DUCATI’S NEW MULTISTRADA V4: OFF-ROAD INTENT!
For most of us, the word “Ducati” conjures up images of sexy, race-oriented road bikes; of WSBK and MotoGP success and droolworthy blood-red machines parked up outside the local pub or café. But in the past few years, the Italian brand has focused an increasing portion of its development attention on the touring and travel enduro market segments. At the 2019 EICMA show in Europe, they took the wraps off a prototype DesertX machine – an all-new adventure-bike model with a 21-inch front wheel, the production version of which will be unveiled this December. And more recently, Ducati released the fourth-generation version of its ever-popular Multistrada – the V4 – which comes with an all-new 1158cc V4 powerplant, the option of spoked wheels (for S and S Sport variants), and several other design elements clearly intended to ramp up its off-road capabilities.
But how much more off-road capable is the new Multistrada V4 S? What configurations, trims and accessory pack options does it come with? How does it improve on the twin-cylinder Multistrada 1260 Enduro it replaces? And what’s it cost? Read on as we answer these frequently asked questions, and more…
DUCATI’S MULTISTRADA HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS, BUT WHAT DOES THE MODEL NAME ACTUALLY MEAN AND STAND FOR?
Literally translated from Italian to English, Multi Strada means Many Roads. The model’s design mantra has always been about being both sporty and versatile. Translation aside, you’ve gotta appreciate how the Italian’s marketing material gives life and personality to their machines – “the engine is the beating heart, the electronics is its intelligence, and the chassis is its skeleton and muscles”.
SEPARATE MODEL VERSUS CONFIGURATION OPTIONS – WHICH OPTION HAS DUCATI TAKEN WITH THE MTS V4?
When a motorcycle needs to perform in a variety of road and off-road terrain, there are two ways manufacturers typically go about the challenge of achieving that versatility. They can either offer produce separate models for road and dual-purpose use (a la what KTM has done with its road-going 1290 Super Adventure S and more off-road capable 1290 Super Adventure R) or they can produce one ‘base’ model and then give consumers a choice of what configuration they want it in (for example: spoked versus alloy wheels, superior suspension, added electronic features, etcetera). With the Multistrada V4 S, Ducati has opted for the latter approach, which is more akin to BMW’s philosophy with its large-capacity travel enduro models. That means the motorcycle is built at the Ducati factory in Italy with the required equipment, while accessory packs are available through Ducati dealers.
WHAT CONFIGURATIONS AND EXTRAS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE NEW MULTISTRADA V4?
Ducati has taken things a step further with Multistrada V4 because each configuration can be further customised via adding factory-fitted trims (Travel, Travel and Radar, Performance, Full) and bundled accessory packs (Enduro, Touring, Urban, Performance) to further customise the bike to an owner’s specific demands (and their appetite for performance bits and/or carbon bling!) Click here to check out the nifty ‘Bike Configurator’ function for the new Multistrada V4 on Ducat’s website.
DOES THAT MEAN THIS MTS V4 REPALCES THE MTS 1260 ENDURO MODEL?
Yep. Since the first Multistrada in 2003, the model has evolved from a comfortable sports bike to a machine that’s capable of tackling both road and off-road terrain. That added off-road capability (now available through various configurations and accessory packages) means the 2021-model Multistrada V4 S has replaced the twin-cylinder Multistrada 1260 Enduro as the brand’s flagship large-capacity travel enduro model. Incidentally, Ducati claims that, in third-gear roll-on comparos, the V4 engine generates almost 25% more torque than the 1260 Enduro models’ twin.
HOW DOES THIS 2021 V4 ‘FIT IN’ TO THE LINEAGE OF DUCATI MULTISTRADA MODELS?
Over the past 18 years, the Multistrada has been a hugely successful model for Ducati, selling around 110,000 units worldwide. The 2021 bike, however, is a very different machine – in terms of componentry, performance and design philosophy – than the original MTS in 2003. That original MTS was essentially a sports-oriented road bike with a more comfortably upright seating position. In 2010, it got a big boost in power and aero package, and by being the first motorcycle in the world to introduce a choice of riding modes, the MTS became synonymous with the “four bikes in one” notion – a reference to its enormous versatility. The third generation MTS, in 2015, came with much smoother power, thanks largely to the introduction of Ducati Variable valve timing (“DVT”). Then, for 2021, the 170hp “V4 Granturismo” powerplant was introduced. It delivers more performance and arideability, and is complemented by a bunch of design and component upgrades to reduce size and weight and bolster the machine’s off-road capabilities. In other words, the 2021 V4 – the fourth generation of Multistrada – retains and extends the “four bikes in one” concept introduced by the 2010 model.
WHAT MAKES THE ALL-NEW 2021-MODEL MULTISTRADA V4 S MORE CAPABLE OFF-ROAD?
A bunch of things. To begin with, Ducati says that, for the 2021 model, “touring and off-road use was taken into account for the first time during the machine’s entire development process”. Plus, there’s a heap of component upgrades for 2021 that underline the design goal of creating a lighter but more robust bike with a better balance of road and off-road capabilities. One glance at this bike confirms the obsessive attention to detail that’s gone into the design of every single component. The chassis is reworked. The redesigned 22-litre fuel tank and bodywork are both slimmer and more streamlined (particularly through the bike’s rear-end) to create a more natural feel in the standing position. The hand guards are updated to be stronger. The seat is flatter but more comfortable and allows more movement in the cockpit. The switchblock’s new joystick makes dashboard toggling much easier in bumpy terrain, and they’re now backlit for night riding. There’s 170 and 180mm of suspension travel at the front and rear, respectively. The new V4 boasts 46mm more ground clearance (220mm) than the 1260 Enduro it supersedes. There’s a total of 65mm of seat height adjustment available. Meanwhile, first gear is shorter and the more compact V4 Granturismo engine (which is a whopping 100mm squatter than the 1260’s twin) is positioned higher in the frame for creek-crossing clearance. And in ‘Enduro’ riding mode, power is smoother and knocked back to ‘just’ 115hp. Quite a few tips of the hat to improving its off-road manners, right?
HOW MUCH LIGHTER IS THE NEW MTS V4?
At 215kg (fluids, but no fuel), it’s about 10kg lighter than the average machine in the large-capacity travel enduro market segment.
DOES THE MULTISTRADA SHARE THE PANIGALE SUPERBIKE’S V4 ENGINE?
The V4 Granturismo engine is a paradigm shift from the Panigale V4 Desmosedici Stradale (road) engine. They share the V4 layout, reverse-rotating crankshaft and rear cylinder bank deactivation at idle, while the changes are in the detail of the new gearbox ratios and valve operating system. The V4 Granturismo engine is a more compact package, thanks to the new sump design. Compared with the Panigale’s 214hp, 1103cc V4 Desmosedici Stradale powerpant, the 2021 Multistrada V4 gets a slightly bigger cylinder bore, which pushes capacity out to 1158cc. And instead of Ducati’s trademark desmodromic valve mechanism, the MTS’s V4 donk uses conventional valve springs – the advantage of which is improved operating smoothness at low-speed RPM and, more impressively, bumps the recommended valve clearance check intervals up to a market-leading 60,000km (oil changes, by the way, are every 15,000km). Interestingly, the V4 Granturismo engine deactivates the rear bank of cylinders at idle to improve the thermal comfort of the rider and to reduce fuel consumption.
HOW GOOD ARE THE ELECTRONIC RIDER AIDS AND NAVIGATION SYSTEM?
We’ll come back to you on that in the coming months, once we’ve had the chance to take this new machine on a few multi-day trips. But suffice to say that, on paper, its electronics package is as state-of-the-art sophisticated as they come – with everything from the Ducati Connect Navigation system (with mobile phone mirroring) to cornering ABS to wheelie control to traction control to hill-hold control to cornering lights to QuickShift (up and down) to the semi-active Ducati Skyhook Suspension system (which, incredibly, comes with an auto-levelling system!). Also, the 2021 MTS V4 is the first production motorcycle in the world to be fitted with front and rear radar. This technology, which is ingeniously integrated into the bike’s bodywork, is the brains behind the ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ and ‘Blind Spot Detection’ – two features so good that they must surely be adopted by other manufacturers in coming years.
WHAT’S IT COST?
That depends on the configuration you order the bike in, and any trim and accessory pack extras you want. The basic Multistrada V4 and V4 S have Ride Away Prices of $28,990 and $34,490, respectively. For the V4 S, you then add $1200 for the Performance Package, $1500 for the Travel Package, $3100 for the Travel + Radar Package, and $6200 for the Full Package (which equates to $39,690).
For more detailed information about Ducati’s 2021 Multistrada range, check out the website. And for an even more detailed insight into this new machine’s design and development process, immerse yourself in this video presentation with Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali.