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Ducati Multistrada 1200: Game Changer?

We can’t tell you how many times readers have complained to MD that “Naked bikes always get detuned motors” or “I think you can go just as fast on a bike that sits upright”. When we tested the Ducati Multistrada 1200, we knew it was good, damn good. When we read that Cycle World recently named the new Multistrada to its 10 Best List, as “best open streetbike,” no less, we had to rethink the impact of the new Multistrada.

The seating position is bolt upright… even more so than a sport tourer. The bike is light. The bike has a 1200cc v-twin derived from Ducati’s superbike engine. It has decent wind protection. It’s as comfortable as sitting on your couch when compared to most sport bikes. It frikkin hauls ass, and could easily leave the latest sportbikes for dead through the twisties with a skilled rider aboard, and said skilled rider could dart off on the next fire road and really disappear. It even has saddlebags! State-of-the-art superbike brakes! Fully adjustable suspension! It cannot make your breakfast or serve you a martini, but it might make you want to ignore your girlfriend on the weekend, unless she is really good looking.

I guess we don’t disagree with Cycle World. The Multistrada 1200 (that’s the 1200S in the picture) is a game changer, of sorts. An expensive game changer, but a game changer nonetheless. For all you fans of adventure bikes, if you have the coin take a look over here.


  1. Tommy See says:

    This machine will set the standard for all the new birth adventure touring M/C`s.
    Triumph and others will copy the electronic modes and wait for what? More HP?
    Ducati you have a Kick ass beast on 2 wheels.
    Thumbs up for you. Please lower the price! yah rite.

  2. Norm G. says:

    i’ll give ducati their due on this one. but this isn’t so much of an industry game changer as it is a game changer internally for them. wasn’t too thrilled about the styling till i saw it in person (and even then i wasn’t completely won over). it was when i got to see it at the dealer that i was swayed a lil’ more. the automotive style push button start and toyota/lexus “wiz-bang” dash on this thing are definitely the future. as pointed out, yes, that could also be considered a bad thing depending on your perspective. it’ll be interesting to see what the failure rate is and how much of a burden the warranty costs turn out to be for a tiny company like ducati when all this stuff starts breaking. even MORE interesting to see will be how much this “loss” they attempt to “socialize” across their dealer network. i can’t help but get the feeling, to make up for lost time, they’ve rolled out too much new stuff (for them anyway) all at once. ie. the flatscreen dash, the keyless start, the new abs, throttle by wire, electric suspension, etc. etc. this could go really really bad, or really really good.

  3. Nate says:

    I’ll stick with my BMW K1200S.

  4. jim says:

    I do belive the Aprila Tuono was tuned the same as the Aprila Mille. That naked bike has the full power of its sport bike brother.

  5. Cajun says:

    It is so encouraging to see that motorcycle enthusiasts can’t have a spirited discussion about what we love most without mocking and divisive comments made about or fellow cyclists. What possible consequence can results from an individual’s motivation for purchasing a particular machine? As long as someone is representing the sport in a positive manner it is of absolutely no importance whether they are a so called poser or wannabe or “need their egos supported by what they purchase”. Something that does matter as it impacts the sport negatively is the division within our ranks which make it that much easier for those who would like to take away our right to ride. Until we stop criticizing each other and spending more time and energy on fighting amongst ourselves then helping our sport our rights will continue to be eroded.

  6. Tim says:

    I wish that riders would start using the term retuned instead of detuned.
    Most ADV bike riders don’t ride at or near redline. They want torque in the low and midrange. Retuning a superbike motor seems to be the right thing to do. So you lose a little peak horsepower. The trade off is that you gain more usable power.

  7. Neal says:

    I’ve had mine for a little over 3 months now. There’s one descriptor you left off you article: hooligan bike. I didn’t buy this bike for its offroad capability (or lack thereof). It can handle fire roads just fine, and that’s all I expect from it. And anyone who expects it to do more than that hasn’t actually read Ducati’s marketing material. I bought it for it’s touring, sportbike, and hooning abilities…not to mention that fat vtwin torque.

  8. Daniel Breitbach says:

    Well I’ve ridden the standard model twice now. It really is a fantastic bike! That being said, I’m a little concerned about the electronics and the Ducati fragility! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of electronics, I’ve been bitching about dirt bikes not being fuel injected for years now! It’s just that I don’t know if I trust the Europeans yet to make something as bulletproof as the Japanese. As my friend likes to say ” hey it’s Italian, it’s 90%”. I have to say, the one I rode this past weekend had been obviously used like I would and I saw some signs of weeping around the gaskets. I’d hate to spend 20 Gs on a bike that leaked oil or was unrelable. That being said, I’m still thinking!

  9. The Bear says:

    “Is the Multistrada 1200 a game changer?” That’s a pretty general statement but that answer isn’t a straight YES or NO. It’s definitely a great bike, but it’s a Ducati and I’m just not convinced that the dealer network in the USA is good enough to support a bike like this for use of its intended purpose. I owned a 2006 Multistrada and sold it two months ago due to a continual string of problems – parts inadvertently breaking, warping fuel tank from ethanol contamination, shot bearings, poor fitting Ducati accessories, ect. Ducati’s are fantastic machines – they really are, but if you’re looking for a daily rider that can be ridden as intended that most folks can afford, this bike is NOT the bee’s knees. Exclusive, yes. A ground-breaker on every front, almost. It has become like so many other Ducati bikes in that people will adorn their computer desktop wall paper with them and talk extensively about them, but not be able to own. In my opinion to be a ‘game changer’, a company must make the technology at a price point where people can actually afford the machine. Being able to buy a $20,000 bike is one thing, but will those few lucky owners actually use the bike off road and on cross-country road trips? Doubtful. After all, the Ferrari 599 GTO is absolutely amazing, but is it a ‘game changer’ at $460,000? I think not. All of the electronics are a marvel, but what happens when they fail to function as designed (and let’s face it, Ducati’s don’t use the most reliable electronics)? I fear that so much electronic wizardry is being applied to our two wheeled machine that at some point we will be riding droids. The whole allure to motorcycling may be lost. MotoGP champ Casey Stoner recently did an interview where he pointed out that so many electronic nannies are interfering with MotoGP racing that it has detracted from the essence of the sport. Obviously many racing teams (Ducati and Hond, I’m looking in your direction…..) allow racing technology to trickle down to their meat and potatoes products that actually make the money, but at some point it becomes a little ridiculous. Yamaha recently announced that they will sell the Super Tenere 1200 in the USA next year. I would think that any real motorcyclist who is not a poser would be hard pressed to find the Multistrada 1200 $7,000 better than Yamaha’s Super Tenere. You won’t get the ‘cool’ Ducati image, but one would have to consider that Yamaha has been building these types of bikes much longer than Ducati. The Multi 1200 is indeed awesome, but at $20,000 anyone who thinks this bike is a gamer changer is high as a kite.

  10. Holmes says:

    It didn’t do too badly at Pikes Peak, not many KLR’s in the running either?

  11. MattJ says:

    It has a center stand, nuff’ said 😉

  12. Bill says:

    Many call this style bike ugly , my DL1000 is a constant joke to my fellow riders , well all I can say to that is they have never rode one so they just don’t understand these bikes are for riders not profilers !

  13. Jack Peters says:

    I must ask the question, why this over the terrific KTM 990 SMT? I realize it’s faster and has more gizmo’s on it but really I figure the KTM is a better bargain.

    • Gary says:

      I looked at the KTM and think it is a terrific bike. But I’m put off by the lack of available dealerships. Of course, you could make the same argument against the Duc compared to, say, a Yamaha or Honda.

  14. Paul says:

    It’s ugly and … Did I mention it’s bloody ugly! I don’t care how well it handles and how fast it goes, it’s bloody ugly! I guess you could ride it in the dark. Who exactly fooled the whole world into buying silly looking bikes? It reminds me of my first girlfriend. She had a nose just like this bike.

  15. JustJoe says:

    How so many can miss the point, I just don’t know…I’m really not sure if this is a reflection on the demographic that reads MCD, or just perhaps on those who post. This is a superior bike for inferior roads. You won’t cringe when you see “Rough Rode Ahead-Next 20 Miles”, nor will you think twice about snapping past a line of tractor-trailers clogging a one lane twisty highway…even 2 up and bags full. The top case holds 2 full face helmets, the suspension doesn’t need working over like nearly every stock bike, and it’s all very well managed and controllable. Riding pothole laden city streets is not a teeth-jarring exercise. It’s not a dirt bike, but the comparison is silly…your KLR, DR, V-Strom are not as good a dirt bike as my WR 250, which is a horrible motocrosser in comparison to my RM 125…so what? I’m pretty sure it is a much better than my Speed Triple was when you realize the shortcut called “4wd road” really means what it says.

    Yep, it’s not cheap, and if you throw it down the road it’s probably going to be expensive. If that’s a problem, and for some reason you don’t want to properly insure it, it might not be a good choice for you. I don’t think that’s a reason to hate on it.

    • Gary says:

      That’s true, but there are scores of road bikes that would also do quite well on fire roads. The R1200R and the Kawasaki Z1000 come to mind. They just as good off road as bikes being marketed as “adventure tourers.” If you want to ride offroad, get an offroad bike … not a wanna-be poser bike, like a GS.

  16. jerrylee says:

    In the “real world” there simply isn’t a need for the modern repli-racer. I like to “see” them and I’m glad they exist for those much younger than I but having purchased and ridden naked and adventure bikes for several years I can honestly say I’ll never go back. A 1200GS with about 50% more horsepower and a few pounds less weight is certainly a winning concept in my world.

  17. yaya says:

    Wow lots of comments.Yes its a new kind of bike because of the very impressive electro gizmos(special mention goes out to the elec. adj. suspension)and not that it can do anything or drive anywhere that hasn’t already been conquered before by other models. I’ll mention a honda varadero here in addition to the vstrom and ktm adv. already mentioned is where the more practical will look to first.

    The best test of a great bike is if you drop it can you live with it now.

    This is a great advance in suspension tech now in production. Were getting closer to having a truly do everything all in one bike. Add this suspension with all the other abs,tc,ect… keep the weight around 550lbs and get an electric motor in there with some range and well be there, 10 years from now i’m thinking, till then ride whatever you can.

  18. LJ says:

    P.S. Bob, that tight front fender moves up and down with the tire and wheel.

  19. Walter says:

    It is a game changer- but for a street standard; not an adventure bike. I think this is like calling station wagons “crossovers” just because of what the name brings to mind. It’s hard to call any bike with 17″ front rim an adventure bike. I would be interested if this had a 19/17 setup, especially if it had spoked rims that could run tubeless tires like a GS or CapoNord. Until then, it’s a dynamite street bike for the aging (and well-heeled) sportbiker lol.

  20. LJ says:

    Ducati did test the Multistrada in real world off road conditions.

  21. Allison says:

    Finally real super bike power in a bike with an upright comfortable (ala dirt bike) riding position. No one has ever done this. Go ahead and start naming all your favorite naked/standard/touring/sport touring bikes… none of them produce rear wheel horsepower equal to a modern race rep litre bike. Always watered down, weak motors, always. Read the story you are commenting on, he is right. There are many people like me that want all the power they can get but don’t want to fold their body into a tiny race replica bike. The manufacturers seem to think that anybody that doesn’t want a race rep isn’t interested in performance. I’m sick of it personally, I’ve been waiting for years for someone to put their racing engine in another form of bike without de-tuning it. As for the off road thing, bashing it on that basis is just ignorant. It’s not an off road bike, Ducati knows this. The bike is definitely derived from a dirt bike blue print, which in turn translates to a street bike you can feel confident ripping around on dirt roads. That aspect of the bike is just a tiny little part of the over all package. I hope all the other manufacturers get the message. Whether I can afford it or not, I love what this bike stands for.

    • Chris says:

      You do realize that the Multi 1200 has a detuned engine don’t you…???

      • Allison says:

        Yes, I know they changed the valve overlap for better service intervals, and If you’ve ever taken a duck in for service, you would know thats a good thing. It is detuned, but its still a twin making 134 ponies, if you cant work with that then…

        • Chris says:

          They also lowered the compression ratio…

          The end result, it that the Multi 1200 is about 20 hp down to the 1198 Superbike.

          It is still plenty of power. BUT. Detuned is still detuned anyway you try to slice it.

          • Allison says:

            Dude, your killin me, you seemed to have locked in on one word in my entire post. This is an adventure touring bike, it would be difficult to sell an adventure touring bike with the service intervals of an 1198. Unfortunately Ducati is in the business of making money. My point was (which I thought was pretty clear) is compared to other manufacturers, I think Ducati only tweaked what they HAD to, in order to sell an adventure touring bike with their race rep mill, in other words, leaving the valve overlap and comp ratio the same were not even an option. Compare that to the neutering other manufacturers do to their race rep motors repackaged and the Multi does look like a game changer. So, I still love the bike, any way you slice it. Just out of curiosity… what do you think of it? cheers.

  22. riley says:

    This is not a poseur bike, it has the goods. Whether a given owner happens to only ride it on Sunday to starbucks and back has nothing to do with the bike. It’s not prime tool for posing anyway – your average non-biker wouldn’t give this thing a second look since it’s not a ridiculously raked/chromed/themed custom chopper. Only bike nerds like us will gawk.

    As awesome as it is the price is a killer. $15-20k for a fair weather toy is a LOT of jack especially with the economy the way it is.

    Appreciate the new Multistrada for all it’s coolness but will be drooling from the sidelines until 2014 when I pick one up that has only been gently ridden to starbucks for $7 grand..

  23. rapier says:

    One overlooked issue when calling a bike a sport touring bike is how it handles moderate to strong winds. Everybody focuses on how much air hits the body or head. Inevitably putting taller and taller windscreens on in hopes of having a Gold Wing, but I digress. I had my ZZR1200 out last week on the highway with the wind blowing 25 to 35 mph and gusting near 50. With those at the side or front quartering the bike was not leaned over at all and mostly it did not sail at all. It was harder holding it steady at stops than going straight down the road. The ZZR is incredible in this regard and perhaps the Concours or FJR are also. I suspect the Multistrada like most bikes under those conditions would have been heeled over and all over the road, blown around like a kite. I once road across Nebraska and eastern CO with a strong SW wind blowing on a Kawi Gpz and by the time I hit the mountains my front tire was worn out on the right side. It sucked. For high speed touring on highways, hopefully, or the big slab nothing is going to beat the big modern ‘sport touring’ bikes for hurtling you through the wind and weather. Of course on anything less than a perfect gravel road, which doesn’t exist, they suck.

  24. bob says:

    Gravel roads? Look at the tires and the tight front fender. I think “bumpy” roads are as far as I’d go with this thing. Italians make beautiful things, but this thing is only beautiful if you look at its “pieces”. All together its pretty ugly, though. It really is an expensive Italian V-strom. Its an image, an Escalade or a BMW SUV.

    I hearken back to simpler times…..if you wanted to go on gravel roads you would get a Yamaha DT 360….or if you were more road oriented, a Honda 450 scrambler. By the way, neither of those had traction control.

  25. Tom barber says:

    This is a total no-brainer. This bike puts the power of a modern liter-class sport bike into a chassis that is more comfortable by a huge margin and that also affords a useful measure of non-slab surface riding. It is a no-brainer. The search for intelligent terrestrial life continues.

    • Chris says:

      Modern liter-class sport bikes put out 155+hp to the tire. This bike will probably be in the 125-130 hp at the tire range. Not bad at all, but not liter class power. Very close/similar to an FZ1 actually….

  26. vulcvoy says:

    This bike is not meant for dirt, gravel, and certainly not a stream bed. It is what I LIKE the idea of (according to what is printed). A top line sport bike without the bent over curled in a ball ergonomics/surrounded by a full fairing.
    I think it coud use with less fairing, as the wind is good.
    Unfortunatly, the price is out of range for me.
    Good luck and ride safe.

  27. Adam K says:

    I went off-highway today on my Sportster, which weighs about the same as the Multistrada. Let me tell you that it’s a lot of weight to control on a rock-strewn dirt path, and my bike is about 5 inches lower than the Duc. Forget about negotiating 6 inches of sand or crossing streams with uncertain bottoms, the bike just weighs too much. So spending $20,000 on a bike with a tall suspension that may or may not do well on gravel roads is kind of silly. There are much better bikes for fooling around on dirt roads. In fact, you can buy 6 used bikes that are better all-arounders for the price of this Duc and have just as much capability if not more fun.

    • MacBandit says:

      Sportser 581lbs ready to ride
      MultiStrada 485lbs ready to ride

      Not to mention the seating position, geometry, and handlebars make a huge difference on how easy it is to ride on dirt roads. Not to mention the multistrada has traction control.

      • Adam K says:

        I have an older solid-mounted Sportster (50# less than rubber-mounted)with a much lighter exhaust than stock. It’s a bit over 500# AUW, so not much difference there. With better tires it would do occasional off-road OK if I kept away from sand and water, just like the Duc would have to.

  28. Tom Barber says:

    Face it folks, this bike is definitely a game-changer. It combines a set of capabilities that are not present in any existing motorcycle. It does it partly by not succumbing to the tired, silly idea that a bike has to be fully off-road capable before it makes sense to put a useful measure of gravel-road capability into a bike that is highly capable for long trips. This is a good, practical sort of bike, providing most of the capability of modern high-performance open-class liter bikes, while also offering a useful measure of capability for riding on something other than a paved slab of super highway. There will always be people who will criticize a bike of this sort because it is not a KLR, or not this or not that, but what they stubbornly refuse to accept is that none of those other bikes are this bike. Ducati has done a very good thing here. This bike seems a vast improvement over the previous version. Like others, I wish it didn’t cost so much. But that criticism, valid though it is, does not honestly translate to a criticism of the design or philosophy of the bike. This bike is a genuine game-changer.

  29. Keith says:

    I agree with Johnne that Escalades are for posers but disagree about the Multistrada. In fact a Touring S model will be my next bike. This really is the ideal Hi-performance Sport Touring bike for me. Light, lots of tractable power, plenty of cargo capacity, comfortable ergos and that awesome adjustable suspension. The new Multistrada is the answer to having a compentent sports machine for all road surfaces. Dial up the best suspension and power setting for everything from city potholes, rough narrow back roads, hairpin loaded twisties or fast sweepers. Forget the off road carping. This is a a road bike not a dirt bike. Multistrada means “many streets/roads” in Italian. And it’s no wonder that it is born in Northern Italy. The old Multistrada was the perfect weapon for conquering the Alps. The new one would be even better. No other bike on the market is as competent in as many on-road environments as the Multistrada. Plus, it’s a Ducati. Exotic, reliable and stunning to look at. Ride one. Then you’ll know.

    • Tom Barber says:

      Well stated. If people think it costs more than it should, that’s fine for them to say. But that is entirely subjective of course. To deny that its particular set of capabilities are unique among existing motorcycles is silly. All you have to do is look for another bike that has anything close to the same power-to-weight ratio but also has comfortable, practical ergonomics and tires not so wide that they slip right over the surface of gravel. There aren’t any. All of the people who talk about “poseurs” and who criticize it for not being as capable as a KLR650 on a fire road are just making themselves look silly.

      • Sam says:

        It may be worth every penny, but you’d still have to be crazy to go buy one new and pay full retail for it. Ugly Ducatis have a history of plummeting resale value (eg. 999 and the previous Multi). Wait a year and you’ll find a barely used unit at a steep discount.

        And before you say that ugliness is a matter of opinion, keep this in mind: I own a GS, so I’m an authority on ugly.

    • Bill says:

      If it’s not for off roading, why is there an “enduro” setting? Even Ducati’s own promotional stuff shows a MS taking a jump out in the desert. But as you imply, no one would ever take a $25K Duc offroad, one spill and you’ll need to take a second on the house. This bike is indeed as pretentious as an Escalade. Despite this, I would consider buying one except for one minor detail… it’s a Ducati. Nuff said.

  30. Johnne Lee says:

    This thing reminds me on an Escalade! They are both for posers!

    It is far to expensive to buy and to maintain to be a UJM. It is totally incompetent off-road. And if you own one of these and would care to race my KLR 650 on the Arizona fire road of your choice please let me know. My KLR is paid for and I’ll race you for titles!

    Wannabes and posers with more money than sense ride these things. I can afford any motorcycle currently made, but I hate conspicuous consumption and I don’t need anything like this for ego support! These are Harleys with a differing demographic approach, and differing ego support attributes.

    They are not about motorcycling. They are about owning stuff. Nothing more, nothing less!

    • falcodoug says:

      Ouch, but your right.

    • Zombo says:

      Yep ! I saw the godawful mess they call a factory on Twist the Throttle (on Discovery HD Theater) and given the reliability problems of these bikes the workers must be allowed to imbibe vast quantities of wine at lunch time . Or maybe it’s the engineers that are too wasted to design a reliable motorcycle in an era where that is basically the norm for other manufacturers in the industry ?

    • Tom Barber says:

      There are several good posts criticizing this bike, most of them focusing on the cost. Johnne Lee’s post is not one of the better criticisms, and seems intended more to create heat than light.

      I agree that it is expensive to buy and maintain, especially as compared to the old UJM. But I do not agree that it is “totally” incompetent off road. Capabilities of this sort do not come in black and white. They come in shades of gray. This bike will be fare more capable on secondary surfaces that any all-out sport or sport-tourer having similar power will be. And the R1200GS is not in that category. In many areas, such as the mountains west of the Denver metro area, there are tons of roads that are perfectly good except that people are so spread out that the money just isn’t there to pave them. There are way more gravel roads, that have nothing wrong with them except that they are gravel, then there are paved roads, and the gravel roads can be better for motorcycling because there are fewer cars. Full-blown sport bikes are no fun at all on those sorts of roads, whereas this bike will be right at home.

      Why would you think that anyone inclined to own this bike would care one whit whether they, on this bike, could beat you on your KLR650 on your favorite fire road? This is just about as silly as it could possibly be. It is manifest that fire roads are not the express focus of this bike, so why would you throw down a challenge that implies otherwise? Is it not apparent to you that the express focus of this bike is not for riding primarily on those fire roads?

      This bike has a clear niche. In fact, just about any bike that is unique in some notable way has a particular niche. As I pointed out in my earlier comments on this thread, it is unfortunate that people such as you choose to criticize a bike that strives to be less focused and more broadly capable, for not being more focused in one particular area. You are arguing in effect that no bike should endeavor to be broad in its capabilities, and should instead focus sharply on one specific area of capability. You assert in effect that anyone who prefers a bike that is broader in its capabilities, and who is able to afford it and willing to buy it, is nothing but a wannabe and a poser who is just spending money for the sake of spending money and showing what they can afford. To a certain extent this is true of our material purchases in general, particularly as regards expensive homes and expensive cars, but this bike does not strike me a something that especially belongs under that heading. Its particular set of capabilities are unique, not matched by any other bike at present, and this is obviously the case. Anyone who refuses to accept the truth of something that is this obvious is just acting silly. You could argue that it isn’t worth the money, or you could point to evidence of a poor execution in areas such as fuel injection or ABS effectiveness, but no reasonable, honest person could honest insist that it does not have a set of capabilities that is thus far unique. No gold star for you.

      • Zombo says:

        ” To a certain extent this is true of our material purchases in general, particularly as regards expensive homes and expensive cars, but this bike does not strike me a something that especially belongs under that heading. ”

        Uh yes it does ! A mechanically unreliable bike with $1500 valve adjustment costs at the dealer that looks like an on/off road bike that is basically a yesterday’s tech air cooled sport bike masked in adventure bike clothing with an inflated super high price tag is what this is . My advice to any snob bike riding status symbol seekers is to wait and buy it low mileage used like those two year old Ducati Hypermotards going for $7500 on Craigslist .

        • Tom barber says:

          I feel silly defending a bike that I almost certainly will never buy. But most all of the criticisms of this bike are not well-reasoned. The fact that this bike is expensive to buy and to maintain simply does not constitute a logical argument that people who buy it do so to show off their wealth. Just is just damned silly, and it would be so even if I could afford it, which I cannot at present. Off-road riders used to disdain water-cooled bikes. I hadn’t actually paid any attention to whether this bike is air-cooled. I assumed that it was water-cooled, because Ducati’s air-cooled engines tend not to be this powerful. I will have to check, but if it turns out that you are correct, then this should give the bike stronger off-road credentials. Your criticism is either lacking in consistency or else incorrect, and either way, it is not well-reasoned. Who gave you the authority to draw the line between snobs and non-snobs? At every level of expense, people buy stuff partly for intangible reasons that other people do not appreciate. People who choose a Porsche 911 over a Corvette do not do so simply in order to pay more so that they will feel superior for having paid more. To them, their is a very real appeal that the 911 has that the Corvette does not have. The overriding fact here is that the new Multistrada has a combination of capabilities that no other bike presently has. This is unarguably so, and for anyone to pretend otherwise is just silly.

        • Tom barber says:

          Zombo, in your haste to put down this bike because it is not ideally suited to your individual preferences, you labeled it as “yesterday’s tech air cooled”, without bothering to learn whether that is correct. You did not even bother. This is a fully modern water-cooled engine. Off the top of my head, I do not know of another two-cylinder engine with similar power. Perhaps you know of one and are willing to share. It would seem that you rushed to criticize something that you really did not know anything at all about.

          • Zombo says:

            Water cooled ? I stand corrected , now leaky water pumps will be part of the Ducati ownership experience . I can’t wait for Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman to cross a continent on these to prove their new found game changing reliability . Surely Ducati will offer them a couple of bikes to help sell them to the public ? I was also wrong to use the Hypermotard as an example of Ducatis whose value drops through the floor after a few years of use as it seems the value of a used Multistrada drops even lower ! Want this bike ? Wait a few years to get it used at less than half the price of a new one !


      • Johnne Lee says:

        Hey Tom B,

        Don’t be defensive, Pardner! In the good, old US of A, the over-whelming majority of motorcycles are toys.

        I did not argue that bikes should be narrowly focused, and any “secondary surfaces” this Duck is ridden on had best not be far from a Ducati maintenance facility!

        Like I said…

        It is for posers with more money than sense who need their ego supported by what they purchase. The same is true of the over-whelming majority of motorcycles purchased in the good, old US of A.

        The express purpose of this bike is to collect money from posers with more money than sense who need their ego supported by what they purchase. The same is true of the over-whelming majority of motorcycles purchased in the good, old US of A.

        This bike’s clear niche is as a product for posers with more money than sense who need their egos supported by what they purchase. The same is true of the over-whelming majority of motorcycles purchased in the good, old US of A.

        I don’t own one a Duc MS 1200, but I have ridden a couple of them extensively. And, magazine testing does not meet my definition of extensive, either.

        It is a nice piece, no doubt, but it serves no purpose for experienced, qualified riders that can not be served by my KLR.

        Experienced, qualified riders do not need (let alone want) most of what this bike offers. Yes, there are inexperienced, unqualified riders who do need some of the technology it offers.

        Of course, I am an elderly, experienced, qualified rider who can afford to buy any motorcycle he chooses because I never wasted my very, hard-earned money on “butt jewelry” such as this when I was a youngster. That is the reason that my retirement income allow me to do pretty much anything I want. And, I know the difference between wants and needs.

        My wants relative to motorcycling have always been about getting from A to B quicker and more efficiently. My wants have also always been about riding and wrenching better. I began riding out of economic necessity when motorcycles were transportation for the less economically endowed. I never realized back then that it was addictive and fun!

        This thing doesn’t change any game!

        Don’t me defensive, Pardner.

        And please don’t read into, or interpret, my posts. My words can be taken at face value.

        • Cajun says:

          How can you compare a bike that would be blown around on the road by the wake of a large SUV (let alone a tracker trailer rig) to a machine with the size and girth of the Ducati. I don’t know if this bike or any other Ducati is worth a damn or not but the KLR can’t possibly compare to the Multi in terms of road going ability. Of course your KLR is going to be better in the dirt and my XR600 is better suited to off-roading then the Kawi. But neither of our bikes is going to be as capable on road as that Duc.

  31. Bob says:

    I will agree that the Ducati does fill a void. For years I’ve wondered how the manufacturers find buyers for 900 lb. touring bikes. Yes they’re great if you and the missus want to ride across the continent. But what about those of us who aren’t retired and can only get away for two or three days at a time? The low weight of the Ducati suggests that it would be on very competent motorcycle in the mountains. Hard bags also make it practical for a few days away from home. I hope that it really does signify a “game change”. On the other hand, for the price it should have shaft drive. The closest competition (albeit with significantly less horsepower) would be the BMW R1200GS. That bike could be a game changer if BMW offered one version with 17″ wheels and sport bike rubber. The BMW is also way too expensive.

  32. RD350 says:

    None of the big “adventure bikes” are any good off road (with the possible exception of the KTM Adventure in certain situations). If we are to be honest, the BMW GS is a pig off road. The rest of the bunch .. Strom, Triumph, Benelli, Morini, Guzzi … are all incapable on anything but maintained fire roads. Everyone knows this.

    So why hold this Ducati up for special scrutiny?

    On its face its not trying to be an off road bike. Ducati themselves say its not for off-road … as if it needed to be said?

    So, is this bike a game changer?

    Damn right it is. This bike is a game changer because it has created a new class of bike .. which I will coin right here and now. It is an “Adventure Sport Bike” An adventure sportbike is a sportbike that makes sense in the real world (unlike your GSXR or your 1098).

    First and foremost, the new Multistrada is comfortable, unlike most sportbikes. Second, its longer suspension and wide bars allows it to push hard on bad roads (and there are ALOT of frost heaved, potholed, crumbling roads out there). Third, you can sporttour on it. Fourth, you could commute on it. And lastly, you could take it to a trackday and hammer around with the best of them, because the bike is light, isn’t too tall, has great suspension/brakes … and it has gobs of 1198 hp.

    No other bike I can think of can do all that.

    Thats a game changer.

  33. Lloyd says:

    Couldn’t give a monkey about the price , the servicing , it’s lack of off road. This bike has put a huge smile on my face , has a stunning engine , great handling and and my pillions love it . I am also not a midget so the extra leg room is most welcomed.. If you prefer your old air cooled bike then great ,but seriously , biking sometimes isn’t about doing everything as cheaply and simply as possible . The mutley is the best bike I have owned .

  34. Mike says:

    Isn’t the Bandit 1250 basically the Japanese version? I realize it isn’t up to the same specs, but for the same price you get two!

  35. Sean O'Riordain says:

    @Mickey – I’ve done more off roading on my FZ-1 than most people have on their “adventure bikes” 🙂

  36. kpaul says:

    Cool concept with the saddle bags. I was going to say this might make a good commuter bike but the price tag is way too much. I’ll wait for the Japanese version. 🙂

  37. Mickey says:

    Personally I’m not into adventure bikes as all my adventures are on pavement, however like all Ducati’s I’m afraid I wouldn’t “adventure” very far from a dealer, which are few and far between around these parts. Taking my son’s Monster to the shop means a 2 1/2 hour trip one way by trailer. With it’s labor intensive (and expensive) maint schedule, and due to it’s questionable reliability so far,(trans locked up at 2,000 miles) we have lovingly nicknamed it the “Italian Harley”. I’m glad he doesn’t ride the Duc very much. Fortunately, he has a Yamaha FZ-1 for when he wants to ride more than 50 miles from home.

    And to think people are bitching about the supposed $14k price tag on the new Yamaha Tenere

  38. Adam K says:

    If the thing ain’t good off-highway, what’s the advantage of the tall seat height? I reminds me of the guy who drives a 4-wheel drive truck with a 30 inch lift kit goes 1 mph over speed bumps and won’t dare take it off road. This Duc is a true poser machine if there ever was one.

    • Tom Barber says:

      Are you serious? The seat height has nearly as much to do with ride comfort as the reach to the handlebars. On long rides, you need to be able to stretch out your legs, and the tighter the bend in the knees, the less comfortable the bike. How could you seriously not know this? Furthermore, the tall height does in fact give it a genuine measure of off-road capability. By analogy, that’s like saying that since well-lubricated wheel bearings don’t really save fuel, there isn’t any point to having well-lubricated wheel bearings. No? Then please explain how it is possible that increased seat height improves the off-road capability for every motorcycle that has any off-road capability, except this one.

      • Adam K says:

        I prefer my legs tucked up on the passenger pegs on long rides. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it more comforable. Going off-road with this Duc will be very limited as most posters here agree that it’s really only for shallow gravel roads and fire roads that are kept up. Not really an off-road machine and I believe that the tall seat height just makes less attractive to anyone that is inseam impaired or even average height. I wouldn’t call this bike a “game changer” as it only will interest those that need to impress people by buying the latest and greatest thing available. It’s an ego polisher if there ever was one.
        I know a few riders that own GS1200’s and have yet to go down a dirt road with it. They do like to impress folks by buying expensive BMW’s, both 2 and 4 wheelers. There you have it, wheels bearing and all. 🙂

  39. Cory says:

    Damn, bunch of tight wads on here.

  40. motobell says:

    NO ONE MAKES A GOOD 2UP CAPABLE HONEST SPORTBIKE RIVALING NAKED! The multi come the closets but I don’t get the traille long forks and height (yes I am vertically challenged).. it is like making a SUV go fast…I just want all of the thinks the Multi offers – 2 up, up right seating, sportbike level components in a conventional non-traille frame like a ducati streetfighter. But yes it is game changing – agree.

  41. Gary says:

    People who think these are dual sport bikes are missing the point. They are no more offroad capable than the average SUV.

    What they ARE is the rebirth of the UJM. Just as yuppies can’t get themselves to buy station wagons, bikers can’t convince themselves to buy standards. They need to have their go-everywhere, do-anything bikes packaged like rugged Dakar runners.

    What makes the Duc interesting is that it has the street cred to do some serious apex shredding, while still being comfortable.

    Also, I’m pretty sure the service interval on the valvetrain is 12k. That’s not unmanageable.

  42. Adam K says:

    How much do they want for for the MultiStrada 1200?

  43. JayDaytona 675 says:

    My God, you guys sound like old women I swear. “my old KLR…”, “my VStrom”. Honestly… that’s why they call it a game changer. Have you even ridden one? They’re un-bfreakin-lievable. I’ve sold KLRs, Vstroms, KTM Adventures and more recently BMW R1200GSAs and yes… the new Multistrada. To address you nay-sayers – Ducati has once again lengthened the service interval for valve maintenance to 24000 kms (best ever for Ducati) The price is still less than a similarly equipped R1200GSA (and no… you’re right… those things never sell either).
    For the guy who isn’t afraid of the price, who loves long distance comfort, and who is a very skilled on road rider with a need to do occassional off road stints (they didn’t say it was a moto X bike), the Multistrada is 10 out of 10. Anyone that rode one at our shop couldn’t wipe the smile off for days. Oh… and if you ever compare it to a KLR again, I’ll have to come over and steal your doohickey.

    • Zombo says:

      All that may be true , but it’s not unreasonable to expect Japanese like reliability in this day and age especially at that ridiculous high price . Until they address the issues with their overpriced and overrated bikes Ducati will have to rely on snob appeal for sales to fools with too much money in their pockets just like Porsche does with their grenading engines . Prediction – when the new Triumph adventure bikes come at at around half the price of the Multistrada they’ll kick it’s ass in sales !

      • Zombo says:

        Meant to say come out not at , but this comment section was obviously designed over a decade ago with no edit option !

  44. Meridian says:

    I ordered one when they announced it and once I rode it bought a Concours 14 instead. They promoted it as a great tourer, which was backed up by the magazines in initial road tests. If I wanted a giant dirt bike with a screen that is less than a foot from my face I would have bought a KTM. A push forward riding position with the typical Ducati twin thump and rattle. Give me an inline four any day. Sorry, but no matter how I try I can’t understand the fixation with Ducati twins.

    Oh, I got an 08 Concours for 13,500 cdn which was over 10k less than the Ducati! I used some of the savings for a Sargent seat, heated grips, PC3, BMC filter, braided lines, halogen lights, top box and Vance and Hines slip on. Had enough left over for a 2 week trip to California at first class hotels. Can’t wait to see how many used Multistradas come back on the market when regular riders try to tour on them!

  45. Mike says:

    -BIKE named the Versys ‘the best bike for british roads’ earlier in the year.
    -The Triumph Tiger is lees whiz-bang than the multistrada, but serves the same purpose.
    -People have been riding the hell out of Vstroms and Bandits for years now.

    Market penetration of the multi will still be minute compared to the multitude of v-stroms, FZs, bandits, etc out running around. The only thing that makes it a ‘game-changer’ is that it has enough electronic wizardry to get the motorcyle media to review and pay attention to a segment they’ve previously ignored.

  46. PeteN95 says:

    I’d love one, but it’s way outa my price range. I think the most amazing thing is it weighs about the same as a KLR, but has about 5 times the power!?!

  47. Johnne Lee says:

    The Duck Multi IS NOT a naked bike, for starters. Secondly, if you “…dart..” off on to a fire road with that thing you clearly have a death wish; and I’ve ridden one of these things on several AZ fire roads (where I’ve wearing out my KLRs for about 20 years.)

    Anyone who plans to replicate some of the magazine pics I’ve seen had better be an expert who has their disability/life insurance paid up, and can afford to throw away $20K. I’ve never seen one of these things dusty for very long, let alone dirty.

    Ducati is just trying to capture some of the BWM wannabee Adventure Rider market! They are savvy, huh? Maybe they want to market this thing with pics of Vale tossing it around in the real dirt!

    • Chris says:

      Yeah at the press introduction a Canadian rider went down hard on a gravel road and the bike was severely damaged- cracked cases leaking oil and coolant, fairing and tail section broken.

      There’s a reason why dirt bikes have skinny knobby tires and bendable plastic fenders.

      • Adam K says:

        About what I figured. Hardly even capable on a gravel road at anything faster than a crawl. It’s very expensive to drop one of these bikes as it will add up to thousands just to get it rideable again. I think most Starbucks have paved driveways, so this shouldn’t deter their target market.

  48. Dave says:

    Motorcycle Consumer News did not entirely agree with you (or Cycle World). They tested the “S” model in September’s issue and had difficulties with both the driveability and ABS brakes. Their conclusion is that it is not a contender against the new R1200GS, but a successor to Ducati’s previous sport-touring models – with need for further development. But then, MCN doesn’t get revenue from advertising 😉

    • Tom Barber says:

      MCN often identifies problems with a bike that are not mentioned in the more mainstream magazines. Advertising probably does have much to do with it. Your post is one of the very few good posts that take the critical perspective with this bike.

  49. JustJoe says:

    I’m surprised by all the negative comments by people who have likely not even seen one in the flesh, let alone ridden one, but that is the nature of the net I guess. The price of admission is always far higher for the “next level up”. I know at least one friend who is ready to off his very competent FJR 1300 for one of these. There is a certain passion and soul-stirring with this bike that you don’t get from a KLR 650, no matter how practical the KLR may be. Go ride the 1200 to work, then stuff the bags full and put your partner on the back and take a tour, then go do a track day and surprise all the kiddies, and tell me it isn’t a good value.

    • Tom Barber says:

      This is a good post. People who criticize this bike because it is not as good as a KLR at doing the sort of highly focused sort of thing that the KLR does well, are just being silly.

  50. Vrooom says:

    Unlike my V-Strom, I’d probably not take that thing further afield than a good gravel road, but still I seriously covet this thing. What differentiates this from the other adventure tourers is a legitimate sporting motor. While my Strom is fast enough, there’s something to be said for having stupid power on hand every now and then.

  51. Bob-o says:

    I generaly appreciate ALL forms of motorcycles. This one is tough to look at – ugly from every angle. This is not an off-road bike. This is not a perfect street bike. No bike will ever do it all – just a physics thing.
    Way too much money! The guy who buys this has the money and is likely more of a “Gotta have the latest” type.
    The Triumph Street Triple has my attention.

  52. mudnducs says:

    Nice….ugly, but nice. Jim and JCC drilled it. Desmo? Thousands of dollars in styling plastic?
    Nah…they can keep it. I’ll keep my 1224 ZRX. Now THERE’s a bike!

    • Joe Saia says:

      I wish I still had my ZRX 1224. Mine had been modified to the Streetfighter end instead of the stock ELR look.

  53. Gary says:

    That bike has my name on it. But until my job situation gets a little less tenuous, the name is the only thing on it. My hiney is still on my Triumph Sprint, which is aging gracefully.

  54. Bowtiedaddyo says:

    Right on Dean,
    My dual sporting began with the DR 650, slightly underpowered for my 200 lbs. Changed to a KTM LC4 640, great bike but sucked on the highway. Bought a used V strom 1000 2 years ago and she’s a keeper. Just needed some decent tires, taller windscreen and a better seat. I’m sure the 650 version would work for me as well but I need the extra hp for passing slower traffic.

  55. Tom B says:

    I had an opportunity to demo the “S” model on pavement and was favorably impressed.

    No one bike will do everything exceptionally or please everybody. It’s hard to get around the laws of physics and everyone has their own likes, dislikes and priorities. There are also the issues of cost to buy, cost to maintain and dealer availability.

    I think Ducati wants to compete successfully in the GS1200 market. So really the question is – if you’re thinking about a GS1200, could the MS be a better alternative?

  56. Bones says:

    It hauls ass, at least all the moto journalists say it does.
    It’s expensive, but what Ducks are cheap?
    It’s full of Italian electronics which may be fun to play with but it also makes me wonder whether I’d trust this bike to get me back home from any significant adventure.
    It looks great in photographs (I was drooling last winter) but when I saw a red S with the tour pack in person, it just doesn’t hold up. It’s ungainly and ill proportioned to my eyes. Ugly as a GS, but in an Italian sort of way. YMMV
    Is it a great bike? By many definitions, it is, but too many drawbacks to earn my money.

  57. Dean says:

    Expensive? Sure… Great Gobs of Electronics? You Bet… Adventure Bike? Depends how you define your adventure. If you really want off-road adventures, you really can’t go much bigger or more complicated than the DR or KLR650’s because the weight and complexity make it not very suitable for serious off-roading.

    For riders like me (Adventure means mainly on-road comfort, speed, and no limits to where and when I ride) these big Adventure bikes are great! With my Vstrom 1000, I rarely go off a gravel road, but on the road I can keep up with most any bike. The power is fun, electronic Fuel Injection has been reliable (only a few times has the bike not started due to a FI error, and I just turn the key off and on again, it fires up), the handling is surprisingly good on road. Usually every few years I feel the need for more power, but the Vstrom has kept me happy for almost 9 years now. But with a lot of 1200’s out there… Hmmm.

  58. Tom Barber says:

    It is easy to criticize a bike of this sort because it lacks true off-road capability. I just don’t see the point in doing that. What it amounts to is that, as soon as a particular bike (or car) takes position where it offers a useful measure of a particular class of capability, e.g., off-road, track, or whatever, people who have a strong preference for a bike highly focused toward that class of capability come out from under their rocks and start criticizing it for not being a “true” bike of that class. I find this behavior highly annoying. When a bikes offers a useful measure of off-road capability, it is an improvement over the dire lack of that capability. Many street bikes, particularly the high-performance liter bikes, become a treacherous proposition even on well-maintain gravel roads. They are also terribly uncomfortable and far less than ideal for anything more than half-day ride. Some would argue a half-hour ride. I am glad to see bikes of this sort, that have highly capable engines and that are comfortable to ride and that you can take on gravel roads and fire roads.

    The eccentric chain adjuster on this bike means that you do not have to carry around a two-foot wrench handle in order to loosen the axle nuts to adjust the chain. The single-sided swingarm similarly has substantial practical functionality. Cycle World did a good thing in declaring this bike the best open-class street bike. We need more bikes of this sort, and fewer ultra-high-performance sport bikes.

  59. falcodoug says:

    No one will ride that in the dirt. No one.

  60. Bob W, says:

    Another guy waiting for the Tiger 800.

  61. Grafight says:

    Revolutionary? Game changer? I don’t think so. It’s par for the course for Ducati: Great quality, latest tech, too expensive.

    A revolutionary bike will provide a great ride to the masses. A revolutionary bike will do everything well without having to fiddle with thousands of possible engine and suspension combinations The Kawi KLR650 and the Suzuki V-strom 650 have done just that. Not by the flashy reviews and sexy magazine covers but by every day riders experiencing real adventures on these machines and telling people about it. They have earned respect over years of delivering excellent reliability and loads of fun for a really low price.

    So when I see a new super-duper adventure bike from BMW or Ducati, ready to win the Paris-Dakar out of the box, but at an unreachable price, I’m not impressed.

  62. Steve P says:

    I’d like my Multistrada in a 848 short for about $5K less.

  63. JCC says:

    Ducati will alway be a fringe player as long as it keeps the high maintenance valve train. There is no advantage (except to the dealers) for the desmo, just high costs. Otherwise a nice bike, for those with 34 inch inseams.

    • Quentin Wilson says:

      The Ducati Multistrada 1200 does not have a “high maintenance valvetrain.” The MTS 1200 has 15,000 mile valve adjustment intervals. By the time you have finished paying for the 1st service, 2nd service (7.5k oil change), and the valve inspection/belt changing service at 15k, you will have paid almost exactly the same for the required BMW GS service, yet less than a Triumph Tiger.

      Regarding the hyperbole about a 34 inch inseam being needed: There is an optional, comfortable seat that is 25mm shorter than the standard one. The bike is so light, relative to others in its class, that it is much less intimidating for riders that have a 30 inch or less inseam. 32 inseam and you can flat foot it.

    • Chris says:

      I couldn’t agree more. They have increased the valve adjustment intervals from 8k to 15k miles on this engine, but it still costs $1,500.00 for that service, which is $0.10 per mile. Ducati has not said what the estimated time before overhaul is for this engine. But assuming it could go to 60k miles, that’s $4,500.00 for 3 valve adjusts over the life of the motor. I understand these valve adjusts can be done at home by a competent do it yourselfer with a shim kit and special retainer tool. I think most will opt for the shop to do it.

      Desmodromic valves are very exotic (no return springs- up and down rocker arms instead ensuring no valve float) and are the engineering hallmark of Ducati. But for a sport touring application where high mileage is expected they should design a purpose built valve train with at least 30k mile adjustment intervals.

      Someday I’d like to see electric solenoid actuated valves which would do completely away with cams, cam chains, and valve adjusts. It would make for a much more compact engine.

    • MikeD says:

      Yes and yes. Those Timing belts and “different” valve train make me think 100 times about it before considering any Duc…even after they elongated the valve check interval to 15k miles.

      At daily riding revs, there truly is no advantage other than to say u have something different (doing the same task anyways).
      Then there’s that out of this world entrance fee (M.S.R.P)… REALLY ?! Not me…

      I think they should join the “BUCKET & SHIM” Crew and leave their “All Mighty Desmo System” for their high end superbikes and such.

      The new Super Tenere has a valve adjustment interval of 24k miles. Isn’t that Nice? lol.
      Is good to have choices.

      Lite and expensive to own and maintain (like an Italian SuperModel) OR Heavy, less expensive and easier to maintain by urself not some overcharging dealer.

      • Marc says:

        My FZ1 has a valve adj interval of 26k miles and when I checked them they were at nominal. So in the 40k miles I have on the bike the only thing I have done is put oil, gas, tires and a set of front brake pads. That is why I have stayed away from Ducati’s. Bucket and shims on the lower end bikes sounds like a good idea.

  64. bagadonitz says:

    I love the bike and want one in my garage. No dealer within 2500 km, including an 8 hour ferry ride is a bit of a set back for me, as is the price but I just can’t get it out of my mind. I hope to return to having a bike in my garage after an 8 year absence and I can’t think of any other bike that will do what I want it to do as well as this one.

  65. Jim says:

    Adventure bike? Really? Walk outside, kick it off the kickstand and let me know how much it costs to fix the damage. I’m thinking I could buy several KLR650s for probably just the plastic bits on this bike. And what happens when all the electronic bits go offline deep in the woods…

    I’m looking forward to Triumph’s ‘dual-sport’ bikes… smaller (lighter) at 800cc and hopefully less plastic…

  66. MarkF says:

    I hate the snout! How about an optional CF flat nose? The rest is soooo sweet. I prefer the black with CF bits.

  67. Brian says:

    It might be the ultimate combination of performance, utility, grin production and outright awesomness, but it’s freakin ugly, and cost more than an new econo car.

  68. Beast Incarnate says:

    Anyone complaining about naked bikes being detuned should look at another Cycle World bike of the year: the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000. It’s the first Z to have an engine built specifically for it, not an adaptation of their literbike lump. A look at the dyno shows the result – excellent torque, on par with the mighty Speed Triple, and top end like the FZ1. It’s fantastic. I’ve never been a Kawasaki fan, but a test ride convinced me on the spot. It’s in the garage now. People are getting the Z1000 for under $10k OTD – that’s a lot of money saved over competing bikes for any upgrades you want. It’s definitely worth a look.

  69. Wendy says:

    The only thing wrong with this bike is I can’t afford it. BTW, Britain’s”Bike” magazine tests the MS against the other two advices on ht market. Then tests them all on a motocross track. The pic of the Duc doing jump is priceless.

  70. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Would somebody actually take a bike with those WSBK-esq parts off-road?
    I’d be afraid to get it dirty, let alone scratch it or crash it in some gravel.

  71. Monsta says:

    For $20k it damn well better change SOMETHING!

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