2019 Ducati Multistrada 950S Review – It looks the same, what’s new?

BikeSocial
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike BikeSocial's Web Editor. Been riding bikes since 1984 and writing about them since 2013. Commuted in Central London for 10 years, fast and smooth road rider, does a reasonable job in a track day quick group. 6 ft and 14 st.

 

A new addition to the popular Ducati Multistrada (“many roads” would be the English translation – underlining the Italian marque’s emphasis on the bikes purpose) for 2019 is the tweaked Multistrada 950. And joining it comes a key addition in the form of the Multistrada 950 S, which also comes with wheel options.

‘S’ should be for ‘serious’ because the newbie is laden with top-spec kit, in fact there are more than 400 setting available via it’s sparkly new 5” TFT display – rider modes, traction control settings, damping, etc. At first glance you’d be correct in missing the upgrades. Aesthetically, not much has changed for 2019, other than some tweaks to the bodywork to bring it into line with the bigger Multistrada 1260 but there hasn’t been an ‘S’ model of the smaller Multistrada before, and the new machine adds much of the equipment from the slightly looney Multistrada 1260.

The main focus has been on “enhancements with safety and rider enjoyment,” says Stefano Tarabusi, Ducati’s Product Manager.

Has it broken free of its ‘mini multistrada’ shackles and gained independence as a credible and more user-friendly alternative to the 156bhp brother? Off I went to the hills north of the Spanish city of Valencia to the International Press Test to let the new Ducati off the leash and offer this review.

 

Above: Grey or Red, with or without spoked wheels

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S Price

The standard 2019 Multistrada 950 is only available in the traditional Ducati Red while the ‘S’ model with either of the wheel options (cast alloy or spokes) has a Glossy Grey colour option, and like the rest of the Ducati fleet the colour makes for a price difference, so here’s the price list:

 

£13,355 (Ducati Red)

£13,555 (Glossy Grey)

£14,383 (Ducati Red + Touring Pack)

£14,583 (Glossy Grey + Touring Pack)

£13,905 (Ducati Red + Spoked Wheels)

£14,105 (Glossy Grey + Spoked Wheels)

 

Whereas the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S begins at £17,255. So the best part of £4k difference is a heck of a lump to spend when the 950 S just got such a hearty amount of upgrades.

 

PCP example (c/o Seastar Superbikes)

Ducati Multistrada 950 S

OTR Price

£13,498.01

Deposit

£3,035.99

Amount of Credit

£10,462.58

37 Monthly Payments

£145

Final Payment

£7,085

Total Amount Payable

£15,340.99

Representative APR

7%

Option to Purchase Fee

£10

 

First Impressions - Ducati Multistrada 950 S
Halfway through the press launch of Ducati's new-for-2019 Multistrada 950S and BikeSocial's Michael Mann takes 5 to introduce the new model and offer his first impressions
2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Above: With Touring Pack including panniers

 

Power and torque

The deep, throbby burble of a Ducati twin is a joy to listen to especially when smashing through the revs and clipping up the gearbox, so much so that the tried and trusted 937cc Testastretta motor has only had some small refinements that make the world of difference. More of that later.

Maximum power and torque figures remain the same as the 2017 model at 110bhp (83kW) @ 9000rpm and 71 lb-ft (96 Nm) @ 7750rpm, which makes it more powerful than rivals such as Triumph’s Tiger 800 and Suzuki’s Vstrom 1000, although less tourquey than the Japanese bike. It can’t match the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 for power and is only just shaded by Yamaha’s Tracer 900 GT.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

On paper it's the same 937cc L-Twin engine as seen in the 2019 Hypermotard 950, however there are subtle differences in the camshaft and compression ratio to give the sportier bike the performance edge. Both have had the same clutch updates for the new model year, adding hydraulic command and a plate reassignment making it easier to find neutral and smoothing the 2nd to 3rd gear shift, especially brilliant when using the new up-and-down quickshifter.

110bhp isn’t much to shout about in a game of Top Trumps but ride it and see how far you can pull the throttle back on the twistier A and B-roads of the UK before frightening yourself. The airbox and exhaust combo offering the sublime, booming and typical V (or L in Ducati’s configuration) twin aural pleasure. In my helmet (or probably my head), at full gas when punching through the seemingly seamless quickshifter, the bike has a certain MotoGP-esque soundtrack.

There’s heaps of torque, and it makes 80 per cent of its maximum torque in that useable band between 3500rpm and 9500rpm just like the 2017 model. That’s a hell of a wide spread for a V-twin. Peak power comes at 9000rpm, and peak torque is at 7750rpm. Anything more than 9000rpm and the bike runs out of puff before the rev-limiter can be found at 10,500rpm as the digital display flashes its red annoyance. I found 2nd and 3rd gear the ideal duo for most of the speeds needed to combat the hilly roads outside Valencia.

I love quickshifters, and as the technology advances so does the plush feel from the change. Ducati’s system is almost seamless when the throttle is pinned. Even when it isn’t the lever requires very little effort to get the new gear when going up the ‘box and only a slightly harder activation when heading back down. The mechanical clunk is still felt but doesn’t upset the balance or rhythm – just keep an eye on the top of the screen and it hardly moves.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Above: the love-it-or-hate-it traditional beak remains

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S Economy

I may write it for every review but a press launch test is never a fair reflection on how economically a bike is going to perform in everyday life, particularly once it’s been run in. That said, the claimed 51.4mpg is pretty good and should result in 220-or-so miles from a brimmed 20 litre tank. At this launch I rode two versions; the standard S model which, after 100-miles of enthusiastic 2nd and 3rd gear mid-speed corners offered 44.8mpg. In the afternoon, another tonne of miles including several on the motorway, on board the spoked wheel version with a Touring Pack (heated grips, centre stand and panniers) gave a result of 49.2mpg. Average them out and 47mpg should get you around 180 miles between fill-ups.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

Other than the big Multistrada 1260, there’s not many where you sit ‘in’ a bike as much, it offers a secure feeling with the large wings, tanks and handlebars out in front. In fact, many of the front-end components are taken straight from the family tree whereas seat, pillion seat, swing arm (0.5kg lighter now) are all from the 1260 Enduro. And for a bike with a 19” front wheel, it doesn’t half handle well. That size of wheel plus the wide, tapered ‘bars aren’t usually signs of a sporty yet stable ride. Add in the highly competent Pirelli Scorpion Trail II’s on the 0.5kg lighter rims and you’ve got yourself a real corner-crusader… considering it’s a multi-discipline machine weighing 230kg. It feels predictable, in a good way, smooth and fast with quick steering not flighty or twitchy.

During the event, I also got to ride the S equipped with spoked wheels, a £1600 option, plus Touring Pack (details further down). And while the sturdy-looking bike now looks even beefier especially with the smart wheels, they add a further 5kg.

As I mentioned, the new 6-axis IMU ‘brain’ offers so many combinations to ensure each rider has their own suitable settings but for me the standard set-up is a little too soft with plenty of front fork dive under braking making the weight transfer into a corner unsteady. No problem though because a button taps later and I’ve reassigned the semi-active electronic suspension that continuously adjusts fork and shock absorber damping so the suspension responds instantaneously to changes in road surface. My new personalised Sport mode is now set to ‘hardest’ at the front while my preferred load combination is rider plus luggage, oh and traction control down to 1 – which incidentally means the word ‘Enduro’ lights up on the screen in yellow.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Above: classy 5” TFT instrument panel

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S Brakes

Cornering ABS coupled with a high specification Brembo braking system all operated courtesy of the clever Bosch IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), which is essentially the brain of the bike, offers significant piece of mind when using those 110 horses and hurtling towards blind corners. Squeeze the brake lever and feel the quality of the M4-32 monobloc radial calipers and duel 320mm front discs. Minimal lever movement gives a fabulous feel which is backed up by the engine braking when off the throttle – carefully plotting your lines and subsequent downshifts can often result in using no brake pressure at all. There are of course different levels of ABS interference which are automatically assigned to each rider mode but can be overridden for rider preference.

I spent the majority of the day in Sport mode and had no complaints over braking. I’m not usually much of a rear brake user but felt some gentle use on the downhill corners assisted with the bike’s balance. This is one of the finest electronics packages on a sub-£15k bike I’ve ever used.

A new addition to the package is the Hill Hold Control. If you’re stopped on an incline or with a pillion or luggage then a sharp pull on the front brake lever will hold the rear brake on for around 10-seconds. The dashboard light glows then starts to flash before the rear brake is then disengaged. Handy for uphill traffic lights or junctions for instance.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Comfort over distance and touring

 

All Multistrada’s are comfortable enough to be ridden all day and the 950 S is no exception. A tall, imposing and buxom beast which, from the riders perspective, is wide and commanding with a tough exterior yet is refined enough for long distances. The Ducati has an 840mm seat height (with 820mm and 860mm accessory seats available too) yet when mounted, you certainly feel part of the bike thanks mainly to the space taken up by the 20l fuel tank sitting high above the engine. The top of the tank sits in line with the bottom of my sternum, making 6ft tall me feel enveloped.

The footrests are tall enough to offer all the ground clearance one needs although I think the next incarnation of this model could afford a few mm’s drop to allow for a little more leg comfort. It’s not cramped at all but there’s an opportunity for increased rider comfort.

Cruise control is standard on the S and is a doddle to work via the three-way button on the left-side of the ‘bars. Backlit switches are also a new feature and even though the blazing Spanish sunshine didn’t allow for me to test them, the press photos reassure me that they’re a neat touch.

The height adjustable screen is easy to play with but still lacks a few mm’s in height and width to offer the most comfortable amount of wind and rain protection. And for a bike that’s so gadget-laden, the manual operation involved here seems out of place, albeit it’s a cinch to move.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Above: the backlit buttons plus mode and traction control switches

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

Where to begin? Ducati claims over 400 combinations of rider aids are available including four riding modes (Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro), 8-level traction control, 3-level Bosch Cornering ABS. The semi-active electronic suspension with Ducati Skyhook Suspension system is adjustable via the new 5” TFT instrument panel taken from the 1260 version. It all may seem overwhelming but to be honest, anyone of the four riding modes essentially offers a short cut to the type of set-up suited for each condition or style of riding.

The top drawer suspension set-up plus hill-hold control are joined by Ducati Quick Shift up & down (DQS), full LED headlight with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL) system and Cruise Control on the S model. All options are easily and intuitively managed by the three-way button on the left-side of the handlebar.

Meanwhile, to match the rider modes, four accessory packs are available:

 

  • Touring Pack: panniers, heated grips, centre stand 
  • Sport Pack: type-approved Ducati Performance silencer by Termignoni, water pump cover in billet aluminium, LED indicators. 
  • Urban Pack: top case, tank pocket bag with Tanklock flange, USB port to charge electronic devices 
  • Enduro Pack: supplementary LED lights, engine crash bars, aluminium radiator guard, aluminium sump guard, steel footpegs. 

 

The handy addition of two 12v power sockets (one in the dash and one under the seat) plus a USB port (under the seat) are useful for charging phones or plugging sat-navs in.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

Above: The Touring Pack-equipped 950 S from above

 

Rivals

Sports-adventure style bikes are without doubt the most fashionable choice of the day, so fashionable in fact I’m just surprised they don’t have beards. Competition comes in the shape of KTM’s 1090 Adventure, BMW’s F750GS Sport and the Triumph 1050 Tiger Sport which would and should be considered in the following table as rivals to the Ducati as rivals, but I’ve opted for these as the closest in terms of spec:

 

Kawasaki Versys 1000

Suzuki Vstrom 1000

Yamaha Tracer 900 GT

 Triumph Tiger 800 XRT

Engine

1043cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, in-line four

1037cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 90˚ V-Twin

847cc liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 3-cylinder

800cc, Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder

Power

118.3bhp (88.2kW) @ 9000rpm

98bhp (74kW) @ 8000rpm

113.5bhp (84.6kW) @ 10,000rpm

94bhp (70kW) @ 9500rpm

Torque

75 lb-ft (102Nm) @ 7,500rpm

74.5 lb-ft (101Nm) @ rpm

65.5 lb-ft (87.5Nm) @ 8500rpm

 58.3lb-ft (79Nm) @ 8050rpm

Weight

253kg

232kg

227kg (wet) (inc. sidecases and brackets)

202kg (dry)

Seat height

840mm

850mm

850mm

810-830mm

Fuel tank

21 litres

20 litres

18 litres

19 litres

Price (from)

£11,199

£9,599

£10,649

£12,300

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S verdict

A classy bike offering a classy ride quality with a shed load of electronical goodness thrown in offering so many options for each and every type of rider – some may like the soft front forks but I soon had them firmed up. Equally, unless 200-miles of motorway were on the menu, I’d soon have it in Sport mode as a default setting. But the Multistrada 950 S offers an outfit for every occasion and once you’ve mastered the controls, then all that’s left is the hard-core L-Twin purr to listen to as every journey becomes richly rewarding.

For the price tag there a few niggles, the yellow rear shock could be red to match the frame or even black to blend in a little, the heated grip lead from the throttle looks particularly naff and the vibrations through the seat above 7,000rpm might be too much for some.

For those not opting for a heavier yet more powerful Multistrada 1260, this is the ideal sports-tourer that has some light off-roading capability. It outshines rivals in terms of build quality and finish plus the vast swathes of riding options but then again, you get what you pay for.

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial

 

Three things I loved about the 2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S …

  • Suite of electronics
  • Bold, buxom, strong looking machine
  • Nicely predictable/reassuring handling

 

Three things that I didn’t…

  • Front suspension dives too much in the standard setting
  • Cheap looking heated grip lead from the throttle
  • Spoked wheels add 5kg

 

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 S spec

New price

£13,355 (Ducati Red)

£13,555 (Glossy Grey)

£14,383 (Ducati Red + Touring Pack)

£14,583 (Glossy Grey + Touring Pack)

£13,905 (Ducati Red + Spoked Wheels)

£14,105 (Glossy Grey + Spoked Wheels)

Capacity

937cc

Bore x Stroke

94mm x 67.5mm

Engine layout

Ducati Testastretta, L-Twin

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, 4 valves per cylinder

Power

110bhp (83kW) @ 9000rpm

Torque

71lb-ft (96 Nm) @ 7750rpm

Top speed

135 mph

Transmission

6 speed, chain drive

Average fuel consumption

51.4mpg claimed / 47mpg tested

Tank size

20 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

226 miles

Frame

Tubular steel trellis

Front suspension

48mm fully adjustable usd fork

Front suspension adjustment

Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS)

Rear suspension

Fully adjustable monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Electronic compression, rebound damping and spring pre-load adjustment with Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS), Aluminium double-sided swingarm

Front brake

2 x Ø 320 mm semi-floating discs, Radially mounted Brembo monobloc 4-piston 2-pad callipers, Radial Master Cylinder, Bosch Cornering ABS

Rear brake

Ø 265 mm 2-piston 2-Brembo floating calliper, Bosch Cornering ABS

Front tyre

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 ZR19

Rear tyre

Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 ZR17

Rake / trail

25° / 106mm

Wheelbase

1594mm

Seat height

840mm (820mm and 860mm seats optional)

Kerb weight

227kg (S: 230kg, S with spoked wheels: 235kg)

Warranty

24 months, unlimited miles

Service intervals

9,000 miles / 12 months

(Valve Clearance Check at 18,000 miles)

Website

www.ducati.com

To learn more about what the spec sheet means, click here for our glossary

2019 Ducati Multistrada 950 Review | BikeSocial
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