is set to " 150 Low," which means maximum power but with a progressive delivery (150 represents Ducati's claimed horsepower measured at the crankshaft; our test unit produced 136.5 rear-wheel hp on the CW'dyno). Simultaneously, DES adjusts preload and damping on the Ohlins TTX shock and damping on the 48mm Ohlins fork (fork preload is set manually) to a comfort setting, while DTC is set to level 5 of 8.

In my first couple of hundred miles, I fooled around with every setting I could find. Most of the menus function only when the bike is at a standstill—a good thing, because even with that limited accessibility, I was at times more distracted than a housewife driving a minivan full of screaming kids. This is why the system only allows the rider to change modes and load settings on the fly. Touring proved a good compromise for highway cruising, but 1 later fiddled with suspension settings (click-by-click customizable in the menu) to soften the ride even more.

With more freeway droning than I care to remember under my belt, I headed out a few days later on a route that would incorporate virtually every type of road the Multistrada was designed to tackle. The day started with a post-rush-hour blast on the Ortega Highway to South Main Divide Road. A freshly paved section of Ortega includes fast-and-flowing third-gear sweepers that I attacked in Sport. In this mode, power defaults to maximum output but with a more lively delivery than in Touring. Suspension is firmed up significantly (I measured 8mm less static sag at the rear), while DTC is set to level 4.

On a fast section of road like Ortega, the 1200S was impressive. It likes sweepers best, flowing through them with ease and the rider in a commanding, upright posture.

The Multistrada may look like an adventure- or sport-touring bike but lurking inside is the Testastretta 11-degree engine, which is based on Ducati's 1198 superbike mill. The engine's name steins from the 11 degrees of overlap between the opening of the intake valves and the closing of the exhaust valves compared to the superbike motor's 41 degrees. That cam timing, along with a lower, 11.5:1 compression ratio (compared to 12.7:1), makes the engine user-friendlier for the Multistrada's all-road intentions. Yet it still pounds out 85.0 foot-pounds of torque while producing fewer emissions and allowing better fuel economy (we recorded a high of 47 mpg and averaged 38) than the superbike.

In Sport mode, the throttle response is very aggressive (aided no doubt by short final-drive gearing), especially when the LCD tachometer swings past 5000 rpm and heads toward the 7700-rpm torque peak. Drive out of corners is comparable to that of liter-class repli-racers and will give unsuspecting sportbikes all—or more than—they can handle.

In terms of fuel delivery, our prepro-duction bike had issues with surging and hunting at cruise, behaved lean olf the line and occasionally would flame out and stall. Bikes at the Canary Islands press introduction didn't have these troubles. According to Ducati, our stateside testbike was still running a very early-version map. Having been through this already with our prepro-duction Streetfighter S last year, which ran pretty well but was followed by our production Streetfighter testbike with poor stock fueling, we'll have to leave the jury out until we get our planned long-term Multistrada 1200.

On Main Divide Road South (best suited for dual-sport and adventure bikes), the unrelenting delivery of Sport mode was a handful. Calling this asphalt path a road is misleading; it's little more than a lane wide, strewn with gravel, dirt, potholes and drainage waterbars every 100 yards—in other words, the perfect road for testing the Multistrada.

At first, I tried Urban (power setting 100, DTC level 6 and suspension set soft), and it was in this mode that I really became aware of the DTC system at work. Not only was the frequent ignition interruption impossible to ignore, the warning ring around the sub-screen on the dash would flash red to indicate that intervention. Because I was, in theory, on a paved road, I left the ABS system switched on. The Brembo arrangement worked well on the mixed surfaces but delivered a bit more pulsing at the lever than many of the latest sporting ABS systems. Although Urban was ideal for the conditions, I quickly lost interest and decided to give Enduro a try.

That Ducati's engineers included such a setting suggests that their view of oIY-road riding and our North American interpretation are vastly different. This is no BMW GS or KTM

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

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