Ducati Multistrada 1200

The only bike you ever need to own

"True sports bike hiding in an off-road frame"

This article should start with a Statutory Warning saying, "Can cause heartache due to withdrawal symptoms after the test ride." It does leave you with wonderful moments to cherish and dreams of owning Ducati's Best one day.

It was Marcel Bode, the GM at Ducati Dubai, who introduced us to the Multistrada (MTS). We could have forever remained ignorant of this gem of a machine if not for his insistence to try it out. This might be the only bike you ever need to own. To make a comparison, the MTS is like a 12-400mm f/2.8 SLR lens. And that's a lens that doesn’t exist.

The MTS is a safe bet if you are looking to get back on two wheels. It is multitalented, adequately powerful, seats two very comfortably and rewards the novice as well as experienced riders well with its ability to please beyond boundaries.

The name itself means the bike is meant to be ridden over multiple types of roads. In fact, Ducati has engineered the MTS to be 4 bikes in 1. And boy, disappoint it does not!

A gadget geek will be head-over-heels with the MTS. The key fob can be forgotten in your jeans pocket. Keyless really is the way to go. Slide a switch downwards near the throttle to release the handle lock, flick it back up to reveal the starter button, and the very clear and informative main and sub LCD display lights up colorfully with a system check.

The top end model we tried had all juicy acronyms standard with it. The most interesting ones being the Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) developed with Ohlins, Bosch Brembo ABS and Ducati Traction Control (DTC). These three are interlinked to allow the rider to customize the bike to your riding needs. They provide excellent levels of braking and traction in all circumstances.

There are four riding modes to choose from: Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro. The first two modes deliver the full 150 bhp while the Urban and Enduro modes restrict the 1199cc Testastretta 11 engine to 100 bhp. It does not stop here. There are options to change the suspension settings between multiple rider / passenger / luggage load combinations to give you that velvet glove treatment along with a magic carpet ride.

Biju, the Service Manager at Ducati Dubai, taught us the secret to unlock and start the bike without a misplaced key fob. He also showed the ease with which the MTS can be programmed to carry a rider with a pillion as I had my friend Roshan with me for the ride from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Like a true athlete stretching and warming up before a race, I could hear the motors whizzing up the MTS suspension as it extended its travel range setup accordingly.

Getting on the saddle with the rear luggage compartment is tricky, but can be executed gracefully with some practice. The rider and pillion comfort is top notch with two up riding a real joy. The bike handles the curves and bumps with aplomb and in sport mode the throttle is razor sharp. The handling is also aided by the Pirelli Scorpions biting every inch of available tarmac with a vengeance. Fuel average is something not discussed in the rarified world of superbikes, but an average of 15 km/l is not bad considering we were doing upwards of 170 km/hr continuously for the hour-ride back to base.

Did I mention the word superbike? The MTS in Sport mode feels like you are riding one, albeit one that tackles the beaten track and properly manages to do a few quick rounds around the Autodrome.

Shifting from Sport to Touring mode on the go, you can feel the effect of the DES giving orders to soften the suspension and the throttle response ever so slightly. This is the mode you will mostly settle on for long journeys.

Even though they say the Urban and Enduro modes have 50 less horses, it rarely feels so in actual riding. The only place you feel the loss of Italian thoroughbreds in the stable is quite higher up the rev range. The wide bars and the serrated foot pegs give the confidence to allow you to explore the unknown.

The first gear does engage with a minor clunk, but after that the shifts are positive and precise. The MTS’s gearing is near on perfect for the intended application and if not for the very legible gear indicator you could mistake riding in 4th or 5th gear for 6th.

The standard windscreen needs to be chucked for the taller aftermarket ones for better wind protection. The tall ride height can intimidate short riders. The looks are up to the user’s discretion but it does look futuristic and will so for two years down the line.

At close to 100,000 AED, You get a true sports bike hiding in an off-road frame that can bring out the Troy Bayliss in you. The Multistrada is one awesome inter continental express on two wheels.

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