The Multistrada sees yet another change, only this time beneath the skin: its 1200cc 90-degree twin is swapped for the larger Testastretta 1262cc unit found in the XDiavel. But is bigger always better?

The new Multistrada 1260 offers better low-end response and nearly 100 lb-ft of torque, making touring with a passenger and luggage much more manageable. Its extended wheelbase is thanks to a longer swingarm, which stretches the bike to 62.4-inches overall. According to Ducati, rake and trail have also been adjusted to make the bike “more confidence inspiring for every level of rider.” Traction control, cornering abs, wheelie control and vehicle hold control come standard; so does a fully-adjustable suspension which features quick settings within each riding mode for passenger, luggage and passenger-plus-luggage additions.

Verdict:

Ducati’s Multistrada was designed to offer the owner a variety of options. From taking the long way home to riding the length of South America, the Multistrada is capable of many tasks, although it excels at making twisty (paved) roads disappear into the distance. Locking luggage comes standard (optional aluminum panniers are available from Touratech), as dos heated grips, keyless ignition, a tire pressure monitoring system and a quick-shift function (clutch-less up- and downshifts, available on the S and Pikes Peak models). With its upright riding position and multiple ride modes, the new 1260 can transform from a docile urban commuter to an aggressive sport-touring machine with the push of a few buttons.

2018 Ducati Multistrada

Engine: 1262 90-degree L-twin
Horsepower: 158
Torque : 95.5 lb-ft
Weight: 518 lbs
MSRP: $18,695 (base)

Priced at $22,395 for the S Model, the new Multistrada 1260 is a top of the line sport touring machine, offering an upright riding position, aggressive styling and performance on par with all of the other premium motorcycle manufacturers.

The Good:

The Multistrada 1260 feels much like the outgoing 1200cc model. Riding position stays the same – upright, comfortable, with wide handlebars and ample wind protection thanks to the on-the-fly adjustable windscreen. With the longer wheelbase, the new 1260 is more confident in corners, more noticeably so in the faster, sweeping curves on the island of Gran Canaria. Low range power is considerably more abundant thanks to the additional cubic-centimeters and 95 lb-ft of torque produced by the 1262cc V-twin.

The high-visibility LED graphic display makes swapping riding modes and adjusting suspension settings a simple task, displaying them in simple, visual terms. With a dry weight of 467 pounds, the Multistrada 1260 feels light and agile, albeit a bit tall (seat height is adjustable from 32.5-33.3 in), which makes maneuvering the bike in and out of parking spaces somewhat difficult if you’re a shorter rider.

There is, however, a low seat available. Paired with the bike’s low center of gravity, due to the 90-degree orientation of the motor, the 1260 is surprisingly easy to handle on city streets. While Ducati claims the extended wheelbase of the new Multistrada makes the bike handle better, I found it to be roughly the same as the older, 1200 iteration. Braking is typical Ducati: ample, with four-piston Brembo units up front, and two-piston Brembo brakes in the rear. The adjustable suspension and ride modes allowed us to transform the bike on-the-fly, offering adjustments within each mode so you can tailor the bike to your riding style. Ultimately, new Multistrada 1260 is a slight but substantial improvement over the outgoing 1200 model.

Who It’s For:

Those hoping to indulge in the sport-touring lifestyle should definitely take note of Ducati’s Multistrada lineup. With adjustable riding modes, suspension settings, and standard equipment like cornering ABS and multi-level traction control, the top-of-the-line Multistrada 1260 sits atop our list of sport-touring motorcycles. It might not be the right bike for a rough-and-tumble off-road motorcycle adventure, but the 1260 is the perfect bike for someone hoping to ride greater distances, enjoy twisty roads, take someone along for the ride, all while listening to the wonderful sounds produced by a large Italian V-twin motorcycle.

Watch Out For:

Don’t expect to take the new 1260 off-road, as its 17-inch cast Marchesini wheels are more adept at eating up the asphalt than dirt. That said, I expect Ducati to unveil an Enduro version of this bike with a larger, spoked wheelset, taller suspension, added fuel capacity and off-road riding modes shortly. Aside from its asphalt favoring tendencies, the standard luggage option on the new Multistrada, like that of its predecessor, is not our favorite -– it opens outward, causing unsecured belongs to spill out at times. Although nowhere near as aerodynamic, I’d opt for the aluminum panniers from Touratech, sold as an accessory direct through Ducati.

Alternatives:

The fairly saturated segment of Sport-Touring bikes has options available from nearly every motorcycle manufacturer. BMW offers their S1000RR-powered iteration, the S1000XR, and Yamaha builds the FJ-09, an upright touring machine version of their ever-popular FZ-09, which is powered by an 847cc triple-cylinder engine. Another alternative I’m fond of, which also happens to be somewhat more affordable than the other options on the market, is new Suzuki’s V-Strom 1000. KTM’s 1290 Super Duke is a V-twin powered European alternative.

Pro Tip:

Get the new Ducati Multistrada Link app, which is available on iTunes and in the Google Play store. The app connects directly to the new 1260 and can measure lean angles, speed and riding time. It will also record GPS tracks, allowing you to share your ride statistics and destinations on social media. Riding modes (Urban, Touring, Sport and Enduro) and suspension settings can be adjusted using the app as well and will be uploaded to the bike ahead of your next ride. Lastly, the app alerts you to service intervals and has access to maintenance manuals.

Cycle World : “You can think the Multistrada is ugly, or doesn’t sound good, or is too big. Opinions are good to have. As far as delivering an exciting and capable grand touring experience, the Multistrada 1260 succeeds in spades.” — Zach Courts
Motorcycle.com : “The handling of the Multistrada 1260 is superb for a motorcycle of its size. At a claimed 511 lbs wet and with a 62.4-inch wheelbase, I was pleasantly impressed with how precise and light the front end felt and how quickly the entire motorcycle could be flicked from side to side.” — Ryan Adams
Rider Magazine : “With more than 150 horsepower at the crank and a warehouse full of torque, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 has been a giant among sport-touring adventure machines since it was introduced for 2010. The latest 1260 version encapsulates a high degree of refinement, innovative engineering and an even better understanding of just who the Multistrada customer is to create a consummate sport-touring adventure bike that is equally at home in sport, touring or commuter roles…often at a somewhat elevated pace!” — Mark Tuttle

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