SMALLER. BIG(GER). MIGHTY(ER)
With upgrades to just about every aspect you could think of, Ducati reckons its incredible Multistrada 1260 Enduro has just got even better…
Words: Carl Stevens // Images: Ducati Europe
When Ducati first released the Multistrada Enduro back in 2016 we were all chomping at the bit to get a go. But it wasn’t all plain sailing; although it was an incredible machine in many aspects, the original Multistrada Enduro was a tough bike to ride, mastered and taken to its limits only by those with an insane amount of off-road talent – it just needed to be that bit softer, and easier…
And that’s exactly what Ducati tells us it’s done for 2019. Following on from the rest of the range, it comes equipped with the brand new 1262cc Testastretta engine. Armed with Desmodromic Variable Valve Timing, the new Enduro has been given a drastically improved low and mid-range, with 85% of the torque on offer below 3,5000rpm – which is seemingly the most common rev range whilst riding off-road, meaning the engine will give you as much pulling power as that new Sand-y colour scheme. It sounds like a lot, but don’t worry – Ducati has gifted the new Multistrada with all the bells and whistles electronically you could ever want. There’s Cornering ABS, Cornering lights, Traction Control and Wheelie Control, alongside an up and down quickshifter for the ultimate riding experience.
Oh, and talking of riding experience, Ducati has revised the ergonomics for an even better ride; with the seat, handlebars and centre of gravity all vastly lower, and a new suspension setup to boot – the Italians really aren’t missing around. I mean, for fast on and off-roader it near enough sounds perfect right? Well we packed our bags and headed over to Italy to see if the Multistrada 1260 Enduro really is as good as it says on the tin…
Although the ergonomics have been altered, I found the bars and controls were all in the right place, and the new 5” TFT dash was easy to use from the very go. In all honesty, the small changes combine to create an incredible feeling; the seat height felt noticeably lower, and at slow speeds or off the stand the Multistrada felt more like a ballerina than a ballistic off-road bullet from Bologna thanks to the lower centre of gravity.
This made a monumental difference when we hit the trails, as the Dakar-conquering lead rider wasn’t messing about, and thankfully, the Multistrada Enduro 1260 made up for every ounce of talent I lacked. Engaged in Enduro mode, all 254kg of the Enduro was so delicately balanced it handled the endless amounts of ever-tightening turns, muddy rutty pools and patches of rocks – it had an almost mx-bike level of slenderness, feeling completely comfortable with me stood over its chunky frame as its Pirelli rubber offered untold amounts of feedback.
With the extra torque on offer the Ducati was more than happy to sit a gear above as well, offering an incredibly smooth and predictable throttle pick up on the medium map over any terrain; in fact it was so smooth, within just a few corners I was happily able to rely on the low level of Ducati Traction Control to look after me as I kicked the thing sideways at every opportunity. It wasn’t just the DTC that impressed either; the ABS allowed for some seriously late braking on corner entry without the imminent danger of tucking the front, and thanks to the internal IMU, the Multistrada would happily wheelie and jump without sending the computerised brain into a spasm as it does on some bikes. I had survived, and with a bigger grin on my face than I ever expected… but would it be that good on-road as well?
The answer is a big fat resounding yes. I opted to use the Multistrada in its Touring mode to start with to see how good it would be as a mile-muncher, and from the get-go the big Duke felt like a docile puppy on the big roads; in a good way. The Strada was soft on the suspension, smooth on the throttle and was a genuinely cosy and pleasant place to be. For a touring weapon, the added torque figure helps make the Multistrada an even more capable tourer too; happily cruising in the lower end of the rev range with a poise that meant I’d be more than happy to chew hundreds of miles in one sitting.
On the sportier spectrum of its settings, the manners of the Multistrada were instantly changed; even with the lengthy levels of suspension travel the front didn’t feel vague in any sense, and the electronically dampened Skyhook Suspension system worked absolute wonders with the gorgeous chassis to offer up feedback from every bump, nook and cranny the Italian tarmac was throwing at it. This meant I was able to fling the Multistrada about harder and faster than I could’ve ever imagined, and with every incremental step up in pace the sophisticated electronics were always there to catch any misdoings – no matter how hard I was trail-braking into corners, gassing hard out of hairpins or carrying big lean angles, the Ducati was looking after me; although I did find a few false neutrals on downshifts through the Ducati Quickshifter. The only other problem I really had with the Sport mode was that even though the power delivery was sharp, it was slightly twitchy right at the bottom end, although it can be forgiven when it performed so well up until silly sportbike-levels of throttle-twisting… but then again, that’s why Ducati build the V4.
Yes, it’s a lot of money, but then again, it’s big, red (or sandy), Italian and bloody good on and off-road; I can’t wait to see it up against the likes of the new GS, and Triumph’s Tiger. But until then, in isolation, it impressed me massively. Oh, and with long maintenance intervals of 9000 miles for an oil change and 18,000 miles for a Desmo service coupled with a bunch of PCP deals, you wouldn’t go far wrong with one.