2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200S | Doin' Time

Staffers’ Rides

Wrist: Zack Courts
MSRP (2013): $19,995
Miles: 1000
MPG: 36
Mods: None, unless playing with Skyhook counts

I finally feel like a part of the family. Nothing punches your moto-journalist card like being assigned a long-term testbike. And now the pressure’s on, because this one is a doozy. Mr. Editor Cook must have been in a giving mood when he secured me a Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring as my first long-term assignment. So what if I have to name my first-born Marc, regardless of gender—it was totally worth it.

Ever since I was sent to the press launch for the 2013 Ducati Multistrada last fall, I’ve been lobbying to get a Multi as my long-term ride. Sure, it’s one of the best motorcycles I’ve ever ridden, but that’s not the only reason why. Ducati claims the Multi is ready to do battle in the city and in the canyons, while being just as ready to log freeway miles and hang tough off road. The idea of “4-bikes-in-1” is great, but most of all it absolutely begs to be put to the test.

The first Multistrada was a success, but it wasn’t until Ducati redesigned the bike in 2010 that the Multi really came into its own. “Redesign” doesn’t cover it, actually. In Cook’s words, “Ducati jacked up the Multistrada badge and put a whole new motorcycle under it.” Ducati added all new everything, including fitting a torque-improved version of the 1198’s Testastretta engine, and designed it to take the original idea of a tall, capable sport-touring bike to the next level.

Combining comfort with sporting capability isn’t the end of the story, though; Ducati claims some off-road prowess. Our press kit was alive with pictures of the Multi roosting gravel on a dirt road, though the press launch included only a short jaunt down a dilapidated paved road. I’m looking forward to finding out how the Multi feels when it’s sideways on a gravel road. As a reader service, of course. Fine, I might enjoy it a little, too.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the Multi as a long-termer is that I do not feel compelled to add aftermarket parts like crazy. Moto-journalists are prone to tack goodies onto long-term bikes ad nauseam, but my Multi shouldn’t need expensive suspension adds, aerodynamic help, or luggage capacity. Seat upgrades are popular for long-distance bikes, except the Multi’s saddle has given me no reason to replace it. A pipe might be fun, but, truthfully, the bike is plenty powerful and plenty loud for me as it stands.

I think the true test of Ducati’s claims will be to take the bike, in its stock trim, beyond its limits. The question is where those limits are. So I plan to fill the luggage and take long trips, push the sporting envelope, go farther off-road than I probably should, and, of course, live with it as a daily driver to see how it stands the test of time. Maybe I’ll change my tune after the honeymoon is over. But, for now, I’m well and truly in love.

Ducati Multistrada
A moment of introspection caught on camera at the press launch, dreaming of what the Multi might be like at home. Time to find out!
Ducati Multistrada
My job is to add a 1 to the beginning of the odo. The digital tach is annoying, but then there isn’t a lot of time to look down when the throttle is open.