2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S longterm review: Wrap up
The Ducati Multistrada 1200 S will break your heart. But not before it fills your heart with joy to the bursting and your life with memories you wouldn't imagine possible. I've had 18 months and 20,000km with it and I've been smiling like a blissful fool ever since it came home. I've been to the racetrack, multiple long trips on the highway, numerous shorter runs and I've taken it to work nearly daily in Mumbai's traffic too. I've crashed it once, former editor Bert crashed it the other time. I've serviced it in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi and I've made some crucial mods, that I think you should, too. Where to begin!
I still cannot believe how good I feel when I'm out riding it. That's what outstanding motorcycles are about. The sense of disbelief, amazement, and a deep emotional connection that is objectively one-sided, but feels just like a fuzzy, real-world romance. But since this is getting way too mushy, let's start with what's not right about the Multistrada 1200 S.
I think the Multi' is perfect for me sometimes, but it isn't perfect. The tall screen blocks too much ventilation and a short screen is far better. A small lip 'spoiler' can add crucial adjustability and saves buffeting, but the pillion pegs will rattle and so will the chain. And in time, the mirrors add their own little noise as our roads punish them endlessly. The pillion pegs' circlip has also fallen off a few times, so I finally got it safety wired and while I was at it, I also safety wired the little rubber bumper on which the Ducati (plastic) panniers sit - they tend to fall off if the panniers aren't installed.
Because of my mileage, I've had a considerable amount of service too! My first service was a suprise - the Mumbai service manager essentially told me to come back in two weeks with an appointment because he was too busy! So the first service was in Pune and I've had service in Delhi as well, although Mumbai is my main haunt. Luckily, despite the recalcitrant manager, the technicians do a good job. Mumbai and Delhi helped me through two crashes. The roadside assistance works, though the flatbeds can take time to show up.
Regular service isn't as expensive as I thought. Each service costs roughly Rs 11,000 (Rs 5,500 consumables, Rs 2,700 labour, plus sundries) and most of the general use parts are not expensive. The oil filter is Rs 750, an air filter is Rs 2,500, approximately. The brake pads are, on the other hand, expensive! Rs 15,000 a set and I believe it's Brembo's pricing, that's the problem. My front pads last about 6,500km. Solution to the pricing? I bought two sets from an Italian dealer for Rs 8,000 each and now I've found that the Thruxton R uses the exact same brake pads - Rs 8,500 for the set.
That aside, the Ducati 15-day parts guarantee works most of the time and most prices are reasonable. What Ducati Service lacks, is the ability to diagnose problems but this is common to most big bike brands in India and I don't believe there is a shortcut to experience. I use the help of people better at diagnostics, like Zubinn Design and Garage 52 Mumbai, in addition to Ducati Service. Both garages are careful not to perform any work that voids my warranty and so far, that's worked out beautifully.
So. Is the Ducati reliable? Does it really have too much electronics for our conditions? Yes to the first and no to the second!
I've had three electronics related issues in 20,000km. Very early on, the suspension seemed to lose all its plushness at the end of a 3,500km ride. No errors were reported and a wash unclogged whatever sensor was misreporting the data. Never recurred, hence solved.
The only time the Ducati threw up errors was when the gear sensor "forgot" what gear it was in. That generated a bunch of associated errors
Last month, the gear position sensor went into error and the bike wouldn't start, showing a suspension error simultaneously as well. Ducati Service fixed this error with software and it's been running fine since. The suspension error was associated with the gear position sensor issue and it disappeared on its own.
Four days before this though, the fuel level sensor failed, a non-critical error. It means the Multi cannot gauge either fuel level or range. So you can ride but have to be careful to fill up on time, lest you run out. This is a known Multistrada issue and the incidence of it has dropped from being fairly common on the 2015 models to being unheard of, on 2017 and 2018 Multis. Part changed under warranty, solved.
What you should do, is shorten the air filter clean/change intervals because of the dusty environment. Ducati also recommends a switch to the Enduro's airbox cover (bigger inlet opening and more torque) as well as using the Enduro's air filter as less dust passes through.
So outside of these issues, the Multi was, erm, outside. It proved to be a phenom at the racetrack. It manages lean angles, quick direction changes as well as hard drives out of corners with such ferocity that I can't wait to ride it again at the track! No other adv on the market does this feeling like it was born to do it. And the Multistrada is easily the best highway bike I've tested. It's comfy for hours and you'll get about 300km from brim to reserve. I added four teeth to the rear sprocket and that made city riding easier but it also put the revs in a sweeter spot out on the highway, boosting range to almost 380km! At least a +2 rear sprocket will immediately make the bike feel better - it does have warranty implications in case any issue is traced back to it though. But there's more. My friend Dodo and his wife are besotted with the Multistrada after their highway trip where the Ducati swallowed luggage and gave them performance, comfort as well as space for hours together. You just need to remember to set the preload - push a button - so that you can continue to enjoy the amazing dynamics.
The Multistrada also manages off-roads. Manages. Road tyres and 17-inch wheels aren't the best for this. But we've tackled packed dirt, some mud, unmarked roads and a bit. It feels rattly and naturally, an Africa Twin will laugh at the Multi's off-road performance. But the rattles stop once you're back on tarmac and I've never had to stop or turn around, which is enough off-road ability for my skill level.
It also commutes daily! It's very hot on slow days once the fans turn on but I've grown used to it. That aside, it commutes as easily and as scrappily as my KTM 390 Duke and on the softest riding mode - Urban - it's comfy too. If you have steady hands, change the engine mode from Low (boring) to Medium (so easy) or High (very direct but so nice!).
No caption needed, right?
The 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S has proved to be fantastic. I haven't ridden this much or enjoyed a motorcycle so thoroughly in absolutely ages. 20,000km in, the engine feels free and settled and with 150 horses, this is a rocking party when the opportunity presents itself. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 - and the 1260 by extension - are awesome India-ready bikes unless your call is hard off-roading. They're reliable enough, they're hardy enough and they're cost-effective to own as well.
What I learnt from the Ducati is in my column but 20,000km and 18 months later, I am glad that the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S was on test with us. I'm ecstatic that it wasn't a test bike. Because it's reign in the ODGarage is over today. But my romance with it is just getting going, and I hope that there is never a reason to sell it or move on. Because then the Multistrada will break your heart.
Accessories you should spend on:
Keyless filler cap
It's the only thing you will constantly need to fish out keys for and it gets annoying. Look on eBay for a deal if you can and get someone to carry it back for you.
Rs 27,000-odd from Ducati
55mm wheel nut
The Ducati has a large rear wheel nut and you won't get it open if you need to without special tools. Adding a 55mm wheel nut is a small addition to the tool kit.
Rs 1,800-Rs 3,000
Barkbusters Lever Guards
They go around the handguards and protect you from small crashes as well as casual contact in traffic - this is a big motorcycle even if it doesn't feel like it.
Rs 7-11,000 model specific from BigBadBikes.com
R&G Diavel rear wheel spindle
R&G's bobbins save you in a crash and allow the Multistrada to sit on normal paddock stands. It's a Diavel part but it fits perfectly!
Rs 4,500 from Ducati
Radiator, Oil Cooler and Header Guards
The panniers and the road muck on the bike are almost standard accessories in my book
I have R&G radiator and oil cooler guards and an Evotech header guard. The latter brands sell a very well made set for Rs 19,000. Given how much flying debris there is, must-have. Evotech Multistrada guards set, Rs 19,000
The Ducati is too wide for main frame sliders to work. But do get a fork protector. I use jcMoto's excellent pair.
Rs 3-5,000, model specific, jcMoto.in
Ducati Performance Crash Guard
This was literally the first thing to be added. They're made by Touratech and finished very well. Did the job when I crashed it too!
Rs 27,000 from Ducati
I have used other branded grip pads but I've found a hilariously cheap solution! Get PEVA Shower Foam from AliExpress. It comes in clear, black and grey and uses a waterproof adhesive. Cut to shape, apply and you're done!
Rs 800 from AliExpress
I got a set of used panniers and about 10,000km later, I'm convinced they're worth the money for everyone but hard off-roaders. They mount easily, lock into place, are waterproof and leave insignificant hardware on the bike once off it. Perfect.
Rs 74,000 from Ducati
Acquired on: Feb 2017 , Total mileage: 20,000km , Last report at: 19,005km , Fuel: 55.6 litres, Economy: 17.8kmpl