Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro: World First Full test and review

By Marc Potter
marcpotter Tested every new bike since 1994, loves anything on two wheels, runs Potski Media, ex-BikeSocial boss. Recently discovered elbow-down riding - likely to end in tears.

Ducati's new Multistrada 1200 Enduro is the firm's new pumped-up global adventure bike designed to go head-to-head with BMW's R1200GS Adventure and KTM's 1290 Super Adventure. With a host of changes, taller suspension, new styling and a big attitude the 1200 Enduro makes even a standard Multistrada 1200 look a bit weedy. We rode it at the world press launch in Sardinia. Here's our full test and review.

FULL VIDEO REVIEW HERE!


The new 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro makes even a standard Multistrada 1200 look a bit weedy. We rode it at the world press launch in Sardinia. Here's our full test and review.

Ducati’s Multistrada is one of the fastest A-to-B bikes ever invented and one of the most capable bikes on the road. Why anyone rides anything else and bothers with sports bikes on the road beats me, as it’s so capable. It’s fast, handles, can tour and I’ve even taken mine on track days. But, er, here comes the but.

Since the Multistrada 1200 was introduced in 2010 it has always been called ‘four bikes in one’ as Ducati claimed it could do urban, sport, touring and off-road.

But, I’ve always had a big question mark over the Ducati’s off-road ability after running three bikes as long-term testers at MCN, and at Bike Social. I’ll give you an example.

Almost a year to the day, on March 15 last year I wrote this in my Multistrada 2015 launch test: “Look, Ducati claim it’s four bikes in one, but really nobody would take their Multistrada off-road. Yes, it can do a bit of gentle off-road riding, but the seventeen inch wheels are always going to be the limiting factor. Yes, it can do it, but feels a bit cumbersome.”

The final piece of the four bikes in one claim

But finally, Ducati has brought us the final piece of the four bikes in one claim – a Multistrada that can just about ride up or over anything you put in its path. And even they admitted the Multistrada now really is four bikes in one.

Meet the 2016 Multistrada 1200 Enduro – the hardest looking Ducati yet made and what you might consider as a Multistrada on steroids. It’s bigger, faster (yes, really), softer, taller and wider and the best Multistrada that the firm has built so far. Weighing in at a BMW GS Adventure matching 225kg dry weight and with a 30-litre tank,  

Forget for one minute this bike is just another Multistrada. It might be called the same name, and share the same basic variable valve time 1198cc engine and trellis frame along with cornering ABS, riding modes and traction-control, but it feels like a very different bike to ride. And that’s because it is.

Everything from the bodywork, a 30-litre petrol tank, a double-sided swingarm, different geometry, a longer wheelbase, off-road cast footpegs, a new steel gearlever and rear brake pedal that can be used with on or off-road boots, and a new riding position designed to be better when standing up off-road style have been changed.

There’s spoked wheels with a 19-inch at the front and a 17-inch rear, different engine mapping, a new 870mm high seat, different mudguards, longer-travel suspension a slim and higher new exhaust, and that beautifully designed aluminium bash plate which all together turn the standard Multistrada into the Multi Enduro. Ducati say this bike is designed to be a global adventure bike, the kind of bike that can go anywhere and their first entry into what they’re calling the class ‘maxi-enduro tourers’. To you and me that means they want the bike to go head-to-head with the other bikes in the 30-litre tank club, namely BMW’s all-conquering R1200GS Adventure and KTM’s ultra-rapid 1290 Super Adventure. That’s some competition. But then the Multistrada Enduro is some bike.

What the Multistrada Enduro does best

Not only does it look different, like a Multistrada Plus +, it feels different straight away too. You sit deeper in the bike, surrounded by the massive 30-litre tank and its crash-friendly aluminium sidepanels. The bars are wider, and higher. There’s the same level of high-quality finish across the bike which shows everything has been designed with loving, Italian flair. From the back-lit switchgear that glows at night, to the easy to adjust screen, the quality of paint and the interior panels of the fairing, it’s all very well screwed together, and very classy.

Yet somehow the Multistrada looks like it would survive a topple off-road too. With prices for the bike starting at £16,690 for the red one, I don’t want to be the one to find out. But Ducati also claim the bike redesigned the way they test motorcycles. Our lead rider today, Beppe Gualini also helped develop the bike, and he’s done 65 African rallys, including 10 Paris-Dakar races. What he doesn’t know about off-road hasn’t been invented yet.

The Multi Enduro forced Ducati to rethink their testing strategy and went through 40,000km of on-road track testing at Nardo, 150,000km of road-testing around the world, and some 10,000km of off-road testing in Italy and Spain.

Today we’ve got 50 miles and a half day of off-road riding on the Multistrada 1200 Enduro with optional off-road Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres, and then a switch to a 1200 Enduro with a Touring Pack fitted for another 100 miles. Essentially that’s big metal Touratech panniers carrying some 91 litres of space and a soft handlebar bag for things like coins, passport and mobile phone.


Other Ducati Multistrada 1200 stories you might like from Bike Social:

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro revealed!

Ducati Multistrada 1200S video review

Ducati Multistrada 1200 launch test!

Ducati Multistrada 1200S vs BMW S1000XR


Oh yeah! Ducati Multistrada Enduro 1200 lets loose. Ducati's test rider is pictured, we wouldn't be so irresponsible...yeah right...

50 MILES OF OFF-ROAD ON THE MULTISTRADA ENDURO:

First up is off-road. And if Ducati wanted to make a statement about how much the Multistrada has changed then this is it.

The wheelbase is longer by 65mm, to 1594mm than the standard Multistrada, trail has been increased by 1 degree to 25 degrees, and the fork axle offset mounted to the semi-active Sachs Skyhook suspension gives 16mm off extra offset. There’s a steering damper fitted now too.

It all gives the bike a slightly lazier feel on the road, but means that when the 200mm of suspension travel does its best when crashing over rocks and ruts that the bike is stable. That 19-inch front wheel goes where you put it, and the rear feels dug in.

Switch to Enduro riding mode and the suspension settings soften up, the traction control winds down to level one, the ABS only works on the front and the wheelie control turns off.

Ducati's test rider encouraged Bike Social's Potter to use the full 160bhp off-road

Power too is turned down to 100bhp, from the bike’s claimed 160bhp. It makes the bike a whole lot friendlier for adventure riders when off-road and the traction control. We ride up the side of a mountain on what I can best call gravel roads. It’s fairly loose and you know the Multistrada is a big bike, but it impresses. Dakar rider Llewellyn Pavey is backing it in sideways and then power-sliding all the way through the corners. I’m making slower progress but for such a big bike it’s giving me confidence.

The traction-control kicks in but still lets you drive forwards and allows a bit of slide too. The semi-active suspension is great on a bike this big, and never once did I ground out the aluminium bellypan even when landing after some small jumps. But more impressive is the way the bike’s riding position now lets you stand-up without mirrors getting in your way like the old one used to. The pegs grip, the bars are just about in the right place, and for the first time ever the Multistrada feels like it really can ride anywhere.

At a photo stop I turn all the ABS off, electronically adjust the suspension to make it harder and turn the traction-control off.

Ducati test rider Alessandro Valia suggests putting the engine map into full 160bhp mode too. I think he’s mad (if you’ve ever seen the videos of him on Ducati’s website then you can see he clearly is!!!), but he reckons the bike gives a better feeling in 160bhp, if you have some experience of course.

Always up for a laugh, and keen to see what 160bhp feels like off-road I take him on his word. Last time I checked he didn’t want me to go off the side of a Sardinian cliff.

The bike feels alive, a touch aggressive so you have to be careful on the gas, but a flick of your wrist and it lights up the rear tyre, leaving massive roosts out of corners and that loud exhaust waking up the goats and sheep that line parts of the track we’re on.

Even on steep climbs the bike finds grip, and the connection between the throttle and the rear tyre feels better in full-power mode.

The ABS works well, the rear slides into corners on the brakes, but even with the front ABS switched off the bike is manageable. It takes a bit of care to trust the front on gravelly, slippery downhill sections, but it would be the same on anything else in the class.

It’s impossible to say if the Enduro is better than a GS-A off-road, but make no doubt about it, the Multistrada Enduro can do way more than I thought it would be able to. It’s impressive and will being a big fight to the BMW off-road. Never thought I’d say that about a Multistrada.

Along with a claimed 250-mile tank range, it definitely has that go-anywhere ability that means when the road runs out and gravel is the only option, the Multistrada Enduro 1200 just keeps on going. Next stop Africa, anyone?

Multi Enduro uses the same 1198cc VVT engine as the Multi 1200 S

100 MILES ON-ROAD TEST:

Life feels better in the seat of a Multistrada 1200 Enduro. Maybe it’s that go anywhere feel, the fact you know that you could just head off, hit cruise-control on the motorway, get on a ferry and see where the world takes you. But there’s something about the Multistrada Enduro that grabs you. This is an excellent motorcycle. But it’s also saying to the GS herd, I’m different me, I ride a Ducati off-road capable adventure bike. Got that?

They’ll certainly hear you. The bike’s 1198cc Ducati Variable Timing engine is the same as the one in the Multistrada 1200, but has been remapped with a map that has also been on the standard Multi on any bike built since November last year.

The gearing is lower, with a lower first gear and a lower top gear (70mph at 4000rpm), but it also has more torque in every gear than the Multistrada 1200.

The DVT engine is a thing of beauty to ride anyway, but in this form it hits harder lower down than it did before. Even at 3000rpm the bike feels lively, it’s going strong at 5000rpm, and gets a full head of steam at 7000rpm all the way till the lights flash in the TFT full-colour dash around 10,000rpm. The torque curve is flat and it means you can never be in the wrong gear. The grunt is fiery and fun, and the noise it makes is most unexpected. I had to check a number of times that it didn’t have an aftermarket Termignoni pipe on it. It barks and growls under acceleration and on a set of second and third gear corners it pops ever so slightly on the overrun, just the way a thoroughbred should.

Screen can be adjusted with just one hand

The seat is high, but not ridiculously so, yet you seem to sit in the bike. It’s all sumptuous, ultra-comfortable, and the screen can be height adjusted with one-hand and at 6ft 4” I thought it was fine. Those wide bars gave loads of steering lock for feet-up U-turns and when you’re in a corner they give loads of leverage.

There’s a fair amount of suspension travel because of its global adventure bike nature when in touring mode, great when you’re touring I suppose. I have to say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the engine map in Touring. It feels a bit lethargic low-down and then the power comes in at the top. Switch to Sport mode and it feels like a different bike. I fully cranked up the electronically-adjustable Skyhook suspension to hardest and it took out some of the squat and dive under acceleration and braking. The Ducati Skyhook suspension works for you, always trying to predict what’s coming and when you ride on it makes you wonder why all bikes don’t have it.

Stiffened up, it still squats and dives but feels good doing it, and on this setting, although the 19-inch front wheel, longer wheelbase and reduced geometry means it’s ever so slightly slower to turn, it somehow feels slightly less manic and more grown-up than the Multistrada S, and is no worse for it.

I played around with the traction-control but didn’t get it to come on in near perfect 22-degree conditions, and the ABS works just fine. There’s plenty of power in those Brembos, and the compliment the forks’ nature.

The Multistrada 1200 Enduro gives plenty of lean angle too, once you’re used to the feeling from the forks, and I didn’t scrape a footrest all day, or a pannier despite their bulk.

On the exit of a turn you can feel the rear digging in hard as the Skyhook suspension does its work, but never did I have a slide even with traction turned off. On bumpy UK roads this bike is going to be seriously impressive, wet or dry, is my guess.

Ultimately the Multi Enduro may lose a touch of the sportiness of the Multistrada 1200S, but it’s no worse for it. The Enduro is more comfortable, it accelerates low-down faster, and it can ride up mountains. I’d say it’s even better for pillions too with a bigger seat and those grab handles giving plenty of space to cling on to.

Yes, £16,690 is a lot of money for the red bike, and the white and grey ones cost more, but it’s comparable to its rivals and is on hell of a lot of bike for that.

Finally we have a Multistrada 1200 that truly is four bikes in one, and it does it with so much ability, style, pace and panache too. It’s an awesome bike on or off-road and the missing piece of the Multistrada jigsaw. It's the bike I've been waiting for. What about you?

For more information and details of Ducati's range of TriOptions finance offers have a look here.

Looks like it would rip your throat out even standing still. Super. Hard.

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO TECHNICAL SPECS

 Engine

1198cc, Liquid-cooled V-twin, 4 valves per cylinder, DVT. Six-speed gearbox. 106 x 67.9 mm bore and stroke.

 Frame

Tubular steel trellis

 Suspension

F: Semi-active Sachs  48mm forks with electronic Skyhook compression and rebound damping adjustment.

R: Skyhook with electronic spring pre-load, compression and rebound adjustment. Aluminum double-sided swingarm

 Brakes

Front: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc 4-piston calipers, 2-pad, radial pump, cornering ABS as std.

Rear: 265mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, cornering ABS as std.

 Dimensions

Wheelbase: 1594mm

 Seat height

 870mm (optional seats from 850mm to 890mm available)

 Fuel tank capacity

 30-litres

 Wet/Dry  Weight

 254kg/225kg

 Power

 160bhp @ 9500rpm

 Torque

 100.3ft-lb @ 7500rpm

 Tyres

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II – 170/60 x 17 rear, 120/70 x 19 front. Optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres available as a factory fit.

 

MULTISTRADA ENDURO 1200 OPTIONAL EXTRA PACKS:

Urban Pack: £853

Aluminium top case

Tank bag and locking flange

Cable for USB socket

Enduro Pack: £799.64

Engine Bar protectors

Lower chain guard

Rear brake guard

Radiator protector

Oil radiator protector

Auxiliary fog lamps

Sport Pack: £917.10

Billet reservoir caps

Ducati Performance by Termignoni homologated silencer

Billet aluminium water pump cover

Touring Pack: £1493.60

Aluminium box panniers (46-litres right-side, 45-litres left-side)

Handlebar bag

Heated Grips

See your Ducati dealer for more details.

MULTISTRADA 1200 RIVALS 

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200 ENDURO vs RIVALS

Ducati Multi 1200 Enduro

BMW R1200GS Adventure

KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Triumph 1200 Explorer XCa

Engine & claimed power

Liquid-cooled 1198cc L-twin, 160bhp

Water-cooled 1170cc Boxer twin. 125bhp

Liquid-cooled 1301cc V-twin, 165bhp

Liquid-cooled in-line triple, 1215cc, 137bhp

Torque

100.3ft-lb

92.1ft-lb

103ft-lb

90.7ft-lb

Weight Dry/wet

225/254kg with 30-litre fuel tank

260kg with 30-litre fuel tank

n/a but weighs in at 229kg dry. Has 30-litre tank.

n/a but weighs 258kg dry. Has 20-litre fuel tank

Std. seat height

870mm

890/910mm

860-875mm

837mm to 857mm

Price:

From £16,690 in red, £16,890 in grey or white

From £13,050

From £15,999

From £15,800