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2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Review


by Didier Schraenen

I never should have agreed to this road test! The Multistrada made me feel like a spoiled brat once again. The exhilaration, the daring manoeuvres, the taste of forbidden pleasures… am I a racer or not? This machine is downright addictive. The sound effects of the twin-cylinder engine make the experience even more orgasmic, especially at higher revs – and let me tell you it can get there in a hurry!

The ideal place to take full advantage of the Multistrada's virtues: torque and power, road holding, comfort and some protection from the elements. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/

Fortunately, the brakes prove immensely powerful and precise even with two-finger pressure only. The stock tires are definitely up to the task on pavement where they spend most of their time. On dirt or gravel, the 1200 S still displayed impressive poise and stability, although specific off-road tires would undoubtedly make a big difference (same thing with the BMW R1200GS).

With regard to performance, I have no criticism to offer. Suffice it to add that the Multistrada is versatile and flexible, delivering tons of fun from just 70 km/h and 3,000 rpm. However, anything below that point is like reining in a wild horse for no good reason; the engine will force you to downshift in order to get back to a sweeter spot in the rev range. You’ll then rediscover its outstanding responsiveness, but be careful as the slightest flick of the wrist will translate into an instant burst. That’s what happens when you’re fed more horsepower than you can normally chew. Maybe I should have reverted to Urban mode in these situations, but come on, I was riding an actual bike and NOT playing some kind of video game.

On a related note, the instrument panel is very Star Wars-like and the main white-faced gauge creates a bit too much reflection in the windshield at night. On the plus side, the fairly small yet effective windshield combines with a discreet and cleverly-designed front fairing to eliminate turbulence when following a large truck.

In addition to explosive performance, the Multistrada boasts head-turning style courtesy of an unorthodox design. People give you a strange look at stoplights because they’re not too sure what to make of it. Personally, I liken this Ducati to a Porsche Cayenne Turbo: mightily capable, geared for the road but not too shabby off the beaten path, and wickedly sexy. In fact, the functionality of the saddlebags is somewhat compromised by the sleek aesthetics of this fiery Italian bike.

Attention to detail is impressive, not to mention the near-perfect fit and finish. Near-perfect? Well, the closing mechanism of the saddlebags needs to be revised; I would bet that they’re not even 100-percent watertight. Moreover, the available top case looks disproportionate to these saddlebags.

Compact, tight - All business! (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/
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