After weeks of teasing, Ducati’s finally gotten around to taking the wraps off its Multistrada V4. While it’s still the same idea, a street-oriented touring bike with some capability for unpaved riding, it’s still taking a giant leap forward. To start with, it will come in two different models—as the standard Multistrada V4, or the Multistrada V4 S. There’s also a “Sport” package available as an add-on for the V4 S.
New V4 Engine
The biggest news, of course, is the new V4 engine. We got our first detailed run-down on this engine back in mid-October, and now we’ve got the rest of the story. The V4 design is a big change for Ducati, as the Multi’s had L-twin engines since the first series debuted in 2003. Ducati’s been using V4s in other bikes for a few years now, and has finally decided to use this layout in its ADV machine.
Ducati says the new V4 engine is rated for 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm, and 92 pound-feet of torque at 9,750 rpm. Not long ago, those would have been superbike-level numbers (for example, the 2012-2016 Honda CBR1000RR made 177 horsepower, and 78.3 pound-feet of torque). Now, Ducati’s giving you all that muscle in a practical touring-oriented machine.
As predicted in early reports, the V4 engine will go an unprecedented 37,250 miles/60,000 kilometres between major service appointments. That far eclipses any other motorcycle on the market, and is only possible because Ducati’s moved away from its traditional Desmodromic valve train, and gone to a more mainstream arrangement with valve springs. The Ducatisti may recoil in horror, but chances are they’ll be happy to avoid hauling their bikes down to the dealer for top end tinkering.
The new engine is a 90-degree V4, with 1158cc capacity and DOHC top end. Obviously, it’s liquid-cooled, and it has a six-speed gearbox. Ducati also used a counter-rotating crank, which is said to improve handling; the crankpins are offset 70 degrees. Early reports also said the engine has rear-cylinder deactivation, meaning it effectively turns into a parallel twin when stopped at a traffic light. Cars have used similar tech for years, and even American V-twins have similar designs for stop-and-go riding, but this would be a first for the ADV market.
“Smart” cruise control
The other big news for the Multistrada is the new optional radar-enabled adaptive cruise control system, built with help from Bosch. This works similar to a car’s adaptive cruise control system; it can maintain a constant speed on the road, but it also can maintain a constant distance from a vehicle in front. As it has both forward-facing and rear-facing radar, the safety system also has a blind spot detection feature, similar to what’s found on cars, and can warn of impending rear-end collision.
BMW included blind spot detection on some of its C650 scooter lineup years ago, but Ducati says it’s the first OEM to have both systems on a motorcycle. Maybe, but by the time 2021 models actually arrive in dealerships, it’s likely other OEMs will also have this (BMW, for instance). But while they’ll have the hardware for adaptive cruise control installed, there’s no guarantee the system will actually be functioning when the bikes are first delivered. Asphalt & Rubber reports Ducati was unable to get the system approved by US regulators, because of complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ducati’s bikes will not have the hardware activated until the regulators sign off on it, whenever that may be. Of course, that won’t be a proglem in other markets.
Otherwise, you can expect a whole raft of fancy-pants electronic riding aids, just like the previous-gen Multistrada. Ducati’s included IMU-powered leaning ABS and traction control, and multiple engine riding modes. The S model also gets cornering lights and hill start assist. Ducati also has an optional TPMS system available.
The standard Multistrada V4 has a 5-inch TFT screen, and the S model will come with a 6.5-inch screen. Of course, smartphone integration by Bluetooth is possible, through a Ducati app, enabling such features as turn-by-turn navigation.
Of course, an all-new engine means an all-new frame. Ducati’s Multistrada has an all-new aluminum monocoque frame, with double-sided swingarm and 61.7-inch wheelbase. That aluminum frame keeps weight down (dry weight is 474 pounds/215 kg for the standard bike), but it’s much harder to bodge weld it in the middle of the Kalahari. But remember—that’s not really the intended purpose of the Multistrada, although Ducati says the new bike has “excellent off-road capabilities.”
Ducati has put some obvious work into improving its capabilities, though. Previous Multistrada 1200 models had 17-inch front wheels, which held them back on unpaved roads. The new Multi has a 19-inch front wheel; both the standard and S models have cast wheels, but Ducati’s presser notes the chassis is “capable of accommodating spoked wheels.” Spoked wheels will probably be standard on an upcoming Enduro version, and they’re currently available as an option for the S model.
(As you’d expect, the rear wheel is a 17-incher).
Ducati says the new Multistrada has 170 millimetres of suspension travel up front, and 180 millimetres in back, with 220 millimetres of ground clearance. The suspension is fully-adjustable, but doesn’t have any fancy-pants branding on the standard model. The S model has electronically-managed semi-active Skyhook suspension.
The brakes are proper name-brand equipment though, with Brembo calipers on both models. The base Multistrada has 320-millimetre discs up front, while the S model has 330-millimetre discs, with Brembo Stylema calipers. As noted above, the brakes are tied into a leaning-sensitive ABS system, as you’d expect with any luxury Euro bike.
The fuel tank has 5.6-gallon capacity; gas up ’til it’s mostly full, and the Multistrada weighs 529 pounds(240 kilos), while the S model weighs 536 pounds (243 kilos).
Ride in comfort
Comfortable long-distance touring has always been an important part of the Multistrada formula, and Ducati’s press release goes on at length describing the comfort built into the new Multistrada. As per the presser,
“With the aim of making long motorway journeys more comfortable, Ducati engineers paid great attention during the design and development phase to what in the automotive world is called Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH), or rather the measure of the general level of comfort of the vehicle.
In this sense, a careful aerodynamic study – also in the wind tunnel – was carried out to obtain the best possible protection for the rider and passenger from the air, reduce hissing noises and divert the heat coming from the engine away from the rider’s legs. The result is a Plexiglas screen with a new shape, adjustable in height with a single finger, associated with two side deflectors. The shapes of the handguards and the parts most exposed to the air have been studied in detail, as well as the “sound” of the engine, which is refined but always present and with the Ducati tone.”
As well, Ducati says the rear cylinder deactivation feature adds to around-town comfort.
You’d think this stuff would be standard fare, because who would want to design an uncomfortable motorcycle, right? Yet, it happens, and the Italians themselves are guilty of such sins as poorly-designed, passenger-roasting exhausts. It’s good that Ducati put all this work in, although it would take a bit of use to determine whether or not the engineers actually nailed it.
Speaking of comfort, the standard seat can be adjustable between 840 millimetres and 860 millimetres, and there’s an optional Low seat that drops it as far as 810 millimetres. An optional High seat can get you as much as 875 millimetres.
Packages and pricing
Ducati says the new V4 models will be available in Europe this month, and will come to North America in January of 2021—but we don’t know American or Canadian pricing yet. Both versions of the bike will be available in red, and the S model will also come in a gray paint option.
We do know the S model will also be available in a Sport sub-model, which comes with “Performance” accessories, including. Akrapovič exhaust and carbon front fender.
If you visit Ducati’s website, you can also see other package options, which include accessories like luggage and the all-important Radar package. The international press release says there are Essential, Travel, Radar, Performance and Full packages. Expect more details on all these options when Ducati actually announces North American pricing.