Part one of our week with the Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak saw Andy Davidson late for work as he spiced his Monday morning commute up with a bit of off-road action.
For the second installment the Ducati makes its way to Derbyshire and Yorkshire, to sample the roads of the Peak District.
Adventure: Peterborough to Peaks District
It’s exactly 9.30am on a Tuesday in the middle of October. To my right, the calm, obsidian black waters of Langsett reservoir lap gently against the bricks as the cooling engine of the Pikes Peak ticks and pings. Just a moment prior, the booming tone of the Ducati and its Termignoni exhaust shattered the autumnal peace and reverberated among the country homes.
It’s cold – the Ducati’s dash tells me 10°C - but with the hills surrounding the reservoir hidden under a thick layer of mist it feels much cooler. Despite the peace and quiet I can’t linger – I have roads to ride. The Ducati booms into life once again, the exhaust note bouncing off the bridge wall, before dissipating into the cold morning air. The sudden volume spike makes an early morning runner jump and quicken her pace.
This will be the first time I get to ride the Pikes Peak - a bike I’ve longed to try since it was first announced in 2011 - on the kind of roads it was designed for. Even if they are damp and covered in wet leaves. The Peak District is full of well known, beautiful roads. The A57, better known as Snake Pass, is perhaps the most famous, but the morning starts with a ride along the Strines; a tight, undulating road that I absolutely hated the last time I rode it. Potholes littered the entire stretch, which made braking for the first gear, downhill hairpins an intense experience.
Since my last visit, the entire road has been resurfaced with racetrack smooth tarmac, winding its way through the mist and trees like a perfect black ribbon of motorcycling heaven. It still requires first gear on its tightest bends, but in the belly of the deepest valleys, winding on the Pikes Peak’s throttle accompanied by the cacophony of 160 thoroughbred Italian ponies trying to escape from the engine is now filled with sheer adrenaline rather than trepidation. I’m already in love with the Ducati. Sheep idly standing in the road seem less enamoured with the bombastic red machine, and tangle themselves in fences and bushes as they retreat.
Finally on to the A57, the sun is burning through the morning mist, the road slowly drying as I warm up with a quick cuppa. By 11am the majority of the road is dry and at this time of year Snake Pass is quiet. No caravans, only a handful of cyclists braving the winds and unpredictable weather. The Multi is in ‘Sport’ mode, which is perfect for roads like this. Power delivery is never snatchy, it’s perfectly smooth and shoves the big Ducati forward out of corners, front wheel hovering above the tarmac as the adjustable wheelie control creates a perfect MotoGP-style power wheelie.
The scenery surrounding the A57 is beautiful, I know this from experience, but on the Ducati there’s no time to sit and admire - the bike is perfectly happy at slower speeds, but I know it really wants to be let off the leash. I’m happy to oblige. The huge spread of torque provided by the engine means gear changes don’t happen all that often – the Ducati loves driving out of corners from 2000rpm, with power rising all the way to the redline. The Multistrada is equally at home in the tight first gear corners as it is in the long fast sweepers, toesliders scraping, engine roaring.
After five hours charging through the hills I take a moment to survey the land from the top of Holme Moss and realise I’ve not even stopped to eat. The Pikes Peak was holding all my attention that well. I could head home, but there’s still a few hours of daylight left, it’d be stupid of me to waste it. We head out for a slightly more relaxed ride, taking it in, appreciating the landscape and the mad beauty that is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Edition. Built in Italy, made for the Peak District.