I’ve had my eyes on the Multistrada for a while. I’m looking for the right replacement to my Honda 919, and it will probably be something in the sport touring category. My girlfriend and I are crazy about the camping-touring vacation form. So I’m going for a bit more wind protection and touring capabilities. But I also want something that’s fun to blast around on the back roads, and works well on the occasional track day. I heard the Ducati Multistrada should fit those demands very well. So I was eager to give it a try.
The riding position is very different from my Honda, very close to that of the MT-03, totally weird at first but lots of fun when you get used to it. Unfortunately the weather was kind of shitty, so the roads where wet and felt a bit slippery. The rear did skid a few times when I gave it a little throttle out of a sharp corner. Not much, but enough to make me think twice before pushing it further. Between us, maybe I did try to provoke a little skidding a couple of times. But hey! It was hilarious, what’s a guy to do.
Getting used to the high centre of gravity was a bit tricky and I never really managed to get it right. On very small roads I rarely stayed on the chosen line through a turn, simple because it’s so different than what I’m used to. I would definitely take it to a track-day or two, to get to know the bike, before taking it fully loaded through the twisting mountain roads of the Alps.
The air cooled L-twin Ducati Multistrada engine, similar to that of the Monster S2R 1000 is a hoot. Plenty of low range grunt, and you have no trouble pulling away from the sleepy cagers just by twisting your wrist a bit. When you come from an inline four, you will notice that the twin cylinder engine is not as rev eager as you are used to. But once again it’s a matter of getting to know the bike and adjusting your riding style accordingly. You will have no problem keeping up with most other bikes.
I was positively surprised on a matter of issues. The fairring is excellent, the mirrors works surprisingly well, and despite its tall legs it still feels light and able to eat everything you throw at it. On the freeway I could easily do 160-170 km/t (100 mph) and still sit relaxed and comfortable. A quality you learn to appreciate when riding 12 hours a day for a few days in a row. Brakes where good as well, but that’s really something you wont know in detail before you’re more comfortable with a bike and start doing late braking before turns etc.
The one I tried was the red DS version, but there’s a black S DS version with a few extra goodies bolted on it, and it looks absolutely sweet. No wonder the US magazine Cycle World appointed the Multistrada 1000s DS, Best Sport Tourer of 2005. This bike is the closest to a possible replacement for my Honda I’ve tried yet. But there are rumours that Triumph is working on a new edition of their Tiger with the popular 1050ccm triple cylinder engine used in the Speed Triple and the Sprint. So maybe it’s worth to wait and see how that turns out before deciding.