Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Review : Exotic Explorer

Added in: Ducati

After almost pulling a hamstring and tiptoeing my way down the incline of Ducati Showroom on a warm (to put it mildly) summer afternoon, an inner voice resonated, “What’ve you gotten yourself into this time!” It’s my conscience. We don’t talk a lot these days. At 5’9”, I am not exactly vertically challenged but I’m no Jason Momoa either and thus, moving this extremely tall, and undeniably heavy piece of machinery was physically demanding.

This isn’t my first encounter with a big adventure motorcycle and I’ve already spent some memorable time with the Triumph Tiger XCa. Then there was the Kawasaki Versys 650 that doesn’t really qualify as a true-blue adventure motorcycle but it can tackle mild off-roading and is fairly tall. But this one feels, and is properly big, massive for something that rides on two wheels. So, with a helping hand from the friendly security guy at the dealership, I slowly and carefully pulled the motorcycle on the road and treaded my way into the urban jungle. As the lights went green on the first traffic signal, the Ducati slowly marched in the urban mode, resonating a familiar twin-cylinder sound that comes from any machine to roll out from Bologna, Italy based factory that we’ve ridden in the past.

Photographs : Chirag Mondal

Do not think of it as a regular Multistrada 1200 S with the addition of spoke-wheels. It’s a massive leap over the standard model with as many as 266 new or updated major components – that’s excluding the other, smaller bits. The suspension has an added 30mm of travel while the ground clearance is a massive 35mm higher than the Multistrada 1200 S. The off-road prowess is further improved by the rugged 19-inch front and 17-inch rear spoked wheels. So put on your adventure cap, here’s what the Multistrada 1200 Enduro all about.

One Of The Most Admirable Dual-Purpose Motorcycles Out There

I think we can all agree on the fact that some of the most admirable vehicle on the face of the planet come from Italy. Be it a Ferrari, or the Lamborghini, the exotic MV Agustas or the downright crazy looking Bimotas. So if anyone could make an off-roader look so stunningly beautiful, it was the Italians. It doesn’t have a maniacal character with an asymmetrical fascia like the BMW R1200 GS Adventure or the ‘Love it or hate it’ persona of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure. It’s carved with utmost care, craftsmanship and love that the Italians put in their machines.

It has come a long way since the first generation models and this one will be admired for years, and by generations to come. Upfront, you get the typical Mutistrada family traits with a predator style beaky face. The full LED headlight almost look hypnotic as they stare right back at you. The headlight also features Ducati Cornering Lights which works with Inertial Measurement Unit. The dedicated LEDs located in the headlights turn on in the direction of the road, according to the lean angle so that you can clearly see where you’re going.

The oil-cooler sits right below the headlights, neatly tucked behind the beaky front. Above the LED illuminators is a three-way adjustable windscreen that works on simple mechanism. Just pull the black lever and adjust it as per your convenience – no need for any special tools here. The massive front fairing is your ultimate shield against windblasts while traversing through continents while offering protection against splash when exploring the wilderness.

Tucked behind the windscreen is the multifunction 5” Colour TFT instrument console that’d let you know almost all the information that you’d even require, and more. Apart from the regular speedometer, tachometer, odometer and two trip meters, you’d also find gear indicator, selected riding mode, fuel gauge, distance to empty, average fuel consumption, ABS level, traction control level, wheelie control setting, air temperature and heated grip indicator. All of this can be tailored to rider preference. The amount of customisation is just unbelievable. Accessing all the information was fairly easy too thanks to the smartly placed switchgear.

You can connect your smartphone to the instrument console too using Bluetooth to manage music phone calls without taking your hands off the handlebar. Then there is the Ducati Multistrada Link app which records a number of parameters on the smartphones including speed, lean angle, power and fuel consumption. The app, however, works well with iOS operating system while the Android version still needs a lot of work. We couldn’t utilise the Multistrada Link app with our OnePlus and Motorolas.

As you would’ve noticed, there is no key hole. Just like all premium motorcycles, the Multistrada 1200 Enduro comes with an electronic key which works in 2-metre range. Once in range, a press of the key-on button will switch on the panel. The same button can be used to turn off the motorcycle and lock the handlebar.

Then there is that massive fuel tank that can store as much fuel as a small hatchback. With 30-litre capacity, the fuel tank is not likely to run out for at least 500 kms, considering that the Multistrada 1200 Enduro delivers around 15-18 kmpl on city and highways respectively. The fuel tank is merged perfectly with the massive front fairing. At the rear, the tank steeply flows onto the rider seat (which by the way is on the lowest height possible) and you sit in the bike than on it. The saddle is narrow but yet plush enough to keep your rear comfortable even after a long day of mile munching. The side and rear panels are minimal. The rear rises with the pillion seat and gracefully ends with the beautiful LED tail light. What you also see on the test motorcycle is the optional luggage rack along with saddle support frame which is part of the optional package. More on that in the later part of the review.

Down below, unlike the Multistrada 1200 S, the Enduro gets a rugged twin-sided swingarm instead of a single sided unit. The wire spoke wheels add to the rugged, go anywhere look of the motorcycle. These aren’t any spoke wheels. The spokes are fit on the outer side of the rim which enables the installation of tubeless tyres on the motorcycle so that you don’t have to worry about a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere.

We had the fully loaded Enduro Pack which came equipped with additional LED lights, Side tank protectors in steel tubing from Ducati Performance by Touratech, protective mesh for water radiator and oil cooler from Ducati Performance by Touratech, a rear disc brake guard and lower chain guard. It even featured heated grips, a power socket and Rear aluminium luggage rack from Ducati Performance by Touratech.

It’s immensely beautiful, well designed, muscular and yet so efficient at tackling anything that the road would throw at it that it’s plain ridiculous. The motorcycle is available in two colour options – Red and Phantom Grey. We had the latter one which frankly tilts towards olive green on the colour palate with black and grey panels but Ducati calls it Phantom Grey and we’d stick to that. Personally, I wouldn’t have liked the motorcycle in any other colour. It’ looks even more beautiful after a day of off-roading with mud and water covering the bodywork.

Where it’d bother a select few, especially the ones who aren’t as vertically blessed as others, is while tiptoeing at slow speeds. As we may have well established, it’s a massive motorcycle, tipping the weighing scale well above a quarter of a tonne and that’s without any luggage onboard. Parking the motorcycle on the centre-stand was quite an exertion too to be honest. If you think you can handle that, have about INR 17.55 lakh lying around and want a motorcycle that’s a definite eye-candy then you should not think twice before writing a cheque to Ducati. Everyone else, check out the new Ducati Multistrada 950.

Check out the motorcycle in detail

Will you just look at that! I can look at the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro endlessly for hours and never get enough of it.

And it’s massive. Here I am, struggling to make a U-Turn.

But once in motion, it’s ridiculously easy to ride. The comprehensive electronics package makes you believe that you’re good at going off the tarmac but in reality it’s the electronic system that’s doing most of the work.

You can fiddle with all the electronics and tailor them to suit your riding style using that digital display and easy to access switchgear.

Riding modes come with default pre-sets for engine, electronics and suspension setting which can be tailored to rider requirements.

Toggling between settings and cruise control is easy with neatly placed and easily accessible switchgear.

Off-road spec footrests give your legs good grip. The rear brake lever is height adjustable.

The comprehensive crash guard package from Touratech will make sure the motorcycle suffers minimal damage in case of a crash. The optional LED lights offer further enhancement in illumination.

How efficient is the headlight? Here’s an example.

It’s one of the few motorcycles that look even better with a splash of mud.

Knuckle guard integrated front blinkers look pretty neat. Agree?

The wire-spoke placement on the outer side of the rims lets Ducati install tubeless tyres on the Multistrada 1200 Enduro.

LED Tail light looks absolutely beautiful.

Brake disc protector ensures maximum safety from mud and pebbles.

V-Twin Ecstasy

If you’re reading this, you probably opted not to go for the Multistrada 950 so let us walk you through the performance section. You have a quarter-tonne motorcycle that wants to climb mountains and wade through sand, mud and water streams like a tank. What do you use? Performing the propelling tasks is the 1198.4cc Testastretta with variable valve timing, L-Twin cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled engine that delivers 160 hp of power @ 9,500 rpm and 136 Nm of torque @ 7,500 rpm.

While the numbers are exactly identical to the Multistrada 1200 S, this one features a revised gear ratio and gets an updated EFI mapping. What Ducati has done is that it has added a bigger rear sprocket to the Enduro which offers a better low end grunt while compromising on top speed. So the 1200 Enduro uses a 43 teeth rear sprocket versus the 40 teeth sprocket on the Multistrada 1200 S.

The motor feels comfortable anywhere above the 2,000 rpm mark with a fair amount of upsurge starting from over 3,000 revs. The power delivery is linear with another noticeable step-up around 5,500-6,000 revs all the way to redline. The power delivery is linear and it doesn’t really scare you, even in Sport mode, with all the 160 ponies unleashed and throttle response at its peak.

The motor can be used in four modes : Touring, Sport, Urban and Enduro. Touring and Sport mode let you enjoy the full power from the engine and the only thing that differentiates the two is the throttle response, ABS and traction control settings. The Urban and Enduro mode give you access to 100 ponies.

Here’s a break up of riding modes:

Power160 HP160 HP100 HP100 HP
Power DeliverySoft, progressiveSharp, decisiveSoft, progressiveSoft, progressive
Traction Control (Engaged/Full)5/84/82/86/8
ABS (Engaged/Full)3/32/31/33/3
Wheelie Control (Engaged/Full)3/32/3Off5/3
Skyhook SuspensionMediumHardSoftSoft

Thanks to the customisation options that Ducati offers, you can tailor any mode according to your preference. So if you think you’ve got big… umm… let’s say ego, you can carry all 160 HP of power off the road in Enduro mode or tour with only 100 ponies on the tap.

The motorcycle was engaged in Urban mode throughout the first day of the test as we cruised through the concrete jungle. The soft suspension setting soaked up all the undulations without a word of complain. It got fairly hot though as it crawled through the traffic. Moreover, the fairing design pushes all the hot air from the radiator fan towards your legs which can get uneasy. The safety pack is on its highest setting among all modes so that you don’t lose traction and crash into a fellow motorist, or the divider. The eight-level Ducati Wheelie Control makes sure that the 1200 Enduro does not toss you off its back like a raging horse.

Things got exciting on day two when we took the Multistrada 1200 Enduro on the highway to stretch its legs in Touring and Sport mode and it didn’t disappoint. It isn’t exactly a canyon carver as it carries a longer wheel base and the extra weight than the Multistrada 1200 S but its rock solid on straight roads and you can comfortably cruise in three digit speeds all day long.

You can toggle between the riding modes on the fly. The left side switchgear gives access to the riding modes. To engage, you’d have to scroll through the modes and close the throttle for about a second and a half while long pressing the Enter key. Giving solace to your right wrist is the electronic cruise control which comes as standard and can be accessed with the dedicated button on the left side of the handlebar. We came back with a big grin our faces but the best was reserved for day three.

Day three was all about getting our hands dirty, going off the tarmac and the motorcycle felt at home. Here’s something special about the Enduro mode. It turns down the ABS level to 1, which allows the rear wheel to lock for quick direction changes. The front ABS is still active so that the front wheel doesn’t lock. The long travel suspension, with its soft setting in the Enduro mode, took all the bumps in its stride while the 19-inch front wheel rolled over almost everything in its way without a word of protest.

We let the motorcycle loose on the beaten path and it almost passed the test with flying colours. Why almost? The Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres that the motorcycle comes equipped with are aimed to strike a balance between on-road and off-road use. They, however, are tarmac biased with mild off-roading capabilities. If you intend to go serious trail riding, Ducati also offers Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres which dig deeper into the broken path and offer much more grip than the Scorpion Trail II.

The engine comes with a really long maintenance interval too so that you wanderers don’t have to visit the service centres too often. The maintenance interval stands at 15,000 km or 12 months while the valve clearance check gap is 30,000 km.

Then there are those brakes from Brembo. The dual 320 mm semi-floating discs at the front and the single 265 mm disc work along with Bosch 9.1ME ABS ECU and it operates flawlessly. Depending on the level of intrusion, they’d bring the 1200 Enduro to a standstill with utmost efficiency. You can set the intrusion level depending on your need. We found level two to be our favourite with just the right sharpness without compromising on safety under heavy braking. Cornering ABS comes as standard equipment for that extra edge when you plan to throw the motorcycle around a set of twisting roads with well laid tarmac.

Is it a Swiss knife in the handling department?

As aforementioned, this one isn’t a motorcycle that you’d want to throw around corners or go apex hunting. It has a long wheelbase, longer than the Multistrada 1200 S, a relatively softer suspenion and quite a lot of weight. Then there is that 19-inch front wheel. So taking it around the twisting roads wasn’t as confidence inspiring and if we were to do it on a motorcycle with the “Multistrada” badge, we’d do it on the 17-inch front/17-inch rear wheeled 1200 S.

But the Enduro’s true prowess comes to fore where the tarmac ends and the rough terrain begins. The 19-inch front will happily glide over almost every obstacle in its way. With the Multistrada 1200 Enduro tipping the weighing scale at over 250 kg, it’s difficult to handle during slow manoeuvring but once in motion, and an experienced rider on board, there’s almost nothing that the 1200 Enduro cannot handle.

The turning radius is a boon too, thus making manoeuvres in bumper-to-bumper traffic and parking pretty easy. Although you’d probably need to do a few extra rounds of squats in the gym as pulling it out of parking is physically demanding. The height makes it more difficult – and that’s with the lowest seat height available out there. But with all that height, you get a commanding position and a fair view of the road ahead.

Where it compromises on handling, it makes it up on straight line stability as it’d keep going like a tank on the road and off it. It’s stable even while cruising at three digit speeds and while it may not be a scalpel while making its way through the traffic, it can change directions fairly quick for a motorcycle of its size.

What about ergonomics and comfort?

Remember how I have been cribbing about the height of the motorcycle. Well, Ducati offers the Multistrada 1200 Enduro in select markets – including India – with the lowest seat height but it is still 850 mm tall! To put that in perspective, the Ducati Diavel has a seat height of 770mm while the 1299 Panigale dons a seat height of 830 mm. For rest of the markets, the Multistrada 1200 Enduro is available with a seat height of 870 – 890 mm. So if you’re anything below 6 feet, you’d have a tough time pushing the motorcycle around in parking, or at slow speed manoeuvres, at least till you find a way to work around it.

Once in motion, it’s comfortable and plush. As aforementioned, you sit in the bike rather than on it. The tall set handlebar and the fairly front set footpegs give you just the right level of comfort. Standing up on the footrests while going off the road feels completely natural and thanks to the narrow seat, there’s ample amount of room to move around. Moreover, the rear-view mirrors are set in such a way that they don’t obstruct your forearm when you’re standing up, so you have enough space to move around and use your body to control the motorcycle while trail riding.

The tall windscreen will protect against most of the windblast. At 5’8”, I found the mid level setting to be favourable, providing ample protection against windblasts without obstructing the view ahead. It’s a clear screen but once covered with mud and water, it’s really difficult to see through it.

The fully adjustable suspensions from Sachs work together with Ducati Skyhook Suspension. The suspension feels soft overall which is good for comfort. But the softer nature means that you’d have to be extra cautious, not to push too hard around corners and thus, as aforementioned, you can’t really go apex hunting on this one. Besides that single thing, there really isn’t anything that we’d complain about in the suspension department.

Should you buy it?

Adventure motorcycles come closest to anything that can be called the T.A.R.D.I.S in real life. Although instead of “Time And Relative Dimension In Space”, in motoring universe it can be called as “Travel Anywhere Regardless Of Difficulties In Striding”. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, then, is most definitely the finest looking T.A.R.D.I.S out there.

Over the three days that I spent with this ‘tread anywhere’ machine, I realised that Ducati has done something remarkable with a motorcycle that is intimidating, but at the same time unbelievably comfortable and functional. It’s got a diverse, friendly persona that’d change your perspective about big adventure motorcycle. The comprehensive electronic package makes you feel confident at almost any given point of time of the ride.

But at INR 17.44 lakh – INR 17.55 lakh for the Phantom Grey (both ex-showroom Delhi) – it really isn’t affordable. The optional packages that Ducati offers will push up the prices even further. Then there is the competition from the big daddy of adventure tourers, the recently arrived BMW R 1200 GS Adventure and the Honda Africa Twin which may stir some problem. But honestly it really shouldn’t bother the Italian stallion much.

If you want something more compact, Ducati has introduced the slightly lowered down and reasonably affordable Multistrada 950 which should keep you entertained. But if you’re someone like us who believe in the motto, “Go Big, Or Go Home” you know which is more desirable motorcycle among the two.