Ducati Multistrada 1200s Sport | $19,995
Instructions from the fly-by-white throttle are executed via one of three fuel maps in the Mitsubishi CPU. Sport mode lets you lay down all 130 rear-wheel horses as quickly as possible, while the Touring map is a bit smoother, though both peak at 9250 rpm. Enduro and Urban modes deliver 90 bhp to the rear wheel at 8250 rpm.
Using the same basic configuration you'll find on an 1198S, Ducati's Traction Control was tailored to fit the Multistrada's all-surface mission statement and interact with its ABS system. If it senses the rear wheel spinning faster than the front, the first "soft" stage of intervention tells the ignition to retard timing just enough to bring the rear tire back into sync with the front. If that isn't enough, it cues the ECU to use ignition timing and fuel delivery to slow things down, cutting fuel altogether if necessary. Processing an astounding amount of data about precisely what the bike is doing, at what lean angle and how quickly, it crunches data in milliseconds to calculate the most appropriate solution. The result is usually uninterrupted forward progress and flickering red lights around the circular dot-matrix dash display. Each ride mode has a pre-programmed level of DTC intervention, or you can choose one of the eight settings within a given mode that works best for the adventure at hand.
Ducati calls it a Testastretta 11° engine in reference to its 11 degrees of valve overlap vs. 41 degrees for the Testastretta Evoluzione twin in the 1198. Shrinking that window between exhalation and inhalation prevents incoming fuel and air from being tainted by outgoing exhaust gases, which means smoother, more efficient combustion, a 65 percent reduction in the amount of unburned hydrocarbons flowing into the catalytic converter and a 12 percent improvement in fuel economy. Speaking of economy, more efficient combustion and heat management along with new valve-seat composition put a full 15,000 miles between valve adjustments, doubling the distance you can go between service appointments with any current Ducati.
Exhaust headers converge in an insulated, three-chamber muffler tucked under the swingarm pivot that also carries the catalytic converter. Cam timing has been dramatically reshuffled from 1198 spec. Reshaped intake and exhaust ports as well as slightly less compression enhance power and torque at lower rpm-especially torque. Longer ratios in the six-speed gearbox aim to improve fuel economy and reduce vibration. The Multistrada's top speed arrives in fifth, which means it's usually loafing in sixth.
The new wet clutch uses a progressive self-servo to push its plates together under power. That means lighter springs and less effort at the lever. The mechanism lets the clutch slip if you make one downshift too many entering a bend, preventing the rear wheel from locking up. It also helps make this the smoothest-shifting Testastretta twin we've tested.