The Multistrada Enduro is so extraordinarily good you’d think Ducati had Dakar-dominating heritage going back years, not all that Superbike-winning experience.
A handful of factors have influenced the outstanding result of the Enduro’s development.
First, Ducati’s highly advanced electronic technologies have all adapted well to an off-road role, with no exceptions.
Second, the DVT engine’s variable valve timing is the cream in the coffee of engine performance that straddles all the conditions an adventure bike should find its way into.
Third, Ducati enlisted the help of Dakar-winning rider Beppe Gualini to complete its team of development riders.
I climbed onto this $30,000 bike and started working out the value. As Ducati says, nothing’s optional because the Enduro is fully specced with a mind-numbing array of stuff that it takes a while to learn to use.
The Bosch inertial measurement unit (IMU) is central to most of it, endowing the Enduro with three-dimensional awareness of its place and trajectory in the world at any given moment. The ride-by-wire throttle is another crucial element.
The Ducati has cornering-sensitive ABS, traction control, wheelie control, semi-active Skyhook suspension, hill hold control, selectable engine maps, cruise control and LED cornering headlights. The parameters of almost all of them are enormously programmable so you can fine-tune the aids more than on any other motorcycle.
The TFT colour dashboard is chock-a-block with info. There’s Bluetooth so you can plug in your phone to utilise all sorts of things, from phone calls if you have a sync’d headset through to data recording in the new Multistrada Link app.
You get keyless ignition, a wonderful convenience. Hardware includes 200mm of wheel travel, a camel-like 30-litre fuel tank, a centre stand and a screen you can adjust in a second with one hand as you ride.
Ah, the ride. It’s amazing. Everything is easier, smoother, faster and safer on the Enduro. A handful of other adventure bikes might match it in places, but not everywhere.
The Skyhook suspension, which controls both ends, not only takes the harshness out of the ride on rough and rocky surfaces, it widens the bike’s scope to handle the wildly varying terrains it is designed to tackle.
The front end is fantastic in its action and feedback, and if the rear shock has a weakness it’s only that it bottoms out more easily than a KTM 1190 Adventure, though it’s better than a 1200GS.
It didn’t take long to begin power sliding this 225kg-plus powerhouse, either, enjoying the fact that on its minimum setting the traction control gives you plenty of leeway; at its maximum, it’ll keep the most timid rider in line.
On tar or dirt, with the electronic set right, it’s possible to ride this bike hard and safely all the time. Its mechanical spec is as competent as its electronics.
The engine is a ripper, especially with the better low-rev grunt the variable valve timing gives it. You won’t often use the full 160hp but when you do, gee it’s fun!
The power comes on hard and unrelenting right through the rev range, but never with any hint of a threat.
The enlarged fuel tank has a side-effect compared with the regular Multistrada models. It increases the protection you get from the elements but covering your legs. The Enduro’s aerodynamics are well sorted, and it riding positions comfy whether you’re sitting or standing.
One thing about the Enduro and its 30-litre tank is that the bike doesn’t feel all that big — more like a GS than a GS Adventure, for example.
The second you ride away on the Enduro, it feels like a Ducati. It’s fast, stable, sorted. Everything goes well.
The Ducati has the touring smarts of a 1200 GS Adventure combined with the laugh-a-minute athleticism of an 1190 Adventure, and then some.
At $29,990 plus on-road costs in red (add $300 for white or grey), the Multistrada Enduro is up there with an optioned-up R1200GS Adventure but it has the spec, tech and performance to easily justify it.
This is a remarkable adventure bike.
Model: Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro
Price: $29,990 plus on-road costs
Colours: Red, White, Grey
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres
Servicing intervals: 15,000km
Engine: Liquid-cooled four-valve per cylinder DOHC V-twin with Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT). Variable engine mapping and power. Variable TC
Bore x stroke: 106 x 67.9mm
Power: 118kW (160hp) @ 9500rpm
Torque: 136Nm @ 7500rpm
Transmission: Wet multiplate clutch, six-speed gearbox, chain drive
Frame: Tubular steel trellis
Dimensions: Seat height 870mm, weight 225/254kg (dry/kerb), fuel capacity 30L, wheelbase 1594mm, rake 25º, trail 110mm
Suspension: Front, 48mm forks, 200mm travel. Rear, monoshock, 200mm travel. Semi-active Skyhook suspension, electronic adjustment
Brakes: Front, 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston calipers. Rear, 265mm disc, 2-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Tyres: 120/70R19. Rear, 170/60R17
Fuel economy: 6.3L/100km
Theoretical range: 475km
Verdict: Stunningly good, high-performance adventure-tourer. Hard to beat
Find out more at Ducati’s website.