The first thing I notice when standing next to the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Touring is what an impressive bike this is, with its tall shoulders, slim waist and broad hips. It’s almost intimidating. Some say it’s the prettiest Ducati ever built. I wanted to know if it’s also the best Ducati ever built. So I took it on a 3 day blast to the Eifel region in Germany.
Getting a taste of it
A first walkaround shows plenty of typical Multistrada elements: the pointy lights, the air inlets that look like nostrils in a beak, the beautiful LED rear light, the sophisticated single sided swing arm.
The grey color of my test bike almost looks, well, boring. I like the red version much more and the Pikes Peak version really makes me drool.
On top of the standard 1260, the S version comes with Skyhook Evo suspension, a quickshifter, a TFT display, LED lights and cornering lights. Albeit for an extra, obviously. US price: $ 20.995, Italian price: € 20.390. And if you want the Touring suffix (consisting of the Touring and Urban pack), you’re looking at an even larger extra.
When I switch on the Multi a deep red Ducati logo appears on the 5” TFT screen. The crystal clear dash shows a lot of information. Current speed and chosen gear are indicated in big numbers while the rpm’s are shown on top of the dash. All clear so far. The rest of the information is shown only in the bottom third and it takes some getting used to to find what you are looking for immediately. You can find trip data, temperature, mileage, the menu entry, fuel level and all suspension settings. And more.
When hitting the start button, the first split second nothing seems to happen. Then the fat Testastretta DVT twin shakes itself awake. This shaking will always be present, be it more or less depending on the situation.
A modest deep sound rolls out of the double exhaust pipes when I start riding. Already after the few first meters that initial intimidating feeling is completely gone. Thanks to the compact ergonomics with handlebars that are not too wide and positioned rather closely towards the rider, this Ducati feels like a much smaller motorbike. Steering is light and the massive Multistrada is surprisingly agile. All of this gives a lot of confidence to the rider.
When packing for the weekend I can’t help but notice that I’m not the biggest fan of the panniers that come with the Touring version. Although oddly shaped they hold a lot of stuff and the styling goes well with the rest of the bike, but putting them on and off the bike is a hassle. Some (a lot of) force is needed and it doesn’t feel right to have to manhandle those expensive plastic panniers like that.
Off we go. The first 150 kilometers are on the highway, which gives me plenty of time to play with the electronics. The cruise control works brilliantly: without any hesitation whatsoever it picks up the chosen speed, in any gear you want. Much better even than in many a car I’ve ridden. Well done Ducati.
Further to that it has riding modes (Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro), power modes, electronically adjustable Skyhook Evo semi-active suspension and a quickshifter. And to complete the electronics extravaganza the Multi boasts plenty of three letter abbreviations: VHC (Vehicle Hold Control that ensures easy and safe uphill starts), cornering ABS and DTC and the most fun of them all: DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control). The latter is for us hooligans: just open the throttle and wheelie! Although it could have been a bit less conservative. Still fun though.
After the highway it’s time for some twisty roads. I change the riding mode from Tour to Sport on the go. Throttle response becomes noticeably more direct, the DWC less intervening and when coming to a standstill I notice the pre-load of the suspension has been raised a bit. In Tour mode, the Multi takes care of the comfort of its passenger(s) first of all, resulting in occasional wobbling in corners. When switched to Sport, potholes and bad road surfaces are still handled well but at the same time the Multi becomes fixed on rails. It follows the chosen line perfectly, allowing for corrections mid corner. The Sport mode puts the suspension in perfect harmony with the mighty engine.
Right. The engine. 158 bhp and 130 Nm of torque make the Multistrada fast. Bloody fast! The power is there, all the time, every time. And it’s all very controllable thanks to the suspension and brilliant electronics. Add to that the standard Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres that offer tons of grip and the Brembo brakes that are super powerful and very controllable and you’ll understand that riding very fast with the 1260 S is a breeze and legal speed limits are constantly broken.
Sometimes one has to drive slowly as well and to do that it’s best to change down a gear. Or two. The Multi doesn’t like too low rpm’s. Just as with upshifting, downshifting can be done with the quickshifter. Using it in its sweet spot makes changing gears effortless. Outside of the sweet spot a loud clunk can sometimes be heard. Downshifting can only be done with the throttle completely closed and this generates such a big amount of engine braking that more often than not I used the clutch for smoother downshifting.
From the first till the last kilometer I was riding the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Touring with a huge smile inside my helmet. From lanesplitting, over cruising, till ripping apart the twisties, I always felt like I was on top of the world on this stylish Ducati. It can go very very fast, but always remains very well mannered. Kind of like a gentleman. Kind of like James Bond, who, just like the engine of the Multistrada, prefers it shaken.
Photography: Kenny van Houttave
+ Power: always, everywhere
+ The electronics: they are working overtime without you feeling them, brilliant
+ Agility for such a massive bike
– Vibrations, always, everywhere
– Some parts are not of the highest standard
– Wind protection of the standard screen could be better
Type: Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1.262 cc
Bore X stroke: 106 x 71,5 mm
Compression ratio: 13:1
Power: 116,2 kW (158 pk) @ 9.500 rpm
Torque: 129.5 Nm (95.5 lb-ft) @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, equivalent diameter 56 mm
Exhaust: Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, aluminium tail pipes
Gearbox: 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.84:1
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 40
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Front wheel: 5-spoke Y-shape cast light alloy 3.50″ x 17″
Front tyre: Pirelli Scopion Trail II 120/70 R17
Rear Suspension: Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel: 5-spoke Y-shaped casted light alloy 6.00″ x 17″
Rear tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 190/55 R17
Wheel travel (front/rear): 170 mm – 170 mm
Front brake: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc Evo M50 4-piston callipers, 2-pad, radial pump with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Instrumentation: Color TFT display 5″
Dimensions and weights
Dry weight: 212 kg (467 lb)
Kerb weight: 235 kg (518 lb)
Seat height: Adjustable 825 – 845 mm
Wheelbase: 1,585 mm
Front wheel trail: 111 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 20 l
Number of seats: Dual seat
Safety equipment: Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch Cornering ABS + DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Cornering Lights
Standard equipment: Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down, Cruise control, Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar switches, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), Full-colour TFT display, Full LED headlamp, Auto-off indicators
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage
Maintenance service intervals: 15.000 km / 9.000 miles / 12 months
Valve clearance check: 30.000 km / 18.000 miles