With almost 4000 miles on the clock since the last service, the Multi’s chain needed a decent adjustment. A quick look in the manual for the torque settings of the spindle nut revealed that, apparently, we’re not to be trusted with such information. Nor trusted with the tools to do the job (the tool kit is nigh-on non-existent).

Apparently, we should visit a dealer to adjust our chains for us. However, Ducati do provide you with the cutest and most useful adjuster gauge I’ve ever seen. Who knows why if we’re not allowed to do the job? Anyway, 36mm 12-point socket purchased, Torque setting gleaned from a dealer, and perfect adjustment was a doddle to achieve.

Chain tension makes a big difference to smooth riding if you have a shifter/blipper onboard – and the increasing sloppiness is now tight and precise again – ready for the next big day of pure riding pleasure.


Update four: is it a hit or miss for the Multistrada

Published: 14.07.2021

Highs and lows of the Ducati Multistrada V4 S

In the 2500-odd miles since last month’s update, the Multi has been a beguiling mix of extraordinarily good and bloody frustrating. We’ve been as far North as Berwick-upon-Tweed and briefly danced in and out of the Scottish borders, flitted West to Cardiff, South to Tunbridge Wells, East to Thetford Forest – and a myriad of places in between.

There have been a couple of 200+ mile days, but this month’s mini great escape was a 707-mile, 16hr day in the saddle: Stamford to the Pennines, a lap of the Northumberland 250 route, and home again. It’s just the sort of riding the Ducati Multistrada V4 was born for. So what have the miles revealed as the best bits and buggy niggles?

Hit – Cosseting comfort

Some bikes like to hurt you – the Multi isn’t one of them. Repeated longish rides (4hrs in the saddle stopping for nothing but red lights, junctions or a rapid fuel stop) are no more arduous than a 20-minute nip to the shops.

But my Northumberland loop really proved its cosseting kindness. A little over 14hrs out of the total 16 were spend onboard in motion to stick 707 miles on the odometer and there was no bum ache, knee cramps, hip discomfort or back or neck ache during the ride – nor anything the day after.

More long-term tests

Hit – Secure sweeper

The 19in front rim robs it of a degree or three of the aggression a 17in allows, but the trade-off is a rolling smoothness and graceful security on the move that feels more beneficial when you’re doing anything other than trying to pretend you’re on a sportsbike.

Plus, you really can take it off-road. It’s a matter of personal preference, but if the price for genuine versatility is arriving 15 seconds later at my destination because I couldn’t push the front so hard in a hairpin, I’m unfussed by the delay. The rear Scorpion Trail II is getting a noticeable square lip now though, so a change of rubber is high on the agenda. Go more roady, or hardcore adventure? I can’t decide.

Hit – Grunt factory

Treat it gentle and the V4 is a tame, refined, smooth force of petrol-burning nature. Dial up the menace, and it becomes a wailing maelstrom of drive. The anti-wheelie will stop things getting out of hand, but it’ll lift of its own accord in the first three cogs, and even at Autobahn speeds you can tap the throttle in sixth and it’ll keep adding digits like you’d dropped a cog first.

It’s not got the electric turbine-smooth drive of a VFR1200, or the thumping brutality of a V-twin Multi – but an endearing blend of the better bits of both.

Miss – Lost in space

I’ve mentioned the Ducati Connect app previously, and the daftly complex connectivity which mixes both Bluetooth and an onboard WiFi link – but it’s worth another mention.

What was a sporadic refusal to connect has become more persistent, regularly resolutely refusing to connect phone app to dash. At best, it’s frustrating, at worst you’re in the middle of nowhere and can’t access the satnav.

Navigation station

I’ve fitted a Beeline Moto back-up which has now saved me on multiple occasions when Ducati Connect wouldn’t connect at all. Then – for reasons known to no-one – it’ll decide to work perfectly for a while.

Miss – Persistent flasher

You get the choice of auto-off or manual-off indicators in the settings menu. But it’s not as simple as that. I have them set to self-cancel because doing so is a great safety net against un-cancelled indications – and yet I quite often notice they’re still flashing when they shouldn’t be.

So I’ve been experimenting when there’s nothing around to misread my signals. Sure enough – sometimes they cancel, sometimes they don’t. The only constant is that they appear to have a mind of their own.

Miss – Stopping power

Brembo’s Stylema calipers are plenty powerful, but there’s no escaping the fact that they’re just not that special in use on the Multi. They should have stopping power to spare, but I find myself using an additional good dose of back brake when speed really needs scrubbing off fast – and I’m not normally a regular back brake dragger.

Stopping power of the V4S

They’re nowhere near as weak as an Africa Twin’s (different postcode of stopping weakness), but they are disappointing. A pad upgrade beckons to see if it’s as simple as a lack of bite.

Jump to previous updates


Update Three: Delighted to be back on the Multistrada

Published: 08.06.2021

The Ducati Multistrada V4 S

Ducati didn’t get off to the best start with the Ducati Multistrada V4 – a supplier failure with the tolerances of their valve guides causing a significant, and expensive, recall to replace the engines.

But that remedial work is surging through dealers and the supply chain now – and after a seven week wait and a full engine swap, I’m also now back on a Ducati Multistrada V4 S. And loving it. Having picked it up a week before this report, I bashed into the first service mileage limit in just two days. That now completed, I’m free to start using the full range of the engine and to pile on the miles.

Second first impressions

I only had 250 miles on the first engine when the recall hit – and having put 1241 miles on a Multistrada 1260 Enduro loan bike in the intervening weeks, it was fascinating to jump back on the new V4 again. It’s almost a shame that Ducati have kept the instantly familiar styling and Multistrada name, because the two generations are chalk and cheese.

Don’t get me wrong, the 1260 is a great bike with a truly bonkers engine, but the new Multi is better in every way. The engine manages to be more insane but also more flexible and refined at the same time. The comfort has jumped a significant notch (first wiggle in the seat after 280 miles of constant riding – broken only by a rapid fuel stop), the airflow over the bike at all speeds is dramatically calmer, quieter and more cosseting, the handling is just as precise when pushing on but more refined and consistent at lower speeds and on poor surfaces, and the dash and connectivity have taken a generational leap, too.

Jump to previous updates

I’m a tight bastard, but even I can see why this full-spec Multi is £21.5k. Show me some of its peers in the adventure-sport market and the value-for-money equation looks dramatically less attractive – along with their residual values, ownership experience, and riding pleasure.

It’s not all perfect

Let’s not get too evangelical though, there are still annoyances. While the dash almost always picks up the Bluetooth connection to my phone, sometimes it’s reluctant to establish a WiFi connection to the Ducati app that runs all of the connected services. The app itself is distinctly 1.0 in terms of the evolutionary spectrum, too. When it does connect seamlessly (which is 95% of the time) the functionality through the dash is great for calls, media and satnav (via the linked Sygic app).

Digi display on the Ducati Multistrada V4S

The only other grumble to add to the first impressions list is how miserly the panniers are on the inside. They look large, but while the left-hand one will swallow a decent amount of swag (35 litres), the exhaust-dodging right one is akin to a 1980s briefcase: inversely Tardis-like. It’ll still take 25 litres, but the shaping means you’ll need to be a clever packer.


Update Two: Engine recall interrupts glorious first impressions of best Multistrada yet

Published: 05.05.2021

Riding the Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro

Those of you who are awake and capable of cognitive thought will immediately notice that this Ducati Multistrada V4 S, well, isn’t a Ducati Multistrada V4 S. Confusing, isn’t it? Instead, what you see here is a Multistrada 1260 Enduro. And, as we all know, that’s a different beast all together. So, what on Earth’s going on?

Valve guides. That’s what’s going on. Ducati have two suppliers for them, and one of them got a batch wrong, resulting in a rather simple part of the engine compromising the integrity of their fabulously complex and Swiss watch-like Granturismo V4. Cue global recall for affected bikes – and one immaculate V4 S with a mere 481 miles on the dash wending its way back to Ducati for remedial action, to be replaced in the interim by this beige behemoth.

More long-term tests

But while there’s no swerving the disappointment felt by all affected owners – some had already got their bikes, some hadn’t – I’m encouraged by the number of owners who’ve been in touch to say their supplying dealer has treated them superbly in getting their bike sorted. That process is in full swing right now.

It’s all in the delivery

So, with V4 joy halted just as I was getting into the swing of my time with it, I’ve leapt onto a V-twin 1260 Enduro instead (600 miles and couniting so far) – which, perversely, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. It’s been over a year since I last rode a 1260, so getting reacquainted is invaluable in better understanding just how far Ducati have moved the dial with the new V4.

Most immediately notable is the extraordinarily cunning trick they’ve played with the engine delivery. The V4 somehow manages to be more visceral, more aggressive, faster and more engaging – and yet significantly more user-friendly at the same time. Drive, especially off the bottom of the rev range, is so much more usable.

Where the V-twin kicks hard like a jackhammer, invariably making the front dance lightly over the tarmac, the V4 just delivers blistering forward momentum. Of course, that’s not just the hardware, but also the controlling software – and again, the step up in electronics feels palpable on the V4, delivering the same impact, but with more finesse. It’s so clever. The V4’s engine braking is gravitationally strong though. I’ve not had enough miles to know if I like it or find it unnerving – but it’ll certainly save on brake pads.

Integration station

The next thing that strikes you is the shift in integration, connectivity and information display. The 1260’s dash is no eyesore, and they both share similar interfaces so that 1260 owners would feel immediately at home navigating around the V4 – but the newer dash is like comparing a 2021 TV to one from the 90s. The app-driven satnav is a huge step forward, too.

On the 1260 you need to mount another solution, have nowhere to stash your phone, and have to reply on an exposed power source. The V4 integrates a USB power source into the built-in cubby hole for your phone, which connects via Bluetooth and WiFi to the bike’s systems. Getting the satnav app to connect the first time wasn’t quite seamless, but it eventually worked – the only gripe being the need to pair it on every start-up, leaving your phone running unlocked, and it being slow to link. Once working, though it’s nearly as good as CarPlay.

Saw you coming…

Another headline change is the radar-enabled cruise control. I won’t pretend it didn’t take a leap of faith to give it a try – but it works really well. It’s not as deft or subtle as your own inputs would be, but it’s less ham-fisted than some riders. Jump to the 1260, and it suddenly feels noticeably absent. Who knew that repeatedly fiddling with the Set, Cancel and Resume buttons was such a ball ache? Perhaps even more surprising in usefulness are the mirror-mounted blind-spot warning lights. I’m not a lazy observer on a bike, but I’ve been impressed by the additional layer of look-out assistance. Again, you really notice it when it’s gone.

Next level

The final of my first impressions is a more holistic one. Everything about the V4 S manages to take the sense of premium product up to the next level. The 1260 Multi (from £17,895) is no pig’s ear and sets the standard pretty high – but the new Multi feels significantly more special. The fit, quality of the finishes, attention to detail and refined obsession is apparent everywhere – only let down by the slightly cheap feeling phone cubby hole door, which could definitely be better. But in this 'Full' spec V4 S trim, you can really see where your money has gone.

The Africa Twin I tested last year was the same price in top spec, but with very little obvious reason why. The 1260 is a superb bike – but the V4 S really does move the game on. When it’s working, of course.

What’s 'Full' about it?

The Multistrada V4 is available in many forms, with a large number of option extras. Get your dealer to bling a V4 S to 'Full’' spec – like this one – and you’ll add:

• Panniers

• Radar cruise control

• Centre stand

• Heated grips

• Heated seats

• Akrapovic silencer

• Carbon front fender

The V4 S starts at £18,543 in 'Essential' base spec, while the 'Full' loaded version costs from £21,643. The range-topping V4 S Sport costs £22,093, while a completely base Multi V4 costs £15,643.


Update one: Introducing the Ducati Multistrada V4 S

Published: 05.04.2021

A side view of the Ducati Multistrada V4 S

I never really gelled with the old Multi 1200/1260 (but loved the 950), so deliberately picking the new Ducati Multistrada V4 S to live with was always going to be either a revelatory stroke of genius or a terrible mistake. Having covered a few hundred miles on it, it felt exceptional – right up until Ducati took it away to replace its engine under recall!

 

Ducati Multistrada V4S

The rider Richard Newland, MCN Editor, 47, 5ft 11in. Riding for 36 years, all year round. Richard.newland@motorcyclenews.com

Bike specs 1158cc | 170bhp | 240kg | 840mm seat height


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Richard Newland

By Richard Newland

Editor