Hi NMEXPAT, thanks for your comments on the stock fork. Sounds like it works quite well.
I am leaning more and more towards picking up a 2013 base model. If the suspension is okay or better then I could ride it around quite happily while waiting for the Ohlins semi-active kit to come out. Then could decide whether to go for that package, or fit a manual Ohlins shock and a fork kit, or just the manual shock, or simply leave it alone (at least until the stock shock wears out).
The full Ohlins package obviously will be very good (even if not Skyhook), and of course could be removed and sold separately at new bike time, or likely removed and fitted to another Multi if/when Ducati releases a fresh upgrade.
BTW: from Ducati's promotional material on the web, it appears the 2013 base model will come with the same 85-125N/mm progressive rear spring that they are fitting to the Skyhook bikes. If they make that available as a spare part, it could be a good upgrade for prior-year base models.
On your fork dive thing, if it were me, I think I'd be going up a size on the front springs and sticking with the standard weight oil.
And I'd be simply riding around what brake dive remained. It is built into the design.
Sure, you can control it by adding so much spring that the fork behaves like a short-travel sport bike fork, but then you've got the height of the long-travel Multi without the plushness that the long travel provides. Or you can firm up the low-speed damping by adding viscosity, as you have, with a similar effect: less brake dive but harsh high-speed damping that jars you on sharpish hits.
As you have likely worked out, that is one conflict that Skyhook helps resolve.
Originally Posted by NMEXPAT
I've been very happy with the Marzocchis. I've yet to replace the front springs due to my weight, since I'm not a light Italian. I have only two compliants, which could be easily fixed with some mild effort. The factory settings for preload, compression and rebound damping are way too light. I've adjusted everything to suit my weight, riding style and riding typical conditions.
Since I haven't updated the spring rates, I've increased the preload and adjusted the compression damping. The changes have resulted in less pitching (squat and dive) but then made the fork much more harsh over small but sharp bumps that seem so prevalent in Houston. The sharp bumps are due to the road heaving up, really are transmitted up to the rider with my current set up. The good part is that the excessive fork dive problem when braking has been fixed. I'll take short jarring bumps every once in awhile over diving at every brake application. I've also increased the fork oil weight, to I think to 10wt instead of 7wt to help resist the forks blowing through the entire stroke when coming down from wheelies. The change in oil weight helped, it doesn't blow through as often now.
With some effort, I could correct these problems at the next service by installing the correct fork springs for my weight and increasing the amount of oil, by about 10mm. I'm on the fence about the oil weight 10 or 7. I just need more oil so it firms up for the last half of travel. At least this what I seem to remember what adding oil does to front suspensions.
I would say a cartridge kit is more of a luxury. I've given it serious though, but when it comes time to but my money where my mind is I always back out.
Please keep in mind most of my usual miles are commuting. For touring, the changes I've made are more than sufficient. For washboard gravel roads, they are too harsh. But then again that's less than 1% of my riding.
I've been very happy with the BASE shock, a sachs unit? I only need to update the spring rate as well. I've increased the preload and rebound damping.