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2015 Ducati Multistrada and 1200S First Ride Review

2015 Ducati Multistrada

Seems like only yesterday Ducati summoned us to Spain to ride its new 2013 Multistrada 1200 with 11-degree Testastretta engine and Skyhook active suspension. So advanced. A scant two years later, that bike is so two years ago. The new Multistrada is completely overhauled, with nary a part carried over from the old one save the four sparkplugs.

Lanzarote is an island 37 by 16 miles off the coast of Morocco in the Atlantic. It’s too small to really need cruise control, but it’s a huge step forward that the new bike has it, in my book at least, when it comes to making the Multi a real cross-country travelling machine, which is one of the several things Ducati wants it to be.

And the thing that makes the cruise control work so smoothly across the bike’s widened powerband is another piece of new tech for Ducati – DVT, Desmodromic Variable Timing.

Ducati Variable Timing

One valve per camshaft lets cam timing be advanced or retarded enough that valve overlap can be adjusted from a negative 37 degrees at low revs, all the way to 53 degrees up around redline. Among other things, that makes the big Twin way less rambunctious at low rpm: Ducati says DVT reduces “surging” by 78%, increases power by 7% and torque by 9% – and the final benefit is supposed to be 8% better fuel economy.

On top of that, valve-interval checks are up to 18,000 miles, and routine maintenance is down to 9000 miles, or 12 months.

The claim is 160 horsepower at 9500 rpm in Sport and Touring modes, 100 in Enduro and Urban, and a maximum 100.3 pound-feet of torque at 7500 rpm. The only downside is that the engine gained 5 kilos (11 pounds), which is why the engine guy, Marco Sairu, says DVT will not happen on the Panigale. Adding weight at Ducati is normally a big no-no, but in the case of DVT on the Multi, they decided the trade-off was worth it.

Claimed weight is 511 pounds with a 90% fuel load; the tank is supposed to hold 5.3 gallons. Ducati didn’t invent this technology; it’s been around on automobiles for some time, but adapting it to the Ducati Twin is still a minor engineering marvel in its own right, and the video that shows how it works is a lot of fun too.


In practice, you still need about 2500 rpm on the tach for the Twin to really run snatch-free, and after that it’s all thick gravy. The DVT engine’s character feels more like a torquey old 851, back before things became so oversquare, but an 851 with a supercharger bolted to it. Lanzarote in March is packed with German and British tourists on bicycles turning from white to pink before your very eyes and really too small to air the DVT out all that much, but there were a couple of deserted straights where we got a chance to bang the engine into it’s 10,500-rpm redline.

There’s plenty of power up there, but the chunky midrange is what the DVT is all about:

In Sport mode particularly, there’s a delicious and audible surge at around 6000 rpm that’ll get the yellow DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control) lights flashing if you happen to be coming over a rise. The six-speed gearbox is so fluid, up and down, you wonder why you’d need a quickshifter. Once rolling above third, you really don’t need the clutch, which uses Ducati’s self-servo mechanism to keep lever effort light and acts as a semi-slipper.

For 5’8” me, the ergos are really good. To look at it, you might think taller riders would feel a bit dished in, but I didn’t hear any complaints. Ducati says it spent lots of time working on the ergonomic triangle for both rider and passenger and providing more fore and aft room for both.

ducati multistrada

Both versions of the bike also get new Bosch 9.1ME Cornering ABS, thanks to the new IMU, which should make it even harder to lowside yourself. A combined braking system, as on the last Multi, uses four pressure detectors to allocate braking power between front and rear, with the amount of bias dependent on which riding mode you’re in. I didn’t find it intrusive, but I never got a chance to work the brakes hard.


From our friends at Motorcycle.com

Click here for the full story: 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 And 1200S First Ride Review


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