Whilst I gently pondered on what to do with my slightly leggy KTM, in proper motorcyclist fashion I started to contemplate the new options. Having previously tried a couple of the Japanese Adventure bike offerings and being less than impressed, I looked a bit closer to home, Europe. In my head there are certain attributes that all the premium European Adventure bikes have:
- BMW GS: Reliable, well supported, loads of accessories, really popular: been there, seen it, done it
- Triumph Explorer: A bigger more grown-up version of the 800 Tiger I had as my first big bike . Ridden a couple as loan bikes, impressed but not quite there for me.
- KTM1290 Super Adventure : Superbike engine in an Adventure frame, flakey dealer support….still loving mine
- Ducati Multistrada : A little more stylish than the rest, great sounding engines, horrific servicing costs.
Time to Try One Out
So, it looks like the first port of call is the Ducati Dealer in Worcester. I’ll ignore the purchase price and servicing costs for the moment and tick the V4 box. I need to get my priorities right!!
So, Saturday morning comes around and after a quick bit of admin I’m in possession of the keyless key and staring at a rather stylish looking motorbike.
The Handsome Beast (This was also the name of local Birmingham band in 1980’s you know…)
A quick run through of the controls before setting off. However, I had no intention of playing with electronic suspension or throttle settings. I am sat astride the Italian beast ready to hit the starter button whilst I admire the LCD screen. Hitting the red button awakens the engine is a muted steady beat, unlike the usual Ducati L-twin bark. Then easily snick it into first gear and let out the light clutch and we’re underway.
Neatly presented information on the TFT screen
First impressions are that you sit slightly “in the bike” rather than on it. Possibly because of the tall tank and the location of the LCD panel. The bike is light to manoeuvre especially with the wide bars. There is something a little strange with the exhaust though; it seems to lag the throttle by ½ a second: You open the throttle expecting a joyous noise but nothing initially and then close it awaiting the thrum and bark but more of the same. When it does catch up, the noise is great, different to anything else I’ve ridden. Maybe I need to be on the throttle quicker or perhaps the engine is tuned to the seemingly obligatory Termignoni or Akrapovič aftermarket pipe that all Ducati’s are fitted with. We’ll ignore the £1000 on-cost!
As I round the corner of the Worcester city one-way I tuck in behind a local chap (Worcester dealer plate) on a newish z1000. Well, he clearly knew the local roads and wasn’t shy in showing me how quick his bike accelerated. Well, I thought I’d see if I could keep him company and give him more chances to show off. Thankfully, the Ducati was more than capable of keep up: It turns out that even after only 2 miles on a demo bike that I was quite significantly “making progress” along the dual track out of Worcester! Perhaps I should show a bit of caution. Play time stopped as we went our separate ways but I didn’t care, I was on my regular route home along the A44. A 25mile route of sweeping bends and short straight that makes for a glorious ride that I had been enjoying daily (and getting quicker) on my KTM. This should be a good comparison!!
Lived up to Expectations
Well, the Multistrada didn’t disappoint, throttle response was great, instantaneous power delivered smoothly and endlessly accompanied by a glorious blarr from the exhaust. The ride was smooth and controlled, soaking up the bumps and undulations and very little fork dive when braking for the occasional tight bend. It tipped into the corners with ease and gripped effortless. Watching the rev counter climb and looking out to the open road I was definitely “in the zone”.
Was I going quicker than on my KTM? Possibly, but not by much. What it does show is how easy a ride this bike was. Do I think that I would run out of talent long before the capabilities of the bike? Oh yes, something to keep very much in mind! I am sure that sometime during the summer I had considered buying a lower powered bike to slow me down. Foolish boy! In short, by the time I was home I was slightly smitten.
Slim and you sit in rather than on the V4
I walked the boss-lady/financial controller around the bike. She thought it was lovely too but did insist on asking the sensible questions about price and whether I really needed a bike that was that powerful or had that many toys. I mumbled some suitable comments. Time to quickly get going on the return to the dealers before the Spanish Inquisition pointed out the blatantly obvious and I am forced onto a NC700X !
Meander Back to Base
The return trip was taken in a slightly different manner, no need to explore the limits of my skills with this bike. So my best Rossi impression (Valentino not Francis) was not required. Just a brisk blast back to Worcester in the summer sunshine, enjoying the unlimited power and its forceful push along the road along with how sweetly it turned into the corners and rode the imperfections.
Handing back the keys gave me a chance to talk to the dealer principal about costs, servicing and residuals. Turns out the servicing is not as scary as I thought. They are still eye watering but so is the KTM I currently rides. The residuals no worse than the KTM, but the kicker was the price-tag ! By the time I’d added the things to make it a daily commuter the price tag started with a 2! Even with the £1800 promotion that was current at the time and no fruity Termignoni pipe!
So a much as I was truly impressed with the bike and it many talents, I couldn’t justify the additional £4k over the equivalent KTM. Maybe if I’m feeling really flush in the next 18 months I could be tempted….watch this space !
Words and Pictures: Stuart Holiday