Ducati’s aptly named Multistrada (“many roads”) has significantly upped the definition of the word sport in sport touring. Imbued with the leading-edge performance and sensual styling that has always been the vanguard of the Italian manufacturer, the new 950 S is a highly consummate and sophisticated motorcycle married to practicality.
The 950 Multistrada is available in two configurations: standard and S model. We tested the S model fitted with the Tour Pack, which includes panniers, heated grips, and a centerstand. The signature Ducati tubular trellis frame is fitted with the heart of a sportbike: a liquid-cooled 937cc Testastretta 11° L-twin with desmodromic timing of its eight valves (four per cylinder). With 113 hp (at 9,000 rpm) to push its 518 lbs. (wet) the 950 has had its torque curve revamped, with an incredible 80% of its 71 lb-ft of torque available between 3,500 and 9,500 rpm. This spread of torque provides a smooth delivery of power with predictable throttle response. The gas tank (20-liter/5.3-gal capacity) is shaped to maintain the slim profile of the narrow L-twin engine.
Although happy on the open highway, the Multistrada comes into its own on twisting mountain roads. The S model is fitted with Bosch Cornering ABS, eight-level Ducati Traction Control (DTC), semiactive Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS), Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL), and cruise control. Engine modes and all settings are controlled by a well-placed, efficient, backlit, hands-free left thumb switch, which when combined with the highly visible 5-inch TFT color display dash makes adjustment and searching for info remarkably easy. Four engine modes (Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro) allows tailoring the engine response to ride demands. Six-speed transmission is augmented by the speed shifter. Despite the Multistrada’s technical advances, the bike loses nothing of its essence as a motorcycle, possessing a raw, exhilarating demeanor beneath its cultured good looks.
The responsiveness of the semiactive suspension is impressive, working to keep the Multistrada planted and stable under heavy braking as well as under aggressive throttle. Dual radially mounted 320mm Brembo rotors mated with 4-piston, 2-pad calipers on the front are linked to a single 265mm disc on the rear and are complemented with Bosch Cornering ABS, which works with high efficiency without any noticeable intervening.
The Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evolution system monitors continuous variations of fork and shock damping in response to road conditions, the system instantaneously responding to changing road surfaces.
Attractive and functional, the tubeless spoke wheels add 11 lbs. to the overall weight compared with the mag wheels. However, this unsprung weight (roughly 5.5 lbs. at each end) serves to give the bike a slightly more planted feel in the corners and slows down the Multistrada’s turn-in characteristics—which are already extremely intuitive, responding with precision and predictability—allowing the bike to handle abrupt and aggressive directional changes with unflinching confidence.
The 950 S model is equipped with Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), which, when activated by exerting a firm hold of the front brake when stopped, engages the brake pads to hold the bike when the lever is released, automatically releasing when the clutch is engaged.
Stable and smooth, the Multistrada is capable of traversing mile after mile in comfort, with the handlebar/seat/footpeg triangle providing generously relaxed ergonomics. The seat adds to the comfort, with a decent mix of firmness and give. The bike’s windscreen has a simple manual locking system, easily and safely operated without having to reach.
The Ducati Multistrada 950 S excels in a multitude of applications. It’s a pleasure to ride, comfortable enough to spend all day in the saddle, and can handle spirited rides, two-up touring, and everyday around-town riding. It exudes sophistication in terms of technology and design flow. The Multistrada 950 S is available in Ducati Red and Glossy Grey.