First Impressions – Multistrada 1200

First Impressions – Multistrada 1200

My MTS1200 Impressions
By ‘Rup’ ( 17May2010

I hadn’t intended to start a new thread, but there are so many different threads reviewing the 1200, that I had trouble choosing one. This is not intended to be a comprehensive review; others are more capable. I hope, however, that I can add at least something to the ongoing discussion of the 1200.

Ergonomics and Controls
The new seat is very comfortable for me. The rider’s seat is shorter front to back, which felt supportive, and won’t leave a large gap between me and a passenger. The gap on the 1100 has proven less than comfortable for passengers who like to lean on the top box in a short stop. Oddly, it was easier for me to flat foot the bike with the standard seat during the ride than it had been with the short seat indoors at the unveiling. The seat is wider and more comfortable on the 1200 than on any of the seats I have tried on the 1100 (and I expect this to be more noticeable during a longer ride. The width, however, will make it harder for some to flat foot.

I found the pegs to be positioned fairly comfortably. In heavier boots, I found myself wishing that they were just a bit wider, but nothing I can’t live with. I have installed custom pegs on my 1100 which raise the pegs and move them back (where I prefer them) and I suspect that this will not be possible on the 1200. The 1200 pegs seem slightly more forward than on the older Multi, but sliding around the seat was still fine for more aggressive cornering. The standard seat is pretty grippy, and the fairing is comfortable on my legs. I did not feel that there would be a need to add “stomp grip” to the sides of the tank.

I was very pleased with the wet clutch. It had a solid feel, and a sufficiently large friction zone to make slow maneuvers simple. Gear changes have that lovely solid Ducati feel. Especially since I had no experience on the bike, having a gear indicator was useful, once I thought to look at it. I found the other indicators very easy to read, and not pointlessly distracting. Knowing which turn signal was blinking was something of a luxury.

I’m not sure of where extra running lights would fit on the 1200 or if the electrical system would be compatible. An indoor experiment seemed to indicate that the headlight might actually be acceptable for night use. Personally, I like that the headlight can not be mistaken for a car with one light broken.

I had a couple of other minor issues with the 1200. Part of the center stand (the one you stand on to raise the bike) is too close to the left peg. It is fairly easy to push it with your heel if you are on the ball of your level left foot. I wonder if it could be altered with some creative welding?

On my 1100, I hate the mirrors and love the hand guards. The stems on the mirrors are flimsy, and it is possible to slice through the stem with very little pressure (including, in my case, one drop in the garage, and one when I walked too close to the bike and brushed the mirror with my arm). The mirrors contain the front turn signals, which means that they are both costlier and labor intensive to replace. On the other hand, the combination of hand guards and panniers has absorbed every other clumsy mistake I have made, leaving my 1100 in mint condition save for a few scratches on easily replaced add-ons. The 1200, rather than achieving perfection, just reversed the condition. The mirrors are simple, solid, and non-electric. I hope to raise them and move them out just a bit, but that is just being picky. Unfortunately, the hand guards are now called “wind guards” and contain the turn signals. Why design a bike that has an “enduro” mode, but will surely hit a more costly part in a drop? I wonder if Ducati can’t refrain from ensuring a slightly larger revenue stream than is necessary.

The Test Ride
The dealer sent test riders out, with a guide, over a 20 minute road course with plenty of curves, some slow highway (50mph). Conditions were normal for semi-rural New England; all paved, some less well that others, with the usual cracks, pot-holes, construction bumps, and the occasional mid-turn gravel surprise. The weather was perfect. I kept the bike mostly in touring mode, with a three minute stretch on urban for test purposes.

I was smiling after 30 seconds, grinning after a minute, and whooping after that. I have read that some found this bike to be harder to turn-in than their 1100s. For what it is worth, I found no such thing. I found the 1200 to be instantly confidence inspiring. It felt good enough that I had to tune down an unaccustomed level of aggression as being inappropriate on such short acquaintance. FYI, I didn’t come close to pushing the bike hard. I was trying to be a good person by mostly treating the bike as I would my own during the break in period. Look elsewhere for information on the 1200 at high revs.

I didn’t get much time to really play with the urban mode in fitting conditions. As advertised, power was reduced a bit, but I need more time. I did try a little slow speed riding, just to see if the bike would lug first gear in city driving (as my 1100 would before I changed the front sprocket). I found no issues.

I didn’t go fast enough to really know for sure, but there is still more wind noise than I’d like on the 1200, although perhaps less than the 1100. The demo had the optional “taller” (if 15mm is taller) windscreen. There are real aftermarket possibilities here.

Miscellaneous notes on Features
I am middle aged, 6 feet even, weight 210 (hoping for 185), and am starting my third year riding with total experience of 20,000 miles. Half of those miles are on my Multi 1100S, which I love. Still, there are things I want on a bike that the Multi 1100 lacks.

I want ABS. Having less experience due to a late start in riding, I am concerned that in a panic stop, my reflexes may not be trained to avoid front wheel lock. I will be getting it on most of the bikes I buy from here on. The Ducati ABS on the 1200, and on the Monsters, seems as good or better than the BMW, Triumph, and Suzuki I have tried. Traction control was occasionally useful on the Streetfighter, and I’m happy to have it.

Being able to change traction and suspension quickly appeals to me. I tried doing it during the test ride, and found it to be simple. I did notice a difference between touring and urban, and expect to use the latter in traffic or in foul weather.

I had to add a heavier spring in the rear of my 1100 so that, with passenger and luggage, the center stand would not scrape. The spring has a slightly adverse effect on the ride quality when I am one up with no luggage. I hope this will not be an issue on the 1200.

I think that the 1200 will be a better sport-tourer than the 1100 in that it will be a little better at long distance highway driving. If I wanted only to ride fast on country or mountain roads, both the 1100 and the 1200 are excellent. I like the technology on the 1200 and hope it works as advertised. I could live without the extra 50 bhp, but it should make for smoother highway riding.

The 1200 is still a Multi, at least in the sense that it does a lot well but also in the sense that it is not a GS1200 or any touring BMW 1200. Unlike the GS, I’d worry about dropping it on dirt until such time as there is adequate armor. Unlike the other BMW tourers, it isn’t as much of a mile eating highway hauler. Let’s face it, those bikes are heavier and can carry more. This Multi, however, really may be good enough to handle any long haul (on some form of road, anyway), and better than anything else.

This could be the motorcycle of the decade, or it could turn out to be the Edsel. Finding that out will take time. I will be receiving mine very soon and am more than willing to take the chance. My only real question is, since I don’t have to sell my 1100, is whether or not to keep that Multi too. But this post is overly long already, so I’ll spare you that question.

Good luck and good riding to all on any Multi