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S models come equipped with...
S models come equipped with a 48mm fully adjustable inverted Öhlins fork that is electronically controlled. Standard models get a more traditional 50mm Marzocchi fork with a Sachs rear shock. Amazingly, the electronic Öhlins suspension weighs just 300 grams more than the standard units. Brembo provides stopping power for both bikes with 320mm discs and four-piston, radially mounted calipers. Brakes are typical Brembo fare with excellent power and a soft initial bite. ABS is standard on S models, optional on the non-S model.
All of that pales in comparison to what makes the new Multistrada stand out. To understand this, you first need to understand its purpose in life. When the original Multistrada was released in 2003, it was billed as a do-it-all machine. The air-cooled 1000DS engine (and later the 1100cc version) provided forward motivation, while Öhlins suspension on the 1100S model handled sporty handling duties. Its relaxed seating position gave it touring abilities and the long-travel suspension provided some pretense of off-road prowess. That's all well and good, and the bike garnered many fans, but there was one inherent flaw, at least in Ducati's eyes: these were all static means to fulfill many roles. If there was one thing the international press launch of the new version was going to drive home, it was this: If the Multistrada was ever going to be four bikes in one, it would have to "adapt to its rider, not the other way around." And that's where electronics comes in to play.
Available on both the standard and "S" versions are four different power modes: Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro, all of which can be selected while riding. In Sport mode, all of the Multistrada's 150 horsepower is on tap in all its glory. Throttle response isn't reduced at all and Ducati's Traction Control system, first introduced on the 1098R superbike, is set to level four-the middle of the eight positions-to allow slight wheelspin without getting carried away. On the road the feeling is instantly noticeable. Compared to its racier cousins, the Multistrada delivers more grunt from as low as 2000 rpm with smooth, seamless throttle application. Its short gearing and broad torque mean that second gear power wheelies are easily achieved.
Touring mode still provides all 150 horsepower, but power delivery is reduced for approximately 25 percent of initial throttle, after which there's a noticeable surge as full power is again restored. This initial reduction in power allows the rider with a heavy wrist more leeway especially exiting corners, but if that's not enough, the DTC setting is bumped to level five. All in an effort to curtail wheelspin. For those times when the open road isn't "open" at all, like during the daily commute or strolling through tight city roads, toggle to Urban mode and power is reduced to 100 horses with the same soft delivery as in Touring mode. DTC is bumped up again to level six. Strolling through some cramped towns during the Multistrada's world introduction in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands just west of Morocco, switching into urban mode and tooling around town gave it a real sense of purpose. When maximum power isn't needed and attention would rather be directed toward navigating the city sprawl, Urban mode is a relaxing escape.
While the engine may share the same architecture as the 1198 superbike, inside it's completely different. Emphasis was placed on low-end torque for better drivability. Intake and exhaust ports were revised to help achieve this, but the primary difference is the 11 degree valve overlap between the intake and exhaust valves (from 41 degrees on the 1198). Gear ratios are also suited to the bike, with shorter gears allowing for quicker acceleration. The bike now reaches its top speed in fifth gear, with sixth gear used as a true overdrive.
On the other end of the spectrum is Enduro mode. While not a true off-road bike by any stretch of the imagination, the Multistrada has always had aspirations to be a fire-trail machine. Switching to Enduro mode sends the same 100 horsepower as in Urban, but DTC drops down to level two to allow significant wheelspin. Oddly, it doesn't disable the ABS-something that shouldn't be difficult at all with the CAN-BUS electronics. To handle all the different terrain Ducati worked in close relation with Pirelli to develop the Scorpion Trail-the largest "knobby" tire in production, coming in a 190/55-17 rear. Though designed to look like an off-road tire, the Scorpion Trail has a steep profile and slick shoulders for quick turn-in and decent edge grip while on the road. The stiffer carcass helps it endure any jaunts off the paved path.
Beyond the four modes, each is then able to be further customized via the dot-matrix display on the dash to differing levels of power, DTC interruption, or ABS activation. Meaning, instead of full power and level four of traction control, the rider has the option of changing it to Touring or Urban mode power delivery and any level of traction control they choose. Just with a few clicks of the left switchgear, the possibilities are endless.
The windscreen is adjustable...
The windscreen is adjustable in 60mm increments, manually, either up or down. Lack of space for the motors is the primary reason the screen isn't electronically operated. Note also the snorkels, inspired from the Hypermotard, that channel air to the oil cooler directly behind.
An Öhlins TTX shock graces...
An Öhlins TTX shock graces the rear of the Multistrada. Electronically adjustable, of course. Surprisingly, it's directly mounted to the swingarm and not through linkages. When asked why this is, the response again resolved around space issues. Or the lack thereof to be more precise.
Instead of routing exhaust...
Instead of routing exhaust gasses up and under the tail like the 1198, the collector and catalyzer for the Multistrada are side mounted. Under the seat you can also see the keyed release that exposes the small compartment area. Look closely and you can also see the right-side power outlet.