Ducati Multistrada V4 S first ride review | Best Multistrada to date?
It’s not every day that you get to ride a flaming hot red Italian that has enough power to shrink continents. But when you do, you just know that it is going to be a bloody good time! Enter the Ducati Multistrada V4 S. This behemoth of an ADV is the latest flagship adventure tourer in Ducati’s stable and boy is it a significant update. In fact, it is a proper generational change with a spanking new V4 Granturismo engine, updated chassis setup and a drool-worthy new design. Welcome to a set of words strung together by someone who is still reeling from the experience of riding the all-new Ducati Multistrada V4 S.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S design
Now the Multistrada is all-new and has a bold new design. But take one look at it and it stays true to the design language of the Multistrada that we know and love, not the older ones, however, phew! Starting from the front, you have a new headlight setup and with the S variant, you get DRLs that resemble the Panigale but are split by the nose of the fairing in the ADVs case. The new headlamp works wonders lighting up the tarmac ahead of you and when that starts to wind you can rely on the cornering function which ensures visibility even at full lean. Above the lights sits this windscreen that is extremely easy to adjust even on the fly. All you need to do is pull at the tab to raise it and push it down to lower it. I must say for my height (five foot ten inches) and riding position, the windscreen does a stellar job of reducing windblast even at speeds north of 150kmph.
Once you’re done ogling the front and get yourself to step to the side you’re greeted by an extremely aggressive side profile with shark fin style vents inside which are the radiator fans to cool the engine and right below it, there are winglets which, unlike what they visually suggest, are not meant for downforce but rather to divert cool air to the rider’s legs. Now this entire setup works best when the speeds are higher. Because at the end of the day there’s no denying the fact that you are sitting on top of a massive V4 engine that puts out some crazy power figures. Step to the rear and the Multi now sports a new design for the tail light along with a new, bigger upswept exhaust as well. Everything ties together rather well to produce one handsome looking motorcycle.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S engine
Okay now that we’re done being superficial let me get to the meat of the matter — the new engine. Where do I begin? Alright, so it’s called the V4 Granturismo and it is largely based on the Desmosedici Stradale engine found on the Panigale V4. Yes, you read that right. But to give the bike an identity of its own and to make it better suited for ‘Multistrada’ use, Ducati has heavily reworked the engine, the biggest change being the introduction of more traditional valve springs instead of the desmodromic system that Ducati has associated its identity with. What this has resulted in is a mahoosive 60,000km valve check service interval. The engine now makes its 167.6bhp lower at a more reasonable-sounding 10,500rpm. But crank the engine and get going and the story changes. The engine is every bit violent as you’d expect from an angry Ducati but at the same time, it is immensely refined. It chases its redline faster than you can comprehend and you’re doing non-road legal triple-digit speeds in no time all while feeling like you’re sitting on your sofa at home.
It’s aggressive and comforting at the same time, almost like being slapped in the face, hard, but with a bouquet of roses. As you’d expect with any Ducati, this bike too comes with a bunch of riding modes all customisable for different levels of power output and throttle responses and they work. It gives you immense control over how you want the bike to respond to your throttle hand. Now I’ve heard stories about how Ducatis, even recent ones like the Panigale 899 were notoriously known for having twitchy throttle responses but this one here is the total opposite. You have a lot of feel throughout the turn of the throttle and the bike accelerates in an extremely linear manner, aggressive yes, but linear. Stick the bike in Sport mode and you’ll quickly forget that you’re sitting on an ADV and start riding it like you would a superbike. Whack the throttle open and the front end is extremely eager to bid adieu to the tarmac even in third gear. Bear in mind, this bike does still weigh 243kg with all fluids topped, so it’s an interesting experience, to say the least. In terms of electronics, the Multistrada V4 S comes packed to the gill with all the modern electronics you’d ever need — wheelie control, traction control, ABS, a bi-directional quickshifter and all of this (barring the quickshifter) can be adjusted for different levels of intervention. And all of these electronics really work and help a noob like me keep the rubber side down and all the skin on my body intact. Then there’s that quickshifter. Build the revs, pin the throttle and tat, tat, tat. So smooth, so tactile. Okay, I should stop before I have an accident in my pants.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S chassis
Moving on to the next most important update on the Multistrada — its chassis setup. Now for the V4, Ducati has decided to do away with the iconic single-sided swingarm and has opted for a more traditional double-sided aluminium swingarm setup. That in combination with the new monocoque frame upfront has resulted in a shorter wheelbase. That really helps in manoeuvring this behemoth. Despite the fact that Ducati has opted for a 19-inch front wheel instead of the customary 17-incher, the Multistrada V4 is a nimble, agile bike to ride. It changes directions quickly and doesn’t feel lazy in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a massive motorcycle and there’s no getting away from that fact but once you get to riding, it does a commendable job of shrinking its dimensions around you.
The 19-inch front wheel hasn't really affected handling
Despite it's 243kg kerb weight, the bike is very agile
You can flick it from one side to another without much effort and this boils down to a couple of things — the taut frame, the wide handlebar and commanding riding position and finally the Marzocchi suspension setup with Skyhook technology. The semi-active setup works wonders and it is extremely easy to operate. You can set everything on the fly. The presets (rider, rider+pillion, rider+luggage etc) work as advertised and if you want to fine-tune it further, all you have to do is head to the ride mode customisation and you can set each parameter to your desired level. No more going to a suspension specialist or breaking your head trying to figure out which knob does what. Get it set right and the bike behaves exactly as you want it to, plush, pliant and when you need it to be, stiff to tackle the corners and tackle corners you can. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to ride this bike hard and how rewarding it is when you do. The term ‘superbike on stilts’ is the perfect way to describe the Multistrada V4 S. And finally, there are the brakes. Brembo Stylema callipers on this S variant means this gargantuan projectile stops on a dime and how. Once you get the span adjustable levers to your liking, these brakes have bite for days and feedback that you can properly modulate. Brakes aren’t supposed to be this good.
Ducati Multistrada V4 S features
Now in terms of features, the Multistrada V4 S is like any other Ducati. Packed with tech you’d usually expect in spaceships. Apart from all the rider aids you also get features that have never been available on production bikes ever — radar. The Multistrada V4 S gets a radar module at both ends. The one ahead enables adaptive cruise control. The system works just like it does in cars and the one at the rear enables blind spot detection which warns you of traffic that is too close to you. The next big thing is the Ducati connect feature that enables you to pair your phone and also allows you to display your phone and maps using the Sygic maps app. All of this is enabled through a gorgeous 6.5inch TFT which can be controlled by the joystick and buttons on the left handlebar. The system is extremely intuitive and you will become a pro in accessing all the functions of the bike in a matter of minutes.
The radar module at the front end enables Adaptive Cruise Control
The radar module at the rear enables Blind Spot Detection
Ducati Connect enables on-screen navigation
The joystick makes the the UI extremely easy to operate
Ducati Multistrada V4 S verdict
Now that I’ve rambled for a bit, what are my final thoughts on the Multistrada V4 S? It is a feature-packed motorcycle that will comfortably do everything you want it to do and then some. It has an explosive motor with creamy power delivery, a sorted chassis with stellar suspension and brakes, segment-first features like radar-guided cruise control and blind-spot detection and they all work. Apart from all this and many more reasons, the most important one is that it is a Ducati and it oozes that appeal from every crack and crevice. Granted at Rs 23.1 lakh ex-showroom, it is not an affordable bike and there are bikes that do similar things for lesser money but I don’t feel they come close in terms of the final experience. So for that and that reason alone if you have the money, go for it. If not, get me one.