Braking Distance

from 30 mph from 60 mph

138 ft.

"It's all about what you're used to." That was the explanation I gave a friend while defending this "digital Ducati." I've had the privilege of driving dozens of high-end cars—due to our close association with sister publication Road & Track—and as many of you know, motorcycles are just beginning to scratch the surface of the technical possibilities that have already become commonplace in the automotive world, such as multiple drive modes, traction control, dual-clutch transmissions and drive-by-wire throttles. So, I welcome the strides being made by not only Ducati but by other—primarily European—makers. These advancements sometimes have a small price: The battery in our keyless ignition fob was nearly dead, so the unit wasn't always recognized by the Multistrada mothership. But, we came to love the system as featured on the Kawasaki Concours 14, and expect the same from the Multistrada. Meantime, do they make jumper cables for fobs?! —Blake Conner, Senior Editor

| Our Multistrada 1200 testbike was a pre-production unit and, as is often the case with such things, a few areas were still in the refinement phase of development prior to the bike's release to the public. I'd like to believe Ducati's engineers are burning the midnight oil finalizing the engine's fuel-injection calibration and certainly hope they come up with a map that not only satisfies the EPA, but Joe Citizen. It's promising that Managing Editor Miles had good things to say about the power and delivery of the two bikes he rode at the recent Multistrada world press launch. But to be perfectly honest, we currently have a stock 2009 Streetfighter that exhibits fueling issues echoed within the community of Streetfighter owners. The definitive fix for that bike seems to be nothing short of dropping $2500 on a Termignoni exhaust and its accompanying ECU upgrade, according to one owner with whom we spoke. Let's just say I'd much prefer a smooth and quiet-running stock Multistrada 1200.

-Don Canet, Road Test Editor

Europe's definition of off-road riding differs greatly from what we know and love here in the U.S. Lots of wide-open spaces and challenging trail systems will do that for you. Case in point: The nearly seven-mile "off-road section" that came toward the end of the international press launch in the Canary Islands was in actuality a heavily trafficked, two-lane road, its hard-as-concrete surface smoother than some of Southern California's finest freeways. Also, as Senior Editor Blake Conner points out in his road test of the upmarket S Touring model, the Multistrada's liquid-cooled V-Twin engine isn't all that well-protected from the types of obstacles any of us would expect to encounter while trail riding. Bottom line, the latest Multi is no more of a dirt-bike than its predecessor. That said, it possesses sufficient off-road prowess to allow a modicum of unpaved exploration to go with its excellent on-road capabilities. Isn't that the true meaning of adventure-touring? —Matthew Miles, Managing Editor

Adventure-Tourer de Force

Multistrada 1200 offers a whirlwind of exciting new technology

Seeking headlines? Electronic suspension is a good place to start. Yet at the world press launch for the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 in the Canary Islands, project manager Federico Sabbioni pointed out that wired damping and springing isn't the only area in which the Bologna-based bike maker has made great strides.

I spent a few minutes with Sabbioni after the bike's pre-din-ner briefing, held at a spectacular glass-and-stone restaurant adjacent to a still-active volcano in Timanfaya National Park on the island of Lanzarote. Sabbioni described the new Multistrada as a "project full of firsts—in electronics, engine, mechanics, in many fields. To be best in class in braking or in horsepower or in lap time is not news for us; it is who we are. So the new target we gave ourselves is to be also first in innovation, also in technology.

"To have a plastic frame part—a structural plastic frame part—is innovation. To have the first blow-molded gas tank is innovation. To have saddlebags that attach to plastic elements—again, very hard and heavy and structural plastic parts—is innovation."

Ducati is small and nimble, and can quickly incorporate new technology into its products. Sabbioni pointed to the LED "position" lights within the head- and taillight assemblies. "You see these on some BMWs, on some Citroens," he said. "It's automotive technology. They are very compact and light. Nobody

See the wires? Damping adjustments on 48mm Ohiins fork are actuated electronically, but changes to spring preload require a conventional wrench.

has this new technology in motorbikes today."

Presumably, consumers will be eager to pay extra for these features. "Electronic suspension, for example, is a premium product," said Sabbioni, "and we think that the customer will be

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ABS, DES, DTC and ride-by-wire not enough for you? Pocketabte electronic ignition fob (left) communicates your intention to ride. Flip-out key opens gas-tank cap and triggers seat release. Brains for adjustable suspension and Bosch/Brembo anti-lock brake system reside under seat as does Ohllns shock reservoir.

ABS, DES, DTC and ride-by-wire not enough for you? Pocketabte electronic ignition fob (left) communicates your intention to ride. Flip-out key opens gas-tank cap and triggers seat release. Brains for adjustable suspension and Bosch/Brembo anti-lock brake system reside under seat as does Ohllns shock reservoir.

happy to have something more, something new."

Sabbioni went on to say that the Ohlins fork and shock that are standard on the $19,995 S Sport and S Touring are only the beginning for this particular technology. "I think this is the basis to develop probably a semi-active and, in the future, an active system," he said. "That probably will have the perfect application, even in sportbikes."

Expect more late nights from the engine department, too. "We reduced overlap on this engine; the 11 degrees gives character to the engine that affects low revs, not top revs," said Sabbioni.

"In the future, we want to make a superbike engine with reduced overlap. We can gain the maximum power we want but with a tractable behavior at the low end."

I asked Sabbioni if design and development for the Multistrada were conducted in parallel. He nodded affirmatively. "Design plus development and testing—total time was, more or less, three years."

With dinner about to be served, Sabbioni and I wrapped up our conversation. "Nothing stops here," he smiled. "Innovation is value." —Matthew Miles

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