Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The all-in-one bike
Ducati Multistrada 1200

With the Multistrada 1200 Ducati is claiming to have taken the original Multistrada concept of sporting performance, comfort and versatility a more than a few steps further. The goal of the Multistrada 1200 is truly to be “Multi”, with a bike capable of navigating any kind of journey and road surface, while leveraging Ducati technology derived from the Bologna-made race bikes in MotoGP and World Superbike.

That’s a pretty heady mandate and to pull it off Ducati is hoping that the Multistrada 1200 is “A bike without limits, which could transform itself to suit the rider’s needs and not the other way around. A motorcycle that is four bikes in one.”

The Multistrada 1200’s goal is to be able to hang with the supersport set, tour in continent crossing style two-up with luggage, hammer out or hooligan through day to day in the city, and hit the gravel “with the agility of an enduro.” If Ducati pulls this off then, versatility, thy name is Multistrada 1200… not that the outgoing 1100S was a slouch at most of these acts.

The question of course is how is the new Ducati Multistrada going to push outside all four walls of the motorcycling box simultaneously. Technology my friends, the likes of which until recently only BMW commanded. And it’s all done at a price in line with the outgoing 1100S and in striking distance of the competition: $14,995US for the plain-jane 1200 and $18,995US for the 1200S in sport or touring garb.

Well technology and the sacrificial still beating heart of a superbike, because this being Ducati, you can’t just settle for a reasonable amount of power. From Ducati’s presser, here’s what goes into the worlds most powerful “do it all”.


“Really?”, you ask. We’re familiar with how transformative engine mapping can be from the likes of the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and Hayabusa, but Ducati’s combined that with a traction control system and electronically adjustable suspension (similar to BMW’s ESA). What’s innovative here is that the Multistrada brings all these technologies together.

“The four-bikes-in-one concept uses three technologies which interact to instantly change the chassis set-up and character of the Multistrada 1200. Fitted as standard equipment on all versions, the electronic ride-by-wire system administers three different engine mappings to change the character of the engine, while Ducati Traction Control (DTC) uses eight levels of system interaction to enhance control. For the ‘S’ version, Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) instantly configures the suspension set-up to suit ‘rider only’, ‘rider with luggage’, ‘rider and passenger’ or ‘rider and passenger with luggage’.

The settings are accessed at the “touch of a button”, electronically modifying power and torque delivery, suspension settings, and traction control on the fly – “to enable the motorcycle to adapt to the needs of the rider and not the other way around. With the Multistrada 1200, Ducati introduce the concept of four-bikes-in-one with four Riding Modes: Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro.”

Sport offers a full 150hp and 87.5 lb-ft of torque, a sports-oriented suspension set-up and a reduction of the Ducati Traction Control intervention to level 3 (an “expert” setting).

Touring still produces 150hp; however, the power characteristic is designed for much smoother torque delivery, but ready to respond when needed. ABS is active and the Ducati Traction Control system set to level 5 (intermediate intervention). All with the goal of a stable and relaxing ride. The suspension meanwhile is set-up is ideal for touring, taking a rider, a passenger and luggage into consideration.

Urban gives you 100hp, with the suspension set for improved quick handling “for tackling the maze of city streets full of speed bumps and drain covers.” The traction control level is set to 7, providing high intervention for enhanced safety.

Enduro will be the most questioned, at least by the ADV set, but Ducati is claiming the Multistrada 1200 “has the capability to take off-road routes in its stride.” The bike does compare well to the competition in the class, and has high, wide handlebars, serrated footrests and specially designed tires (a good thing as a 190-wide rear is hard to find in a knobbie). The Enduro Riding Modesets the Multistrada to a smooth 100hp engine, higher suspension, and gives the rider the option to disable the ABS. Traction control is reduced to the minimum of level 1 for almost no intervention.

Here’s a full description of the Technologies from Ducati’s press release:


The ride-by-wire system is an electronic interface between the throttle grip and the engine which decides the ideal power delivery of the engine depending on the Riding Mode selected and the rider’s throttle input. The throttle grip no longer uses a throttle cable, but instead delivers a signal to the control unit, which in turn operates the throttle body butterflies.

The ride-by-wire system enables three different engine mappings to adjust the total power output and the way in which it is delivered. The three maps offer 150hp with a sports-type delivery, 150hp with a progressive delivery and 100hp also with progressive delivery.


The racing-derived DTC is a highly intelligent system which acts as a filter between the rider’s right hand and the rear tyre. Within milliseconds, DTC is able to detect and then control rear wheel-spin, considerable increasing the bike’s safety and performance. The system offers eight ‘levels of sensitivity’, each programmed with a level of rear wheel-spin tolerance in line with progressive levels of riding skills classified from one to eight. Level one is programmed to offer the least amount of interaction while level eight uses the most amount of interaction. DTC is an integral part of the pre-programmed Riding Modes on the Multistrada 1200; however, its setting can be customised by the user.


The ‘S’ versions of the Multistrada 1200 are equipped with the latest generation 48mm Öhlins suspension featuring the innovative Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES). The brand new fork technology enables spring pre-load and rebound and compression damping adjustments electronically controlled via the instrument panel. The Öhlins rear monoshock is also adjusted electronically in spring pre-load and rebound and compression damping.

The electronic suspension adjustment can either be made by using the pre-set riding modes, which have been developed by Ducati test riders, or in independent mode, which allows riders to use their own personal settings. Adjustments made via the instrumentation send a signal that initiates electronic actuators mounted on the suspension units.

TESTASTRETTA 11° power and control, the ideal travelling companion

The starting point for the complex and innovative Multistrada 1200 project was the engine.

As a prestigious model the motorcycle had to be powered by the most advanced, evolved twin-cylinder engine to come out of the Ducati factory. It had to be the Testastretta Evoluzione used on the world-beating 1198.

The challenge, however, was to produce an engine that would be enjoyable to use in all conditions and able to adapt to the rider’s character and not the other way around. Making the best ever L-Twin performance engine smoother and more user-friendly was indeed a challenge, but Ducati’s innovative designers and engineers met the challenge by creating the revolutionary Testastretta 11° engine.

WHY 11°?

For a motorcycle intended for touring, the smoothness and user-friendliness of the engine is key to achieving an effortless and comfortable ride. The main engine characteristic that achieved this was the valve overlap angle.

The overlap angle is the interval of crankshaft rotation, measured in degrees, during which both the intake and exhaust valves are open at the same time. This overlap occurs between the end of the exhaust stroke and the start of the intake stroke. High performance engines, which compromise smoothness for power delivery, use high values of this parameter in order to benefit from the pressure waves to improve engine performance by maximising volumetric efficiency.

On the new Testastretta 11° engine, this angle has been reduced from 41°, used in the Testastretta Evoluzione engine which powers the 1198, to just 11°. As a result, the fresh inlet charge flow is less compromised by the exiting exhaust gases, resulting in a much smoother combustion in addition to improved fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions.

With its 150hp and 12.1kgm (87.5lb-ft) of torque, the new Testastretta 11° sets a new standard for Ducati twin-cylinder engines. Tests on fluid dynamics through the ports and in the combustion chamber have resulted in a modified power delivery profile and specifically the torque. New intake and exhaust ports combined with a radical adjustment of the cam timing and slight reduction of the compression ratio have enabled Ducati to achieve torque at very low rpm, which remains strong through a wide range enhancing the Multistrada 1200’s ridability.

The gearbox and final drive ratios have also been optimised to enable the use of a higher-ratio 6th gear. This solution not only enables reduced fuel consumption, but also achieves increased riding comfort by reducing vibration. To give a practical example, if the 1198 reaches its top speed in 6th gear, the Multistrada 1200 is able to reach it in 5th gear and maintain it effortlessly in 6th.

The Multistrada 1200 features an oil bath clutch with ‘slipper’ function and super-light feel at the lever. Its design uses a progressive self-servo mechanism that presses the plates together when under drive from the engine, enabling the reduction of the clutch spring rates. This results in a much lighter clutch lever at the handlebar, ideal in stop-start traffic or long journeys. When the drive force is reversed, the same mechanism reduces the pressure on the clutch plates, enabling them to provide a race-like ‘slipper’ action, which reduces the destabilizing effect of the rear-end under aggressive down-shifting and provides a much smoother feeling when closing the throttle or down-shifting under normal riding conditions.

189kg sets a new benchmark

Like a Monty Python skit, what is the weight of a Multistrada 1200?

“Is that unladen, base, S Sport or S Touring?”

The claimed 189kg is for the unladen base model, dry and bereft of lubricants and battery. Still the dry or wet, the Multistrada is a few kilograms svelter than the competition.

“A lighter motorcycle will brake in a shorter distance, accelerate faster and be easier to steer. Every single component of the Multistrada 1200, therefore, has been designed to achieve weight reduction without compromising its load-bearing capacity. With a dry weight of just 189kg (417lb) the Multistrada 1200 is lighter than any other road enduro, touring or sport touring bike currently available. The light weight combined with an excellent chassis set-up ensures exceptional handling, a key factor for sports, touring, urban or enduro riding.”

Key to weight saving is the are

■Crankcases cast using Vacural® technology

■Frame components use welded Trellis tubes, cast alloy elements and hi-tech polymers.

■Further savings have also been made with the single-sided swingarm in aluminium

■fuel tank using blow moulding technology balancing between capacity and weight.

■the exhaust system, which is simple and minimalistic, uses two primary manifolds flowing directly into the triple chamber single silencer. Apart from carrying out the 2-1-2 compensator function, the silencer also contains the catalyser and sound-absorbent materials. The two compact and lightweight aluminium alloy end pipes depart in a low, lateral configuration keep the weight low for a better center of gravity and minimal.


It’s hard to comment on ergos if you’ve not sat on the bike, so here’s the marketing machines output…

“The Multistrada 1200 has undergone an extensive ergonomic study using both CAD and repeated prototype testing, in order to guarantee a high level of comfort with a fully loaded bike for long-range touring.

The ‘ergonomics triangle’ of handlebar, seat and footpegs has been designed for both the rider and passenger, in order to optimise comfort while providing a commanding and upright riding position. The Multistrada 1200 feels spacious and seats two people in complete comfort, even with the top case and panniers in place. Underlining its multi-tasking intention, ergonomic attention was even applied when designing the riding position while standing on the footpegs, off-road style.

The wide, tapered steel handlebars have been designed for maximum comfort and ensure a commanding riding position enhanced by a generous steering lock of 76° (38° left and right). In addition, the handlebars have been mounted on anti-vibration isolators, specially designed to balance riding comfort with precise road ‘feel’.

The Multistrada 1200 seat immediately transmits a sense of comfort. Constructed in two separate sections for the rider and passenger, they were designed with particular focus on form and cushion density to ensure maximum comfort during long journeys. A confidence-inspiring passenger grab-handle offers a secure and comfortable grip.

The footpeg position represents part of the optimum ‘ergonomics triangle’ for both the rider and passenger with added consideration to ground clearance during maximum lean angle and position of pannier luggage. The footpegs have rubber inserts that insulate vibration, removable to expose a motocross-style serrated edge that provides enhanced boot grip when riding off-road.

The Multistrada 1200’s rear view mirrors have both vertical and horizontal adjustment and increased surface area to provide the most efficient visibility.

Two handy onboard stowage areas are built into the motorcycle, one suitable for mobile phones or toll road tickets (speeding tickets?) situated in the right cockpit side panel and a larger 3 litre area situated under the passenger seat.”

Sport Touring Amenities

The Multistrada 1200’s screen is designed with 60mm of vertical adjustment to ensure efficient wind protection for all rider heights and effortless high-speed riding over long distances.

The fuel tank has been developed using a new moulding technology which balancing between capacity and weight and the 20 litre (5.3 gallon US) capacity should provided over 300km (186 miles) between fuel stops.

Two 12V power outlets situated on either side of the area below the rider’s seat can be used to power up to 3A (fused) accessories such as heated gear, intercoms or mobile phone chargers.

A special connection point for powering the GARMIN satellite navigator (optional feature) is situated near the instrumentation.

DESIGN: “Character” of the Multistrada 1200

EXHAUST: style and sound

The exhaust is shaped and positioned to improve overall weight distribution. The tailpipes are also short, so as not to impinge on the space needed for the large panniers. “The internal structure of the silencer is designed to achieve the characteristic Ducati sound without compromising compliance with sound and hydrocarbon emission standards (Euro3).”

The frontal air intakes (carbon fibre on the ‘S’ Sport version) act as air flow conveyors, one to the oil coolers and the other to the airbox to feed the engine.

The single-sided rear swingarm is made using a single piece casting, with fabricated and welded sections creating a strong, hollow and lightweight component that contributes considerably to the Multistrada’s sure-footed handling.

The symmetrical headlight, rather than stacked Cycloptic look of the outgoing bike, uses four halogen lamps, two for low and two for high beam to provide excellent illumination. In addition, the front and rear side lights use LEDs, and feature a special shape of intense white light guidance, which both improves road illumination and makes the motorcycle more visible to other road users.

CHASSIS SET-UP: frame, brakes and suspension

Chassis geometry, such as wheelbase, swingarm length, and rake, trail and offset aims to balance stability at high speeds with dynamic agility. The chassis is designed to achieve lean angles of up to 45° and the combination of reduced weight and generous steering lock of 76° (38° left and right) makes tight manoeuvres at low speeds very easy to manage.


The Ducati signature Trellis frame uses large diameter, light gauge tubing with two central cast aluminium sections and a Trellis rear subframe. The frame has 19% more torsional rigidity than the Multistrada 1100.

The high pressure, die casted, magnesium front subframe reduces the high, frontal weight and contributes to chassis feel and control.


Pirelli worked alongside Ducati as its technical partner, developing the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres specifically for the Multistrada 1200. They represent the first dual compound Tire for on/off road use with the central section of the Tire a harder compound than the outer sections. Combined with a special tread design and carcass structure, their 190/55 section delivers racing performance on the road in terms of grip and lean angles, while ensuring high mileage for touring and good off-road performance.


The front brakes use twin radially mounted Brembo four piston, two pad callipers actuated by a master cylinder with an adjustable lever. The front is fitted with 320mm discs, while a single 245mm disc on the rear is gripped by a single Brembo calliper – so it’s a high performance braking system then. The Bosch-Brembo ABS system is optional for the standard version of the Multistrada 1200 and fitted as original equipment on the ‘S’ version. An option to disable the ABS is available via the instrumentation, but is automatically reactivated at the next ignition-on (GRRRRRRRR- Hated that on the KTM 990 Adventure and the BMW R1200GS Adventure).


The standard version Multistrada 1200 uses 50mm Marzocchi front forks, featuring a special forged fork bottom and full adjustability in spring pre-load, rebound and compression damping. The rear is controlled by a Sachs monoshock adjustable in spring pre-load, and rebound and compression damping. Both front and rear have 170mm of travel, the extra-long movement providing excellent comfort even when fully loaded and even if the rider decides to leave the asphalt for an off-road route. The ‘S’ version features the Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) system, developed in conjunction with Öhlins.



The Multistrada 1200 ignition is not actuated with a normal key. Instead, an electronic key in the rider’s pocket communicates with the Multistrada within a distance of approximately 2 metres, recognising the dedicated key code and automatically enabling the ignition. Pressing the key-on switch then activates the motorcycle’s electrics and the engine can then be started.

The electronic key, which consists internally of a circuit with two radio systems, externally doubles as a mechanical flip-key, required to open the seat and fuel tank cap. When parking the motorcycle an electric steering lock, which is actuated by pressing a button, is automatically disabled upon the next ignition-on.


The on-board computer system is made up of a large, high visibility LCD with the main data and a dot-matrix circular LCD which visualises various functions according to whether the bike is stationary or moving.

The main LCD displays speed, rpm, gear, total mileage, trip1/trip2, Tire pressures (as standard on the ‘S’ version Touring package), engine coolant temperature, fuel level and time.

When the motorcycle is in motion, the dot-matrix LCD displays the selected riding mode, remaining fuel/distance, current fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, average speed, air temperature, trip time, and ‘freezing conditions’ alarm. When stationary, it enters a setting menu from where adjustments to the various functions can be made.

The Sport, Touring, Urban or Enduro Riding Mode can be changed while either stationary or in motion, as well as the load settings for ‘rider only’, ‘rider with luggage’, ‘rider and passenger’ or ‘rider and passenger with luggage’.


The main features of the ‘S’ version consist of the ABS system and the innovative Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) system, developed specifically for the Multistrada 1200 by Öhlins in partnership with the Ducati engineers. The ‘S’ version is available in the two equipment options of Sport Edition and Touring Edition.


The Sport Edition is enhanced with special carbon fibre components which further accentuate the distinctive character of the Multistrada 1200. They consist of front air intakes, cam belt covers, rear hugger and lateral air extractors.


The Touring Edition focuses on comfort and convenience. A centre stand not only provides parking practicality, but is also essential in the event of Tire maintenance during a long distance journey. Easily connected heated grips are controlled via the instrument panel to three settings and are a must for any tour where adverse weather conditions threaten rider comfort.

Stylish luggage panniers, designed together with the bike, offer a load capacity of 57 litres (or 77 litres with large lid versions) and use a fast and secure attachment system that blends perfectly when the panniers are removed.


With its wide range of potential uses and benchmark performance, Ducati decided to manage the development of some key Multistrada 1200 accessories in cooperation with both the product development and the design departments. This integration right from the start of the project has optimised both style and performance.

The current collection of accessories is in addition to those already included on the Sport and Touring Edition, which are also available individually. They include carbon fibre air intakes, cam belt covers, rear hugger and lateral air extractors, panniers, heated grips and centre stand.

Garmin GPS

Garmin, a leading producer of satellite navigation systems, has created a navigation system for the Multistrada 1200. Pre-loaded into the system are the addresses of the entire official Ducati dealer network in addition to the main MotoGP and World Superbike circuits. The Ducati navigation system has an anti-glare touch screen, 18 bit LCD display, a lithium battery which remains charged for up to 8 hours, and a microSD expandable memory. It includes a mounting kit and dedicated plug-and-play cables.

The lowered seat reduces height by 25mm and provides sure-footed confidence when fully loaded.

Top case

A 48 litre capacity the top case capable of holding two full-face helmets is available and comes with a passenger backrest and an integrated fixing system that makes it easy to attach. When removed, the topcases support plate acts as a practical luggage rack.

Anti-theft alarm

Ducati has developed an integrated anti-theft system, including movement, anti-tamper and lifting sensors, as well as a sound alarm to act as a further deterrent.

Electric filler cap

Thanks to the hands-free system, the Multistrada 1200 can be started without the key leaving the rider’s pocket. With the electric filler cap there is also no need to use the flip-key or remove gloves as it is opened simply by raising a tab and closed by pressing it down. At every power-down, the hands-free system allows 60 seconds for the electric filler cap to be opened.

Carbon fibre spray guards

From a protective part to a designer accessory – the carbon fibre spray guards on the rear wheel not only carry out their traditional function but also make the bike lighter and add enduro style details.

Carbon fibre front mudguard

The carbon fibre front mudguard with its criss-cross pattern enhances the aggressive beauty of the front end.

Tire pressure monitoring system
As well as the ABS, DTC and ride-by-wire, Ducati offers an additional safety tool. The system is made up of two sensors inserted inside the special Tire valves, which communicate via the radio system inside the hands-free electronic key. This real time communication displays temperature and pressure information on the instrument panel and signals any problems.

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