Flicking the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring into Urban mode, the suspension plushes out, engine output dials down to 100 bhp, and traction control dials up to maximum as does ABS’s sensitivity. My welcome back to riding, the Multistrada, is exactly what the doctor ordered… If after putting my four pieces of collarbone back together he was advocated riding at all. This is my birthday treat, an all clear from a surgeon and one of my favorite road bikes for many happy road riding returns.
I’ve spent a lot of time with the previous generation of the Multistrada 1200 S Touring, so going in I knew it fit my recovery criteria. I wanted something that was upright in its ergonomics, utterly comfortable, despicably easy to ride, reliable, and a little bit special – this is a return from the ignominy of being on the bench after all. That narrowed the gap to two bikes, the BMW R1200GS or the Multistrada. That Ducati happened to have a press Multistrada in town, languishing in the corner of a shop, tipped the scales.
The local dealer Vancouver Ducati BMW has been kind enough to do the bike prep and act as a pickup point, but there is a moment of gumption, after 16 weeks off bikes, merging into the busy traffic of Grandview Highway. Especially on a bike with 11kms on the clock and tires as fresh as a baby’s cheek.
One of the reasons I wanted the Multistrada is the ride modes; Urban, Touring, and Sport. A progression of aggression achieved with a couple button presses on the left-hand switch group – one that lets me electronically dial in suspension, traction control, peak engine output and ABS as my riding recovery progresses. The latter, ABS sensitivity, is new to the 2013 Multistrada 1200 S, and a welcome addition. Previously we’d found that the lack of ABS deactivation a hindrance to Enduro mode antics. Not that I’ll likely be partaking in any dirt road riding for a while, there is still considerable discomfort over major bumps.
Three kilometers in and a few corners having scrubbed the worst of the slick from the tires, and I’m feeling considerably more confident. Urban mode softens to settings to merely stomping an Audi S5 into the dust off the line. Still by super-sport-tourer standards the Multistrada is kind to the elderly, the wounded and the recovering – so me on a couple counts.
Urban mode noticeably de-tunes the Multistrada 1200’s throttle response, but also leaves the bike better mannered at traffic’s parade pace. Experimentally switching to Touring mode, the MTS 1200 seems to surge more at the crawling pace of surface streets, so back to moderate Urban for the interim it is.
I’d love a previous generation Multistrada on hand for a comparison of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DDS) to the old system, but gut feeling is the bike soaks up road noise and imperfections better. With Skyhook, sensors front and rear measure suspension travel and rate of travel, a Ducati algorithm interprets these inputs and adjusts damping accordingly via a solenoid. The adjustments take 10 milliseconds, by comparison small humming bird’s wing beats every 5 milliseconds, and blinking takes a languid 300 milliseconds. Sum and total, Urban mode plushes out the ride without compromising grip, potholes are only minimally noticed, frost heaves likewise. The DDS smoothes things out, and my collarbone isn’t complaining. The sensation is simply one of refinement.
That’s across the board, after a few days with the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring, everything in Urban testing is just more refined. That includes the looks.
In the Matte Chrome paint scheme, the bike is as stunning as anything with ties to adventure design will ever be. The wheels are styled to resemble those of the Panigale, tying the Multistrada more firmly to the company’s on-road aspirations. The front fairing redesign results in a windscreen that’s 18mm taller and 43mm wider for better protection. There also a new one-handed slide adjuster for the screen – a simple manual mechanism that obviates the need for electrical adjustment complexity. Low-beam lights get a new treatment and icy-stare LED headlight, though high beam remains conventional. Sum and total though, the paint really does it for me, accenting the bike’s slightly refreshed angular looks and tying together the two-tone of the black plastic accents.
Ducati’s marketing people like to say the Multistrada is four bikes in one, and that seems a good excuse for a series of mini-reviews pertaining to each mode as I reacquaint myself with street riding. A couple days of Urban Assault mode with the 2013 Multistrada 1200 S, and it’s clear the bike has left me confident enough to step up the game to Touring.
Next: We review the Touring Mode.
More Info: Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring
Price: $19,995 USD / $20,995 CDN MSRP
Power: 150hp – 110.3kw @ 9250rpm
Torque: 124.5 Nm (91.8 lb-ft) @ 7,500 rpm
Front suspension: 48mm fully adjustable usd forks. Electronic compression & rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension
Front wheel: 10-spoke in light alloy 3.50 x 17
Front Tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Trail 120/70 17”
Rear suspension: Electronic compression & rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with DSS Aluminium single-sided swingarm.
Rear wheel: 10-spoke light alloy 6.00 x 17
Rear tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Trail 190/55 17”
Front wheel travel: 170mm (6.7in)
Rear wheel travel: 170mm (6.7in)
Front brake: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo callipers, 4-piston, 2-pad. ABS
Rear brake: 245mm disc, 2-piston calliper
Wet weight: 234kg (516lb) with all operating consumable liquids and 90% fuel
Seat height: 850mm (33.5in)
Fuel tank capacity: 20l – 5.3 gallon (US)