Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro review: A large ride for the wanderer.
Sometimes, just on that rare occasion, there is beauty in monstrosity. And it is the sort that is so in your face. Enter the Multistrada 1200 Enduro. Its sheer size is jaw-dropping. It’s an intimidating motorcycle to look at and is capable of getting you across continents. And if you’ve ever been bitten by the adventure bug, you’re quite aware then that motorcycles are one of the best ways to go on that adventure. But what is it that you look for in an adventure motorcycle? Probably low weight, decent power, off-road capability and extreme comfort. Besides being anything but dainty, the Multistrada is what the modern-day apex of adventure motorcycles looks like.
When you first approach the motorcycle, that predatory front beak and a set of dual headlights with the high flyscreen are sure to grab your attention. But look beyond and the proportions seem to get gargantuan in nature. The 30-litre, bulbous fuel tank sits authoritatively at the centre and blends quite seamlessly into the nice deep swoop-into seat. Without a doubt, If anyone could make a purpose-built, adventure motorcycle beautiful, it had to be the Italians.
This Enduro version is one tall motorcycle, and that’s a good bit thanks to the spoked wheels that sport larger 19-inch front tyres. The wheels get a whopping 200mm of suspension travel at the front and the rear, which means that this is a bike that can really take some serious beating off the tarmac.
If you’ve ridden the other Multistrada models, the TFT instrument cluster is going to be a rather familiar feature. It is well laid out, customisable, easy to read and light-adaptive. But the Multistrada’s party trick is its rider modes. This can be accessed via the toggle buttons on the left switchgear which are reasonably easy to use. Once you get the hang of navigating through the menu, it’s simply amazing how customisable the entire motorcycle is from the cockpit itself. This is the top-of-the-line Multistrada model. So everything from the suspension to the engine’s character can be controlled electronically. The four basic rider modes – Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro – can be switched on the go.
Besides the three levels of power output, which is 160hp on high (Sport and Touring) and 100hp on low (Urban and Enduro), you get eight levels of traction control, wheelie control and ABS. Although, it must be noted that, in Touring mode, you get 100hp until the 4,000rpm mark, and from there the full 160hp kicks in. To make the Enduro ideal for various riding conditions, and your level of skill, Ducati’s electronic Skyhook Suspension offers four settings and 24 levels of preload. It also gets Ducati’s version of a hill-hold which releases the brakes gradually when stopped in Enduro mode.
Getting on the bike can be a bit daunting. I’m about 5ft 10in and my feet just about reach the ground. The good part, however, is that it gets a main stand but you’ll need some proper muscle power to actually use it. This is definitely a bike for taller, larger-built riders. Once you’re astride the Enduro, you’re sitting well inside the bike; the seat is enormously comfortable. The handlebars are nice and wide and the front visor is manually adjustable and easy to use. And once you get it all the way up, the wind protection is just brilliant. Just a slight tuck in and you can hold this position all day, with minimal fatigue from windblast. And if you start to get a bit tired, all you have to do is stand up. The spiked pegs hold your feet in place brilliantly, and the tank has just the right contours to squeeze in your knees. This position feels so natural on this bike, you could probably stand and ride all day.
The Enduro gets Ducati’s 1,198cc, Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Valve Timing) engine which pulls smoothly from 2,000rpm, ensuring you don’t have to sift through the gears too much. The motor feels responsive and pulls quite strongly, especially around the 6,000rpm mark. But the does feel a bit jerky in Urban mode. The 160hp produced is enough grunt for a motorcycle this large. Although, while off-road, putting it in Enduro mode with power limited to 100hp is definitely advisable; it’s more than adequate while riding in the dirt.
The crowning glory of the Multistrada is how well it changes its character in the different riding modes. Once you actually get moving, all assumptions of it being a ridiculously large motorcycle start to fade away. It is extremely manageable and rider-friendly. In Urban mode, the Enduro feels a bit underpowered, but this should be good for wet riding conditions. The problem here, however, is the amount of heat it generates in slow-moving traffic. The larger tank restricts the flow of air around the engine and ends up sending searing levels of heat towards your left thigh.
In Touring mode, the suspension feels soft and absorbs bumps at all speeds beautifully. However, in the corners, it does tend to lollop over bumps and that hampers precision. In Sport mode, the Enduro’s nature changes from relaxed to very crisp. Although the suspension is still a bit soft, the bike encourages you to push it harder. It tackles corners with poise; not something you’d expect from such a large motorcycle.
But it’s the Enduro mode that sets this Multistrada apart. It just makes the motorcycle so much fun on dirt. There’s still a lot of muscle power required here, but if you know what you’re doing, this motorcycle could do trails all day.
Overall, this motorcycle impresses with how capable it is, despite its gargantuan proportions. But this is not a motorcycle for just anybody. And it’s definitely not a motorcycle for the city. Even if it falls within your budget, and you’re large enough to manage its size, you need that ability to really appreciate what this motorcycle is capable of. If you’ve managed to tick all these boxes, and you have the wanderlust within you, here’s wishing you a whole lot of excitement on the adventures you have coming.
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