First Look: 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200

Featuring throttle-by-wire, multiple drive modes, traction control, electronically adjustable suspension and more, this is the most technically advanced Ducati ever.

Ducati's not so secret "Strada Aperta" (open road) adventure tourer has officially been released, only it's not called Strada Aperta. It's actually labeled Multistrada 1200, repurposing the name from Ducati's previous adventure touring model and representing the next evolution of that machine's "many roads" concept. The next-generation Multistrada aspires to similar all-around ability, only amplified with a larger, liquid-cooled 1198cc engine and a laundry list of electronic attributes. Variable drive modes, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES), advanced ABS and more all make this the most sophisticated adventure tourer on the market.

Ducati will offer the Multistrada 1200 in three versions: a $14,995 "Standard" model and two $18,995 "S" variations. The S-Sport adds Bosch-Brembo ABS, electronically adjustable Ohlins suspension and various carbon fiber body parts. The S-Touring version is similarly upgraded, only it substitutes hard saddlebags, heated handgrips and a center stand for the carbon-fiber bling.

All three versions utilize ride-by-wire electronic throttle activation, which enables three different engine mappings: Sport, with aggressive power delivery; Touring, with progressive power delivery; and Urban, which reduces peak power by 30 percent. DTC settings are automatically readjusted to suit each power profile, with sport offering the least amount of traction control intervention (Level 3 of 8) and Urban offering the most (Level 7). The two S versions add DES functionality that recalibrates the suspension settings with the push of a button. The S models offer four preset "full" modes that tailor the power profile, traction control settings and suspension set-up for sport, touring, urban and enduro riding conditions. Ride modes are changeable on-demand at the touch of a button, even when the bike is in motion, and all settings can also be manipulated independently, making the Multistrada 1200 set-up almost-infinitely adjustable.

The Multistrada 1200 is powered by an extensively redesigned "11-degree" version of the Testastretta Evoluzione Superbike motor. The 11-degree designation refers to the valve overlap angle, reduced to 11-degrees from 41-degrees on the 1198 Superbike. This change is said to smooth power delivery, in addition to improving fuel economy by 15 percent and lowering exhaust emissions by 65 percent. Claimed power output (150 hp and 87.5 lbs.-ft. torque) remains stout, while revised intake and exhaust porting, altered cam timing and reduced compression ratio all boost low-rpm torque to enhance rideability.

With an advertised dry weight of just 417 lbs., the Multistrada 1200 should be the lightest adventure-touring motorcycle on the market. Special attention has been paid to reducing weight without compromising load-bearing capacity. Vacural-cast engine cases, a lighter and stiffer composite welded-steel/cast-alloy frame, an aluminum single-sided swingarm and a new, blow-molded fuel tank (5.3 gallon capacity) help shave pounds. Special attention was also paid to crafting a super-compact 2-1-2 exhaust, said to be as light as possible and also provide ample clearance for luggage and legroom.

The two S versions benefit from the latest-generation Ohlins suspension, consisting of a 48mm fork and rear monoshock that can both be altered at the push of a button thanks to DES. This new technology uses actuators within the suspension units to electronically adjust spring pre-load, rebound and compression damping circuits via the instrument panel. The standard version is equipped with a fully adjustable (but non-electronic) 50mm Marzocchi fork and Sachs monoshock.

Designed with a more open "ergonomic triangle" (bar/seat/pegs) than the previous Multistrada, the Multi12 promises more comfort with spacious seating, a wide, tapered handlebar mounted to anti-vibration isolators and footrests featuring removable rubber inserts that expose serrated metal pegs underneath. The windscreen offers 60mm of vertical adjustment, while underseat and inner fairing storage compartments enhance carrying capacity. Dual 12-volt outlets under the rider's seat will power all manner of plug-in accessories.

Styling, with a pronounced beak and jowl-like radiator shrouds, conforms to current adventure-bike customs, and all design elements are functional. One front air intake flows fresh air to the oil cooler, while the other feeds the airbox. The symmetrical headlamp integrates four bulbs (two for low-beam, two for high), to both illuminate the road and also improve visibility to other road users. The Multistrada 1200 is an exciting and ambitious new model from Ducati, and looks ready to give the best adventure-tourers on the market-specifically the BMW R1200GS-some serious competition.