Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of 2021: Ducati Multistrada V4 S
With the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour taking top honors of our sport-touring MOBO in 2020, it should come as no surprise that the 2021 Multistrada V4 S further cements the Italian’s dominance of the category. The new Multi V4 is basically better in every way, from its stonking new V4 that can play the part of mild tourer or wild canyon ripper, to its more versatile 19-inch front wheel and world-class electronics package that includes adaptive cruise control and blindspot monitoring as well as electronic Ducati Skyhook suspension. The new Multi continues to impress in a way that is surprising for a bike of its size.
As mentioned in our recent heavyweight naked bike shootout, Ducati has managed to tune its V4s – the Granturismo variant in this case – in a way that provides a dual-purpose characteristic making the 1158 cc motor easy to use around town or for touring while simultaneously offering blistering performance when you pull its tail. This, combined with variable ride modes, TC, ABS, and electronic suspension allows the user to fine tune the ride however he or she sees fit. Where the Granturismo also delivers for touring riders is its 36,000-mile service intervals thanks to Ducati ditching the Desmo valve-train for a more conventional spring system.
The addition of the 19-inch front wheel vastly helps the new Multi’s off-road chops, where the previous model’s 17-inch wheel never felt very confidence-inspiring in loose terrain. This does come at the expense of some on-road flickability, but not enough to cause much concern. If sport-touring exclusively is your cup o’ tea, the Pikes Peak model uses 17-inch wheels and will guarantee an exhilarating ride. The larger front wheel doesn’t detract from performance enough to pull it away from this category, rather, it further adds to the Multi’s bag of tricks.
With a claimed 170 hp and 92 lb-ft of torque, top-shelf brakes are necessary and the Brembo Stylemas combined with the stable chassis keep the ride well-composed even when it shouldn’t be. Ergonomics also place the rider in a perfectly neutral position and passenger accommodations are plentiful as well. In our opinion, the Multistrada V4 S is a stellar touring machine that can provide performance that is unlikely to leave any motorcyclist wanting, and it should for $24,095.
Best Sport-Touring Motorcycle of 2021 Runner-Up: Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
In a landscape where adventure bikes are encroaching on the sport-touring space, the 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT is a breath of fresh air. To be fair, plenty of adventure-touring bikes do the touring gig pretty darn well, but for the sporty aspect of it all, the big and narrow front wheels take some of that magic away.
The Tracer 9 GT isn’t pretending to be an adventure bike. It makes that point clear with its 17-inch wheels at both ends, making it known that it is made for paved ribbons of asphalt. Mix that with the bigger 890cc Triple first seen on the updated MT-09, a five-gallon fuel tank, luggage, luxurious seats front and rear, adjustable bars and pegs, electronic suspension, and the R1’s rider aids package – including a smaller IMU – and you have the recipe for one helluva sport-touring package.
During our First Ride with the Tracer 9 GT, in and around the Los Angeles foothills, the combination just simply worked. The 890cc engine is a sweetheart down low, but can move you along with gusto once you open the taps. All the while, that sweet three-cylinder song is playing out of the exhaust. With its sophisticated electronics, even if you do find yourself getting a little ham-fisted, the TC will gently butt-in as a reminder to keep your throttle hand in check.
No matter your body type, the adjustable seating and ergos all but guarantee you’ll feel comfortable for long jaunts in the saddle. Even the wind protection afforded by the (manually) adjustable windscreen is nice. This is as focused of a sport-tourer as the Tracer line has ever been, and at $14,899, it gets the job done without breaking the bank.
Motorcycle.com Best of 2021 Categories
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