2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S: Details

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It’s no secret we have mixed feelings about the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S. Sure, it’s got a face only a blind mother could love, but the funky chicken also has superbike power, electronically-adjustable suspension, and all-day comfort. Skeptical of all the praise being heaped on the bike as a honest-to-god, world-beating, do-it-all motorcycle capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, we took it to Bear Mountain’s notoriously wretched mountain roads during the middle of a monsoon.

The Good:

- 150 HP and 87.5lb-ft of torque. To put those two numbers into perspective, that’s just about on par with a 999R.

- Possibly the most comfortable seat on a motorcycle ever. Honda Goldwing included. The pillion pad even gives a touch of lumbar support. Coupled with a sit-up-and-beg riding position, the Multistrada S is all-day ridable and you won’t ever get off it exhausted.

- So perfectly balanced I could sit at stop lights without putting a foot down.

- Ducati Traction Control doesn’t interfere unless you need it to. With roads covered in debris from the downpour, I tried breaking the rear loose on corner exits. DTC just kept the bike from entering crazyland. But, you can still do rolling burnouts.

- The ABS brakes are perfect for those times when a flock of turkeys run out into the middle of a wet and leaf-covered road.

- Heated grips. Why don’t all motorcycles have them?

- Easily adjustable engine modes. Like other systems used by people like BMW and Aprilia, you just pull in the clutch, let off the gas and push a button. Then get back on the gas.

- Those four modes also simultaneously control the settings of Ducati’s (DES) suspension system, tweaking the Ohlins fully-adjustable rear shock and 48mm forks on the fly. This means adjusting suspension settings from “Touring” to “Sport” can be done without pulling over and taking out the tool kit.

- The retractable handle located on the left passenger peg mount allows you to pull the Multi up on its centerstand quickly and easily. A brilliant example of clever, simple, useful design.

-The clocks are easy to read. Regardless of the nearly overwhelming amount of features the on-board computer offers, navigating the LCD screen remains intuitive.

- The keyless ignition and steering lock. Let’s face it, without a kickstart, using a key to start your bike is an anachronism.

- The kill switch covers the start button. Flicking it up is like arming a missile launcher. Which you kind of are.

- There’s a waterproof compartment in the right fairing. Perfect for toll booth money.

- All the above plus roll-on wheelies during a torrential thunderstorm and a tornado watch.

The Bad:

- There’s not enough room between the rider and passenger foot pegs to allow you to ride on the balls of your feet.  Ducati says they’re fixing this for 2011.

- The rubber-capped pegs are slick like ice when they get wet. This was a serious problem several times in mid-corner on Bear Mountain when buckets of water were coming down. Especially since I couldn’t properly put weight on the balls of my feet due to the previously mentioned problem. (Possibly redesigned for 2011.)

- The fuel injection gets the hiccups between 2,700 and 4,000 RPM, which also happens to be the engine’s sweet spot for commuting. (Fixed for 2011.)

- The throttle is sticky when riding in the rain. Going uphill in mid-corner leaned over, easing on the throttle to keep speed was impossible without getting an unwanted and uncontrollable surge of power. Thank God for the DTC traction control, which saved my ass more than once.

- The engine is obviously struggling to exhale through the giant, restrictive exhaust.

- The ABS automatically turns itself back on at every restart. This wouldn’t be too terribly bad if I didn’t have to dig several clicks into the computer before getting to the ABS feature. Ideally, I’d love to have an option to indefinitely disable ABS.

-  The rear brake is pure mush.

- The beak. There’s no getting around that ginormous nose. Yikes.

- The funky chicken’s no off-roader. While the bike handles alright in “Enduro” mode, falling down just isn’t an option. The plastics and bar-mounted electronics are clearly not built to be crash friendly, much less resistant. Throwing the Multistrada S down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere would most likely be disastrous.

- The brush guards with integrated blinkers aren’t made to withstand a bashing either.

- The panniers are laughably small. While the large left pannier will just fit a full-face helmet, the compartment is so awkwardly shaped that even the small hardcase for my tiny camera kit wouldn’t fit. The small right pannier is so small it fits little more than a satchel or your girlfriend’s purse. Unless she likes big purses, at which point she’ll have to hope said purse fits in the left pannier.

  • Cajun58

    Nicely written and very informative review. Does it seem as thought it would be possible to fit something more substantial in the way of crash bars? I don’t see that Ducati has anything available but maybe the folks at Touratech will get on board with the Multi.

    • http://www.desmoworks.com desmoworks

      There are several companies that have either released product or are going to release them. SpeedyMoto is working on them right now for example. If you look at the bikes the Marley brothers rode through Africa they had bars as does the Spider Grips bikes that raced Pikes Peak. Not sure if those are one off or commercially available though.

  • MTGR

    Lots of options for solid handlebar guards out there to fit street machines these days, check wheelingcyclesupply.com or highwaydirtbikes.com for a couple examples.

    As for guards on the rest of the bike, probably too much plastic to ever make truly effective crash bars for the rest of the bike, unless you want to ride something that looks like a prison cell going down the road. IMO this is a versatile and comfortable sportbike not a true all-rounder like the Beemer or KTM adventurers – not that there is anything wrong with that!

    As for the beak, it is different but no more so than the Hypermotard or Beemer Adventure, both of which are actually quite desired these days. Guess it is in the eye of the beholder, IMO at least it stands apart from most of the other bikes out there and I am used to it now.

  • John

    Give me a 796 MultiStrada S with a 19″ front wheel and ditch the SSS and we’ll talk.

    • Sally

      You sir have missed the point of this bike…

  • spidiracer

    I really really like this bike! The cost of it is a bit prohibitive but I am hoping I can pick up a used one and save a few grand. The beak is a little bit odd and I doubt i would ever take it off road… but its a beautiful bike that serves a variety of my needs :) Its great that I can go tearing up the canyons with it or even take it to the track… and then go on a comfortable 3000 mile road trip the next day. Well done Ducati!

    • spidiracer

      Oh… except for the whole can’t ride on the balls of your feet issue… that is a serious show stopper right there. An exhaust and re-mapping would handle the hiccups. Perhaps the 2011 passenger pegs would fit the 2010 multistrada?

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        That seems to be a universal complaint, which is why it’s being addressed so soon.

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    Excellent writeup, nothing like the drab magazine articles that force you to filter through the author’s garbage whit and whimsical metaphors to identify the pros and cons of the motorcycle. You list them for us, and that’s all we ever needed!

  • MichaelMM

    Well as – possibly – the only guy on here who actually owns a Multistrada 1200S, and has just under 5,000 miles on the clock I just I should chime in.

    Frankly, Grant is on point with several of his good and bad observations. I will say this about the hard bags. I came off a 2008 Kawi Concours 14 so I was effectively spoiled regarding luggage capacity and pannier build quality. It’s true that I had to make adjustments when transitioning between motorcycles. That said, if I can take my wife out for a day in DC, she can bring all her crap, and there is room left over to pick up some food (including a gallon of milk) at the supermarket all on the same trip; that works for me. Also, while the bags do not look like they seal properly, they are in fact watertight. Go figure.

    Is this a bike an R1200GS when it comes to off-road durability? Probably not quite at it’s level in that respect. Either way if I was going for something like that, I would have gone for an F800GS to begin with.

    My fuel injection has displayed some of the hesitation mentioned here and on model specific forums. It has improved with miles and doesn’t bother me, though I do notice it. If there really will be a remap available then I will be all over that. Now that the bike is fully broken in it is shocking how fast it is. With it’s seating position it feels like the supermoto from hell. That goes for the handling and braking as well. Practical and fun: what a concept!

    As for the look of the bike, I like it a lot. Then again i have a Jewish wife, so yeah… The funny thing is; as much as the motorcycle community derides it, the general populace’s consensus is that the bike looks good. And here I though the females only went for the 1198s.

    The bike is also dirt cheap to fully insure. That is something any biker should fully appreciate.

  • Rooster

    That’s the rub on these pseudo dual-sports. They only look off-road capable. Anybody who’s spent enough time in the saddle knows that you have to have more money than brains to try and ride them off-road.

    It kind of begs the question. If you drop your ducati in the woods, can anybody hear you cry?

  • Sally

    Good review.. 2 quick points..

    1. Is there a good looking bike in this class? The beak grows on you.

    2. The rubber inserts are removable and yes they are slippery as fuck when wet.

    3. I have actually dropped the Mts1200.. But not in the woods, on my driveway. My dealer did hear me cry.

    Oops that was 3.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      2. That really would have been nice to know. Oddly, the Ducati guys didn’t point that fact out when I returned the bike and I told them I had gripping issues with the rubber pegs in the wet.

      • Sally

        Yup.. Since I have never actually had the need I went to the garage to confirm. Take that rubber insert out and you essentially have a Hypermotard peg.

    • Cajun58

      That was my concern as well the possibility of dropping the bike in the driveway or a parking lot more so then off-road only because I would be very reluctant to take it in the dirt.

      • Sally

        I hope to never take this bike in real dirt.. My fellow mts1200 bike owners agree it is SOLIDLY 3 bikes in 1. I can whoop sport bike ass (not just power but also turning). I can tour Beemer style. I can shuck and jive in urban mode without worrying about slipping on a wet manhole or wheeling onto the trunk of a cab. But let’s be real, anything more than a fire road is possible but not fun..

  • DougD

    Grant: What time of day were the photos taken? What did the sky look like?

    Very nice review.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Thanks, Doug. All photos were taken on a sunny day with partial clouds around 130pm in the shadow of a large building.

  • MichaelMM

    I’m not too worried about dropping the bike because of it’s light weight. It is quite manageable. Not to say I wouldn’t take care like I would on any bike.

    What I find funny is that people assume the bike is completely worthless off road. I’d sure like to know how many folks discussing performance capabilities have thrown a leg over the bike, let alone started it up and did more than go around the block.

    I have never been an off road guy, but I have to admit the more I ride the Multistrada 1200S the more I find myself venturing off the beaten path. To say that the bike inspires confidence is an understatement.

  • stradafied

    Love the bike. 2500 miles, a stetch of smooth dirt into Death Valley with my wife on back (not much of a test) – not a dirt bike obviously but connecting paved roads is a plus. The erratic low end throttle response is how I got here. I would really like this motor to pull from 2K when given a handful without crapping out. Looking for that remapped fuel delivery to get the roll on right for wheelies and cleaner tight road turns.

  • ElDiablo

    “The beak. There’s no getting around that ginormous nose. Yikes.”

    Wes haven’t you heard…the birds the word?