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.

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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
costly.



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


-- Kevin Ash

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