Goat Riders in the Sky: BMW R1200GS vs. Ducati Multistrada 1200S

MC Comparison

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Ducati Multistrada 1200S Tour | $19,995 (as tested)

Ducati's Testastretta 11° gives up 1198-spec valve overlap to get 15,000-mile adjustment intervals and cleaner, more efficient combustion. Less aggressive compression and cams plus ingenious intake/exhaust tuning favor a fat midrange over top-end thrust. Three different maps in the engine's Mitsubishi CPU let you match power delivery to road conditions.

From its ride-by-wire throttle to traction control, ABS and electronically adjustable Öhlins suspension at either end, the Multi-strada offers more potential digital intervention than anything else. There's even an electronic key that enables vital systems from inside your jacket pocket once you're within 6 feet of the bike.

The Multistrada skeleton combines Ducati's signature steel-tube trellis with a pair of aluminum castings that support the footpegs, top shock mount and single-sided aluminum swingarm. Up front, a crafty magnesium subframe supports the instrument pod, headlights and fairing to minimize heft high on the bike.

Looking suspiciously similar to what you'll find under a Ducati 1198, the Multistrada's 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels are one big reason the bike behaves better on the pavement than off. Pirelli's Scorpion Trail radials can take a little dirt, but lay down amazing grip on the pavement.

Captain Sensible's Testastretta twin starts out a tad soft, but more than makes up for that shortfall above 4000 rpm in Sport or Touring mode. Switch to 90-horse Urban mode and the GS can keep up.

Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c 90-deg. V-twin
Valve train: DOHC, 8v desmodromic
Displacement: 1198cc
Bore x stroke: 106.0 x 67.9mm
Compression: 11.9:1
Fuel system: EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate slipper
Transmission: 6-speed
Measured horsepower: 130 bhp @ 9250 rpm (Sport mode)
Measured torque:79.4 lb.-ft. @ 7500 rpm (Sport mode)
Corrected 1/4-mile: 10.80 sec. @ 127.57 mph
Top-gear roll-on, 60-80 mph: 3.3 sec.
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.):45/34/39 mpg
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis with single-sided aluminum swingarm
Front suspension: 48mm Öhlins inverted cartridge fork with adjustable spring preload, electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Öhlins shock with electronically adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: Dual Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers, 320mm discs with ABS
Rear brake: Brembo two-piston caliper, 245mm disc with ABS
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail
Rake/trail: 25.0º/4.3 in.
Seat height: 33.5 in.
Wheelbase: 60.2 in.
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
Weight (tank full/empty): 518/486 lbs.
Colors: Red, black, white
Availability: Now
Warranty: 24 mo., unlimited mi.

Contact: Ducati North America, Inc.
10443 Bandley Dr
Cupertino, CA 95014

Markedly more compact in the fore/aft dimension, the Ducati also sits a bit closer to the pavement than the BMW. Pillion types sit higher than the rider, which tends to increase steering effort on enthusiastic two-up sorties

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