Ducati Multistrada 1000 DS & Ducati Monster S4R

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

The motorcycle manufacturers are always very imaginative when coming up with new names to create a new market. But though this name game usually succeeds in the marketing world, it's also a source of mystification for many motorcycle enthusiasts. Why am I talking about this? Because a couple of days ago some biker called my Triumph Tiger a crotch rocket and today another biker pointed at the Multistrada and said, "Nice funbike."

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Did you say a fun bike or a funbike?" In creating the Multistrada, Ducati thought it worthy of a new classification- hence, the coinage of the term funbike. Meanwhile, this very well informed biker falls victim to the company's latest marketing ploy. Good for the company, confusing for costumers, enthusiasts, and historians. But to my way of thinking, it's just a hybrid and little more than a cross between a dual sport bike and a standard/naked bike.

With the Monster, the definition is easier to come by. Clearly, it's a classic naked bike and there's no doubt about the category. When Ducati unleashes this harrier, the message is clear: We are battling with the Tuonos, Rocksters, and Z 1000, and so on, for the number-one spot on the awards platform.

Back in 2000, the Bologna firm combined the 916 engine with the ST4 sports-touring chassis and timeless Monster styling before releasing the Monster S4 from the lab. In Darwinian fashion, the Monster has since developed a 996cc engine and a single-sided swingarm. The twin-pipe exhausts, new instrumentation, and two-color paint job finish off a rather fetching look. The nicely covered single seat, which in truth is still a two-up seat, in connection with the little windshield reminds one more of a café racer. And why not go on tour with a café racer? Our grandfathers and some of our dads certainly did. Although it's hard for many of us to imagine carrying a back bag with only the most crucial pieces of equipment and riding the road without the cell phone and filofax, pretending we're such busy managers, what a great perspective that is for consideration, to be so unencumbered and spontaneous.

When it came to the design of Ducati's Multistrada, a recently developed bike with an all-new 90° L-twin power plant, the engineers had more definite goals in mind: increasing total power, boosting the mid-range power, simplifying mechanicals, lowering engine temperatures, providing better reliability, minimizing emissions, and decreasing weight. They accomplished all that and planted this neat little package into the light, rigid signature Ducati Trellis frame.

Geared up and ready for the road, Manuel and I finally turn the keys and push the buttons. The engines roar smoothly, producing that distinctive Ducati sound, and Cupertino is left behind on I-280 and 680. The first twisties confront us on Hwy 130. Easily we spur the Italians through the corners where the handling of the Multistrada is utterly "fantastico." The comfortable upright riding position, with a higher, wider bar makes the ride very enjoyable - even the little windshield provides enough protection. Brake action and reaction are trustworthy to say the least. Dual 320mm discs with four piston, Brembo gold series calipers are seated on the front wheel and in the rear a single 245mm disc with twin calipers perform persuasively.

The Oxford saddlebags and the additional seat bag are easy to affix. Unfortunately, Ducati North America didn't provide us with hard side cases for this trip. I saw them in Europe during our summer trip in the Dolomites. and they look very good, and certainly, they make a longer trip more comfortable. John Porter of Ducati-USA did tell me they are available here, along with other convenient features like a higher windshield, GPS, hand guards, rear luggage rack and top case, heated handgrips, and a center stand kit.

My impression after 75 miles: What a great, fun-sporty-touring bike. A more critical eye does reveal some downside aspects however. The finishing is not high-performance and the gaps between the plastic parts on the left side are wider compared to the right side. The glove box integrated in the right fairing is a neat feature, but to open it you need a lot of passion and maybe the assistance of a putty knife. Another disappointment is the seat. I've never had troubles with one before and Ducati is well known for their great seats. But this time they produced a "Saddlebagger's Seat." Someone, call a doctor right away if this seat is an indication of the designer's true girth because, quite honestly, it's nearly as wide as the gurney the EMT crew will use to haul him away.

In Livermore, Manuel and I change bikes and on the ride through Mount Diablo State Park, the Monster displays her many talents. Without a lot of force the bike handles fine through the curves. The twin and its 996cc perform well and although this monster doesn't lurch like the Bride of Frankenstein, running more like The Werewolf, I doubt she can compete with Speed Triple and Company. The front and rear brakes decelerate the bike precisely while a comfortable seat and the adjustable Showa monoshock support a relaxed ride. We removed the cover from the rear seat to hook up the seat bag and had some trouble attaching it. At the least, on a bike like the Monster, there should be luggage hooks.

Overall, it is a sporty bike with ambitions to become a fun, touring bike. My recommendation: Look for a partner with a Multistrada, share the cases, and go on tour, or with a back bag as mentioned earlier.

During the next few days, Christa and Florian had their turns on the bikes. Christa was annoyed by the handlebar vibrations of the Monster and complained about the rough engine too. But then again, what else would you expect from a passionate Speed Triple rider? On the other hand, the Multistrada elicits much praise. "It reminds me of my Yamaha TDM," she says, "only with more power, an engine with more character, and not so top heavy."

And now, on to our rookie Florian, who, at 6'3", has little use for the Monster - it's definitely too small. He's much more comfortable on the Multistrada and it was amazing for me to watch how smoothly he spurred the Multistrada over the narrow roads through the Sequoia National Park.

Our findings: Both bikes are good, reliable companions, but with some niggling attitudes. The Monster is still an "old bike" with nice features and improving quality and rising features compared to the basic models, and it's a looker that turns heads. But that goes for the futuristic lines of the Multistrada, too. During our tour through California, we ran into many bikers and others who showed considerable interest in this fascinating motorcycle. Ducati should be more concerned with the Multistrada's finishing however. When I asked Ducati NA about it, their laconic answer was "It's only bike number 600 and something." Sorry, that won't fly as a valid excuse for a $ 12,000 bike that could be a bestseller for years with but a little more effort. Plus, there are no real competitors in this segment on the US market that compare with this outrageous beauty from Bologna.

Oh, yes! She's definitely a "fun bike" without classification. But let's keep it categorized as a hybrid for the historians.

To allay any concerns about going on tour with bikes like these, we don't believe there's a good reason why not. Sporty and fun, they are, but your average spoiled city slicker won't think so.

TECHNICAL SPECS:
Ducati Monster S4R

Retail Price $ 13,495
Warranty Two years, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600mls / every 6000mls
Importer/Distributor Ducati North America, 10443 Bandley Drive, Cupertino, CA 95014,phone (408) 343-4400 - www.ducatiusa.com

ENGINE
Type L-twin cylinder
Cooling air-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valve Desmotromic
Bore & Stroke 96mm x 68.8mm (3.8in. x 2.7in.)
Displacement 996cc
Compression Ratio 11.6 1
Carburetion Marelli electronic fuel injection, 50mm throttle body
Exhaust Emission Control 2 aluminum mufflers

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch dry multiplate with hydraulic control
Final Drive chain

CHASSIS
Frame tubular steel trellis
Wheelbase 1,440mm (56.7in)
Rake 24°
Trail 129mm (5.1in)
Front upside - down fork
Stanchion Diameter na
Adjustments fully adjustable
Travel 147mm (5.8in)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type 5-spoke light alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 5.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 disc, 4-piston caliper
Diameter 2 x 320mm (12.60in.)
Rear Brake single disc, 2-piston caliper
Diameter 245mm (9.65in.)
Combining Single CBS

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 803mm (31.6in.)
Wet-Weight 192kg (423lbs)
Fuel Capacity 14.76l (3.9gal.)

PERFORMANCE
Claimed Horsepower 113 at 8,750rpm
Torque 9.68kgm (95.5Nm) at 7000rpm
Top Speed 236kmh (147mph)
Acceleration na
Fuel Consumption na
Fuel Range na

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 4/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 5/5
Comfort 3/5
Luggage w/accessories 1/5
Equipment 2/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 1/5


Ducati Multistrada 1000DS
Retail Price $ 11,995
Warranty Two years, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600 mls / every 6000 mls
Importer/Distributor Ducati North America, 10443 Bandley Drive,Cupertino, CA 95014,phone (408) 343-4400 - www.ducatiusa.com

ENGINE
Type L-twin cylinder
Cooling air-cooled
Valve Arrangement 2 valve Desmotronic
Bore & Stroke 94mm x 71.5mm (3.7in. x 2.8in,)
Displacement 992cc
Compression Ratio 10:1
Carburetion Marelli electronic fuel injection, 45mm throttle bodies
Exhaust Emission Control exhaust system with single steel muffler, with pre-silencer and catalytic converter (non - catalytic on USA version)

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch Dry multiplate with hydraulic control
Final Drive Chain

CHASSIS
Frame ALS 450 tubular steel trellis frame
Wheelbase 1,463mm (57.6in)
Rake 24°
Trail 165mm (6.5in)
Frontsuspension upside - down fork-
Stanchion Diameter 43mm (1.7in.)
Adjustments fully adjustable
Travel 142mm (5.6in)

WHEELS & TIRES
Type 5-spoke light alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 5.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 disc, 4 - piston caliper
Diameter 2 x 320mm
Rear Brake single disc, 2 - piston caliper Diameter245mm (9.6in.)

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
Seat Height 820mm (32.3in.)
Wet-Weight 200kg (441lbs)
Fuel Capacity 20.l (5.3gal.)

PERFORMANCE
Claimed Horsepower 84 at 8000rpm
Torque 84 Nm - 8.5 kgm @ 5000 rpm
Top Speed na
Acceleration na
Fuel Consumption na
Fuel Range na

EQUIPMENT
Saddlebag, Rear Rack, Comfort Seat, Taller Windscreen, Global Positioning System GPS, 2-Volt Accessory Outlet, Exhaust System, Engine Kits, Carbon Fibre Parts

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 5/5
Comfort 5/5
Luggage w/accessories 5/5
Equipment 5/5
Design 5/5
Bike for the buck 3/5