2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring: Italian Dominatrix

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Ducati

It’s difficult to talk about something Italian without passion. Italy is known for delicious wine, rich cuisine, hand-crafted loafers, “bella figura,” super fast cars, and temperamental motorcycles. Whatever it is, a sense of passion comes standard. The 2013 Multistrada is no different—it attacks all the senses! The sound of the Testastretta 11° DS engine alone is enough to rouse any rider. For 2013, the Bologna-based company offers their innovative DSS (Ducati Skyhook Suspension) on the “S” models for a floating feel and adds a grand touring version, the Granturismo.

Since its revival in 2010, the Multistrada has been a huge success for Ducati, winning awards all over the world. It won our 2010 “Motorcycle of the Year” award. Over the last three years, Multistrada sales have tripled those of other Ducati models. More importantly, it has attracted a new customer base. The average Multistrada owner is an experienced, 45-year-old rider who travels about 30 percent farther than the average Ducati owner. Sounds like you, doesn’t it?

Engine

For 2013, the Multistrada features the second generation Testastretta 11° DS engine, which is borrowed from the 1199 Panigale’s Superquadro engine. The “DS” stands for dual spark, meaning two spark plugs per cylinder. A new injection path of the fuel injectors sprays directly onto the rear of the hot intake valve. Previously, the fuel injector squirted on the relatively cold surface of the intake port wall. The result is more efficient combustion thus giving the rider a smoother feeling engine.

The Italian mill produces an astonishing 150 hp at 9,250 rpm in Sport and Touring modes and can be cut to a gentle 100 hp in Enduro and Urban modes. The torque increased about 5 percent over the 2012 model, which brings it to 91.9 lb-ft. (Did I mention these motorcycles are freakishly fast?) And with all the performance upgrades, Ducati achieved a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy, making sure you spend more time chewing up curves than sitting at gas pumps.

The six-speed transmission was flawless on the countless turns and switchbacks encountered during the technically challenging test ride.

A secondary air system has been introduced to achieve smoother engine operation without negatively affecting emissions. When the ECU recognizes specific conditions, the secondary air system opens a valve, letting clean air flow from the main airbox to a valve situated in each cylinder head. This facilitates one-way flow into an air gallery exiting into the exhaust port close to the exhaust valve. This fresh breath of air that enters at the hottest point of the exhaust gasses greatly enhances the burn environment. To maintain high emissions standards, the secondary air system eliminates any unburned fuel that might otherwise escape during the exhaust cycle.

Suspension

Part of the Multistrada’s success comes from its versatility. By selecting one of four riding modes, the pilot can change power delivery, traction control, and ABS input. The “S” model also allows you to adjust the semi-active suspension.

All models offer the latest Bosch 9ME ABS and 8-level traction control, but only the three “S” models come with the DSS (Ducati Skyhook Suspension).

Envision a hook reaching out from the sky that grabs the motorcycle as it goes over a bumpy road. The body will stay calm while the wheels conform to the shape of the road. During testing, I found this feature was highly useful in the bumpy curves and switchbacks near Bilbao, Spain. The DSS technology manages the dampening via an electronic solenoid valve. The ECU processes information from the front and rear sprung and unsprung mass, throttle position, and ABS to constantly manage the damping valves appropriate to the selected riding mode and dynamic situation. Having the suspension adjust in a fraction of a second inspires confidence and gives the Multistrada “S” models a very sporty and stable feel. The “S” models feature the innovative DSS with 48mm Sachs upside-down forks and 170mm rear shock absorber.

Instead, the 1200 uses 50mm fully adjustable Marzocchi forks and a fully adjustable Sachs unit on the sexy single-sided swingarm.

Pirelli designed the all-new Scorpion Trail tires specifically for the Multistrada. During the test ride, I encountered wet road conditions from the previous night. The combination of the Scorpion Trail GT shoes and traction control did a very satisfactory job of keeping my enthusiastic level of riding to a maximum.

Ergonomics and Features

The neutral riding position and a firm seat allow extended ride time without getting fatigued or sore. The pillion seat is considerably higher giving it the best view in the house.

It’s difficult not to compare the Multistrada’s LED headlights with the Audi’s, but Audi had nothing to do with the design. It’s merely a natural progression in illumination from the previous model. LED low-beam and position lights and a conventional high beam illuminate the road in front. New hazard lights have also been added.

The windscreen has been made 18mm taller and 43mm wider to better deflect airflow over the rider’s helmet. An additional 60mm of screen personalization can be made one-handed with the new pinch-and-slide adjustment system. This is one of the best and quickest systems I have tested. For my 6-foot-2 inch frame, the lowest position was the most comfortable.

The display offers more information than the previous model. It’s much easier to select riding modes and set the suspension, ABS, and DTC.

Flo’s Lowdown

The Multistrada 1200 comes in either red or matte chrome, features Ducati’s Safety Pack, and uses a passive suspension. It costs $ 16,995. The 1200 S Touring is a step up at $ 19,995. It replaces the conventional suspension with the innovative Skyhook Suspension, and it comes with side luggage, heated grips, and a centerstand. If you want to go even faster and lighter, the 1200 S Pikes Peak includes several carbon fiber replacements (shaving off 2kg). It comes in race replica colors and features Marchesini forged aluminum triple 3-spoke wheels. It costs ,995. For the same price, the 1200 S Granturismo offers bigger side cases (73 liters instead of 58), a 48 liter topcase, inner liners for all three cases, engine protection bars, LED spot lights, heated grips, and a centerstand. In addition the GT has 20mm higher handlebars, a higher and wider screen, and upgraded touring seats. Canadians add ,000 to the listed prices above for the CAD MSRPs.

This is one of the most fun motorcycles to ride. The sound, raw power, and suspension should put this motorcycle on everybody’s wish list.