After more than year of anticipation, Ducati introduced the all-new Multistrada V4 on November 4, 2020. Not only do the Italians claim that the new Multi ups the adventure and touring ante, it also features Ducati’s very first radar technology with adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.
Armed with its new 170-horsepower V4 Granturismo engine, the new Multistrada looks really good on paper but how does it actually fare on the road? Our colleague Luca at OmniMoto got his hands on the new bike to find out.
|Engine:||1,158cc, V4 Granturismo|
|Performance:||170 hp/92 lb-ft|
|Brakes:||2 x 320mm semi-floating discs with radially mounted Brembo four-piston calipers, radial master, with cornering ABS front, 265mm disc with Brembo floating two-piston caliper with cornering ABS back|
|Suspension:||50mm adjustable inverted fork front, adjustable monoshock with remote spring preload adjustment back|
|Wheels/Tires:||Light alloy cast, 120/70 ZR 19 front, 170/60 ZR 17 back, Pirelli Scorpion Trail II|
|Seat Height:||33.1 inches|
There’s only one place in the world where engineers get to live out their most secret fantasies and that’s among the Bolognese hills, in Italy. That’s where Ducati’s new adventure-touring flagship was born. The Multistrada V4 not only showcases incredible numbers, but it also features truly innovative technologies.
For Ducati, the words “versatile” and “sporty” go hand in hand. The 4-in-1 motorcycle concept has been successful for the House of Borgo Panigale if you consider the Multistrada’s fruitful career and its 110,000 units sold over the span of 18 years. This fourth generation goes above and beyond and receives important chassis and powertrain upgrades.
The optics remain undeniably “multimoto” with the dual headlamp, however, it’s now underlined by the daylight running lights that align the design with the other V4s in the family. While the beak and 5.8-gallon fuel tank strengthen the model’s enduro personality, the new aerodynamic appendages integrated to the semi-fairing that diffuse the air away from the rider’s legs add muscle to the ensemble.
At the back, the silhouette is slender and airy, an unexpected feature for a four-cylinder tourer. The effect is enhanced by the choice of a more elegant 170/60 rear tire that replaces the former generation’s 190/55.
The dashboard also changes dramatically. The S trim level receives a 6.5-inch TFT display that connects to a smartphone using a proprietary app that notably allows the rider to display GPS instructions directly on the screen. The control clusters’ layout changes as well and now integrates a joystick to navigate the menu.
The new Multistrada’s beating heart is both familiar and new. The badge can be misleading as, despite obvious similarities with the Panigale and Streetfighter’s engine, the V4 Granturismo is entirely new. It takes all the good stuff the Desmosedici Stradale has to offer and gives it a globe-trotter friendly twist.
The most glaring difference is the absence of the Desmo appellation. Instead, engineers opted for a classic spring valve return system. This might sound like heresy to the purists but it actually allowed the maker not only to better adapt the engine to its intended use but also to space out valve maintenance intervals by over 37,000 miles.
What the new 1,158cc V4 does have in common with its Desmo counterparts, however, is its compact dimensions. The engine weighs in at 147 pounds which is 2.64 pounds lighter than the Testastretta DVT. It also features the same counter-rotating crankshaft, developed for the track, as well as the Twin-Pulse firing order that makes the V4 sound almost like a twin.
Everything else is new and specific to the Granturismo engine including cylinder heads, throttle bodies, and exhaust, which confirms Ducati’s dedication to the touring segment.
The Multistrada V4 produces 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and a peak torque of 92 lb-ft at 8,750rpm, mapped to provide a smooth and gradual delivery. The bike also gets four riding modes: The Touring and Sport modes take advantage of the bike’s full while the Urban and Enduro modes limit the output to 115 hp.
Though it boasts an entirely new engine, the adventure-tourer remains ready to tackle anything. With 8.66 inches of ground clearance, the new Multi isn’t afraid of venturing off-road, but it remains accessible with a seat height of 33.1 inches than can be lifted to 33.9 inches.
Another symbol of the Multistrada V4 (r)evolution, another one that will likely shock the purists, is the absence of a trellis frame. The new aluminum monocoque chassis is mounted to a 19-inch wheel at the front via a 50mm inverted fork with 6.69 inches of travel, to a 17-inch wheel at the back via a monoshock attached to an aluminum swingarm with 7 inches of travel. Both front and rear components can be adjusted. The S and S Sport trim levels take things a step further with Ducati’s semi-active SkyHook Performance auto-levelling system.
The brake hardware also varies depending on the trim level. The dual 320mm semi-floating discs at the front are paired with a pair of Brembo Stylema M50 calipers on the S and Sport models, while the 256mm disc is paired with a dual-piston caliper at the back.
The Multistrada V4’s standard electronic equipment includes cornering ABS, traction control, and anti-wheelie. The S and S Sport also receive hill start assist and cornering lights. The list of tech upgrades doesn’t end there. The Multistrada V4 also becomes the first Ducati equipped with radar technology, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring—innovations I wanted to explore as soon as I hit the road on the new Multi.
Ready, set, go: let’s jump on the highway. We hardly ever visit the highway during press launches, but this time, the stint is necessary to better understand how the rider’s aids work. For my colleagues and I, this is our first time experiencing adaptive cruise control on a motorcycle.
I have to admit that the system is seamless and efficient both when increasing and reducing the speed. That being said, seamless doesn’t mean weak: The cruise control can provide a braking force of up to 0.6G, perfectly absorbed by the suspension.
The biggest game-changer in terms of safety, however, is the blind spot monitoring system that uses LEDs to warn the rider that there’s a vehicle detected in the blind spots. This new high-tech feature developed in partnership with Bosch is well integrated, extremely useful, and increases confidence.
The riding geometry and aerodynamic protection are perfect, thanks among other things to the adjustable windscreen and ventilation that does a great job at dissipating the heat—so much so that I could almost feel the cool countryside air on my legs.
The three-lane “Autostrada del Sole” (“Sunshine Highway” or A1, Italy’s main highway), begs for us to use the Touring mode, which takes advantage of the semi-active suspension on the S trim level and makes any long haul a delight.
Power delivery is fluid and gradual but far from sluggish. Already in the mid-range you can feel all the power the engine is ready to unleash without, however, feeling overwhelmed by it. In Touring, mode the more seasoned travelers will likely stay in even once they’re off the freeway, the bike has a surprisingly dynamic behavior. Curve entry is smooth and stable and helps maintain a natural and steady trajectory through the bend.
The engine’s personality changes dramatically in Sport mode: the V4 becomes sharper and more reactive—while remaining manageable—and the 170 horses are released in an atypical snap for an adventure-touring model. The suspension also becomes more rigid and allows the rider to take full advantage of the new Multi’s power. Even in the “angriest” setting, the V4 remains flexible and pleasant. We even get to use the entire RPM range, unlike with the Desmosedici Stradale.
Sure, the 19-inch front wheel isn’t exactly adapted to sudden changes in direction or enthusiastic curve entrances, but you quickly forget what possibilities two 17-inch wheels would have offered once you experience just how balanced the bike feels. Combined with the precise quick shifter and impeccable braking system, there’s no doubt left that Ducati made the right call.
Since the House of Borgo Panigale proudly claims that the Multistrada is four bikes in one, we also tested the bike’s abilities off-road, armed with a pair of Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, of course. While facing the most challenging type of environment it’s designed to tackle, the Multi proves that, despite its 529 pounds, Ducati’s efforts to centralize its mass are successful.
For a four-cylinder bike destined to get a good dusting, it works. That’s despite a few, more street-oriented features such as the handlebar that’s a bit too low if you’re standing in the foot pegs (and are taller than 6 feet), the fuel tank profile that’s difficult to grab with the knees, and the braking that becomes too aggressive once you leave the tarmac.
Are there any real flaws? It’s a bit hard to determine after only 125-mile. One could nitpick and point to the rear end that doesn’t absorb road irregularities as well as the front end. In comparison, the monoshok feels a bit primitive.
Pricing on the new 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 starts at $19,999 for the entry-level model while the Multistrada S V4 goes for $24,095 and the S Sport, for $26,095.