2006 Ducati Multistrada 1000: Riding with Righteous Indignation

Ducati Multistrada 1000Dear Ducati,
What would possess you to create a bike like the Multistrada 1000?  This is not a motorcycle so much a dopamine pump directly to the fun-centre of the brain; a two-wheeled narcotic of Hunter S. Thompson proportions with a preponderance of addictive qualities to match the most potent of designer chemicals.  I am “hooked” on this grin inducing chimera combination of sportbike, super-motard and standard – and now you’ve taken it away.  Since the MTS1000’s return I’ve been shaking from withdrawal, hounding Betty Ford for a spare bed and have started on twelve steps to a recovery I don’t really desire.

“Sensible all rounder” – my auntie’s panties!  From the marketing materials and numbers I was expecting this to be a hum-drum nancy-boy all rounder, so in the first real ride I put the boots to it…  Boots which it promptly consumed.  Grinding my poser-pristine toe pucks like a planer though cheap particleboard.  This is not an expected consumable in the normal duties of an on road review; enclosed please find the receipt for a new pair of boots. Don’t worry I won’t hold you responsible for the knee pucks – they are unscathed.

It seems this Multistrada of yours has at best a glancing respect for verticality, as toe sliders, pegs, and the exhaust shield can all attest. The fall-in is so light and easy it’s like slipping off a chair.  Luckily the Multi also flicks from side to side with the adroitness of a preternatural gymnast and steers with neutrality that has Switzerland taking notes.  I do not expect to be held responsible for these shaved items for two reasons.  First, you’ve created the Multistrada 1000 and obviously had a clear idea of the type of damage this type of “handling” would result in.  Second, the resulting removal of unnecessary weight from pegs reduces the Multi’s claimed 192kg dry weight and constitutes a minor improvement.  Who needs a full foot peg anyway?  I can only recommend that subsequent generations of this bike be equipped with peg feelers.

There is other damage as a result of this precision handling on which I cannot put a price.  I have lost friends due to the Multistrada 1000, mostly sport riders, who, after the first couple of inside passes on various switchbacks, will not ride with me again.  This has never been a problem with any other “sportbike” I’ve reviewed.

At first I thought it was just that I passed them.  Then I thought it was that I passed them on the inside.  Then I thought it was that I passed them on the inside while astride a bike that has the design aesthetic of a wet cat, but there is more at work here.  As I cavort by a former compatriot on a Duffy Lake road hairpin, I can’t help but notice his look of intense concentration and focus, where as I feel like waving or potentially striking up light conversation possibly on the topic of the scenery.  I think I may have surprised them out of whatever sportbike Zen meditation on vectors they were locked in.  I will be sending on the bills for several “I’m sorry for passing you on the inside dinners” shortly.

Apparently these former friends were also shocked on the straights as they tried to outrun the Multistrada with its “old school” 992cc air-cooled L-twin.  What do you put in these things?  The numbers don’t seem to tell the whole story.  At 84bhp @ 8,000rpm and 61lb.ft of torque @ 5,000rpm I expected the bike to be a bit wheezy and sluggish after testing a plethora of “sportier” fair, but I have to ask are you cheating somehow?

I had hoped that the extra displacement would sour what I considered the smaller Multistrada 620’s sweet disposition.  You know, moderate the experience so I didn’t have to exercise my own restraint, but no. This 1000 is just as filled with grin inducing antics and a whack more power for good measure.  Where the MTS 620 saw me skipping across the face of traffic to pass, the 1000 lets you snick down a gear and ride on.  I found with a bit of right hand control the front end will stay down – if that’s the point.

Then there is the sound; most Ducatis intoxicate you with the engine noise, but the Multistrada is all Clark Kent about it.  Still, at full chat the desmo-cacophony transforms, mechanically actuated valves buzz-sawing through the world, but that means I’m caning the poor thing the entire time.  Again, I cannot be held responsible for this design flaw; photocopies of various “performance awards” will follow, they were provided complete with roadside lightshows.

In order to save future Multistrada 1000 owners excessive tickets, I’d suggest unleashing the L-Twin’s sultry whisky-soaked voice with Termignoni carbon-fiber cans posthaste.  In fact, just suggest right at the dealer that those twin Champaign bottle exhausts under the seat be un-corked.  I mean the stock system is a James Blunt variety of bland Euro-III emissions pop in comparison to the full Ducati opera this bike is capable of singing.

Once you save riders from hammering the MTS 1000 to its 8700RPM ‘redline’ to get a proper soundtrack, then the touring aspect of the bike might actually become apparent.  On settling down to let my former friends catch up I found the Multi will smoothly cruise along at 4000-5000 RPM with only minimal vibe.  So many will miss finding this secret of the Multistrada I can only suggest you put this information in the manual.  Unfortunately, as I came upon another set of twisties the bike’s handling once again pushed me to the edge of reason – I can only conclude that Ducati and the Catholic Church are both sin based organizations, just the flip side of the coin.

With the game “on like Donkey Kong” I really must complement you, this is an exceptional road tool that I’m craving to take to the track. The Marelli fuel injection offers crisp response throughout the entire rev range and a constant temptation – how can you not use something this good?  The gearbox is slick and positive suggesting an agility to meet all needs – ripping through town, dropping the hammer on the local twists, or destroying sportbike egos on a track.  Yes, thank you, just what I needed to do is alienate more potential readers!  I’ve a fledgling business here – have you no heart?

Then there are the brakes, the Brembo ‘Serie Oro’ package, four pistons biting down on 320mm discs up front, that can invoke deceleration trauma. A bit too much squeeze of the right lever and the front Pirelli Scorpion Sync tire chirps out in protest.  It’s easy to do, predictable, and drives home that these binders are of top-notch sportbike caliber.  They have almost ruined a perfect reputation of never having done a stoppie – more time with the bike would see me continue to try.  Thank you for taking it away… I think.

I was concerned when the pundits from other magazines have commented that the Multistrada’s suspension was harsh and uncompromising when it came to fractured infrastructure.  Out on the Duffy Lake road large sections are attempting to revert to their natural gravel state, and the solution to these dire warnings (and all out spanking session) was to stand on the pegs or hang off.  By making use of this intoxicating motard portion of the Multistrada 1000’s composite nature and reveling in its freakish road holding tenacity, I was blissfully distracted from the ride quality. You are off the hook for the chiropractor’s bill… this time.

That’s a good thing because my bone-cracker is located downtown and the Multistrada has made me go “all European” – lane splitting, filtering, WOT off the line, and in general riding with passion.  By North America’s standards that makes me a hooligan.  I’m sure the local constabulary agrees.  The tall, upright, and comfortable seating position lets me spot the cops as easily as barely open holes in traffic and the handling allows one to capitalize on either sighting at the speed of thought. Good thing too, because chances are the excuse of “I just filtered to the front so I could drop the heavy dry clutch and salute the sky in first because my hand was tired” will not fly.

Forcing me to give up the Multi has returned me to a blinkered view of the world as I hunch over the latest sport offerings.  I’m sure that having to crane around to see my way through traffic has undoubtedly saved me from tickets.  My chiropractor too is happier, and I’ve enclosed the sportbike related bills as a sort of thank-you.

Lest you think all my experiences with the Multistrada were addictive, let me allay your concerns.  Obviously none of your designers were 6″2′ – the handlebar mounted windscreen delivers a turbulence free chest but the weather protection is inadequate especially approaching 170kph on the freeway.  Though even at less “super bike inspired” speeds I found myself tucking in behind the screen for a break from the airflow.  Obviously this was done to save me from tickets while on tour, but I think I’d prefer a taller screen.

Regarding the looks of the Multistrada 1000, I’m sure that you’ve heard they are “polarizing”.  I can’t imagine, other than reasons of functionality, why the Multistrada doesn’t sport the rest of the Ducati line’s Abercrombie & Fitch ad good looks.  I, and my therapist, are upset that this bike’s looks have slowly grown on me.  At first I found myself asking whether the design was inspired by a wet cat, then I realized this design is to bikes what blush is to wine.  Drinking it can only be pulled off if done boldly without apologies, likewise the MTS 1000 demands you ride without reservations.  Indeed, astride the Multistrada I found myself looking down on sportbike, literally and figuratively, as having safe, unchallenging and conformist designs, while marching to my own pompone drummer.  Likely I am not unemployable as a graphic designer, which means journalism is now my only hope for a career.  I am concerned about the odds, especially now that I’ve let my day job slip.

The Multistrada also ruined lunch breaks, turning them into hour long Italian flings through the twisties.  While it was a great solution for workday stress, I seldom had the self-control required to return on time.  Meeting were missed, co-workers forced to cover and the outcome was not good.  Then there were the after work rides, which started at 5:00 and ended with me arriving home at midnight.  This pattern was only to be repeated the next day and fatigue began to accumulate.  When co-workers asked I was forced to admit that I was out late consuming large quantities of gasoline.  Now that the bike is gone I am much more employable, but lack the will.

Ducati, while I must thank you for the opportunity to review the Multistrada 1000DS I cannot overlook the exceptional costs rung up over the course of the test and subsequent tickets, therapy, fuel bills, out of town accommodations and lost work. Coincidentally, these expenses have reached nearly $15,995 CDN, the MSRP of a brand new Multistrada 1000DS.  My sponsor say’s I’m doing well, I’ve been off the Multi for almost 2 months now, but the jones still rings in my veins…  Perhaps we could work a deal for just a little bit more road time…  Please?

Neil Johnston
Editor, OneWheelDrive.Net


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Kelley says:

    Neil, my business is working on a replacement fuel tank for these bikes. OE Nylon ones deform. I used the pic and 1st paragraph, but did link/credit. Hope it’s ok! -Chris http://inv.st/2Y4


    1. Chris,
      Yep, that’s absolutely fine. I don’t mind excerpts with credits.
      Cheers, Neil


  2. didatus says:

    Great review.


  3. Dave says:

    I wanted one. Now I must have one! Thank you!


  4. Christophe says:

    I think i saw you here driving this KTM mad and off trajectory curve after curve : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl14Vmsw0-w
    Great review, can’t wait to have my own.


  5. Greg Lande says:

    Hey guys. Had to chime in. I have an 06′ Multi 620 Dark that’s gonna be down for a while so I’m picking up a 06′ Multi 1000 later today cause I can’t live without. Bad ass!! Take it easy.



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