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2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro – First Ride Review

Greg DrevenstedtMarch 22, 2016
Though it has improved off-road and touring capabilities, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro still has the heart of a superbike. (Photography by Milagro)

Though it has improved off-road and touring capabilities, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro still has the heart of a superbike. (Photography by Milagro)

With its 17-inch wheels, short wheelbase and superbike-derived engine, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 has, since the platform debuted for 2010, occupied the sporty end of the adventure-touring spectrum. Numerous updates over time, everything from Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo and Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) to better wind protection and more comfortable ergonomics, have made the Multistrada a more well-rounded machine. And riding modes transform the bike from a 160-horsepower instrument of asphalt-buckling aggression into a 100-horsepower softer, gentler version of itself. But in terms of Ducati’s original “Four Bikes in One” concept—Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro—the Enduro leg of the stool has always been the wobbliest.

The new Multistrada 1200 Enduro changes that. More than 30 percent of its parts are unique, including a 19-inch front wheel that easily rolls over obstacles, spoked tubeless wheels that can handle off-road abuse and a robust skid plate that protects its underbelly. Longer suspension travel with progressive-rate springs, more ground clearance, a longer wheelbase and other changes give the Enduro surprisingly good off-pavement manners.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro has a longer front beak, an enormous 7.9-gallon tank that increases wind protection and aluminum side panels for added durability.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro has a longer front beak, an enormous 7.9-gallon tank that increases wind protection and aluminum side panels for added durability.

But here’s the thing. Even though it has “Enduro” in its name, this new Multistrada finally lives up to the platform’s do-it-all touring potential. It’s the bike we’ve wanted for a long time—and got closest to with the short-lived Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo. An enormous 7.9-gallon fuel tank gives the Enduro go-anywhere range as well as more lower-body wind protection due to its added width, a taller handlebar and a new seat make it more comfortable for the rider and passenger, and a full complement of the latest-and-greatest electronics, including new Vehicle Hold Control to assist with taking off on an incline, allow any and all conditions to be handled with confidence. And four different “personalization packages” add accessories to tailor the bike to its various Touring, Sport, Urban and Enduro missions (the packages complement one another, so farkle fanatics can add all four).

Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo and 7.9 inches of front/rear travel with progressive-rate springs make the Enduro ready for any type of terrain.

Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo and 7.9 inches of front/rear travel with progressive-rate springs make the Enduro ready for any type of terrain.

To showcase the Multistrada Enduro’s new versatility, Ducati hosted a press launch on the Italian island of Sardinia, where we logged a half-day road test on bikes equipped with the Touring Pack (which includes heated grips, Touratech panniers and a handlebar bag) and a half-day off-road test on bikes fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobbies (available as a free factory option only on the Phantom Grey model shown in the photos above and below; other colors include Star White Silk–shown in the on-road photos with panniers–and Ducati Red). The linear power and broad spread of torque—peaking at 160 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 100 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm (claimed), with more than 90 lb-ft on tap from 3,500 to 10,000 rpm—we experienced on the new-for-2015, Desmodromic Variable Timing-equipped Multistrada 1200 S make the Enduro just as tractable down low and ferocious on top, but ECU recalibration has filled in some of the previous model’s midrange torque dip (an ECU reflash is available for 2015 models through Ducati dealers). Throttle response is just as precise, but a lower first gear and lower final drive ratio give the Enduro more snap and make the bike easier to manage at ultra-low speeds off-road. The engine throws off some heat and sometimes feels buzzy at the pegs but otherwise it’s a gem.

Read our Ducati Multistrada 1200 DVT S vs. BMW S 1000 XR comparison test

Spoked tubeless wheels are new, and the front is now a 19-incher. Phantom Grey model is available with factory-installed Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobbies. Beefy skid plate is standard, but the aluminum radiator guard is an accessory.

Spoked tubeless wheels are new, and the front is now a 19-incher. Phantom Grey model is available with factory-installed Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobbies. Beefy skid plate is standard, but the aluminum radiator guard is an accessory.

Settling into the Enduro’s plusher, non-adjustable seat, which is narrower in front and extends down the sides to replace plastic bodywork that could get scratched, is more of a commitment. With a larger front wheel and more suspension travel (7.9 inches front/rear, up from 6.7), seat height has increased to 34.25 inches (up from 32.5-33.3 inches; a 33.5-inch accessory low seat is available). A 2-inch-taller handlebar with a new bend enhances comfort and control when seated or standing, and the Enduro’s 19-inch front wheel, longer wheelbase (62.8 inches, up from 60.2) and slightly less aggressive steering geometry, not to mention its 42-pound weight gain, sacrifice some nimbleness but make the bike feel more stable at speed and off-road (a new steering damper also helps). The top-quality components, including Sachs suspension and Brembo brakes, give the bike excellent ride quality and control, aided in part by a longer, stiffer and stronger two-sided swingarm.

 

The Enduro's larger front wheel, longer wheelbase and slightly more relaxed geometry slows steering but increases stability.

The Enduro’s larger front wheel, longer wheelbase and slightly more relaxed geometry slows steering but increases stability.

Ducati has some of the best-packaged and easiest-to-use electronics on the market. With a few button taps, switching among the four riding modes simultaneously adjusts power output, throttle response, traction control, wheelie control, ABS mode and suspension damping and rear preload. Changes have a big effect on how the Multistrada performs, and each riding mode can be customized to user preferences (changes are saved to memory). The combination of cornering ABS, lean-angle sensitive traction control and semi-active Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo is something that must be experienced to fully appreciate the transformative effect it has on rider confidence, control and comfort.

Watch our video review of the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro is shown with the optional Touring Pack, which includes panniers, a handlebar bag and heated grips.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro is shown with the optional Touring Pack, which includes panniers, a handlebar bag and heated grips.

Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro is bigger and better in nearly every way, but also taller and more expensive—starting at $21,295 and upwards of $23,494 with the Touring Pack. It’s more durable, with aluminum side panels, cleated footpegs and brake/shift levers made of bendable steel rather than brittle aluminum and one of the stoutest standard-issue skid plates around. Overall it is much more capable off-road and for long-distance touring, which makes it a head-to-head competitor with the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure and KTM 1290 Super Adventure. We’re eager to find out which one will come out on top.

Dual radial-mount Brembo Monobloc 4-piston calipers are strong and precise, and cornering ABS is standard.

Dual radial-mount Brembo Monobloc 4-piston calipers are strong and precise, and cornering ABS is standard.

2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro Specs
Base Price: $21,295 (Ducati Red)
Price as Tested: $23,494 (Phantom Grey w/ Touring Pack)
Website: ducatiusa.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 90-degree L-twin, desmodromic DOHC w/ DVT & 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,198.4cc
Bore x Stroke: 106.0 x 67.9mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 62.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 34.25 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 560 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 7.9 gals.
MPG: NA

A lower first gear and lower final drive ratio gives the Enduro snappier response and helps it navigate challenging trails at low speeds.

A lower first gear and lower final drive ratio gives the Enduro snappier response and helps it navigate challenging trails at low speeds.

Though imminently capable off-road, the Enduro is the most touring-ready Multistrada 1200 ever offered, with more range, comfort and features. “Personalization packs” and individual accessories make it easy to outfit for any type of riding.

Though imminently capable off-road, the Enduro is the most touring-ready Multistrada 1200 ever offered, with more range, comfort and features.

Windscreen height is easy to adjust manually while riding. Hand guards with built-in turn signals are not cheap to replace.

Windscreen height is easy to adjust manually while riding. Hand guards with built-in turn signals are not cheap to replace.

DVT-equipped Testastretta L-twin is tractable down low and ferocious on top; plastic timing belt cover is said to be strong but seems vulnerable to off-road abuse.

DVT-equipped Testastretta L-twin is tractable down low and ferocious on top; plastic timing belt cover is said to be strong but seems vulnerable to off-road abuse.

Full-color TFT display provides tons of info and makes riding mode changes easy.

Full-color TFT display provides tons of info and makes riding mode changes easy.

Touratech panniers are available as part of the accessory Touring Pack. New seat is more comfortable but also taller (34.25 inches).

Touratech panniers are available as part of the accessory Touring Pack. New seat is more comfortable but also taller (34.25 inches).

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