With its highly competitive price tag and its ability to do multiple tasks with ease the Ducati Multistrada 1200S will plaster a wide grin on your face, and that makes it a winner in our books. Arun Mohan Nadar reviews the bike in Thailand
Today, multitasking is the fundamental law of our life and we need everything in it to do more than what is normally used for. A case in point is something as regular as a smartphone. Practically all of us own one and use it not just to make calls but like a personal computer, pocket camera, TV, sometimes like a scanner and even a personal wellness coach. Pretty much like the multifaceted motorcycle we rode recently around Chiang Rai in Thailand -- nothing less than the Ducati Multistrada 1200S. The idea behind the bike is to have one motorcycle that is capable enough to adapt to various riding styles and terrain. So, now you don’t need to have four different bikes taking up parking space in your garage, but just one Ducati with enough electronic and engineering that can transform from a sportsbike to a tourer or an urban motorcycle and even an Enduro. Sounds like a dream, right? So, let’s see if it can actually deliver the seemingly tall promise.
The striking look of the Ducati Multistrada 1200S comes from its muscular form, impressive proportions and sculpted design lines. The front is ruled by the tall windscreen under which sits the sharp LED headlamp. And you can’t miss the LED daytime running lights and the dynamic light which changes direction as per the lean angle of the bike for better illumination through corners.
The beak-shaped front-end hasn't been tinkered with and it is among the unique style components of the bike. The beefy USD forks underneath the front fairing and large disc rotors provide an aggressive characteristic to the front-end.
Another design cue that we especially liked on the Multistrada 1200S is the knuckle guard mounted LED turn indicators. The masculine fuel tank, naked trellis frame, brushed aluminum scuff plates and the half-fairing provides the sport-tourer with a mass forward design. The rear has been updated with boomerang-shaped DRLs, LED tail lamp and a redesigned grab rail.
The wide tire with beautiful alloys, single-sided swingarm and stub exhaust mufflers finish the rear section.
Coming to the features, the 1200S gets furnished with a full-colour TFT screen instrument cluster. The format of the console gets separated relying upon the riding mode selection, and there's a plenty of data on the screen that incorporates traction control setting, fuel efficiency, range, ABS level, gear position and so on. The switchgear size has been expanded so that the rider could control things easily even with gloves and they also get backlit now.
The windscreen position can also be adjusted effectively utilising a sliding mechanism which works during riding as well. Additionally, it gets a keyless ignition and heated grips with three settings.
Cruise control is a standard feature and can be set between 50kmph to 200kmph. The Ducati Multimedia System on the bike permits the rider to sync and access the smartphone by means of the switchgear on the handlebar.
Engine and performance
The Ducati Multistrada 1200S is powered by a 1,200cc, L-twin engine which makes 160PS at 9,500rpm and a peak torque of 136Nm at 7,500rpm. The motor comes mated to a 6-speed transmission and the most advanced addition is the new DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) system which makes it more refined in varying operating conditions. As we have mentioned above, there are multiple riding modes along with different settings for the other equipment as well.
So, we started with the Urban mode, power output limited to 100PS, and the bike gets maximum aid from DTC (Ducati Traction Control), ABS and DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control).
Open the throttle and the bike rushes off the line effortlessly. The engine feels gentle till 4,000rpm, after that, things become a bit manic till it reaches the redline. One can easily modulate the crisp throttle response of the bike and the throaty exhaust note adds the fun element in the background. The bike was cruising at a good 150kmph, however, we moved over to Touring mode on the go to taste the extra 60PS. The throttle response gets sharper and performance went a few notches higher. Its amazing how one tiny switch really transforms the nature of the motorcycle!
The electronic system on the bike is also fully customisable depending on the rider’s need and one can fully switch it off too. We also tried the Sports mode for a short period but the throttle feedback was a bit snatchy and we can say that the manufacturer should provide it with a quick shifter system as well.
Ride, handling and braking
Specific consideration has been paid to make the Ducati Multistrada 1200S more manageable for Asian riders, who are relatively shorter than their European counterparts. So we get scooped out seat, which helps get the rider’s feet comfortably on the ground. Apart from the stock adjustable rider seat, there is an optional low rider seat with seating height between 800-820mm, while the shoulders of the seat are narrowed as well. The wide handlebar and the centre-set footpegs all are placed in a well ergonomic geometry.
Riding the Ducati Multistrada 1200S on some excellent mountain roads we felt that it tackled all with the excitement and enthusiasm. The frame is exceptionally communicative, allowing the rider to push into every corner with great reassurance. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres developed particularly for the Multistrada 1200S give incredible grip and improves handling dynamics of the bike as well. The feedback of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evolution, a semi-active suspension, system isn’t that plush. However, it doesn’t break your back on broken roads and coordinated well with the braking system.
Braking duty is done by large twin 330mm front discs and a 265mm disc brake at the rear. They get the same radially-mounted Brembo Monobloc callipers which are found on the Ducati 1299 Panigale and gives highly progressive action along with a great bite. The cornering ABS unit is adjustable and can be switched off completely, and it can be a very useful feature on the curvy mountain roads.
The Ducati Multistrada 1200S has been globally positioned as a bike for fully grown Ducati riders who need something more friendly, quick and easy-to-ride in the wake of spending various years on their sportbikes. However, the situation in India is totally different as the Ducati Multistrada 1200S will have a somewhat extensive variety of purchasers from shifting age groups and particularly it targets the bikers between 30-40 years of age.
The company has cleverly placed the Multistrada 1200S between its direct rivals, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 and the Triumph Tiger Explorer with respect to its pricing. Besides that, the Multistrada 1200S comes with two years’ unlimited mileage warranty making it a more value for money buy in this segment.
After our 330km ride in Thailand, we must say that the Ducati Multistrada 1200S is a quite impressive motorcycle. It is an exceptional example of how the technology can be used skilfully to make a bike more useable. Besides doing great justice to its sports tourer characteristic, it has brilliant cruise ability from the engine, loads of features and top notch cycle parts.
Adding bonus to the well-rounded package is the attractive styling of the bike. The highlight of the motorcycle is the electronic system to help the rider.
Still there are some weak sides of the bike including the vibey motor, lack of quickshifter, stubborn gearbox and the stiff ride quality. Entering the Indian shores via the CBU route from Thailand the Multistrada 1200S has been priced at Rs 17.64 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai with octroi).