Ducati are well renowned for making some stunning looking motorcycles, the new Multistrada is not one of them. It does grow on you a little but even its mother could not come to really love the way it looks.
Luckily it goes alright though. The powerplant is lifted straight from the new 1000SS/DS. It doesn’t feel quite as strong in the Multistrada. This is surprising as the SS ships with a 15 tooth front sprocket and 38 tooth rear, while the Multistrada comes with a 42 tooth rear sprocket. This should mean that the Multistrada actually accelerates more briskly but my seat of the pants certainly didn’t think that was the case. I suggest that the standard exhaust could be the culprit. It seems to be extremely restrictive and weighs a ton and would look more at home on a small truck than a motorcycle. If there was ever a motorcycle crying out for an aftermarket exhaust, the Multistrada is it.
But that is certainly the only drawback with the engine. Along with its 1000SS stablemate it has set a new benchmark for a large capacity sporting air cooled twin. In fact the new dual-spark engine is perhaps the most civilized and easy to live with big twin on the market. Like most engines of this type, the starter motor can struggle a little against those big slugs on cold starts. But the excellent Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection ensures that once running it is a perfectly refined powerplant.
The gearbox is smooth enough although sometimes in the upper gears it requires a positive shift to prevent a false neutral.
The riding position is quite upright with a strange but somehow comfortable reach to the bars. Bikes with an upright riding position demand a well designed seat. The seat on the Multistrada is way too soft and quickly leads to the dreaded ‘numb-bum’ syndrome. A firmer seat would definitely make the rider more comfortable. Vibration through the pegs or bars never becomes a problem.
Showa provides the fully adjustable suspension at both ends and this combination works well enough for some fairly spirited corner carving. Ground clearance can become an issue if you start getting too excited. A handy hydraulic preload adjuster is provided for the rear shock and will prove very useful for riders who often carry a pillion or really load up the optional panniers and top box. While the Multistrada looks like a dual purpose bike with some off-road capabilities, this is not what the machine has been designed for. Dirt duties are not part of the Multistrada’s design brief.
Stopping the machine is no problem with braided lines pumping the fluid to a pair of Brembo four-piston calipers which clamp on 320mm discs. A fat 180/55 rear tyre makes sure there is little chance of breaking traction and the rubber wraps around a stunning looking rim.
The Multistrada is immense fun around town and really does attract some attention with its ‘out there’ looks. I am sure a set of aftermarket pipes will unleash quite a few more ponies and definitely add to that all important ‘grin factor’. And I definitely spent plenty of time grinning during my time with the Multistrada.
However I do really struggle to come to terms with the fact that at $18,495 the Multistrada is a full $1,000 more expensive than the SS it derives its engine from. With that in mind for me the SS wins hands down. While the Multistrada proves more comfortable for short trips around town, the SS is certainly more comfortable for longer hauls and to my mind is the smarter proposition of the two.
I am sure that an aftermarket seat and fruity pipes could transform the Multistrada but in standard guise I must say it left me a little let down. Perhaps this is because I approached it with unreasonably high hopes after riding the 1000SS. Other press reports had certainly given the Multistrada a great wrap. I certainly don’t think it is a bad bike, just perhaps not quite as good as I had expected.
The red bike at the bottom of this page is Ducati Australia boss Warren Lee’s Multistrada complete with Ducati Performance muffler kit which includes the rear muffler, higher flow air filter and airbox lid along with a recalibrated ECU. Ducati claim an 8% increase in power but Warren says that it certainly feels like more from the seat of the pants and the bike monos off the throttle much more eagerly than standard. This sounds like exactly what the Multistrada needs to round out the package.
SPECS – Ducati Multistrada 2004
Engine: 992cc, L-Twin, air cooled, 2 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 794 x 71.5mm
Induction: Marelli EFI, 45mm throttle bodies
Transmission: Six speed
Final Drive: Chain
Seat Height: 850mm
Weight: 200kg with battery, lubricant and full cooling system but empty fuel tank
Fuel Capacity: 20 litres
Tyres: Front _ 120/70ZR17; Rear _ 180/55ZR17
Suspension: Front _ 43mm inverted fully adjustable Showa forks; Rear _ Fully adjustable Showa monoshock
Brakes: Front _ Dual 320mm discs with four piston calipers; Rear _ Single 245mm disc with twin piston caliper
Warranty: Two years, unlimited kilometres