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Ducati Multistrada V4S ridden on UK roads

We know about the new engine and also that its steel trellis frame has made way for an aluminum monocoque, the riding position refined, electronics overhauled, and that in November during its Italian world launch it impressed the hell out of us. But how will the Ducati Multistrada V4S fare on wet, one-degree MCN250 tarmac in mid-January?

We’re riding the ‘Full’ S spec, which costs £21,495 and is as loaded as it can be (the panniers it should come with weren’t available for our test). There are cheaper Performance, Travel, Travel and Radar packs and a Sport coming soon, but whichever way you dress it the Ducati is an expensive beast.

At a glance, the new Multi doesn’t look that different from the old V-twin, until the anorak comes out and you notice the V4 badges, its new traffic-parting, cornering LED-encrusted beak, subtle restyling, and the addition of more strakes, wings, and scoops. It doesn’t take too many miles on its luxurious, heated saddle to realize


the whole ethos has changed, too.

When it was released in 2010, the outgoing 1198 superbike-based Multistrada was the bike for those who craved the performance of the race reps they’d left behind. It was a genuinely comfortable superbike and such a hit it quickly influenced its two main rivals: BMW’s S1000XR and the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. Many would even hustle their Multis on track, indeed there’s a lap timer on the new 6.5in the color dash, but it doesn’t take long to spot the clues to the new direction, like that relatively lowly four-cylinder redline and the controversial move from a 17 into 19in the front wheel.

Despite what some may think, the big wheel doesn’t take anything away from the sportiness. The V4 waltzes around our B-road loop with breath-taking poise and its dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires somehow find a mind-boggling grip on cold and wet roads.

Just pick a line and the Multi follows. What’s most impressive is it does all this despite its physical size and huge (243kg) bulk - it would make a Yamaha Tracer 900 feel like a pocket bike by comparison. I’m six-foot and feel dwarfed by it.

That 19in front-wheel will let you go off-road

if you’re brave enough, but precludes the use of anything stickier than sports touring or dual-purpose rubber. That’s no biggie for the road, but it’s a statement of intent: the Multistrada V4 S is now a fully-fledged adventure bike, albeit heavily biased towards the tarmac.From its wide-barred riding position to its calm steering, juggernaut-like stability and monster grunt, it’s become rather BMW GS-like and that’s exactly the party Ducati wants to crash. It’s their take on the theme, of course, with its deep 916-like airbox roar, shiny paint, smart detailing and healthy dose of ‘emozione’.

The Ducati hasn’t gone soft, though. It makes 155bhp at the back wheel on our dyno, will loop in the lower gears without its anti-wheelie and on track would hit 160mph before you’d have time to say gosh. The engine doesn’t clatter at low revs like the old twin, it fuels like silk and there’s so much thrust you can get a serious wiggle-on without troubling the gears.

Electronic rider aids enjoy a new level of refinement, staying silent until you need them and the new dash and switchgear are class-leading in their elegance, usefulness and simplicity, once you’ve got your head around the tonne of information available at your fingertips (Ducati’s online tutorial videos are well worth watching).

Adaptive cruise control is a first for a road bike. It works like a normal system, but when the radar senses a moving vehicle ahead it throttles back to keep a constant distance. It can be handy but takes some of the fluidity out of riding and often locks on to slower motorway traffic when you don’t want it to. But the new blind spot detector is extremely useful, warning you of vehicles closing in.

From its wide-barred riding position to its calm steering, juggernaut-like stability and monster grunt, it’s become rather BMW GS-like and that’s exactly the party Ducati wants to crash. It’s their take on the theme, of course, with its deep 916-like airbox roar, shiny paint, smart detailing and healthy dose of ‘emozione’.

The Ducati hasn’t gone soft, though. It makes 155bhp at the back wheel on our dyno, will loop in the lower gears without its anti-wheelie and on track would hit 160mph before you’d have time to say gosh. The engine doesn’t clatter at low revs like the old twin, it fuels like silk and there’s so much thrust you can get a serious wiggle-on without troubling the gears.

Electronic rider aids enjoy a new level of refinement, staying silent until you need them and the new dash and switchgear are class-leading in their elegance, usefulness and simplicity, once you’ve got your head around the tonne of information available at your fingertips (Ducati’s online tutorial videos are well worth watching).

Adaptive cruise control is a first for a road bike. It works like a normal system, but when the radar senses a moving vehicle ahead it throttles back to keep a constant distance. It can be handy but takes some of the fluidity out of riding and often locks on to slower motorway traffic when you don’t want it to. But the new blind spot detector is extremely useful, warning you of vehicles closing in.

Ducati’s new Multistrada V4 S crushes motorway miles like a full-blown tourer and scorches through B-roads in a way that belies its size and weight. It combines comfort, superbike speed, excitement, practicality and tech in one beautifully rounded Bologna ball of brilliance and to be able to genuinely enjoy a ride on such cold, wet roads speak volumes for its capability.

The new engine’s smoothness, grunt and superbike airbox roar is what makes the new Multi such a great road machine, but it now feels more like an adventure bike with its 19in front wheel, giving it a newfound sure-footedness.

Fuel range is poor for a tourer, the bar position might not be perfect for some and the V4’s strong engine braking can be an irritation on flowing roads. It isn’t cheap either.

That said, the new Multistrada V4 S is still hugely impressive. In truth even our MCN250 route isn’t far enough to appreciate a machine that genuinely gets better the longer you spend with it.SpecsEngine size1158ccEngine typeLiquid-cooled, 90-degree V4Frame typeAluminum monocoqueFuel capacity22 litresSeat height840mmBike weight240kgFront suspension50mm fully-adjustable upside down forksRear suspensionFully adjustable monoshockFront brake2 x 330mm discs with four piston Brembo Stylema calipers. Cornering ABSRear brake265mm disc with two piston Brembo caliper. Cornering ABSFront tyre size120/70 x 19Rear tyre size170/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insuranceAverage fuel consumption-Annual road tax£93Annual service cost-New price£18,395Used price-Insurance group- How much to insure?Warranty termTwo years

Top speed & performanceMax power170 bhpMax torque92 ft-lbTop speed-1/4 mile acceleration-Tank range-

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2003: Multistrada 1000DS – Ducati’s first Multistrada – 'Many Roads' – is an oddity: a 992cc air-cooled 2-valve 90° V-twin making 80bhp and hitting 133mph, on stiff, long-travel suspension and dressed in the same whacky Art Deco Pierre Terblanche styling as the 999 (with a split fairing – the top half was handlebar mounted and turned with the steering).

  • 2005: Multistrada 1000DS S – alongside a revamped 1000DS, the DS S came with Öhlins suspension, black wheels, wider bars and various carbon cosmetics.

  • 2007: Multistrada 1100DS and S – larger 1078cc engine, various suspension and ergomic refinements.

  • 2010: Multistrada 1200 – retuned 1198 Testastretta V-twin making 150bhp, styling (by Giandrea Fabbro, who also penned the 1098 and Panigale) and a swathe of flagship electronics including traction control, rider modes and switchable electronic suspension. Pikes Peak model introduced in 2011 with uprated Öhlins suspension and many cosmetic and performance extras.

  • 2013: Multistrada 1200 – suspension on the S model now semi-active system, using Skyhook algorithm to self-level bike. Engine revised with more power and torque. Granturismo model with panniers added algonside Pikes Peak (now with semi-active suspension).

  • 2015: Multistrada 1200 – adds Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) to vary cam timing for a more flexible (and clean) power delivery. Power a claimed 158bhp. Semi-active suspension now informed by a 5-axis IMU for better control, and more electronics with cornering ABS, cruise control, backlit switches, and a TFT dash on the S model. Enduro model with 30-litre tank and wire wheels introduced in 2016.

  • 2018: Multistrada 1260 – enlarged 1262cc DVT motor from the Diavel adds fatter power and torque curves, with further chassis, styling and ergonomic tweaks to both 1260 and Enduro models. Electronics packages now include updated TFT screen, quickshifter, improved semi-active suspension, keyless ignition.



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