How's the Ducati Multistrada 1200 off-road?

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Photos: Milagro

After all the talk and speculation, I’ve finally ridden Ducati’s four-bikes-in-one, wild love child of the 1198 and R1200GS, the new Ducati Multistrada 1200 S. And the genes are all there: it’s by far the fastest adventure bike ever, with sports-sharp handling despite dual-purpose rubber. It tours too, with a decent range, strong lower rev torque and great comfort even two-up. But can it really go off-road?

Editor’s note: we asked England’s premier motorcycle reviewer, Kevin Ash, to tell us about riding Ducati’s funky chicken in the dirt. Make sure you check out his full Ducati Multistrada 1200 review.

I rode the bike down an easy trail and ventured up some tougher tracks
and guess what, it’s not so bad. Switch to enduro mode, the rear preload
is wound up, power is cut to 100bhp, the damping softens and the
traction control backs off. Switch it and the ABS off if you prefer and
the MTS will follow a GS most places.

Where you gain is the weight: the Italian’s carrying 20lb less which
will help your back, if not your wallet if you drop it. Where you lose
is with that 17-inch front and so-wide 190-section rear. The tires are
Pirelli Scorpion Trails, developed especially for the Multi. They have
dual tread compounds –grippier on the outside edges and more hard
wearing in the centre, which is also tougher for off-road use — and the
tread pattern is designed to offer some loose-surface grip without
upsetting road stability. You can’t get any more dirt-biased tires in
the 17-inch wheel sizes or the 6-inch wide rear rim.  The Multistrada’s
okay where the going’s hard but find some sand and the front feels like
it wants to fold in and lay down. Those dainty fenders will trap mud
too, and with the exhaust under the motor, grounding out could be

Will off-road capability matter to Multistrada buyers? Not to many, but
how cool is an off-road 1198?

Kevin Ash

  • Chessie

    Kevin, “How cool is that?” It’s exactly what I want.
    I wonder, how am I ever going to get one? Yes, how cool is it…I sure do like it…and it’s all too cool.

  • Kidchampion

    Look at that photo! It looks like he’s grabbing the ears of a bald eagle! I like it.

    • Jimboz

      You hit the nail on the head. Perfect description.

  • Devin

    How does that skid plate handle log jumping? I’ve parked my V-Strom on its plate more than once (accidentally), but looking at how the Multi’s is attached, I have a feeling it’s not going to work so well.

    • cdog

      I don’t think its really meant for hardcore bush bashing more trail riding.

  • toeCutter

    tks but for 20k i buy a decent adventure bike and i have spare for used tourer or a trackbike…

    well if you rich and want to look cool… this is the bike… the Ducati Anteater 1200

  • CafeRacer1200

    I’d love to have the bike. It’s incredibly cool and looks like it would fit my fat ass perfectly. I’ll make no pretenses about taking it off road though. The idea of dropping that gorgeous thing on a trail makes me sick just thinking about it.

  • Zach

    So is Kevin Ash an old guy or a sycophant?

  • james

    Chicken Lady was half-chicken, half-woman, all sex-drive.

  • Bronson

    “It looks like he’s grabbing the ears of a bald eagle!”


  • Epyx

    I always felt the Buell XB12X (RIP) to be the nicest looking of the Adventure Touring type bikes (even if not the most functional)but the looks of the Funky Chicken are growing on me.

  • cdog

    I am going to buy one. I want to get back on a bike and I live in the bush. I want a bike that can tour, hoon and follow the odd dirt road. This looks like the one. Plus I’ve always wanted a Ducati.

  • Yo Mama

    You’re kidding right? Look at the “trail” he’s riding on… I could take my Goldwing on a road like that… All he gave us was his version of Ducati’s sales pitch straight from the showroom floor. How does the bike handle OFF road?