QUIKSPIN: Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring – Get Active

09 August 2013
The Multistrada has many strings to its bow but Ducati’s new Skyhook system is its most formidable. Permit me to whizz past several owner-inspired improvements like the nifty clip on the 60mm adjustable screen and the smoother, more powerful Testastratta 11° dual-spark engine, with it injectors repositioned for improved fuel atomisation and valve overlap configured away from peak power toward peak usefulness. We covered all this in Sir Al’s launch report in Vol 62 No 08. 
We were much more interested in the bold Ducati Safety Pack statement written on the bike. The technology underpinning this simple addition has been a long time coming. The recognition that active suspension – that is, a suspension system able to react in a timely fashion to dynamic load changes – has been a tantalising dream for 30 years or more. Tantalising as the dream has turned into an overly complicated, power sapping, too slow, commercial dead duck, despite the clarity of a highly advantageous end goal. But that was then. 
Suspension ought to provide comfort and allow retained control, the first of numerous conflicting parameters. An ever-changing environment brings competing demands in spades. Suspension twiddling always becomes a card game of compromises. DSS, or Ducati Skyhook System, is not magic but it does give the rider a fierce hand. 
Strikingly apparent is the ride comfort – aiming the bike at the harshest road sections and the biggest bumps to provoke adverse reaction simply doesn’t. Bumps arrive but get dissipated away as the system varies the damping to suit the immediate need. You can feel front compression damping fall away so the shock you expect never seems to arrive. Push on into a situation and the partially desirable dive starts but then firms up, maintaining the machine’s attitude. 
You’ll note these are front-end observations; my ECU being temporarily reduced to a single channel which was far too good to detect the back. What did stand out in torrential rain was the surety of feedback. 
The spanners aren’t dead, though. Front preload, while less affected by load and passengers, requires you to understand, measure and adjust while the Sachs rear shock, though, has 20mm range of electrically adjusted preload. Usefully you can alter load via presets – from rider only through to pillion and luggage – easily and on the move as is mode: Enduro, Urban, Touring or Sport. 
Delving into the rider-adjustable five-position suspension settings suggests all of these are set to medium. Not so, whilst each mode may use the same nomenclature, characteristics have perceptibly different base parameters. 
You will need to delve into the manual (thankfully not all 272 pages of it) as the defaults have minimal preload: Urban’s is position 1 of 24. Therein lies flow charts describing how you change all this and more, including throttle response and engine power – it’s not simple and took time to understand, but under your left thumb is a very useful and capable system. 
This isn’t all, the other half of that safety pack sticker is eight-position traction control and three levels of ABS intervention. Again, it’s as easy as choose, store in the memory and enjoy. And that basically sums up this entire bike. 
Configuration 90? V-twin
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 1198.4cc
Bore/stroke 106 x 67.9mm
Compression ratio 9.7:1
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, 2 x elliptical Mikuni throttle bodies
Power 110.3kW @ 9250rpm (claimed)
Torque 124.5Nm @ 7500rpm (claimed)
Type Six-speed
Clutch Wet, multiplate
Final drive Chain
Frame material Tubular steel
Frame layout Trellis
Rake 25?
Trail 110mm
Front: 48mm USD fork, fully adjustable,
170mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, fully adjustable,
170mm travel
Wheels 10-spoke light alloy
Front: 17 x 3.5 Rear: 17 x 6.0
Tyres Pirelli Scorpion Trail
Front: 120/70ZR17 (58W)
Rear: 190/55ZR17 (75W)
Front: Twin 320mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear: 245mm disc, two-piston caliper
Control: ABS and Ducati Skyhook Suspension
Weight 206kg (dry, claimed)
Seat height 850mm
Max width 985mm
Max height 1420-1480mm
Wheelbase 1525mm
Fuel capacity 20L
Fuel consumption 8L/100km
Top speed 210km/h (est)
Neat pannier securing method
Speedy, fun, real-world bike
Excellent electronics package
Frustrating pannier lids
Bit long-legged
Centrestand niggles your foot

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