The Ducati Multistrada is an incredible motorcycle. It has superbike power in a package you can ride across the country or race with, equally as good at riding at 10 mph as it is 100. Now Ducati is giving it the dirt treatment, hoping to make the Multistrada 1200 Enduro the perfect all-rounder. And it is! But you still probably shouldn’t buy one.
(Full Disclosure: Ducati needed me to ride the all-new Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro so badly, they flew me Sardegna, Italy, gave me pasta, and asked me to please not crash their pretty new thing too many times. I was happy to oblige.)
You may be aware of my difficulties with this big adventure bike segment. By trying to do it all, these bikes sacrifice too much that they aren’t great for anything. And we’ve seen a split in the segment with some bikes skewing more off-road, while other skew more on-road.
The original Multistrada is one of those. A bike that, despite looking like an adventure bike, is much better on road than off, thanks to its stiff suspension and sport-sized tires. It’s a great bike, and would be high on my list for my ideal bike to take the long way across the country. Wearing leathers.
The thing that made the regular Multi so great was that it tried to be almost everything. It tried to be fast. It tried to be comfy. It tried to be good at going long distance. It tried to be good for carrying a passenger and luggage. And none of those goals really got in the way of the others.
The thing about trying to do it all is that something has to give. In the same way that I can’t attend every bike launch, pump out lots of good content, and keep my girlfriend from wanting to kill me, these bikes just can’t be good at riding fast on road, handling some real shit off, and being good at carrying you and all your stuff long distance.
The worst part—and I know this sounds contradictory—is that this is a great bike.
The Specs That Matter
It would be easy to think that Ducati threw some knobbies and taller suspension on the regular Multi and called it off-road ready. But, thankfully, that isn’t how Ducati does things.
The Multistrada 1200 Enduro has 266 all new parts (not including nuts/bolts/spacers), accounting for 29.8 percent of the 890 parts that make up the bike.
While the motor remains unchanged, the gearbox has been given a more off-road friendly final gearing, moving from a first gear ratio of 37/15 on the old to 38/14 on the new and final drive ratio of 40/15 to 43/15. The motor also gets a new engine map which, in conjunction with the gearing, moves the power lower in the rev range.
The new suspension has be tuned for off-road riding, and gives the bike 30 more mm of travel front and rear, which makes for 31 mm more ground clearance. The front axle has been offset, which gives the bike an additional degree of rake and four more millimeters of trail.
The beautiful single sided swingarm is gone, exchanged for a stiffer double-sided unit which also houses a new rear hub and redesigned rear brake system, all of which have been designed with your abuse in mind. Overall, the bike has a wheelbase of 1,594 mm, which is 64 mm longer than the standard Multi.
The 17-inch rear and 19-inch front spoked wheels are also new, and were tested with and designed for use of knobby tires. Ducati partnered with Pirelli and made their Pirelli Scorpion Rally tire available, which look and perform very much like the TKC80’s many of us have come to love.
Unfortunately, Ducati is also weird, so the knobbies are only a factory option if you order the Enduro pack and get the gray model. (We’ll get to the different packs, don’t worry,)
The bodywork gets some small changes, with the side panels being swapped for aluminum units that will hopefully stand up to abuse better and a slightly longer beak to keep a little more mud off you. The gas tank has also been bumped up to 7.9 gallons, because you’re going to ride this thing super far into the wild.
The ergonomics have been completely reworked, with 50 millimeter taller bars and a re-shaped seat that makes putting a foot down much easier. Seat height comes in at 34.25 inches, with a “low” 33.5 inch aftermarket seat option. Also, the pegs and levers are now made from higher strength cast steel.
Like the regular Multi, the Enduro gets multiple riding modes, the Skyhook suspension system, wheelie and traction control, and cornering ABS. Additionally, there’s also Ducati’s new Vehicle Hold Control, which holds the bike in place on hills with up to 46 degrees of incline. It’s insanely easy to initiate and actually really awesome, even though I still like to do things the old fashion way.
The Multistrada 1200 Enduro has four available packs to choose from: Touring, Enduro, Sport, and Urban.
The touring pack adds Ducati branded-Touratech made aluminum panniers, a handlebar bag, and heated grips. The Enduro pack adds Touratech crash bars and oil/radiator protectors, fog lights, a lower chain guide, and a rear disc brake protector to help keep gunk out of it. The Sport pack adds a Termignoni exhaust and some billet bits, while the Urban pack adds a top case, tank bag, and USB power outlet.
The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro has a claimed wet weight of 560 pounds (up 13 from the regular) and starts at $21,295 for the standard model in red. If you want the gray/white, that will run you an extra $200, and adding the different packs starts at $2,000 premiums.
We Rode The Damn Thing
I love riding off-road but, as is likely obvious from my article asking for you to explain the adventure bike thing to me, my skills are average at the moment and I prefer riding much smaller bikes when playing in the dirt.
We split into two groups and, fortunately, I drew the on-road section of the ride first. For this section, we’d be on the bikes with the Touring pack, which meant street tires and a cute little fanny pack on the bars for my phone.
Intelligent, or timid, human that I am, I started in the touring riding mode until the bike and I could get properly acquainted. Touring mode offers oodles of power, but whoa mama is there some slack in the throttle.
I could see this being great if I were riding with a passenger and were trying to provide the smoothest ride known to man (which I do when she won’t stop headbutting me), but it made riding with any sort of precision pretty difficult.
The switch to sport mode came swiftly, and it rewarded me instantly. The new gearing, Ducati’s DVT (their version of variable valve timing), and their efforts at improving their fueling have really paid off. On/off throttle is incredible smooth for such a big motor, riding even down as low as 2,000 rpm is stunningly drama free, and throttle modulation is natural and linear.
There’s a slight dip in power right around 4,500 RPM but, while noticeable, it doesn’t feel limiting. But, once you get to 6,000, it pulls like the dickens.
On the road, or at least in the tight stuff, the Multi Enduro would be really good, if it weren’t for the standard Multistrada. In fact, if they tried to move a little farther from the “do-it-all, we’re still really good at being fast on road” thing, I’d actually like the bike a lot more.
The thing is, the regular Multistrada really is that much better on the road, and the Enduro simply doesn’t add a new dimension to the bike like they’d like you to believe.
Even on its stiffest setting, the suspension is still too soft to ride like the motor wants to, and I found myself backing off far more than I expected to given the fact that I was riding a new Multistrada around brilliant windy roads on the coast of some island off the coast of Italy.
After lunch came time to play in the dirt, and we swapped for bikes with the Enduro pack and Scorpion Trail tires.
The first thing that impressed me was how well Ducati nailed the ergonomics of the bike. It’s a pretty tall bike but, given the shape of the seat, getting a foot down wasn’t difficult at all.
Standing on the Multi is also easy, and this is one of the first bikes where I haven’t had to tinker with or roll the bars forward to I could stand comfortably. The only guy who really had any difficulty was the rider from a site in Mexico who was 5’4” on a good day. He had some difficulty getting on the bike, but after watching him ride I could see why it didn’t seem to phase him.
The day started with some pretty mellow, albeit narrow fire roads through a forest before we started climbing switchbacks up a mountain. Despite being a hefty thing, the Multi does an astoundingly good job carrying its weight.
The real star of the show, and reason things don’t get out of hand quickly, is the brilliance of the electronics on the bike. The traction control allows enough slip to help me get the front end pointed in the right direction, but doesn’t let that beast of a monster get out of hand. And when you do want to get silly and cause a ruckus and turn the TC off, that precise fueling comes in handy again when modulating a slide.
Heading back down the hill, it struck me that bikes like the Multistrada Enduro are why I have had such a hard time switching my mind into dirt mode when I ride off road—because they allow you not to.
In enduro mode, the front ABS is left on while the back is turned off, and that front ABS is quick adept at keeping you upright, even in the dirt. I was half way down the mountain before I realized I was riding with all front brake, and that the Multistrada seemed completely content with it.
The day ended with a hill climb and some mud fun. With the hill climb, the traction control again came in to save the day and kept me from digging a hole to the center of the Earth with that bike tire. And mud fun is good fun no matter how you slice it.
Nothing that day would be called single track or particularly rocky, and no one managed to get more than a little bit of air, but the Multistrada 1200 Enduro handled all of it with poise. Sure, I wished I were on a Husqvarna FE500 the whole time, but I never wished I was on the BMW R 1200 GS or KTM 1190 Adventure R.
What We’d Change
Seeing as how it’s going to be hard for them to cut 150 pounds off this thing, I’m going to say let’s just hurry up with a Hyperstrada Enduro and we’ll call it good. Or maybe throw in some perk where Ducati sends a helicopter and mechanic when you need trail side assistance, because there’s no chance 99 percent of us are going to be able to do anything if this beast goes down.
Oh, and offer the knobbies on anything with the Enduro pack, not just the gray one. I’m sure you have a good reason, but I don’t care and it’s silly.
You Wanted To Know
I posted a pic of the bike on those social medias the teens are always talking about and asked what your questions were about the bike so I could help tailor the review to what you wanted to know. If you aren’t following me on Instagram or Twitter, you really should be. I keep my rants about gluten to a minimum, I swear.
- “When in your test ride did you wish for less weight or less power? Was there ever a time when you wished for more?” - This bike is actually good enough, and the route mellow enough, that I was never really like “ugh, this thing is killing me.” But, looking back, I would have had more fun and been faster on something smaller and lighter.
- “Is there a future for 180 hp world-eating enduros?” - Seeing as this is limited to 100 horsepower when in Enduro mode, I doubt it.
- “Is this whole segment just a fad?” - Yes and no, I think that bike manufacturers are finally starting to give us bikes that are actually great for “adventure riding,” and that the buyers who really want to ride like that will gravitate towards them. These big things are great for guys who want to tour, and maybe ride some fire roads, and they’ll continue to sell well because that fits a ton of people.
- “How is it different from the BMW R1200GS or KTM 1190 Adventure R?” - It carries its weight better than the BMW, but feels bigger than the 1190 Adventure R. They’re all good for touring and some fire roads. The KTM is my favorite still, because it’s as good off road and I like riding it more on road.
- “Do the changes compromise its abilities on the street? What percent of the time would you have to spend off-road for you to buy the Enduro? How does it compare to the Africa Twin?” - Absolutely, so much so that I would buy the regular model. If I were spending enough time off road to want the Enduro more, I’d get the Africa Twin because it’s way better off road.
- “I am assuming that this thing is pretty expensive. Expensive ADV bikes always have me thinking about which two bikes you could get instead. A WR250R and FZ-07 combo comes to mind. Whats your combo or would you go for the Multi?” - With the different packs coming in at $24000, there are tons of combinations I’d rather have more. Africa Twin and a Husky 701? Hyper SP and a used KTM 500 EXC-F?
Why You Should Care
So, let’s get back to that whole “you shouldn’t buy this bike” thing. Here’s my reasoning.
The purpose of the Multistrada 1200 Enduro is so you can tour, but not stop when the road turns to dirt. And this bike is about as good as doing that as most things.
But, the Multistrada 1200 Enduro is still not great at riding in the dirt because, like it’s competitors it’s too big and too heavy and makes too much power and is silly.
And, if we’re just talking about some light dirt action, the regular Multistrada really isn’t all that bad. It has the traction control and ABS that make this bike so good and, with some less sporty rubber and on it’s softest suspension settings, is also capable of taking you past where the pavement ends. And it’s also way better on the road.
Honestly, I think it’s time we start using our brains a little more when it comes to these “adventure bikes.” Because the Honda Africa Twin is worlds better than this as a true “do-it-all” machine and because the new mid-sized KTM adventure bike will be too.
Ducati, you’ve built and incredible and impressive machine, it’s just not the machine we need to do the job.
Helmet: Arai XD-4
Backpack: Velmoacchi Speedway
Gloves: Racer Gloves USA Rally Glove