Ducati getting a little harder edged with soft-roaders
What comes next…?
Ducati have until recently never really played up the off-road chops of the Multistrada, they didn’t pretend that they were gunning for the sort of off-road ability BMW GS aficionados have come to expect. Instead Ducati concentrated on pushing the road performance and all-round touring ability and comfort provided by the Multistrada platform throughout much of the model’s history. Things do seem to be changing in this space though….
Ducati Multistrada History
That first 992 cc Multistrada in 2003 was a little half-baked in regards to its touring amenity (that seat!), and performance (84 hp), but the model started to hit the mark a little more accurately with the introduction of the S version complete with Ohlins suspension in 2005.
A 620cc version was also introduced at a much lower price point in 2005 and used an improved version of the 618 cc Monster engine and the by now discontinued 600 SS model. That year (2005), the Multistrada 1000 DS retailed for $18,995 while the 620 Multistrada was a much more affordable $14,495. The smaller bike had a 20 mm lower seat and weighed more than 13 kg less than big brother. A 15-litre fuel tank held five-litres less than big brother but both models sported improved seats (hallelujah) and taller screens. The 620 also had a conventional swing-arm while the larger capacity machines had always sported single-sided swing-arms.
2007 saw the engine grow to 1078 cc and longer service intervals start to be adopted by Ducati via engineering improvements that were aimed at changing Ducati’s reputation for high servicing costs. This factor was obviously very important for machines that would be expected to clock up plenty of touring kilometres.
These improvements signalled Ducati’s intention to evolve the Multistrada into a more up-market offering and the model continued to make leaps forward in all round performance and road manners. The model also took on more importance in the Ducati line-up with the discontinuation of the ST range of sports-tourers in 2007.
With the arrival of a new decade the Multistrada grew to 1200 cc in 2010 and the option of electronically controlled suspension was adopted. This was the first time that Ducati even mentioned any semblance of ability away from sealed roads in regards to the Multistrada.
2014 saw the arrival of the second generation Testastretta 11° DS engine which then also gained variable valve timing. The Superbike derived engine was modified to be more malleable in its touring role but could still be a little recalcitrant in stop-start riding, it still begged to be flogged. Variable valve timing was the introduced to further tame the beast and make the engine much more flexible and more suitable for touring. It was now starting to become a much more polished performer.
In the most recent decade Ducati really started to put more significant resources and efforts into the robustness of the model and at 15,000 kilometres the service intervals are now equal to best in industry. Valve clearances are still a little more involved than required on conventional engines but are now required only every 30,000 kilometres.
2016 saw Ducati start to put a little more of an off-road slant with the introduction of the ‘Multistrada 1200 Enduro’ variant that was much taller, offered much more ground clearance and sported a huge 30-litre fuel tank.
The rims were spoked and the front increased to 19-inches in diameter for more off-road stability. This was the first time Ducati really started to use more seriously off-road specific shots in their marketing for the Multistrada.
Marketing shots of the earlier models were pretty much all strictly on bitumen but the introduction of the Enduro model saw Ducati actually start to market the bike as being off-road capable.
In recent years the sporting potential of the Multistrada has been pushed by Ducati through their involvement at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which they won in 2018 with Carlin Dunne victorious on a Multistrada 1260. Sadly, Dunne was killed the following year while trying to repeat that feat on the new Streetfighter V4.
The latest off-road oriented version is dubbed the Multistrada 1260 Enduro and is powered by the full-monty 1262 cc Tesastretta DVT engine that puts down 158 horsepower and 128 Nm of torque. The semi-active Sachs suspension gains more travel compared to its road going siblings with 185 mm of stroke at both ends but in the market it is still not largely seen as a genuine off-road option in the adventure-touring segment.
This year Ducati entered the 2850-kilometre Transanatolia Rally with factory test rider Andrea Rossi on a Multistrada 1260 Enduro. While the top places were predictably all taken by pure competition based 450 enduro bikes, with rally legends Xavier De Soultrait (Husqvarna FE450) and Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha WR450F) finishing first and second respectively, at the end of the seven-day competition the first larger capacity machine home was Rossi on the Multistrada 1260.
The Italian was ninth outright in what was a 25-rider field, somewhat lower in numbers than normal due to travel restrictions caused by the current global health crisis. Still, an impressive achievement, and the first twin-cylinder machine home after a serious week-long competition that is a true test of man and machine.
It would be interesting to know just how modified the machine was for the trek but Ducati did note that the bike sported options from their Performance Accessories range that included protection bars, radiator guards and higher muffler. Ducati also stated that ‘the configuration was standard with the exception of a high saddle more suitable for extreme off-road, suspensions adjusted according to the type of route and side number plates required by race regulations.‘ Thus it seems they are claiming that very limited modifications were made for the competition.
“Since 2016 I started working with Ducati on the development of the Multistrada Enduro project, so I know very well its potential, its robustness and its countless qualities, which is why it was decided to participate in a demanding rally like the Transanatolia with a practically standard bike,” explained Andrea Rossi.
“The rally proved to be even more challenging and complete than I thought. We had to tackle exhausting stages of slow, stony and technically punishing mountain, very fast stages on the Anatolian dirt tracks and stages on the sand of the Black Sea beaches. The Multistrada 1260 Enduro overcame all adversities in an excellent way. For me it was a great joy to take it to victory in the Twin-cylinder category and in the top 10 of the overall classification“.
Ducati now also run a DRE Enduro Academy in Europe, a riding course that helps riders refine their off-road riding technique on Multistrada models.
This more recent focus towards off-road performance and exhibiting that potential publicly could mean Ducati will take even more steps towards being more competitive in the harder side of the adventure segment.
There are spoked rim versions of the Scrambler 800, including the retro styled Desert Sled that sports a 19-inch front and 200 mm of suspension travel. We are yet to see any real off-road styled or suspended variant of the new 1100 Scramber range though…
Could we see Ducati do a more hard-core version of the lighter 178-kilogram 950 Hypermotard complete long travel suspension and a 21-inch front…?
The Hypermotard lay-out doesn’t exactly cosset the rider, but it does highlight how Ducati can do light. The current 950 version of the Multistrada is only a few kilograms lighter than the 1260, thus it would seem that if they wanted to offer a more hard-core model in the adventure market then the chassis would have to be derived from something more minimalist.
Of course this recent focus towards the more off-road persona of the Multistrada, and Ducati pushing some Multistrada marketing along those lines could be, and probably is, simply an effort to promote the Multistrada brand as a whole. Still, the shift in marketing towards these aspects does fill me with hope that Ducati might indeed surprise us with something very dirty in due course.
And at EICMA last year they did show off this Scrambler DesertX concept bikes….
We recently showcased the new white coloured Panigale V2 and now we bring you the news that Ducati have also gone white with an updated livery adorning the 2021 Multistrada 950 S
The new look adds a little more sporting flavour to the lines of the Multistrada, with a MotoGP-inspired graphic and a colour scheme that alternates white, grey and Ducati Red. The 950 S is also available in the classic Ducati Red.
The Multistrada 950, in its S version, bristles with technology: electronic suspension with Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS) system, Ducati Quick Shift up & down (DQS), full-LED headlamp with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL), 5” colour TFT display, Hands Free system, Cruise Control and backlit handlebar controls, as well as Bosch ABS Cornering.
With a nod to increased sure-footedness away from the black-top the 950 Multistrada rides on a 19-inch front for add stability off-road.
The 2021 Multistrada 950 S “GP White”, both in the alloy and spoked wheels versions, will be available in Australian Ducati dealerships this September from $23,900 ride away.
2020 Ducati Multistrada 950 S Specifications
Engine – 937 cc, Testastretta L-Twin
Bore x Stroke – 94 x 67.5 mm
Compression Ratio – 12.6:1
Claimed Power – 113 hp at 9000 rpm
Claimed Torque – 96 Nm at 7750 rpm
Induction – EFI, 53 mm throttle bodies, RBW
Gears – Six-speed, two-way quick-shift
Clutch – Wet, hydraulic, multi-plate, slipper
Frame – Tubular steel trellis
Forks – 48 mm fully-adj electronic Skyhook Evo, 170 mm travel
Shock – Skyhook Evo electronic fully-adj, 170 mm travel
Tyres – 120/70-19 (F), 170/60-17 (R)
Front Brakes – 320 mm, Brembo M4.32 radial master cyl’
To many, a Ducati is only a Ducati if it’s red. The same could be said for Kawasaki’s that are not green, Yamahas that are not blue and Harleys that are not black. But Ducati really “owns” the colour red!
However, I have owned three Ducatis and only one was red!
Which do you think looks most like a Ducati?
Of course red is faster, especially Ducati Red, and many great Ducatis have been red, but I do like the pearly white paint Ducati uses on their bikes.
White is more
Mind you, it will cost extra.
The white V2 is expected to be in European showrooms next month and in Australia in September.
Price in Australia will be $23,350 ride away which is $450 more than the red V2, although it does a few minor upgrades including a more comfy seat.
And, of course, there is Ducati Red in the rims, the front air intakes and the deflectors of the upper half-fairings.
The Multistrada 950 S “GP White”, both in the alloy wheels and spoked wheels versions, will be available in Ducati dealers within July and should be in Australia in September.
There is no word yet on the price of the Multistrada 950 S, but it also features Ducati Red in the frame and in the graphics on the alloy wheels.
To launch the Multistrada 950 S, Ducati released this video set among the unmistakable landscapes of the Motor Valley in Emilia-Romagna.
Multistrada 950 S comes with a suite of hi-tech components: electronic suspension with Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS) system, Ducati Quick Shift up & down (DQS), full-LED headlamp with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL), 5” colour TFT display, Hands Free system, Cruise Control and backlit handlebar controls, as well as Bosch ABS Cornering.
For the 2021 model year, all Multistrada 950 models will be powered by the Testastretta 11° engine (937cc and 113hp) that comply with Euro 5 standard in all countries where it is in force.
On all models of the Multistrada family, Ducati offers a “4Ever Multistrada” warranty, valid for four years with unlimited mileage.
It features a matt black frame, black engine with polished fin ends, black seat with grey trim and round black mirrors.
Claudio said at EICMA that their styling department was asked to create “something unprecedented but entirely possible”.
The results are the motard and scrambler.
The Motard will be based on the 803cc Scrambler.
“This is a bike we are working on right now,” said Claudio, so the production version can’t be far away.
Desert X Scrambler
The Desert X is based on the 1100cc Scrambler.
It celebrates the 1990 Paris-Dakar Rally victory by Italian rider Edi Orioli on the Ducati-powered Cagiva Elefant. That bike is in now in Ducati’s museum above their Bologna factory.
“We want to build the future without forgetting the past,” Claudio said.
Interestingly, Desert X is the name of a contemporary art exhibition held in the Coachella Valley in Southern California.
While Ducati already has an 803cc Desert Sled which is more off-road capable, the Desert X will be the 1100cc equivalent.
Scrambler Ducati Desert Sled
Ducati global sales
Ducati says they sold 8304 Panigales last year, confirming its status as the “world’s best-selling superbike with a market share of 25%”.
Two new bikes introduced in 2019 – the Hypermotard 950 and Diavel 1260 – racked up sales of 4472 and 3129 respectively, doubling the overall volumes achieved in 2018 by previous versions.
The Multistrada family performed equally well, scoring a 3% increase compared with 2018 thanks also to the addition of the 950 S and a revamped 1260 Enduro. Deliveries totalled 12,160, the best sales performance since the Bologna-built bike made its debut 16 years ago.
Warranties can vary according to the type of bike. Dirt bikes, for example, cop a harder time from owners, so some offer warranties based on hours of operation or just a few months.
While it would be good to get a longer warranty on a motorcycle, the customer should be careful to read the manufacturer’s warranty in full because not all are the same.
The Ducati Europe-only warranty campaign is called 4Ever Multistrada and offers unlimited mileage for all models in their 2020 Multistrada range such as the new Multistrada Grand Tour.
Their fine print says is also offers free roadside assist, covers manufacturing defects (excluding wear parts, aesthetic defects, battery and accessories) and only if scheduled services are done.
Most warranties do not cover service items that need replacing due to general wear and tear such as brake pads, chains and sprockets.
Customers should also be aware that their warranty may be voided if they modify their bike from the manufacturer’s original specification or use it for training, hire, competition or racing.
There is also an onus on the customer to have the bike serviced at correct intervals and to alert the dealer as soon as a problem arises, rather than waiting until a little noise becomes a major problem.
You can have your bike serviced by a qualified mechanic who is not part of the manufacturer’s franchise network, but warranties may be voided if they use non-factory parts or parts that are not equal to manufacturer specification.
The purpose of a warranty is to protect consumers against loss due to components that fail within an unreasonable period of time, or defects in vehicle assembly.
It has nothing to do with normal wear and tear, unless there is a fault with a component within a reasonable lifespan.
Manufacturers usually agree to replace or repair faulty parts at no cost to the owner. However, some don’t cover labour costs.
Warranty periods may also vary for the engine, and various parts such as tyres, battery, light bulbs, etc.
You can buy extended warranties from some manufacturers or insurance organisations.
However, you should think first about how long you want to keep the bike.
Also, check whether the warranty can be passed on to the next owner. If it can, that’s a good selling point.
Manufacturer roadside assistance programs are becoming popular.
However, check whether you are paying for something that is already offered by your automobile association membership (RACV, NRMA, RACQ, etc).
If not, it may be cheaper to add that to your club membership rather than buying a separate assistance program from the manufacturer.
Some roadside assistance packages offer a host of benefits that may not be related to the bike such as travel and insurance assistance and even medical advice.
Ensure you read the contract carefully and don’t pay for anything you think you may never need.