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Ducati Multistrada: A Unique Approach to the Multi-Purpose Machine

Ducati’s Multistrada was introduced several months ago, but it has been on our mind only recently. Large, dual purpose bikes are intriguing machines that are very popular in Europe (much less so in the United States). They feature comfort and performance (much like sport tourers) with an endearing character. With longer travel suspension, they can be ideal for deteriorated road conditions often encountered both here and across the Atlantic.

Ducati’s Multistrada polarized opinions with its design when it debuted last year. The design has to be viewed in light of the bike’s goals, however, to truly appreciate it.

Ducati does not describe the Multistrada as a dual purpose machine in the traditional sense. Indeed, Ducati, at times, refers to the Multistrada as a sport bike with slightly longer suspension travel and more upright seating position. The brakes and suspension components bear out Ducati’s sport bike description. They are first rate. Moreover, Ducati applies its traditional, stiff, sport bike-derived trellis frame.

The importance of the Multistrada to Ducati is underscored by the development of an entirely new engine for the Multistrada. Although traditional in the sense that it is a ninety degree, air-cooled V-twin, Ducati has applied new technology to this engine to increase performance. At 992 cc, it is larger in displacement than other air-cooled V-twins produced by Ducati, and has a host of additional performance-enhancing designs, such as twin spark plugs per cylinder, much narrower valve angles, and a more efficient oil lubrication system. Overall, the Multistrada engine will take air-cooled V-twins to a new level technologically, which retaining the aesthetics and light weight of the traditional air-cooled design.

Ducati expects the Multistrada to be a high volume seller — befitting its “sport bike for the real world” design brief. Weighing just 428 pounds dry, the Multistrada will undercut several sport bikes in this regard (particularly, V-twins) and bring a “no compromises” attitude to a world populated with overweight, dual purpose machines that frequently feature lower spec componentry.

The Multistrada will debut as a 2003 model, and could define a category all its own.