My "ultimate" Multistrada 1200S test ride

Warning!...this report contains vivid images of a dropped Multistrada 1200 ;-0

By Ducati.MS and member 'Dr Greg' 22May2010
See Greg's own website here and his SmugMug photo collections here

Please note, this is more like a "trip report"...kinda long. I just felt some folks might be interested. Probably "short and sweet" is better, but I had some time on my hands this afternoon. 

Looking for a New Bike
At age 62 (over 50 years of riding experience; both pavement and dirt), I figured that it would be fitting to have just ONE MORE new bike to carry me to the grave (not anytime soon, y'unnerstand). I actually thought I had it with the (please don't laugh) '06 Buell Ulysses, on which I've put a combined 80,000 miles (actually two '06s; first one totalled on a deer). The Uly is far more capable than most think, and I was one of those fortunate few who really click with the bike.

With the demise of Buell, however, I started thinking about the NEXT BIKE. Had to be in the "adventure" mold, of course. Tried a GS...

'Dr Greg' tries a BMW R1200GS for size

...but it was TOO DA@N BIG!! Plus Mrs Greg hated it (not as a passenger; just looking at the thing). Finally, I just couldn't see myself as part of the BMW crowd. Sorry. Then a few weeks ago I went as far as sitting on a KTM 990 (sorry for the iPhone picture quality)...

'Dr Greg' tries the KTM 990 Adventure for size

...nice riding position, etc. But never got around to taking a test ride. Almost went up to Durango, CO to look at an '08 KTM 990 ADV, but didn't.

Of course I've been following the Ducati MTS 1200 for months. I own a '92 Ducati 900SS, and it---along with the Uly---has been the most satisfying bike I've ever owned. Put 41,000 miles on it, right up until it blew a (ball) main bearing. I did a complete rebuild, easy to wrench on.

1992 Ducati 900SS

 Gotta check out this Multistrada 1200...

'PJ' and my proposed test ride route
Our local Ducati dealer is "PJ's Triumph/Ducati/Husqvarna" (Albuquerque, New Mexico), and they were having the "grand unveiling" of the MTS1200 last Friday evening. Mrs. Greg and I attended, but too many people clustering around the MTS1200 to get good pics.

I asked PJ (owner) about maybe taking a longer test ride during a weekday; he said sure. So I agreed to come in at 10:00 Wednesday. I awoke early (understandably) and thought to myself, "boy, I know the PERFECT route to take for the Multi...but no way will PJ let me do it." Of course the answer is always "NO" till you ask, right?

So I showed up shortly after 10:00 and the white MTS 1200S Sport was sitting out front, ready to go. I did some paperwork, then said to PJ, "y'know, for ME the ultimate test route would be to ride down I-40 to my home and show my family, then up I-25 to Placitas and turn east up NM 165 (10 miles of dirt road from 6,500 to 9,000 feet up the north side of the Sandia Mountains), then on down the "Crest Road" (the local "racer road," 10 miles of stunning curves; 30 mph hairpins to 80 mph sweepers). "If I were you," I told PJ, "I'd say NO, but I had to ask." This route is exactly 66.9 miles total.

He thought a second, then said "you'd be gone about two hours, right?" And that meant YES! Woo-hoo! Must have been the gray hair, my Univ. of New Mexico Dept. of Mechanical Engineering business card that says "Director of Graduate Programs," or a temporary loss of sanity by PJ. BTW, the local BMW salesman (the late, great, GSDude) would NOT let me take the GS demo bike on that test route. Humph. Kudos to PJ! (pic below)

'PJ' of "PJ's Triumph/Ducati/Husqvarna" (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Got a tutorial on the MTS1200, but all I really needed to know was how to switch modes. Fired up the Testastretta 11

Testastaetta 11' - Ducati Multistrada 1200

...and headed out to the I-40 on-ramp. It was a little louder than I thought, but as I got moving it was fine. "Boy, this thing is comfy!" I'm 5-9, (32 inseam) and it seemed to fit me perfectly. Very nice clutch action, and the transmission---while a little "looser" than my "snick-snick" 2000 Aprilia Mille gearbox---worked just fine. 

I-40 to my house...
The Multi carved a tight line around the on-ramp as I got on I-40 westbound down towards the Rio Grande valley (and my house). The wind protection seemed a little worse than the Uly (on which I have a Laminar Lip); I'll bet cutting down the 'screen then installing a Laminar Lip would clean it right up. I prefer clean air to big 'screens and buffeting. Sliced through the trucks and got some clear road in front of me, so I rolled it on a little. MY GOSH but that 1198 does the business! In the lower gears it would be terrifying (to me, at least). Well, as my 90-year old former test-pilot neighbor Bruce says, "too much power is almost enough." The MTS1200 has enough. BTW, this was all in TOURING mode. The 1198 was plenty smooth, and I said to myself "boy, I could do some miles on this thing..." Suspension was a little taut (I'm 140 lb) but it's probably set for a 240-lb rider or so...typical American (no offense). Reading the previous post about surging; I felt none of that whatsoever.

As I exited I-40, I switched into URBAN mode (mode-switching on the run is a breeze). Pulled into my garage, and turned the Multi around; plenty of steering lock, and its RELATIVELY small size made this a breeze. The GS I rode was a BEAST in terms of maneuvering it around inside. What a difference! Pushed it out onto my driveway to get a couple pics...

'Dr Greg' tries the Multistrada 1200S Sport for size - so far so good

My 17-year old son Jeff (the youngest of my four boys) liked it...

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test ride...and some dirt track off road riding

...more importantly, Mrs. Greg REALLY liked it (she's just out of the picture).

Nothin' but the best...

Ducati Multistrada 1200S Sport Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes

Regarding appearance, this is subjective. Like food. Foods aren't good are bad; it's whether YOU like them or not. I like the look of the MTS1200, but I can certainly understand those who do not. Some have complained the engine is not visible...I think it's about as visible as it could be. Liquid-cooled engines (IMHO) don't have the "look" of air-cooled, anyway. The MTS1200 mill is certainly more visible than, say, a KTM 990, but certainly not a 1200 GS. Anyway, it has enough "mechanical presence" to satisfy me. 

I-25 north to Placitas and the dirt...
Got my helmet back on and was all ready to leave the house, but...I can't turn the blasted ignition on! I tried everything, finally pushing the rubber-covered "button" where the ignition switch usually is, and that did it. Whew! The low fuel warning light was on, so I stopped at the gas station before hitting I-25. Filled 'er up---had to get the key out to open the filler cap. Hey, a fuel gauge! Believer it or not, I've never owned a bike with a fuel gauge before. And it went right to the top, FULL (isn't it true that GS gauges sometimes don't go all way to FULL?).

Back into TOURING mode and north we went. As usual this spring in New Mexico, it was very windy. Plus there was road construction all the way to my exit (15 miles) with lots of traffic and 55 mph speed limit. Humph. But we made it.

Ten miles of varied dirt road from 6,500 to 9,000 feet!
After passing through the "village" of Placitas, we got to the dirt...

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test ride...and some dirt track off road riding

This road is very good on the lower stretches, but the upper portion has some rougher spots (weather-induced). Lots of ruts, some rocky sections, etc. A carefully-driven automobile can make it, however.

Surely you can see how excited I am!

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test ride...and some dirt track off road riding

Oops, gotta make sure and select the proper MODE...

Multistrada 1200 digital control panel display

I rode up the lower stretches in second gear, 3-4,000 rpm (25-35 mph). My first thought was "the Multi feels right at home here!" And it did! It felt VERY stable and planted on the dirt. Obviously I wasn't pushing very hard, but I would have ABSOLUTELY no qualms about tackling just about any fair-quality (or better) hardpack 2-track on the Multi. Up on the pegs, the position was perfect (for me at 5-9). It really felt at home, and THAT was a unexpected revelation to me. COOL! I often take camping trips back a ways on forest roads, and the Multi would be very comfortable doing that. I LIKE this bike.

About halfway up the road I stopped at a picturesque spot to take a photo (gotta make this test ride report interesting); I put my feet down, pulled the camera out of my pocket and started framing the pic. Hadn't thought about the fact that I was on a slight uphill slope. As I got ready to push the button, the Multi started to slowly roll backward. I should have thrown the camera away and grabbed the brake. But I tried to put the camera in my pocket, then grab the brake. Too late!

Oops, dropped Multistrada 1200

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test down on the dirt

OH. MY. GOD! I just dropped a $20,000 bike on a test ride!! The only one in the state!! This is my WORST NIGHTMARE!! Unbelievable. I'm an idiot.

Naturally, I was PANICKED. Although I do know how to pick up a dropped bike, the trees at the side of the road interfered, and while (awkwardly) lifting, my lower back went POP! End of lifting. There's a picnic area a little ways up the road, and some kids were playing across the creek (no bridge). I yelled to them, and they sent their dad down the road to help me. We got the Multi back up quite easily...

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test ride...and some dirt track off road riding

I checked for damage, fearing the worst. Amazingly, the ONLY damage was (1) the right mirror loosened, and (2) the right plastic handguard/turn signal snapped where it slips over a boss on the brake perch. Luckily it snapped such that the wind pressure would tend to CLOSE the break. That was it. No damage to any bodywork, rear turn signals, nothing. Whew!

The Testastretta 11 started immediately, and I set off again, considerably ruffled in spirit, but determined to finish my test ride in style. As the road got rougher the MTS1200 went right through it with nary a hiccup. That engine is TRULY AMAZING! It's happy putting along in first gear (which is low enough to ride at fairly slow speed; in fact the gear ratios are perfect, IMHO), but when you "give it the beans" better have some clear road ahead. Unbelievable.

I did have the presence of mind to stop near the top for a picture looking north...pretty bike (IMHO), pretty scenery. Elevation near 9,000 feet.

'Dr Greg' takes the Multistrada 1200 for a test ride...and some dirt track off road riding

Down the "Crest Road"
Shortly after taking the above photo I came to the paved "Crest Road," actually NM 536, which goes up the east side of the Sandia Mountains, reaching Sandia Peak at 10,678 feet. I joined NM 536 just above the Ski Area, and would descend it. Probably about ten miles. This road is a sportbike paradise. Time to click 'er into SPORT mode!
Fellas, I was understandably a little restrained due to my recent incident, but lemme tell ya, riding the Multi down this road was like riding a LASER BEAM. Absolutely neutral, absolutely stable, glued to the road. Very responsive, yet unbelievably confidence-inspiring (which I needed badly). And comfortable. I have never, ever, ridden a motorcycle that behaved quite like that. And this just after I rode up ten miles of dirt road in complete control (well, almost). Oh yeah, the brakes are excellent (even though I wasn't exactly braking deep into corners)

Anyway, down to I-40 and back to PJ's. I tried to think of what to say as I pulled in and revealed the fact that I just crashed (OK, dropped) their one and only Ducati Multistrada 1200. I actually forget what I said, but they were very cool about it, and PJ was more concerned about my back.

So thus ended my "ultimate" test ride.

They worked up a repair estimate; it came out to $400. Not bad. Some of the stuff that wasn't broken was scratched up, and they understandably wanted to replace it. But that figures out to about $6/mile. It was well worth it. Went to the doctor the next day; she said the POP was like when you crack your knuckles. My lower back is still VERY sore, but I should recover.

And I now---at Mrs. Greg's urging---have a deposit on a RED 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring. Most amazing bike I've ever ridden...


See the discussion on for furtehr comments - here

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