Ducati Multistrada 1100 S – 2009
Designer label Adventure Sports Bike?
If you like your motorcycle to sport those top label brands that make it stand out from the crowd and get you and it noticed, then owning a Ducati Multistrada 1100 S may well be the answer.
Ducati itself as a brand is perceived as prestigious and upper market, but the Mulistrada is also dripping with carbon fibre and top quality branded components.
The bike has Öhlins fully adjustable front and rear suspension comprising front 43mm Öhlins forks with low friction TiN fork sliders with adjustable hydraulic compression and a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock with remote preload adjuster.
The 6 spoke alloy wheels are Marchesini of course!
The brakes semi floating 4 piston front and 2 piston rear brakes are supplied by Brembo. Which in use offering excellent and progressive stopping power, although the rear brake did feel a little soft in application when used on its own.
The S spec Multistrada also has a carbon fibre front mudguard and cam belt covers, together with exclusive variable-section alloy handlebars fitted with vibration isolation mounts to add to its kerb side appeal.
Plus our test bike was fitted with the additional accessory hard panniers and was finished off in a visually stunning pearlescent white paint finish, that was sure to attract attention. Which it seemed to do wherever we parked up.
However, the overall looks of this Ducati differ somewhat from their traditional sports bike offerings, whilst the under-seat twin exhaust pipes are in our opinion “drop dead gorgeous” if a bit muted in their sound delivery, the front view of the bike is like no other.
With its stacked headlight and the unusual split fairing whereby the screen and top half of the fairing pivots with the handlebars, we can think of no other bike that has such a distinctive front end.
Adding to the bikes distinctiveness the chain drive is unusually on the throttle side with an inboard rear disc, enabling the rear wheel to be removed more easily for servicing and the inevitable tyre changes.
But a bike is not just a collection of top label brands, we were anxious to find out if they all worked together to make the Multistrada a worthy contendor in the adventure sports-bike class.
Multistrada translates to “many roads” and this is what the Multistrada is supposed to be about. Ducati claim the Multistrada is “ideal for a day in the mountains, the daily commute or a weekend tour”.
Jumping on the Multistrada you are immediately struck by how instantly comfortable the riding position feels. The position is completely upright and natural, rather like just sitting in a good supportive chair. There is no discernable strain put on wrist arms or legs and the wide split seat offers broad support for your posterior.
Though we have to admit that a little more padding would have been welcome when spending all day in the saddle, but we liked the stepped seating arrangement which provided a modicum of lower back support. The heat shielding from the exhausts was excellent with no undue heat being transferred through the seat. However the seat height is 850mm (30.5in) which may not suit those of shorter stature.
The seat tapers towards the tank and the recesses in the lower half of the tank comfortably accept your knees and give the bike a much narrower feel than say BMW’s GS offering.
On the open road the wide upright bars make steering the Multistrada easy with the quickness of turn-in being almost Super-moto in feel. However the designer mirrors incorporating the indicators are definitely “form over function”. More traditional mirrors with a larger viewing area and better vibration damping for a clear rear view would be preferred and of course the indicators are somewhat vulnerable should you drop the bike, which of course you wouldn’t do!
Whilst the short screen does offer some protection from the wind, taller riders may find this insufficient.
Once underway I was pleasantly surprised by the light action of the clutch, which on the Multistrada is a more traditional wet clutch, however the six speed gear box is very positive action and needs a slightly more concentration to ensure perfect gear changes every time.
But little can detract from the combination of the Ducati trellis frame top, quality Öhlins suspension and Ducati’s L twin, 2 valve, 1078cc Desmodromic engine. Although this engine only makes 95HP it offers huge reserves of torque, a 102.9Nm at 4750 rpm. Wheelies accidental or otherwise are all too easy to pull on this machine.
The sheer punch out of corners that the Desmodromic engine provides; combined with the completely fluidity and smoothness of handling that the frame and suspension working effortlessly in harmony together, mean that rapid progress can be achieved. This bike just seemed to float through corners as if they didn’t exist. The merest tug on the bars or shift in body position making the Multistrada tip in to corners with all the poise of ballerina, be it a slightly burly one.
However such is the beguiling nature of the Multistrada’s performance handling that when you look down at the big digitial speedo you can find that the number staring back at you is higher than you imagined. Because the L-Twin engine doesn’t have to achieve high rev’s to punch out its performance, the bike almost has a lazy feel, which can be misleading.
The bike is accomplished on just about any road surface; the Öhlins suspension soaking up pot-hole ridden and gravel strewn minor roads effortlessly. Whilst giving near sports bike handling on smooth tarmaced major roads.
However in one area it can’t be classed as adventure sports, this bike isn’t really designed to be taken off-road, the lack of a sump guard, exposed engine pipe-work and the carbon fibre means this bike stays on the black stuff. even though it is fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Sync tyres which hint at off-road ability.
The accessory hard panniers do add considerably to the bikes versatility easily swallowing up a full face helmet and make this bike a good choice as a comfortable long distance touring machine, but the panniers are fractionally wider than the width of the handlebars, so care is needed when filtering.
To be a long distance tourer you also need a good fuel range and the 20 litre tank including a 6.5 litre reserve combined with excellent fuel economy mean in excess of 200 miles is easily achievable on one tank. We averaged 53 mpg on our week long road test. The large pillion seat and grab-rail also mean two-up touring won’t produce any comfort complaints from your partner.
Disappointingly though the bike does not have hand guards, heated grips or centre stand which other Adventure sports bikes seem to have as an almost obligatory fitment.
Surprisingly though, the L-twin engine can be taken down to as low as 2000 rpm before it becomes lumpy, which also makes this Ducati much more tractable in traffic and town and fulfils the role as potential commuter bike as well.
The analogue rev counter doesn’t feature a red line but it’s around 10,000 rpm, but you will change up well before this to make the very best of peak torque output in the middle of the rev range. 4000 rpm in top gear equating to approx 72 mph on the road.
The power delivery is very smooth and surprisingly when you rev the bike beyond 6,000 rpm it seemed to get a second very urgent shove of power which then starts to tail off above 8,000 rpm whereby the engine become a little vibey. Playing the gearbox to purposefully revel in the performance beyond 6000 rpm and utilising the engine braking from the big torquey 1078cc engine to reduce the use of the excellent Brembo brakes was a joy.
The bike feels at the rear far more like a sports bike than something of off-road disposition. It stays firmly glued to the road not matter what you do, rather than offering perhaps the more tail happy, power slide options of something more trail focussed. Which given the tyres are not totally 100% road biased was a credit to the grip of the Pirelli Scorpion Sync tyres. Yet the upright trail style riding position is in complete contrast to the way the bike feels.
It’s like sitting on trail bike, but actually riding a sports bike, strange; but what sports bike can you still ride down the poorest of road surfaces and still keep the power on.
This is why the Multistrada truly lives up to its “many roads” name.
So if you like your bike dripping with designer labels, able to offer sports bike levels of handling and performance whilst also being able to fulfil roles as a tourer and commuter bike then Ducati in the form of the versatile Mutistrada 1100 S may just have the solution for you all in one package.
Article and Photos by Jon Booth http://www.inter-bike.co.uk The UK Biker Site
Note all performance figures, weights and technical specifications are as claimed by the manufacturer
Thanks to the Ducati UK and Ducati Coventry for the loan of the Ducati Multistrada 1100 S
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