Get set now to usher in the future — Ducati-style. The Italian manufacturer has for long designed flamboyant-looking motorcycles and the 2010 model Multistrada 1200 proves that they haven’t taken a break.
Its lanky profile is led by a snout of twin air intakes, set just below a duo of smiling headlights, illuminated by a halogen bulb and LED combo. Black dominates the lower end of this motorcycle, cloaking the bulk of the engine, exquisite rims and rear, while silver highlights some parts like the sump shroud, pillion footrests and silencers. The Multistrada’s Ducati heritage is immediately apparent with a typical trellis skeleton, which reveals much of its muscular-looking powerplant.
The first hint to the big bike’s appetite for speed is an adjustable visor that offers adequate protection from wind blast; below it sits an LCD instrument bay which relays a stream of information to the rider: speed, rpm, odometer, twin trip facility, fuel and temperature gauge, gear indicator and clock. An inset circular dot matrix dial shows the riding mode the Multistrada is in. This console also reads out real-time mileage, ABS on or off, as well as what level of traction control assist the motorcycle provides.
There is a pair of 12V charging points that can charge mobile phones, plus other connectors for a Garmin GPS system.
The 1200’s smooth body work is well sculpted, stylish and decal-free. Its split seat climbs smartly over the tank, whose indents comfortably accommodate a rider’s knees. There’s plenty of onboard stowage space, one such cubby sitting close to the instruments and able to house a cellphone. There’s also the option of adding up to 73 litres within the pannier boxes.
The Multistrada uses a four-stroke, 1198.4 cc, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder engine set in an ‘L’ configuration. Four valves operate per cylinder and Ducati’s desmodromic system mechanically opens and shuts these. This is a fuel-injected motor with elliptical, Mikuni-made throttle bodies feeding each short-stroke cylinder, bore and stroke measuring 106 x 67.9 mm. The Strada delivers a brawny 150 bhp at 9250 rpm, and twists out maximum torque of 12.1 kgm at 7500 rpm.
The big bike’s hydraulic, wet clutch is slip-enabled on overrun, and this works nicely without robbing the bike of engine retardation — while hurriedly downshifting the six-speed gearbox and braking hard into corners. Clutch feel is a tad heavy at the lever, as are gearshifts, although both operate smoothly with supremely positive and really precise action.
The Strada’s stubby twin silencers beat out a stirring exhaust note, loud, throaty at low rpm, and building with the rush of a superbike-like scream as the bar on the rev counter touches around 10000 rpm. Scalding power delivery and lightning-quick throttle response combine to make the new Ducati an exciting machine on the road. Every ratio is well thought out, and the Strada charges to an indicated maximum speed of 150 kph in second gear. The bike zips past 200 kph nonchalantly, with plenty in reserve; Ducati claims the Strada will go on to a top whack in the region of 255 kph in fifth, with sixth purposely left tall for relaxed cruising. Pressing the magic button on top of the indicator switch can rein the Strada’s herd of 150 ponies down to about 100 bhp.
A rider can choose between Sports (150 bhp), Touring (150 bhp), Urban (100 bhp) or Enduro (100 bhp) modes, and further tweak his bike set-up for riding with a pillion, or with panniers. Having selected a mode, the instruments will confirm you need to shut the throttle to shift mode, an obvious precaution when the new mode could boost power up to 50 bhp.
The Multistrada makes use of Ducati Traction Control (DTC). Traction control intervention is minimal in Enduro mode, highest when slotted in ‘Urban.’ In ‘Sports’ mode, power kicks in sharply, with a crisp feel every enthusiast will love. Switching modes softens the engine’s punch progressively.
The Multistrada frame integrates a magnesium sub-frame ahead of the steering column to keep steering effort light. Electronically controlled, fully adjustable Ohlins suspension is used at both ends on the top-of-the-line Multistrada 1200 S, with an identical and generous 170 mm of travel provided both front and rear. There are 48 mm upside-down telescopic forks, while a monoshock does duty at rear. Brakes are also top-notch kit, ABS-enabled, with a duo of 320 mm, radial-mounted Brembo calipers with four pistons in front and a single 245 mm disc at the rear.
The Strada incorporates ‘Scorpion Trail’ tyres which are specially developed by Pirelli, for this Ducati’s 17-inch rims. Wide handlebars, a voluminous riding saddle with the option of two sizes, plus an upright riding position add up to fine ergonomics on the Strada. The rider sits high, and shorter riders will find grounding a leg firmly on a stationary bike a tough job.
The brakes feel powerful with just the right feel coming through the front lever. ABS can be controlled via the switchgear as comes on with restarting the bike. Expect it to return between 15-20 kpl for every litre of fuel.
So start saving for the jack of all trades and master of most set to hit Indian roads this May. If there’s anything that can dent this motorcycle’s appeal, it’s the hefty price-tag.