Featured 2013 Multistrada 1200 Touring Review

Discussion in 'Reviews & Articles' started by Speed Triple, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. Speed Triple

    Speed Triple New Member

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    Oh how they chortled when Ducati launched their Multistrada 1200 four-machines-in-one, adventure-bike concept at the 2009 Milan Show.

    Those dismissive of the Italian sports bike supremos' ability to penetrate and master a completely new market weren't able to laugh for very long, however.

    First Ducati UK had to ask the Italian factory to increase production of the bike when British dealers took more than 200 deposits after the bike’s appearance at the MCN Carole Nash London Show and a tour of dealerships created a surge of interest – and that was before anyone had even ridden the bike!

    And by August 2010 Ducati was able to announce that more than 500 Multistradas had been sold in the UK, that the model had beaten its sales targets in Britain by more than 20% and that 40% of MTS owners were new to the premium Italian brand.

    The bike has since gone from strength to strength, taking the market by storm and selling thousands of units worldwide and has adventure-bike titan BMW, who virtually invented and defined the category with the help of the exploits of a certain famous sci-fi franchise actor and his long-haired pal, nervously pondering the loss of its apparent invincibility in the lucrative market sector.

    All well and good for Ducati, of course, but what is the model like for Joe Biker in the UK to own and run? Does the technical complexity of the MTS add anything to the rider experience, or is it a step too far for most here? Well the figures don't appear to suggest that the latter is true. Since its Italian launch in November 2009 thousands of Multistradas have been sold in the UK.

    Aware of the buzz around Ducati's latest offering, I started researching it. And I ended up waiting six weeks for the arrival of a new, second-edition MTS S Touring in April 2013 after a test ride organised on the back of a single sentence published in a national newspaper: "The best bike in the world just got even better", written by late, great motorcycle tester Kevin Ash. And from the moment I swung my leg over that demo in rush-hour traffic the Multistrada has never failed to come up trumps. In town, on country lanes and one motorways - at home and abroad - even in sitting imperiously in my shed, it ticks all of the boxes.

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    Clean machine: New and waiting to be picked up from the dealer

    In 40-plus years of biking that has included riding a Honda CB250, Yamaha RD350, Kawasaki KH500, Honda CB750s and CB900s, a Suzuki GS750 and GS1000, a Yamaha Diversion, a Laverda Jota, a Yamaha DT175, a BMW RS100 and RT100 and two GS1000s and a Triumph Speed Triple I can honestly say that I have never for a minute wished I'd listened to the many tedious naysayers who warned me about Ducatis' unreliability and eccentricities and had bought a different bike.

    I ran in the bike – on which I had fitted a touring screen, oil pump slider, oil cooler guard, radiator guard and crash bobbins – in double-quick time because, to a greater extent than any other bike I have ever owned, I just couldn't stay off it. The smiles per mile average was off the scale and I was getting the message. Spending time in the saddle of this magnificent machine made me happier than almost anything else on offer. So after a couple of months of ownership I cashed in some pensions and took (very!) early retirement so that I could take off whenever I wanted and had soon organised my first long-distance trip to Europe on it.

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    At home: After a quick wash and brush up the Multi is ready for the road

    More about that inaugural trip later but first I should say that though my ownership of the bike has been overwhelmingly positive, the relationship between man and machine has not been without undesirable incident. The MTS was back at the selling dealers within four months of being wheeled out of its showroom to have a "faulty rear accelerometer" changed under warranty. The part alone was priced at £600, but it wasn't strictly speaking needed as Ducati released an accelerometer cable update the day the work was finished because it had identified a routing issue that could cause an error message to be displayed even though the unit was functioning correctly.

    And not long after that the clutch slave cylinder failed - cue a disastrous attempt to limp home in the London rush-hour and a phone call to Ducati Assist, whose services are included in the two-year, unlimited mileage, factory warranty. Its breakdown contractor turned up after half an hour. loaded the bike on to a trailer and took it to a nearby dealer for its second warranty repair in seven months. Those two incidents alone convinced me to buy the now-withdrawn third-year warranty option, so I guess I'm committed to keeping the bike until that has expired at the very least. That won't be a chore though, I assure you.

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    Wheelie? If you must... but I have too much respect for my chain

    Because apart from the two incidents above the bike has performed faultlessly. The gearbox was a bit clunky at first and I found myself missing gears when changing up occasionally – but that soon disappeared with use (and believe me this was one bike that was getting used!) And despite my reservations about the flickablility and urban handling of such a long-wheelbase bike (my other bike is a 2007 Triumph Speed Triple) I have been amazed to find that I can hustle the MTS through the London rush hour almost as quickly as the ST - even though I usually take the precaution of knocking it down the the 100HP Urban ride-by-wire setting.

    Incidentally, it was in town that the traction control and ABS that probably pushed up the cost of the S version of the bike paid for themselves within three weeks of my ownership. First a SMIDSY did a u-turn out of a traffic queue so close to me as I filtered to the front of a queue of cars that I was lining up spot to hit and a place to land after grabbing a huge handful of front brake and assuming a collision was absolutely certain. But I was amazed – and mightily relived – when the MTS instantly dialled in its ABS and pulled up without fuss, enabling me to make my feeling known though the car's open front window. Then, not long afterwards, the back wheel slid badly as I pulled away on a patch of diesel and the traction control backed off the power, enabling me quickly to regain full control of the bike. Both safety devices are adjustable but I have never found it necessary to alter the factory settings.

    But of course its on the open road, be it a motorway or A-road, that the bike really comes into its own. Once out of town it's just a question of gently easing off the throttle, a quick flick of a switch and a stab on a button and up to Touring (the soft throttle response 150HP setting) or Sport (which opens the floodgates to the full-bore 150HP throttle setting).

    Using the former gives an amazingly powerful yet relaxed ride, with more than enough power on tap to send most other road users into reverse and ease the bike effortlessly past motorway traffic. Fourth gear is all that's really needed on such roads in Touring, with fifth and sixth in reserve as overdrives. But switch to Sport and the MTS turns into a snarling beast whose exhaust note and surging, instant, seemingly limitless power encourages the exchange of knowing looks with R1 owners at traffic lights!

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    On track to become a legend: The Multi's wide-ranging abilities are appealing to a cross section of bikers

    The original Pirelli Scorpions needed changing at 3,200 miles as the front had developed an unusual wear pattern - prompting my tyre dealer to claim "it's obvious you have a favourite roundabout" and the rear only had a thousand miles or so of tread left! So quite clearly I wasn't missing out on much by leaving the ST in the shed. Even so, at 12,000-odd miles I am still on my original chain and sprockets – I am by no means a wheelie king: though I've seen how easily other Multistradas lift the front wheel (Ducati have attended to this issue on the 2015 model) I rather like having two wheels on the ground at all times – and brake pads. As for the enduro setting, well, I will leave that to others to comment on because for some reason I have not been able to find a good reason to take a £16,000 bike off road.

    So, back to the trip. Such was the confidence the bike inspired, I had only been riding the MTS for just over two months when after scrubbing in a new pair of Michelin PR4s, I set off – two-up – for the 3,500-mile two-week jaunt to the French border with Italy and back. My other bike, a 2007 Triumph Speed Triple was totally unsuited for such a journey and I never considered using it for the purpose. But the MTS felt just perfect after a few long-distance jaunts in the UK – and as turned out my assessment was totally spot-on.

    Pattern pannier liners arrived in the post (thank you eBay!) after all I needed to smooth over any possible reservations on the part of my adventurous new girlfriend (who'd never before been on a bike and can now brag that her first motorcycling experience was on a Ducati. How cool is that?) Then a tank bag, a rack and a soft tail bag were sourced and purchased locally, along with waterproofs (which were never taken out of the bags they were delivered in) and we were off, via a Eurotunnel crossing. From Calais it was down the coast to Wisant and on to La Rochelle, Toulouse, Frejus and Menton and back via Lyon and Paris. We covered 3,500 miles on town and country roads in about 10 days of riding, the bike didn't miss a beat, handled beautifully even with the luggage and, for me at least, fatigue was never a problem. Petrol consumption averaged out at 42mpg.

    I would advise anyone thinking of buying one to consider carefully their choice of dealer. In my experience generally, it is better to buy from a specialist single-marque dealer as they have more knowledge of the bikes they sell and a passion for them. And that statement perhaps rings truer for a premium brand such as Ducati than for most others.

    The MTS is a complex piece of machinery: there's a lot to go wrong and when it does it's likely to be expensive to repair so most owners would probably want to have an extended warranty in place for when the factory one expires.

    But unless a better bike has comes on to the market by April 2016, I'll be beating a path down the M3 to Snell's in Alton to swap mine for another Multistrada – because no bike I have ever owned or ridden has put a bigger smile on my face. And for me, that is what biking is all about.

    MTS TOP TEN:

    1.Long-legged: Devours miles as eagerly as an Italian wolfs down mamma's spaghetti

    2.Handling: Skyhook ensures that the bike handles as well two-up as solo - brilliantly

    3. Looks: Individual but beautifully proportioned

    4. Power: More than enough for most

    5. LED lights: look good and make night-time riding a breeze

    6. Mirrors: Superb. At last, I no longer have a perfect view of my elbows

    7. Purchase price: Frankly a biking bargain. The most I have ever spent on a bike, but also the best money I have ever spent.

    8. Running costs: Ducati's new longer service intervals make the bike affordable to run.

    9. Comfort: Perfect for a tall person like me, but the 2015 model caters for smaller people with adjustable seat height.

    10. Bragging rights: It's a Ducati!


    JUST ONE THING...

    Er, cruise control would have come in handy on those long motorway sections. Ooops, that's been added for 2015. So that will be a big, fat zero in the minus column then!


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    Kitted out: Two very different versions of the same versatile bike
     
    #1 Speed Triple, Mar 11, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2015
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  2. Admin United Kingdom

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    Nice write-up :D .........where are the original photos? - links bust :-(
     
  3. Rob United Kingdom

    Rob Administrator
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    Fixed.
     
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