When was the last time you thought about Ducati in relation to Off-Road? The Multistrada 1200, with the best will in the world, is out performed on dirt by at least 20 other dual sport bikes. It’s simply not an off-road bike. There are a few hardy owners around the world, chaps who’ve shod their bikes with a great looking set of TKC 80’s and hit the dirt roads but they’re the exception. Would you choose to take it on a proper adventure trip, shod with technical single track, miles from the beaten path? I know I wouldn’t. Not on your life. I’d pick anything from an AG 200 to a GSA and a shed load of bikes in-between. But I wouldn’t choose a normal Multistrada. It’s a great bike, it’s just not good off-road, so why would the Multistrada 1200 Enduro be any different?
As adventure/travel riders, we have a hard enough time convincing folk that using a bike that weighs more then 150kg is okay, that it can do the off-road, that it can still go well on the tarmac, that it is fit for purpose. Ducati aren’t an off-road associated brand and they’re battle is up an even steeper hill. After all, they had to start their war by convincing a hundred journalists that they’d produced something worthy of taking off-road or into the wilderness.
Mechanically, the Ducati 1200 Enduro is practically a new machine. It’s almost entirely different bar two key components, the frame and the engine. Those remain unchanged. Otherwise, almost all the fundamental handling parts have been replaced by something designed to make the Multistrada into an off-road weapon. Starting from the front, the wheel size has been increased to a 19-inch. Both are now wire spoke efforts with the rims produced by bicycle legends Giant. The suspension travel is up to a respectable 200mm, via a new Ducati Skyhook Suspension fork and shock. That also means the ground clearance is up 31mm too.
30 minutes and 427 power slides later, I struggle to stop the width of my grin bursting my helmet in two.
There is a new front axle offset to improve stability and a 1% increase in the fork rake. Ducati added a steering stabiliser for high speed safety. The whole single sided swingarm was thrown in the bin and replaced with a double sided effort. Because the main frame is identical the Italian machine still sports the offset shock, but the rear wheel is a far more conventional design. This opens the Multistrada up to roadside repairs instead of requiring an enormous socket. The swingarm is also a good deal longer to aid stability, meaning between that and the new rake the bike is a whopping 65mm longer. The rear hub and brake have been redesigned to better suit off-road riding too. An impressive 30 litres of fuel has been shoehorned on board and the exhaust has been redesigned to be slimmer and sit higher. This gives more water crossing capability and works better with the panniers. The Italians have also designed a beautiful, frame mounted sump guard to keep the engine safe. The rear sprocket has gone up three teeth to a 43, with the intention of moving the torque curve to be more off-road and low speed friendly.
However, the really big changes on the Ducati come in the points of contact, the parts where as a rider you control the bike. When compared with the standard Multistrada, they aren’t even on the same page. It’s at this point, with the bike in between your legs, you realise that Ducati have done their homework. The handlebars clamps have been raised 50mm and fitted with a special off-road bend. The mirrors have been redesigned to not collide with forearms when stood up, the footpegs are chunky, rallye style efforts and are matched to a steel, folding tip gear lever and a quick adjust rear brake lever. Where your legs touch the bike, the designers have made special effort to make things as smooth as possible by changing the panelling. With all of those changes, Ducati have still kept the seat height to a reasonable at 875mm in stock trim (850mm with the low seat option).
It’s those little changes that really struck home. The areas where you come in contact with the Multistrada shed light on just how different Ducati have made this bike. Everything about it screams off-road loudly in your ears. Even as we bimble down the hotel driveway, the bars sit high, flat and aggressive. From the moment the wheels roll over the packed southern Sardinian sandy road it felt comfortable.
Standing tall is natural, the bars perfect. The pegs are big, flat and grippy and the controls easy to reach. Its 255kg, fully fuelled chassis feels responsive and precise underneath your feet. The power slides come quickly and naturally, combining with the slightly damp, ego boosting sandy road to provide comfort and feedback that let every corner for 30km’s become a speedway style heaven.
More impressive than its ability to be ridden with flair and big skids, is the Ducati’s comfort to do the exact opposite
30 minutes and 427 power slides later, I’m struggling to stop the width of my grin bursting my helmet in two. If you’d taken the badge off the bike, I’d never have been able to tell you it shared anything in common with a standard Multistrada. They couldn’t be further apart. Everything about the Multistrada 1200 Enduro feels at home off-road. Direction changes happen as they should. It responds quickly, predictable and precisely. With the bike set in Enduro mode the throttle response, suspension, ABS and traction control are all configured specifically and the engine’s power out put is ‘reduced’ to 100hp. Both the engine and the fly-by-wire throttle are truly fantastic off-road. The power delivery is smoother than Casanova’s charm, pulling smoothly from the bottom right through the rev range. For the most part you didn’t need to take things above 4,000 RPM, but however you choose to ride, the Ducati responds well.
The throttle lets you have an incredible amount of modulation of the power. It feels like you have twice as much throttle turn to play with, with decent sized changes causing small movements at the back wheel. That means controlling the rear wheel is easier and possessing a maladroit right hand is less damaging to your bike and health. As such, finding grip and and staying in charge of the bike is far simpler than you’d expect. Those two elements combine to form a bike that is extremely easy to ride and therefore supremely fun. You don’t need to fight it to achieve anything, be it pulling away on a steep hill, crawling around on loose rocks or attempting to wheelie over a puddle. It’s an engine that requires very little skill to get on with, in much the same way as a GS does. It doesn’t ride like a GS but it does caress your ego and skill in a similar tone.
As the slide reaches a certain amount the bike holds itself there, drifting, just the perfect quantity of sideways to forward motion.
More impressive than its ability to be ridden with flair and big skids, is the Ducati’s comfort to do the exact opposite, to bring along the off-road novice and not intimidate. The power delivery and ease of directional control flatter your abilities nicely. Instead of wanting to eat you alive, it carries you and your smile along the trail and that is downright impressive. One of the biggest factors in that is the comfort and poise the Multistrada 1200 Enduro has at low speed. It doesn’t feel anywhere near as heavy as it is. The seat height is also extremely reasonable, matching the stock GS and much lauded Africa Twin at 875mm. Having a smaller feeling and a good turning circle all but removes the intimidation that a lot of other bikes posses at low speed and that in turn inspires a touch more confidence.
The off-road electronics are also absolutely world class. The suspension’s mix of simplicity and adjustability is another really great touch. In Enduro mode it performs well, offering a comfortable and stable ride. As the speed climbed and the bumps got bigger, a little more preload and stiffness was added to improve the balance and control the damping. Changes are instant and effective, all from the push of a button. In Enduro mode the ABS is front wheel only and impeccably configured. The modulation of overly aggressive fingers is fantastic, with the system kicking in extremely rarely and doing so in the subtlest of ways. Whilst it can still be out braked off-road, with ABS on you can ride outrageously fast, safely and under heavy braking it was more stable.
The man who invented traction control that lets a bike drift needs a beer. Actually, he needs a lifetime of beer. For free. It’s genuinely preposterous that it can be done and it’s friggin’ awesome to ride. As the slide reaches a certain amount the bike holds itself there, drifting, balanced in the perfect ratio of sideways to forward motion. This all happens whilst simultaneously, intravenously injecting ego booster. It’s witchcraft, only we don’t need to drown the witch. The system does have a few limitations and doesn’t feel as developed as the ABS, but for 90% of the time it was unobtrusive and entirely effective. The limitations came when accelerating over bumps, a situation where the rear wheel is leaving the ground for fractions of second. At this point it restricts the forward drive a little too much but it does also reduce the danger of ejecting ones self into the trees at high speed whilst flapping like a piece of washing. It’s a control vs risk balance that as a rider, you’ve got to decide for yourself.
Rolling onto the tarmac, the story of the 1200 Enduro is equally as far removed from its sister Multistrada. The road spec bikes were prepared somewhat differently to the off-road models and this was to the bikes detriment. The handlebars were rolled back a touch, the rubber footpeg inserts were fitted. Things cramped things up and the ride wasn’t as relaxed. The bikes were also fitted with the Touring Pack, which includes panniers built by Touratech.
The bike wallowed about like a hippo stuck on a muddy river bank. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden a hippo, but they don’t turn well.
On the road the electronic options expand with three modes from which to pick. The primary two are Touring, for a relaxed, more comfortable ride and Sport. That one is sportier… Unsurprisingly, they are true to their word in performance too. In Touring the bike is comfortable, spongy and disconnected from the road. It was happy bobbing along in a straight line, with its softened throttle response and lazy suspension. As the road got tighter the ride becomes entirely uninspiring. The bike wallows about like a hippo stuck on a muddy river bank, feeling confused and not comfortable in any part of the corner. I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden a hippo, but they don’t turn well. The 1200 Enduro dives a lot with a touch of the brakes and wobbles around in the turn. Things simply weren’t working well. A quick push and hold of the mode button and the bike takes a huge step towards a happy place.
Sport mode stiffens the suspension to the maximum available and sharpens the throttle response, the latter of which, while incredibly exciting, I could take or leave. However the suspension is infinitely better performing, holding up under brakes, wallowing less and generally feeling more like a road bike with 160hp engine should. It’s a noticeably more raked out feeling bike on the road, with quick turns exposing a more lackadaisical attitude but that is to be expected. Direction changes take a little extra effort and more time but this is both fractional and negligible when you remember the context in which the bike is intended to be ridden. As the pace picked up it would’ve been great to be able to go a little stiffer again with both the shock and forks. Even in Sport mode it was still relaxed and comfortable to ride. The biggest question mark was the pannier shaped parachute following us around. Panniers always alter handling and it’d have been great to ride without them, we’ll just have to wait for another test for that luxury.
The engine, unlike the suspension, has lost none of that ballistic speed or characterful rasp. The changing of the rear sprocket has created a little more pull from the bottom. Below 4000 RPM, as it is off-road, the engine is smooth and extremely enjoyable to ride. Pulling tall gears and letting the bike roll through the corners is a buttery, easy way to hustle the 1200 Enduro along. It’s really comfortable doing this and if you’re not someone who likes to push the proverbial envelope then you don’t have to for the fun to flow thick and fast. However, beyond that RPM threshold is where the Ducati starts to change the Earth’s rotational speed and unsurprisingly if you rev it, it will move incredibly quickly. It’s still smooth, it’s just bloody fast at the same time. Simply put, the DVT Testastretta engine is awesome and I will never tire of hitting the warp button (throttle). It’s exhilarating, eye watering and stupendous. The only thing better than the acceleration is the performance of the brakes. They posses fantastic power with great modulation and feel make for a very comforting experience. Both front and back are easy to drag deep into the corner and maintain the right amount of pressure.
The DVT Testastretta engine is awesome and I will never tire of hitting the warp button.
The majority of our riding wasn’t anywhere near a town or city, but we did more than our fair share of tight manoeuvring, awkward u-turns and plodding around small villages. It’s here where the Ducati deserves to win a lot of fans. At the top end of the ‘adventure’ spectrum, bikes like KTM’s 1190R feel big. They’re often fabulous once moving, but it’s not the moving part of riding that the majority find difficult. Here is where the 1200 Enduro shines. For a bike of 250+kg’s fully fuelled, it sure as hell doesn’t feel chunky. It’s balanced, easy to move and unintimidating. It makes all the slow speed manoeuvres in the car park far less challenging. Being able to touch the ground is a big problem for many and all testers, no matter how tall or short suffered no issue.
Ducati are a brand that pride themselves on fit and finish. With the Enduro they have every right to carry that pride and shout about it. Every little detail looks thought about, from the chamfering of every metal edge, to the beautiful, user friendly, backlit switchgear. The TFT, full colour dashboard is a thing of beauty and more like something from a high end car. It’s all easy to operate and adds up to make the Ducati feel like a bike that matches its exuberant price tag. Likewise, the cruise control system is tremendously simple and therefore you use it regularly. Changing modes is only bested in ease by BMW’s system and the three heat options on the hot grips are very nice.
The only things worth complaining about are the grips, mirrors and handgaurds. The grips, especially for off-road riding are harsh on your hands. The little spikes begin to dig in after a while. When Off-Road, you can only move the clutch and brake levers to be flat. If you attempt to tip them down at all, the mirrors point to sky and become useless on the road. The last issue we found was the fragility of the handgaurd. If you plan on lying down on this bike, it’s a decent bet that the indicator integrated unit will suffer. We saw one break during the day.
Ducati have done an incredible job with the new 1200 Enduro. It’s not a case of adding some protection and calling it off-road friendly, this is a bike that can genuinely do what ever you desire of it. They’ve made it so capable off-road that some tarmac performance has been sacrificed but as an all-road adventure product it’s incredible. It’s far removed from the standard version and intended for a different audience, a different rider and not for someone who wanted a Multistrada with a ‘more aggressive’ look.
The rideability is one of the finest characteristics of the new bike. Despite the apparent weight, it never feels heavy. It’s balanced, easy to ride and incredibly fun. It’s a machine that you can test yourself on and let push your limits on and rather than hinder you. It’ll mollycoddle you down every track, making you feel like a total hero and because of that you can undoubtedly go to places you wouldn’t think you could.
The detailing is the best of any bike in any market and folk who bemoan the electronics need to take one for a test ride. They’re opening up the performance of each discipline and in the Ducati they seem to be as good as anything else available. The option to customise the settings to suit yourself, or simply choose your mode and go is fantastic. Being able to commit such changes to memory is even better and it’s those little touches where the Ducati makes its stamp. When you add into the package the great looks, fantastic brakes and stupendous electronics, it’s very clear why the Ducati is a premium bike. It’s tough to say how good the Enduro is or where the it sits against it’s competitors until we test them back to back, but it would at no point shock me if the Italian steed came out of a group test as the best all-rounder.
For full specifications and model variants see below. For more info on the Ducati Multistrada Enduro click here.
|Type||Testastretta with variable valve timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Dual Spark, Desmodromic, liquid cooled|
|Bore x Stroke||106×67.9mm|
|Power||160hp – 117.7kw @ 9500rpm|
|Torque||136 Nm (13.9 kgm) @ 7,500 rpm – Technical data referring to power and torque was measured on an engine test stand at Ducati.|
|Fuel injection||Bosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, equivalent diameter 56 mm|
|Exhaust||Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, single stainless steel muffler|
|Primary drive||Straight cut gears, Ratio 1.84:1|
|Ratio||1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25|
|Final drive||Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43|
|Clutch||Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run|
|Frame||Tubular steel Trellis frame|
|Front suspension||Sachs 48 mm fully adjustable usd forks. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS)|
|Front wheel||Tubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 3″ x 19″|
|Front Tyre||Pirelli Scopion Trail II 120/70 ZR19 as optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally same measure|
|Rear suspension||Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Electronic compression & rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS). Aluminium double-sided swingarm|
|Rear wheel||Tubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 4.50″ x 17″|
|Rear tyre||Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 ZR17 as optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally same measure|
|Front wheel travel||200 mm (7,9 in)|
|Rear wheel travel||200 mm (7,9 in)|
|Front brake||2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted monoblocco Brembo callipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, with cornering ABS as standard equipment|
|Rear brake||265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with cornering ABS as standard equipment|
|Instrumentation||Color TFT display 5″|
|Dry weight||225 kg (8.8 in)
Weight data refers to the dry weight of the motorcycle without battery, lubricants and coolants for liquid-cooled models.
|Wet weight (KERB)||254 kg (560 lb) – Kerb weights indicate total bike weight with all operating consumable liquids and a fuel tank filled to 90% of capacity (as per EC standard 93/93).|
|Seat height||Not adjustable 870 mm (890 – 850 mm with optional seats)|
|Wheelbase||1594 mm (62.76 in)|
|Trail||110 mm (4.3 in)|
|Fuel tank capacity||30l – (7.9 US gal)|
|Sport Pack:||Billet reservoir caps
Ducati Performance by Termignoni homologated silencer
Billet aluminium water pump cover
|Urban Pack||Aluminium top case
Tank bag and locking flange
Cable for USB socket
|Enduro Pack||Bar protectors
Lower chain guard
Rear brake guard
Oil Radiator protector
Auxilary fog lamps
|Touring Pack||Aluminium panniers (Touratech)
Handlebar bag (Touratech)
- Great off road
- Very easy to ride
- Incredible all round package
- Handgaurds are fragile
- That's it.