Ducati Multistrada 1200 vs BMW R1200GS

Ducati Multistrada 1200 vs BMW R1200GS

ukGSer ‘Troglodyte’ wrote the following review/ride report following a test ride on the new Ducati Multistrada 1200. He’s pretty much voiced my thoughts exactly and I couldn’t have written a better report myself (in fact not as well! ) – as another ukGSer said “…your report – objective, balanced, factual, to the point, non-sensationalist, well written – you’ll never make it as an MCN journo I’m afraid” lol 

Ducati Multistrada First Ride
By ‘Troglofyte’ 05May2010

If I am honest after having GS1100, GS1150ADV and now GS1200SE over the last 12 years I am just a little bored and just fancy a change. But what do you buy to replace the GS as it is such a great bike? There was nothing really wrong with my 1150ADV but biking is one of my main hobbies and well its all about fun isn’t it?

I test rode the Multistada 1200 Sport a couple of weeks ago just out of interest. The test ride was from Ashford in Kent over 2 hours taking in very narrow country lanes (Smarden, Pluckley etc) and the superb A28 Tenterden to Ashford road, real GS territory!

I was quite shocked in an exciting way. First impressions looking and sitting: lovely looking bike, not as big or robust as GS, hard thin seat……but on the move the Multistrada is very comfortable and roomy despite looking smaller than the GS1200 and seat height is the same (at GS low setting) but it feels more nimble, responsive and easy to handle. The GS on the other hand feels planted which is not a bad thing.

I am not a boy racer but the Multistrada 150bhp engine combined with the low weight of bike adds up to an exhilarating ride. I was smiling again. Look for the overtaking window, open the throttle and it just rockets past a line of cars. Cornering was confident and going back to the power, the acceleration out of bends was thrilling. Just watch that front wheel though as it will lift if you crank the throttle too soon.

The position of the manually adjustable screen gave me good protection and although I am 6′ or 1.81m to those who have gone decimal, I found that the lowest position was best for me. Unlike the GS which has a rachet system, the adjustment on the Duke allows for infinate positions within top and bottom settings. There is an optional larger (wider and taller, clear or smoked) screen available.

Reliability – This was a key concern for me but having talked to several recent Duke owners I really get the impression that Ducati suffer with the bad reputation gained back in the 80’s. I feel that this is not justified with todays models and anyway just look at all the threads about problems with the GS1200! My SE has already suffered the faulty fuel gauge issue which has just been replaced at less than 2,000 miles.

Servicing – With the development of the Testastretta engine, Ducati have stretched the major service to 15,000 miles cutting service costs considerably. Minor service is 7,500 miles or annually.

Electrics – well someone mentioned reliability issues with Italian components. I understand they are German and made by Seimens. The clever electronics allow for 4 ride or mode settings: Sport, Touring, Urban & Enduro with the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Ride by Wire (RbW) throttle response and engine power, Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) all being adjusted to suit. This is an advancement on the GS which really only adjusts the suspension.

Like the GS the suspension can be set up for rider, rider & luggage, rider & pillion, rider pillion & luggage.

All of these factory settings can be tweaked by the rider to make it suit personal taste.

Another feature I really liked was the keyless steering lock and ignition, you just keep the key fob in your pocket! An optional extra is to add keyless fuel filler cap, so no more fumbling around for the keys. I use the rally GS gloves most of the year for dexterity. They are thin and I do not need to take them off to pay for petrol so this is a really useful feature.

Insurance – Group 17, this will be more expensive that the GS.

I do not go off road (intentionally) so this is not a consideration for me.

Touring / camping – I have not seen the luggage yet (apart from brochure). I think it may be made by Givi. The GS does excel in this area by personal experience I have toured with the GS fully loaded two up and it does this in its stride. Perhaps Touratech will look to supply luggage for the Multistrada if there is sufficient volume and demand?
In summary the Multistrada is not a direct GS replacement but it is a cracking bike which allows for a very similar riding position (upright and high with good visability and road presence). It handles very well and goes like stink if you want it to. Its handling and race pedigree are obvious when you ride it.

The appeal of the GS for me has been its practicality, real road riding ability and it’s querkyness. I think that the Multistrada has similar attributes and if you are a GS rider you would enjoy the Multistrada…… but you have to try it rather than just basing a decision on looks and the press! We can all become quite biased in our opinions.

So what does this mean for me? Yes I have placed my order for the Sprot and I cannot wait for the long delivery of July / August to come around. Will I keep the GS? Certainly until the Duke arrives and then lets see.

ATB the Trog