Spied 2010 Ducati Strada Aperta

Open Road Rocket - Up To Speed

Ducati's Multistrada replacement will have a Superbike heart
The wide-angle revamp of Ducati's range over the past three years-creating the Hypermotards, 1198/848 Superbikes, Streetfighter and an all-new Monster-has left one member of the firm's range, the Multistrada, looking decidedly old hat. But like the rest of the line, a more focused machine will replace the Multistrada soon. Provisionally named Strada Aperta (Open Road), the Multistrada's successor takes the same basic idea-a single bike that functions equally well as a tourer, commuter or sportbike-to the next level.

At its heart lies not the traditional air-cooled V-twin that's been the foundation of Ducati's mainstream models for decades, but a derivative of the Testastretta Evoluzione engine that powers the 1198 and Streetfighter. Even though it will use the smaller, 1098cc version of the motor, 150 bhp is still within easy reach. And since Ducati is already a leader in terms of built-in datalogging, traction control and other electronic trickery, expect plenty of high-tech options for this new bike as well.

The oft-spied Strada Aperta has been tested more or less openly on roads around the Bologna factory for months, disguised only by an all-enveloping layer of duct tape. Ducati is adamant that this won't be just another super-enduro, but something in a niche all its own. Like BMW's M5, which offers supercar performance allied to luxury refinement and family space, Ducati believes that it can offer something as quick on the road as a full-on superbike without the traditional shortfalls of that genre. Wannabe racers need not apply, but for those who want (or need) one bike to fill several roles, it makes sense. And, unlike the Multistrada, which aspired to a similar goal but was half-hearted in its sporting intent, the 1098 motor will not disappoint.

The Strada Aperta's engine is essentially identical to that in the Streetfighter, but the rest of the bike is bespoke. The chassis follows the latest Ducati thinking, combining a steel-trellis front end with a cast-aluminum rear section as on the latest Monsters, and will still handle like a Ducati despite its high-rise riding position. The single-sided, cast-alloy swingarm is another Ducati trademark, but on the new machine it's actually got a purpose beyond its appearance: The empty space on the right side is filled with a compact, stacked exhaust system that leaves plenty of room for the saddlebags that are a vital amenity in this category.

As is the custom with Ducati's Superbike models, the Strada Aperta-again, that name is yet to be confirmed-will be sold in two trim levels. The base machine will likely be fitted with a Showa fork and shock, while a more expensive S model with Öhlins dampers at both ends is equally likely. Whichever you choose, both will be fully adjustable. Radial-mount Brembo Monobloc brakes are par for the course, as are the 10-spoke wheels, with the lighter, forged-alloy type on the S version. Prices are expected to slightly undercut the firm's 1198 Superbikes, coming in at roughly the same level as the Streetfighter: Expect around $15,000 for the base model and $19,000 for the S.

2010 Ducati Strada Aperta

Seen from the rear, the so-called Strada Aperta obviously features a single-sided swingarm with stacked mufflers filling the void on the opposite side.