Ducati Multistrada 950 review: Smaller than the 1200, but no compromise on the fun
The Ducati Multistrada 950 is not as sophisticated as the 1200. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So is it as exciting as its larger siblings?autos Updated: Jun 03, 2017 15:10 IST
Big, adventure touring motorcycles are getting increasingly complicated by the day, a classic example of this being the Ducati Multistrada 1200. Although an absolute peach of a motorcycle, it needs an army of electronics and gizmos to keep things under check of you decide to ride it hard. For those who would like their adventure-tourers to be a bit simpler, Ducati has a solution in the Multistrada 950.
Ducati has done some brilliant scaling-down jobs in the past with something like the Panigale 959, which is more manageable and, dare I say, more fun than the 1299. So that’s exactly the route Ducati took with the Multistrada – it plonked in a smaller 937cc L-twin engine (from the Hypermotard and SuperSport) and cut back on some of the high-tech features. The end result is 113hp and 96.2Nm on tap.
Gone is the 1200’s absolute ferocious acceleration which was enough to petrify riders who got too excited with the throttle. Even then, the 950 builds velocity quite briskly, thanks to much of the motor’s pulling power kicking in at low revs. In fact, even when going slow in slightly higher gears, the bike pulls away without the need for changing gears. For outright blasts on straight roads too, the 950’s motor performs quite admirably up to speeds of 150-160kph. But, of course, don’t expect it to thrill you the way the 1200 does.
The bike’s even got a decent amount of electronics on board. It gets the Ducati Safety Pack (DSP) that features Bosch’s 9.1 MP three-level ABS as well as an eight-level Ducati Traction Control (DTC). The bike also gets four riding modes – Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro. Of these, the first two provide full power but different throttle responses while the last two dial back the motor to about 75hp. Each mode also has its own presets for how much the ABS and DTC are allowed to intervene. The Enduro mode, for example, is designed for off-road riding and allows you to slide the bike around in the dirt.
The roads I was on, albeit a little abrasive, were bump-free for the most part. But I did encounter some dusty sections, and even in Sport mode, there was almost no occasion where I could feel the bike slipping unnecessarily. A lot of this is also down to the fantastic Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres which offered plenty of grip at all times.
In addition to features like cornering ABS and Ducati’s Wheelie Control, the 950 also misses out on Ducati’s cutting-edge ‘Skyhook’ electronically adjustable suspension. The 950’s suspension is fully adjustable manually though, and the bike is very well sprung. So riding on rough roads won’t be an issue. That said, the setup for the front is rather soft, and as a result, the nose-dive when braking in a straight line is quite pronounced. However, this is nothing that a little fine-tuning of the suspension can’t sort out.
Even though the 950 is supposed to be a ‘smaller’ Multistrada, you wouldn’t get that feeling, from the saddle. The seating seems nearly identical to the 1200, and even though it’s a road-oriented machine, its tallish seat height of 840mm is akin to off-road adventure tourers like the Triumph Tiger 800. The saddle is roomy even for large-sized riders and pillions, and even my 5ft 10in frame was protected from wind blast after I set the manually adjustable windscreen to its tallest setting.
With a kerb weight of 229kg, the 950 is only slightly lighter than its larger sibling. However, it feels slimmer and a whole lot more nimble. Plus, just like the impressive Enduro, it runs with a larger 19-inch front wheel; 17-inchers at the rear. This not only makes the 950 feel more stable through corners, it’s exactly what you need if you ride on loose surfaces. It also gets the double-sided swingarm and high-mounted flattened exhaust from the Enduro, really driving home the point that if you want to ride off-road, the M950 is a great choice (provided you change the tyres and rims).
- Engine 937cc, L-twin, liquid-cooled, 8-valve, 4-stroke
- Power 113hp at 9,000rpm
- Torque 96.2Nm at 7,750rpm
- Gearbox 6-speed manual
- Price Rs 11.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Around the tight-twisting mountain roads of Fuerteventura, Spain where I rode it, the M950 handled like a dream even around the trickiest of corners. The bike felt planted at all times, and Brembo brakes up front and at the rear offered excellent stopping power.
Obviously, the Multistrada 950 isn’t as sophisticated as the 1200. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. It has all its basics in place and enough electronics to keep you from losing control of the bike. Yes, it doesn’t have the manic performance of its larger sibling, and it also skimps on the some impressive features such as the TFT dashboard, cornering lights, electronic suspension and even cruise control. But what the M950 does deliver is a very involving riding experience – more so than the bigger Multistrada at times. In India, expect the 950 to cost around Rs 3 lakh less than the 1200. That makes it great value, without compromising on the fun.
(In partnership with Autocar India)