It was only this last February in 2016 when I finally had a chance to ride the Multistrada DVT. Launched in 2014 as a 2015 Model, the substantially revised Ducati Multistrada with its Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) motor is already a well known machine. Several reviews have already covered this bike in detail, I will not repeat that information here. Instead I’m going to describe my observations about what this bike represents to the motorcycle industry, especially the adventure segment. I will summarize my thoughts whether this bike is still top of the heap in its own established sub-category of adventure bikes. Of course, I will also describe my riding impressions of the DVT machine, and it will be from the perspective of the owner of a 2013 Multistrada Pikes Peak.
What the Ducati Multistrada represents to the motorcycle industry
When the Multistrada 1200 was launched in 2010, the notion of adventure motorcycles was just being consolidated as a category. At that time, and still today, the BMW R1200GS was the lead of the category, number one in sales volume around the world, the yard stick to which others are measured, the icon of adventure riding. The success story of BMW has led other motorcycle manufacturers to bring large adventure motorcycles to market. Today most every brand has a large adventure motorcycle in their line up.
In 2010, perhaps we could call it the early years of large adventure motorcycles, the launch of the adventure-styled Multistrada with its superbike motor, four riding modes (urban, touring, sport and enduro), electronically adjusted suspension, and three engine maps (100HP, 150 HP low and 150 HP high) created quite the stir. People didn’t quite know what to make of this very powerful yet versatile machine with enduro ergonomics. Was Ducati after the BMW R1200GS market? Well, it had an “enduro” riding mode, good suspension travel and certainly there was a demand for adventure motorcycles then, as there is now. It was something different, though.
When we look at the large adventure motorcycle category today, only six years after its 2010 launch, we see plenty of options, with at least one new model being launched every year since that time. When we compare 2010 to 2016 and see what patterns emerged from all the new large adventure motorcycles launched since 2010, the Multistrada clearly shows up as the leader of a new segment. The sport bike motor, the high level of electronics and riding aids, a glossy bike on an enduro platform have influenced many manufacturers which since have followed suit. Including BMW and KTM. Overall one can say two new segments within adventure motorcycles, which incidentally have already been observed and discussed by many, are now consolidated, especially when we consider the launch of two key new products in 2015.
The S1000XR is one of these products, a clear attempt by BMW to cash in on what is now being called the sport touring category or some variation on the theme (in Italy they like to call it “cross-over”). I call it adventure-inspired sport touring motorcycles. What else, right? While the other new product, Ducati’s Multistrada Enduro, makes it clear the original Multistrada was, in fact, a road version of an adventure motorcycle, it was a new segment within the adventure motorcycle segment. The Multistrada Enduro is clearly eyeing the R1200GS market, a more dirt oriented machine, if you dare. While the S1000XR goes after the Multistrada market, the adventure-inspired sport touring market, with an emphasis on the sport side of it.
Yes, I know, and I haven’t forgotten, other manufacturers have already been sorting themselves out on this branching field. Aprilia has its Caponord in a “regular” and a Rally version, Moto Guzzi has several years of its NTX version of the Stelvio. KTM launched its 1200 Adventure line in two models, one a bit more road oriented than the other, although both can be placed more towards the real adventure side of this equation. Of course, BMW has been offering the GS in Adventure and in regular trim, and the regular trim can be bought with alloy or spoke wheels. There are plenty of other examples to mention.
The important point here is that not unlike what the BMW R1200GS has done to the industry, the Ducati Multistrada has established itself as a product leader within this segment. In fact, it has created its own segment. You call it what makes most sense to you. As mentioned before, I currently call it the adventure-styled sport touring segment. They are bikes built around superbike motors with an adventure flavor with their enduro ergonomics, reasonable suspension travel, as ready for the long haul as they are for spirited canyon riding or track days. These are enduring descriptors, not unlike what people used in 2010 to describe the 1200 Multistrada at is launch. The question is: does the 2016 variant of the Multistrada still deliver the goods in this increasingly competitive market?
Top of the Heap
With leadership comes responsibility. At some point in the early 2000’s I traveled to Oakland, California for a professional development training on “Scenario Planning” offered by Global Business Network. I was the low profile guy sitting side by side with executives from giants such as Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble. As part of the Scenario Planning activities I learned from these executives, the biggest fear of their organizations was to one day no longer be number one in their industry.
Ducati must feel the same about the Multistrada. The Multistrada has been its best seller product until the Scrambler came along. It remains a strong seller in its segment, despite its getting crowded. I can only assume Ducati has been working hard to keep itself on top of the sales sheet for the Multistrada. Or at least keep a strong presence and maintain the Multistrada status as the yard stick against which others measure their products.
The specific case of the BMW S1000XR comes to attention, because when BMW enters a market, you pay attention. Arguably perhaps, I see it as the most direct competitor Ducati has ever had for the Multistrada, despite Aprilia’s Caponord being much more of a fac-simile to the Multistrada. Aprilia products do not show the sales volume BMW products do. It seems to me there was no question Ducati knew what was coming and got ready for it in two fronts. The DVT bike is the third generation of the Multistrada 1200 in six years of production, now seven years. That’s quite a quick evolution process, clearly denoting the need to stay fresh, incorporate the newest technology, stay ahead of the game. In its Multistrada Enduro version, Ducati opens a second front of attack, but that is not the bike we are depicting here.
I had a chance to ride the BMW S1000XR and learned from that experience that it is clearly a top notch product. It has more actual horse power than the Ducati, a nicer and smoother gear box, quick-shifter assist, and it perhaps shows a greater appeal to a younger crowd especially the four-inline motor lovers. Is it enough, though, to take the top post away from the Multistrada? Several comparisons have been made by journalists pitching these bikes against each other. The results have been consistent, with most of them pointing their preference to the BMW. I can see their point. Until touring comes to mind, that is.
The Ducati still has a motor with longer legs for touring. The twin motor revs effortless at higher speeds, it seems it is relaxed at cruising speeds, and it is always ready for more, if you so want. And the DVT makes that an even greater experience by making it work smoothly. On my Multistrada, 500-mile days are easy days. With the DVT, I project this is an even better experience.
The revised seat height, which is lower than the previous Multistrada, and I believe is lower than the S1000XR, will make this bike available to people who may have felt Mjltistradas were too tall for them. The DVT motor offers more throttle stability for low speed riding while offering an unparalleled V-twin rush of power past 6,000 RPM. And the throttle by wire of the Ducati seems a lot more direct, it resembles more of a traditional cable-operated throttle than the BMW’s toned down (even on dynamic mode) twist-to-power ratio. Well, some people may prefer the tamer throttle actuation BMW offers in its S1000XR. Not my case, I’m a sucker for instant but manageable power delivery. The Ducati Multistrada, both in DVT and pre=DVT versions does it very well, in my opinion, at its highest performance engine map.
The one area the BMW notably lacks is the touring capability. Not that it can’t do it, just that its motor seems to always be over-exerting itself (it is not overexerting itself, obviously, it is just how its 4-inline motors behave), and most people complain about a buzzing vibration at the handlebars which kicks in exactly at cruising speeds (between 5 and 6 K RPM). I did experience the vibration when I rode it and although it didn’t bother me on spirited riding and just tooling around town, I can imagine how much of a problem it could be on long average speed journeys. When riding fast on mountain roads the BMW shows its edge by offering more gear options (more gears are the “right” gear for each circumstance), better riding aids (shift assist), and overall more of a sport bike feel.
Overall, though, the Multistrada remains a more complete motorcycle, it remains top of the heap in my opinion. I have a feeling this is not the conventional wisdom about this bike, unless longer journeys are in the planning, when the Multistrada edges the S1000XR. It makes, in my opinion, the Multistrada DVT a more complete package considering urban, canyon carving, and touring riding options.
Having said that, we need to keep things in perspective here. We are talking here about two motorcycles that are clearly above the rest of offerings in this field. One can’t go wrong going either way.
How does it compare to my 2013 Pikes Peak?
The Multistrada DVT is better than my 2013 Pikes Peak in all aspects. It is more powerful (160 HP compared to 150, 100 ft-lb of torque compared to 90), it has better technology (Bosch’s latest ABS product, the so called “cornering” ABS), the motor is smoother, suspension has been improved (Skyhook “Evo”), seat height is lower (better reach to ground), it sounds better, it has color TFT dash, cornering lights, better fuel consumption, more intuitive navigation of menus for riding options. Did I miss anything?
Turning the motor on you immediately notice the lower pitched growl of the motor. Releasing the clutch and it is smoother than my 2013. I started it on touring mode and as soon as I got to the country roads I got a taste about how it behaves on the upper range of the RPM. On touring mode you clearly notice a flat spot on the RPM band, from about 4,000 to 6,000 RPM. But once you hit the 6K mark, if you keep on the throttle you will experience a rush of power that has been unequaled on my riding experience. What an awesome sensation. It sounds great and it delivers instant response to throttle input.
Soon I was changing to Sport mode, which by the way is now much easier to execute while on the move with better menu navigation. On sport mode the 4-6K flat portion of the torque curve is less noticeable, diminishing a bit the impact you experience once you hit the 6K RPM. But the greater power delivery of sport mode is there. The engine is smoother under heavy acceleration when compared to my 2013 model. You clearly perceive the overall greater power delivery of the DVT motor. It is a new motorcycle.
The bike I tested was the standard version, with no Skyhook suspension (it comes with fully adjustable Marzochi/Sachs mechanical forks/shock front to back respectively). And the dashboard was not the color TFT version. Other than that, it is the same bike with cornering ABS, DVT and all the fun bits that comes with the revised motor. The suspension was a bit on the soft side and I noticed front dive under braking. Suspension adjustments could probably take care of its softness and perhaps some of the brake dive. I would definitely the S version, though.
Further on the list of improvements, the windscreen is taller and wider than the previous models. It has the same easy to operate adjustment – you can move it up or down while in motion.
The DVT bikes have two height adjustments for the seat. The bike I tested had the seat positioned on the highest level and I still had a better reach to the ground than what I have on my Multistrada. The bike looks better as well, more upscale, although this is obviously subjective.
So here comes the question you might be wondering: will I update my 2013 Pikes Peak with a DVT? There is no question this bike is better than my 2013 Pikes Peak. Having said that, my 2013 is practically still new to me. I still like its performance, I still like its look, and I’m happy with its reliability. Furthermore, the new Pikes Peak, comes with Ohlins forks and a rear TTX shock. It is a great option, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to mechanical suspension after enjoying the Skyhook. Second, the new Pikes Peak does not come with the lighter weight, forged Marchesini wheels I have on my 2013 Pikes Peak. Even if the new Pikes Peak was a straight improvement across all options, I still would keep my 2013 for now.
Eventually the time will come for me to upgrade the Pikes Peak. When that time comes the DVT Multistrada, in Pikes Peak form if available, will certainly be on top of my very short list.
If you are in west/central Oregon stop by the European Motorcycles of Western Oregon and talk with Mickey to organize a test ride of this great motorcycle. You don’t want to miss this opportunity! Last time I checked they had a few Multistradas on the floor (Pikes Peak, Red S Touring, White S Touring, and the base Touring model I tested).
Thank you for reading… and hang on to your wallet if you take this bike for a test ride or this bike may follow you home. You’ve been warned.
love this bike for overall looks and performance in touring, but the teething issues surfaced in various forum after nearly one year force me to write this bike off my shopping list
Great review, nice Pics. All best
Great review mate thanks for sharing i have a question about 1200 and s version here in my country tax rates are really absurd so i decided to buy normal version my question about new ohlins suspension system is really worth extra 5k euro(in my country) im properly aspalt rider by the way thanks again have a good night
I rode the 2016 DVT in normal version, not Ohlins and not Skyhook and it was really good. One thing I didn’t like was front dive under braking, but I did not adjust it before riding so, who knows, you can work that out. What makes this bike special is the motor and its sport/touring aptitude. None of that is compromised by having the base model. There are other benefits on having the S model, though, like resale value, ultimately better suspension performance, and a color TFT dash. You have to balance out what you want and what you can live with. Personally I would get the S (with skyhook) or the Pikes Peak (with Ohlins) model. At the same time, as a final thought, I always like the underdog who performs well.
Great review once again. I don’t agree though with the performance of the DVT over the 2013 Pikes Peak. Followed your footsteps and upgraded from SF1098 to a 2014 Pikes Peak. I test rode both the DVT1200S and DVT1200 Enduro just recently. The crazy engine response that we get from a testastretta line isn’t there in the DVT. The throttle is way too smooth and quieter. The HP is more but power to weight ratio is the same and the extra HP compensates the gain in weight. I understand that it’s a good thing to have a smoother throttle control if you’re touring but I want to have that ducati punch in my touring bike. DVT is easily a heavier bike (1200s). enrudos are too heavy but that’s how these are. Bigger fuel tank and I would prefer that over a GSA (owned one) after a few mods. IMO, the Pikes peak is much lighter, sporty, fun and nimble to handle. DVT feels bigger, heavier yet fun to ride compared to the BMW XR. I test rode that too a few months ago. No question on the electronics package. DVT package is much better and efficient. Cheers
Nice article, thank you !
I had the standard DVT Multi for about 6K miles and loved it, then went straight to the Pikes Peak (now at 8K miles) never having ridden the Skyhook version at all.
I was a bit worried about whether or not I’d made the right choice and whether I had the best suspension for the bike in the Ohlins manual set up…
When the PP was in for service I was loaned an S model with Skyhook for about 4 days (500 miles).
I was relieved in that the Ohlins in my opinion is far superior to Skyhook. A little more fork compression on heavy braking but nothing alarming, I found that the Ohlins set up coped with the lousy pot holed UK roads and surface changes far better than the Skyhook and offered more feedback and inspired a greater feeling of confidence when riding quickly. I know people rave about Skyhook and it is very competent but not in the same league as the Ohlins set up. The PP is expensive but I regard the TTX36 and forks as worth the extra without considering the carbon goodies and great graphics / paint that you get.
The “basic” 1200 is a great motorcycle and for me it has to be the base model or the PP !
It is indeed a very nice bike, I have my eyes set on the DVT PP as an upgrade to my PP. Thank you for your comment.
just recently test rode a 2016 S model, having not ridden a multi since the old air cooled motor it was quite impressive and I’m now currently negotiating with the local dealership on a pikes peak since it’s 0% month. Question is, I’m receiving feedback that the older variant of 2014 was a sportier and better canyon carver then the 2016 and the power delivery was better. Just looking to see if you have any feedback. The use for me is as a commuting tool, weekend fun, an occasional track day and two up through the coasts of northern California. Any feedback you can provide would be great, thanks Cesar, and great site by the way.
That is a question I’m grappling with myself. I even thought of buying the new one and keeping my 2013 as a possible future track bike. The 2013 feels a bit more raw. It is less refined in terms of motor vibration on all portions of the RPM range and motor stability (different than vibration – it is how the motor behaves just off idle) on low RPM.
The new one is smooth, especially under acceleration. But it has a visible flat portion on the torque curve between 4 and 6 K RPM. That is exactly where you spend most of the time on regular relaxed rides. And it is more visible on Touring mode (on my bike I can change the default motor settings on all ride modes, so my touring mode is set on 15o high, for example), but I bet you could change it so the motor is set as in its default for sport mode.
But once the 6K arrives, that is an awesome feel on the new bike. I even enjoyed let it bog down on the 4-6K range on touring mode just to experience the rush of acceleration when north of 6K.
Anyway, here are my five reasons to keep and five reasons to upgrade my Multistrada Pikes Peak 2013 for a Pikes Peak 2016. You will see lots of ambiguities…
Keep the 2013:
1. It feels raw. I like that uncensored V-twin sensation when riding it aggressively. No “holes” or “dips” on the RPM range. It is what it is.
2. Better Pikes Peak paint scheme in my opinion, love the red, white and carbon better than the new one with the black touches, more plastic and less carbon.
3. Marchesini wheels.
4. Reliablity so far. No issues whatsoever, a couple of niggles but nothing that has caused me to think the bike is not going to make it on a trip.
5. Skyhook suspension. I’ve grown to like the “softening on pothole edges” when riding it. It is a very comfortable machine without losing its aggressiveness when riding hard.
Get the Pikes Peak 2016
1. More power, in a more refined way. Love the acceleration after 6K RPM. Feels so smooth.
2. Love the sound of the DVT motor, a bit lower in grunt. Pikes Peak comes with slip on to make it even better.
3. Upgraded technology, especially cornering ABS and cruise control. I also like the color TFT dash display and the better navigation for settings on the menus of the new system.
4. Better fuel economy. I have not tested it, it is just what I’ve heard (or what Ducati informed). My bike does 200 miles per tank, I assume the new one will do slightly better.
5. Ohlins suspension… including the TTX rear shock.
You noticed that I liked both otors on both bikes, for different reasons, and liked both the Skyhook for keeping my 2013 and the Ohlins for getting the 2016. They are both good and have pros and cons. It depends on what you are looking for and for what reason.
Hope this helps. I should write a post about this…
thanks for the feedback, greatly appreciated.
Yes, I equally enjoyed the real pull at 6k RPM, but don’t know if the software had been updated but didn’t really notice much of a flat spot on my demo as I was either riding the wheels off it or stuck in city traffic in the bay.
Coming from riding track bikes without TC technology and couple years on a Hyper1100sp, I only really enjoyed sport mode, but could see the use of touring being good for the dirt/gravel action.
I’m quite disappointed to read that the upgraded models don’t give you a higher spec wheel, that’s truly bogus. The dash is amazing along with the controls even if it presents the potential for a wiring nightmare if something gets funny with all the electrical present on these new adventure bikes.
Hopefully some things can be handled with these DVT motors software to really get all the power out of the motor and give a more raw feel, but the clock is ticking 0% runs out end of this month lol.
Thanks again man!
Either way, these are top notch bikes and 0% is a deal.
Hey man…have found myself on your website quite often these past few weeks as i search for a (probably) used Multi. In particular, i’m torn between a 2012 Pikes Peak with the Ohlins, or a 2014 PIkes Peak with that Skyhook.
One hand…i feel more comfortable with the 2012 as there is a potential for LESS issues regarding the suspension vs the 2014 Skyhook.
On the other….the 2014 might’ve had all those kinks sorted as it’s the second year for that newer suspension technology. Also..it has those sexy rims, and the same amount of miles as the 2012 and costs the same.
Which would you choose between the two…and how reliable has your skyhook been since you’ve owned it? Also..how many miles do you have on your current (2013?) Pikes Peak.
PS…will definitely be buying an extended service warranty for either bike.
I can not decide between getting the DVT or keeping my 13 and you want me to give you advice between a 12 and a 14? 🙂
This is a difficult question because both the original (2010-12) and the dual-spark (2013-14) are nice bikes.
Things to look for: the porous head recall on the 2010-12. Was it done? When? Does it ride well? Other than that, I like the Ohlins suspension on the original bikes.
The 2013-14 had no major problems that I know of. My bike had the skyhook front fork changed to get rid of the infamous knocking sounds – it was not a recall. The only recall was a rerouting of the wires for a rear wheel accelerometer. Neither issue was not a performance issue in my bike. Other than that it needed to bleed the clutch master cylinder twice. That is not specific of that bike or model year, as far as I know. But it happened when riding at altitude (crossing over mountain passes on my trips between Oregon and California). My bike has 11K miles at the moment, which is not much at all. It looks, feels, rides and smells as if it were new. Which is a main reason I do not feel like selling it. And I really like the dual spark motors.
Having said all of that, plus what I wrote on this entire post (and the other one when I discuss whether I should keep mine or get the Pikes Peak DVT), my real and only advice to you is that you should get the bike that you really want. The one that moves your heart, the one that makes you feel like riding it. Test ride both of course. And get the one that speaks to you, the one you see as your ride. Otherwise you will spend the entire time you own it, each time you ride it, trying to justify it to yourself. That’s not a good thing. The one you want and like is the one that matters. The rest are mechanical issues that can be resolved with elbow grease or dollars. Yes, an extended warranty is a good idea. I don’t have an extended warranty on any of my bikes. But then again, it is about what makes you feel good.
Let me know which one you will get. And thank you for reading my posts!
Nice post. As the owner of a 2013 GT who is thinking about upgrading in the spring, I enjoyed reading it and the comments.
Thanks! I’m preparing another post, comparing the two Pikes Peak (2013 and 2016) soon…
Hi, just bought a 2015 1200 Multistrada with touring pack. Loving it, except it seems very vibey at some revs – especially under hard acceleration. Is this a problem with the bike or me? I’ve always had Triumph Triples but fancied a change when my Tiger 800 XC got written-off by a codger who knocked it out from underneath me at a junction. So I’m used to something a bit smoother, but I’ve no experience of twins (apart from the CB500 I took my test on and a couple of rides on Bonnevilles and Thruxtons) to compare this against. I rode the 2016 Enduro model at Motorcycle Live in Birmingham around a little dirt track they’d set up indoors and loved it so when I saw this one for sale at what appeared to be a bargain price I jumped at the chance.
So this turned out to be a problem with the bike. There’s a valve in the exhaust pipe to restrict the flow for EU noise regulations. It stuck shut so this made the bike ride like a pig. I’ve had it fixed and it is an absolute hoot now
Thank you for following up. I was just about to reply to you to say the DVT bikes are very, very smooth, especially under acceleration. I have the non-DVT Multistrada (2013) and a 2012 Tiger 800XC, and although the Tiger is “smooth”, the vibes I experience with it, especially at the footpegs, as minimal as they are, are somewhat on the more annoying category then the pulsing vibes of the Multistrada, And the DVT is so much better, so much smoother, than my bike in this department. Congratulations on your bike!
I’ve only ridden it once since it was fixed this morning, I can’t wait to jump on for the commute home. So pleased with my purchase now, I was concerned that I’d spent a lot when I could have just replaced the XC for less money.
Some scum stole my PP DVT at 8500 miles.
Because any Ducati in London is a target for thieving degenerates and I have no option but to keep it locked on the street I went for the S1000XR as a less attractive to thieves replacement.
Heres my opinion after 3000 miles on the XR:-
Touring? No contest. Ducati wins.
Perceived quality and posing? Ducati all the way.
Sound and low down torque? Ducati.
BUT, the XR is simply a better motorcycle in every other respect. Handling, performance, braking and comfort (close but comfoer than the Ducati).
As an everyday use bike the BMW is the one and is far cheaper to maintain.
As an object of lust and devotion the Ducati.
If I didnt have the theft problem I’d have simply bought another PP ‘Strada but the BMW is a “better” motorcycle. Fact.
If I had both I’d only take the BMW if I wanted to ride like a lunatic because the Ducati is an experience every ride. So too the XR but just not as much character or charm or romance.
There it is. Heart and emotion say Ducati. Head and pure performance and cost to run says BMW.
Not very helpful is it ?
I agree with your assessment. What is it with bike theft in England?
Have you tested Multi vs KTM 1190? If yes, what is your comments?
Hi Dimitris, no I have not tested the KTM 1190. And I would now like to test the 1290 GT! Also KTM has ended the production of the 1190 adventure and adventure R, now that they have the 1090 and the 1290 adventure models.