Zach was awesome enough to let me and Adam experience the Multistrada 1200S this weekend. Previously, I had only ridden the Multistrada on short spurts during work hours. I decided to spend my time with it the same as if it was my own bike.
On the way home we stopped to celebrate the closing of beloved Lucky Rooster restaurant and discussed our expectations of the bikes. Up to this point I hadn't been convinced on the merits of Ducati Skyhook electronically damped suspension over a quality traditionally damped suspension, and vocalized my opinions on it's unfamiliar nature. In true Italian style, the next stop for the evening was at Angelo Brocatos for espresso and cannolis. I was already taking back some of my previous judgements. Later as I followed my familiar ride home, I noticed that I hardly felt all the bumps I'm used to cringing when I go over. #skyhooked.
We planned to ride in the morning along route 90 / Lower Bay Rd to Cannellas for lunch. This is a familiar route I take often. A moto pet peeve of mine is wind noise and buffeting from most stock windscreens. I could tell this was going to be a problem for me and decided to remove the screen. Four easy bolts and 30 seconds later, I had free flowing air to my head and torso. I packed the side bags with beach towels and flip flops, I flicked the bike into Touring mode (electronically selectable engine/suspension character) and took off. Mergining onto the highway, I felt the wind blast on my chest immediately but decided I chose the better of two evils (more of this later). The Multistrada is perhaps the most calm and confident bike I've ever ridden on interstate. I had a commanding view of the nearby traffic while following I-10 out of town.
Once out in the country going through long sweepers, I started to appreciate the effortless, neutral handling of the bike. Skyhook gives you the taught, surefooted handling of a sportbike while absorbing bumps and yielding a comfortable ride. Skyhook is stiffness while simultaneously having softness (If a normal suspension was set to offer this level of comfort, it would be very plush and wallow in the turns, under acceleration and braking, also sacrificing feel). 4 bikes in one? I was beginning to think so, but what I hadn't foreseen is that the Skyhook enables it to be more than one bike at the same time!
The Multistrada 1200 engine has a surprisingly gentle disposition that is well suited to long distance riding. In Touring mode, throttle response is progressive and has no harshness. Launching from a stop is so effortless that it almost seems deceptive. The motor is a pleasure on the open road; I was already retracting my allogations that the 150hp powerplant is overkill. Furthermore, Urban mode makes the bike feel absolutely benign.
Flick the bike into Sport mode (can be easily changed while moving by rolling off the gas) and the bike is transformed again! Throttle response is increased to a level I'm accustomed to with traditional Ducatis. Here, the Multistrada's heart of a superbike came out and the engine howled with life. It felt like it was always chomping at the bits, begging for more. This is one of my favorite feelings of a motorcycle.
I pulled up meet Adam and is girlfriend Catherine at the restaurant. Whereas I am typically stretching out all my cramps and soreness from this same hour plus ride, I was utterly fresh without even a hint of fatigue. I felt like I hadn’t even left town! Meanwhile, Adam had thoroughly enjoyed the Multistrada two-up. The extra power, load-adjustable suspension (configures suspension for passengers and luggage) and comfortable seating resulted in a fantastic biposto experience.
Adam commented that the stock windscreen buffeted his helmet badly resulting in shaking and wind noise. I was glad I removed the screen as a band-aid fix, but having so much air on my chest wasn’t ideal either, especially on an upright bike. The solution? A small screen such as the Puig Racing Windscreen available at TTRNO (or choose the Pikes Peak). It alleviates wind blast on the torso but leaves the head above the buffet zone.
What more fitting way to spend the day on Multistradas than to go to an Italian-German restaurant, whose owner is a Ducati nut? Roberto of Cannellas not only cooks amazing food, he rides a Diavel and Monster and has Ducati paraphernalia decorating the cozy space. After a delicious meal, I took off to hit the beach. My helmet and jacket easily locked securely inside the panniers while I was swimming and getting some sun.
Another glorious ride back home with the setting sun along the water and I was becoming even more enthralled with the Skyhook. The responsiveness and rigidity of the geometry actually results in great feel and confidence through the turns. This bike is just effortless through twisties in situations where I would have been put to work on my bike.
The next day I took the Multi on a couple errands through the city. I’m a primarily urban rider, so I appreciated how the panniers held my groceries from Whole Foods. I do wish they didn't always have to lock with the key (there is no need to securely lock a muffin). The upright riding position and functional mirrors let me cut through traffic with confidence and awareness. The Multistrada can feel mildly cumbersome (compared to a small bike like a Monster) while negotiating a parking spot, due to the higher seat height and center of gravity. However, once under way this disappears and it becomes easy and relaxed through the city.
At the end of my weekend, I had experienced three of the four bikes the Multistrada claims to be: Touring, Sport and Urban (the last is Enduro). Do I believe in this slogan? Absolutely! This is the only motorcycle I’ve experienced where you can have your cake and eat it too, with very little sacrifice. I have always loved the Multistrada, but I walk away from it, most of all, with a deeper understanding of what Skyhook electronically damped and adjustable suspension has to offer. If you love to ride and want one motorcycle that can truly adapt to any environment, this is it. The best part of all? It still has the personality and charm of a Ducati!