Lean and mean touring machine: Ducati's latest Multistrada 1200 S

We head out to Chiang Rai, Thailand, to see if Ducati’s latest 1,200-cc sports tourer can cut the mustard in India

Multistrada in Italian means 'many roads', thus making this sports tourer a perfect fit for India, at least on paper. India has the second-largest road network of any country in the world, in fact. And, on these roads, which are not often in the best nick, you need a bike that can take a bit of a pounding. Ducati believes that the Multistrada 1200 S is just the bike to do it.

Visually, the Multi looks like an absolute beast. The two slats of three LED-eyed headlamps flanking a sharp beak are particular highlights. Touches like the exquisitely sculpted tank shrouds, indicators seamlessly built into the knuckle-guard, rugged belly-pan, and a two-tone, double-barrel upswept exhaust are the right combination of aesthetics and attitude to make the Multi stand out.

The Multistrada gets cruise control and four riding modes
The Multistrada gets cruise control and four riding modes

The Multi can cover great distances like any capable tourer should with a sizeable 20-litre tank. With a seat at a relatively low saddle height of 825 millimetres that can be increased to 845 mm on the stock seat riding, this should be easy for people of many sizes.

The Multistrada’s exhaust note sounds delicious. PICS/Ducati
The Multistrada’s exhaust note sounds delicious. Pics/Ducati

But what about the engine? The Multi sports a liquid-cooled 1,200-cc, L-twin powerplant. One that produces a colossal 160 PS at 9,500 revs, and dishes out a meaty 136 Nm of torque served hottest at 7,500 RPM. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the Multistrada 1200 S comes armed to the teeth with technology such as Desmodromic Variable Timing, knocking sensors and a new anti-surge intake and exhaust system.

Full colour TFT screen provides a load of info but manages to not overwhelm the rider
Full colour TFT screen provides a load of info but manages to not overwhelm the rider 

Apart from all that wizardry in the engine department, Ducati has also included Bosch’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the brain behind safety features such as Cornering ABS, the Sky Hook suspension system, wheelie control and cornering headlamps. There’s also an app bundled into what is called the Ducati Multimedia System. That’s a lot of tech to boast of, but is it any good?

First, the digital console is pretty cool, with its coloured display and easy-to-read layout. There are four riding modes for different ride environments — Urban, Touring, Sport and Enduro — for city riding, highway touring, high-speed rides and off-roading respectively.

On Touring, you don’t feel that maniacal urgency when you open up the throttle and shift through the gears at all. This is easy, this is fun, and this is…200 km/h! What? How did that happen? Yep, the Multi is effortlessly quick. You can only tell how quick you’re going by how blurry your surroundings are and how much the wind pushed up off the visor is buffeting your head. The roads had a few rough patches, but were soaked up by the suspension.
We also fiddled around with the bike’s cruise control. While it is easy enough to engage, we found the feeling extremely unnatural and quickly tapped the brakes to disengage it.

Sport mode was a real eye-opener because this is where the Multi was meant to be. The throttle response is instantaneous, and you can reach heady speeds in the flutter of an eyelid. The only gripe was with the uncomfortable tingling in the extremities when you crossed 6,500 revs in Touring.

We reached mountainous terrain soon and the big bad Multistrada, so capable on the straights, took to the curves. You hit high speeds quickly and also carry them into corners easily. The handling on the Multi is sublime, and this isn’t just down to the Sky Hook suspension system, but also the specially designed bi-compound Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres that provided seminal grip levels, allowing the confidence to push further with every corner. Braking, too, was exceptional, with the Brembo brakes (320-mm up front and 265-mm at the rear), stability and traction control aid, along with the ABS.

On the Multistrada, you do not feel like you are on top of a big, bad sports tourer, because it is ridiculously easy to ride, and very, very forgiving. It is also forgiving to your posterior; you don’t feel much discomfort even after many hours in the saddle. A great bike then and, at Rs 16.59 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune), especially considering you get a 160-PS beast for the same price range as its nearest contender, the Tiger 1200 Explorer, which, at Rs 17.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune), produces 23 PS and 15 Nm less, and doesn’t boast of as much technology either.

Need to know

Ducati Multistrada 1200 S

Engine: 1,200-cc, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin
Maximum Power: 160 PS at 9,500 RPM
Maximum Torque: 136 Nm at 7,500 RPM
Transmission: Six-speed
Front Suspension: 48-mm inverted telescopic Sachs, 170-mm travel, pre-load, compression and rebound damping adjustment
Rear Suspension: One Sachs damper, 170-mm wheel travel, pre-load, compression and rebound damping adjustment
Front Brake: Two, four-piston Brembo radial monobloc callipers, 320-mm discs with cornering ABS [M50 calipers, 330-mm discs]
Rear Brake: Twin-piston Brembo caliper, 265-mm disc with ABS
Fuel-tank Capacity: 20 litres
Weight: 235 kg wet (with the fuel-tank 90 per cent full)

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