Ducati Multistrada 1000DS review

Posted: 27 Feb 2013

Ducati’s original Multistrada is mechanical proof you shouldn’t judge a bike by its looks. Ok, so from the front it does look it’s fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, but don’t let this sway you away from what is an excellent bike.

Sticking to its guns, Ducati bestowed the Multistrada with an air-cooled, 992cc 2-valve engine with twin plug heads for a clean burn. It’s a gutsy little unit that punts the Multistrada to a manageable 85mph cruising speed with plenty in reserve for German autobahn use. The six-speed gearbox is notchy but well-spaced to make the most of a strong midrange and peppy top end. Fuelling by way of fuel injection is fault-free.

Handling is typical Ducati in that the Multistrada possesses a tight chassis that can cope with fast road riding without batting an eyelid. The only fly in its eye is the right hand downpipe shield drags across tarmac all too easily. The sound of this plus the massive shower of sparks is funny until it wears through. All of this is quite a surprise when you consider the Multistrada was designed to be an adventure-supermoto hybrid, capable of off-road use as well as scarring tarmac, and as such was given tall suspension. But it’d be a brave rider to tackle off-road surfaces on road-biased tyres and suspension settings. A BMW GS Adventure, the Multistrada is most definitely not.

There are other areas that knock the Multistrada down to an 8/10 bike from 10/10 and that is the seat, which has all the comfort of a cheap Sunday market ironing board. Seriously, there is more useful padding in a paperback book. You can live with this providing you extend fuel stops to get blood flowing again. There’s also a problem with the side stand in that it is too short and many Multistradas have toppled over at the sound of a fart let alone the ensuing pressure wave – these problems were fixed with the 2005 version.

Seating aggro aside, the Mulistradas upright riding position makes light work of riding through the hills and is a breath of fresh air, literally. The screen is too low for most people and aftermarket screen manufacturers made a mint from taller replacements.

Despite the complaints, Multistrada sales were very strong across Europe – it seems many owners bought their Multistrada because of its simplistic charm and easy going nature. Reasons like this make second-hand Multistradas an excellent buy.

+ points – good all-round ability. Not powerful but not slow and very easy to ride in all conditions

- points – front fairing is ugly enough to be likened by one motorcycle journalist “to a cat with wet fur”. Sounds daft until you look at a Multistrada head on

Year: 2003-2006
Power: 92bhp, 68ft lbs
Wet weight: 229kg
Seat height: 820mm
Colours: red, black