The Italian manufacturer has for long designed flamboyant-looking motorcycles and the 2010 model Multistrada 1200 proves that they haven’t taken a break. Its lanky profile is led by a snout of twin air intakes, set just below a duo of smiling headlights, illuminated by a halogen bulb and LED combo.
Black dominates the lower end of this motorcycle, cloaking the bulk of the engine, exquisite rims and rear, while silver highlights parts like the sump shroud, pillion footrests and silencers. The Multistrada’s Ducati heritage is immediately apparent with a typical trellis skeleton, which reveals much of its muscular-looking powerplant.
The first hint to the big bike’s appetite for speed is an adjustable visor that offers adequate protection from wind blast; below it sits an LCD instrument bay which relays a stream of info to the rider. Speed and rpm are the highlights, with an odometer, twin trip facility, fuel and temperature gauge, gear indicator and clock in tow. An inset circular dot matrix dial shows the riding mode the Multistrada is in. This console also reads out real-time mileage, ABS on or off, as well as what level of traction control assist the motorcycle is providing.
The Strada comes with shapely and functional mirrors, and integrates the front turn signals into its knuckle guards. The heated grips offer good feel and reach-adjustable levers are available on the premium bike, as is keyless access. A button clicks open the key in switchblade fashion and is needed only for filling fuel, opening the seat or a pannier box.
Starting the Ducati is easy and keeping the key within a couple of metres of the bike facilitates ignition. Buttons enable adjustment for traction control, and the indicator-cancel button, importantly, also doubles up as the riding mode selector, making it the most important button on the Multistrada. There also is a pair of 12V charging points that can charge mobile phones, plus other connectors for a Garmin GPS system.
The 1200’s smooth body work is well sculpted, stylish and decal-free. Its split seat climbs smartly over the tank, whose indents comfortably accommodate a rider’s knees.
The Multistrada uses a four-stroke, 1198.4cc, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder engine set in an ‘L’ configuration. Four valves operate per cylinder with an 11deg overlap, and Ducati’s desmodromic system mechanically opens and shuts these without relying on a spring to return a valve. This is a fuel-injected motor, with elliptical, Mikuni-made throttle bodies feeding each short-stroke cylinder, bore and stroke measuring 106 x 67.9mm. The Strada delivers a brawny 150bhp at 9250rpm, and twists out maximum torque of 12.1kgm at 7500rpm.
The Strada’s stubby twin silencers beat out a stirring exhaust note, loud, throaty at low rpm, and building with the rush of a superbike-like scream as the bar on the rev counter touchs around 10,000rpm. Every ratio is well thought out, and the Strada charges to an indicated maximum speed of 150kph in second gear. The bike zips past 200kph nonchalantly, with plenty in reserve; Ducati claims the Strada will go on to a top whack in the region of 255kph in fifth, with sixth purposely left tall for relaxed cruising.
Pressing the magic button on top of the indicator switch can rein the Strada’s herd of 150 ponies down to about 100bhp, tailoring its power delivery to the best recipe for that particular ride, road and day. A rider can choose between Sports (150bhp), Touring (150bhp), Urban (100bhp) or Enduro (100bhp) modes, and further tweak his bike set-up for riding with a pillion, or with panniers. Having selected a mode, the instruments will confirm you need to shut the throttle to shift mode, an obvious precaution when the new mode could boost power up to 50bhp.
The Multistrada makes use of Ducati Traction Control (DTC) which works without ruining riding pleasure. Traction control intervention is minimal in Enduro mode, highest when slotted in ‘Urban.’ In ‘Sports’ mode, power kicks in sharply, with a crisp feel every enthusiast is certain to revel in. Switching modes softens the engine’s punch progressively.
The brakes feel reassuringly powerful, progressive with just the right feel coming through the front lever. ABS can be controlled via the switchgear as well, while a rider must remember that switching the bike off and restarting will always turn this back on. Expect the Multistrada 1200 to return between 15-20kpl for every litre of fuel.
The Multistrada 1200 is engineered to do it all, do it well, and do it with typical Italian flair. This isn’t a bike that merely seems good on paper, and then fails to live up to expectations on the road. All its virtues add up to make good on the big promise, the Strada being versatile, as versatile as a motorcycle ever can be. This extraordinary new Ducati is a motorcycle that adapts to its rider, rather than demanding its rider adapt to the bike.
So start saving, for the Jack of all trades and master of most — Ducati’s impressive Multistrada 1200 — is set to hit Indian roads this May.