LED marker lights like those on many European sedans outline the four-beam, multi-reflector headlights.

Two-screen LCD dash divides "right now" info (speed, rpm, etc.) on left from "deep" functions, such as running mode and fuel range— plus sub-menus for the ABS, DTC and DES systems—on right.

Adventure on which you can bomb down a rock-strewn road with little consequence. One look at that Testa-stretta four-valve, dohc cylinder head and exhaust header poking out behind the front tire was all I needed to realize I should take it easy in the dirt. Hard-packed dirt roads? No problem, but are you willing to take your shiny, $20,000 Italian motorcycle down a sand wash? Didn't think so...

As it turned out, the switch to Enduro was far more entertaining than I had anticipated. The primary difference in this mode, intended for dirt surfaces, is the traction-control setting, which,

More storage space is available with an accessory rear top-case kit ($599).

at level 2, intervenes far less. So, low levels of grip, combined with very little DTC intervention and manually shutting off ABS, equated to lots of tail wagging. And despite Enduro defaulting to the 100-horsepower setting, I discovered that I could change it to allow full power in any mode. Nothing is quite as scary as a 136-horse, 500-pound dirtbike wannabe! Enduro s default suspension settings were firm enough to handle leaps over waterbars without bottoming out yet still capable of gracefully sucking up potholes and washed-out sections of road.

Later that day, I charged up one of Southern California's crown jewels, Palomar Mountain Road's south grade, which has approximately 20 hairpin corners in its 7 miles. The 1200's wide handlebar provided lots of leverage to get the bike turned into those tight corners while the wet slipper clutch tamed multiple downshifts through the slick gearbox on corner entries.

Up until this point, I had been try ing to put my finger on the cause of the bike's tendency not to finish corners (trying a variety of tire pressures and suspension settings). Although the 'Strada is very versatile on multiple surfaces, I eventually concluded that the front dual-sport Pirelli Scorpion Trail tire—specific to this bike—was causing a slight bit of understeer on corner exits. To be fair, I only noticed this sensation when riding at a very brisk sportbike pace: but if that is something you also plan to do, and if you intend to keep your bike on the asphalt, I recommend fitting a set of stickier sporting tires.

Despite the excellent long-travel suspension (6.7 inches of wheel up-and-down at each end), the centerstand would drag in left-handers. A quick fix was just a few clicks away: I simply went into Sport mode's settings and increased rear preload to a maximum of 16—no tools, no busted knuckles. This greatly improved cornering clearance but didn't keep my left heel from coming in contact with the stand when I was riding on the balls of my feet.

Over the short week and a half we had the Multistrada, we managed to amass about 1000 miles on the odometer. Considering that the bike offers a seemingly infinite number of DTC, DES and RbW settings, we didn't even come close to trying all of the possible combinations.

What's more, even though we at first were skeptical about the Ducati's technical wizardry, the systems proved that they're not just gimmicks and gadgets but rather convincing proof that the electronic motorcycle has truly arrived. The Multistrada 1200S Touring really does fulfill the role of many bikes. Of course, at 519,995, it also costs about the same as two or three other bikes. But just think about what you'll do with all that extra garage space—not just in your house but in your head. □

Visit www.cycleworld.com/buyersguide for the complete Cycle World online Buyer's Guide.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000

An affordable 1000cc adventure bike whether you're commuting or going cross-continent $9799

Triumph Tiger 1050

A street-oriented adventure bike with a torquey, 1050cc, three-cyl-nder engine and sporty handling $11,999 to $13,399

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