SuperBike Staff Bikes – Ducati Multistrada 1200S – Part 1

After John’s stint with the Ducati Multistrada 1200S Granturismo <and breathe>, Chris grabbed the keys and headed to the track.


Miles: 40 laps of Brands Hatch Indy circuit

Mods: Michelin PR4 Tyres

It may be an adventure bike, but it's still a Ducati.

It may be an adventure bike, but it’s still a Ducati.

Right, my turn with the big red continent crusher this month and I’ve rescued it from the confines of inner city traffic. Or maybe I’ve rescued London city traffic from John Hogan and the big red missile. Either way, I dropped into DMP to pick up the Multi and instantly shrank in its presence. Now I’m a fan of adventure bikes, especially fast ones, but when you’re presented with a huge bike, loaded up with panniers and a top box, blimey they look imposing. And with your mates looking on, you have to muscle it out the shop and across the car park, like a boss, ahem, or face eternal ridicule. And, as always happens, a good adventure bike vanishes its weight the minute it’s rolling; the Multi is no exception. After sitting in the shop for a couple of weeks, the clutch was a touch snatchy at first, giving Dan’s gravel drive something to think about as I left. By the next junction it was back to normal though and my attention was switched to toggling through modes to eradicate the traction control. Why? Well, because the only thing better than wheelying an adventure bike, is wheelying an adventure bike with huge panniers and a top box, braaaaap.

“Er, we said you could park a bike in our garage, not a flamin’ bus”. Yes, chortle, chortle, guffaw, you can always rely on your mates to stifle your creativity can’t you? Obviously the first thing for me to do with the 1200S was to ride it straight to Brands Hatch for a trackday. The MSV instructor team were kind enough to let me set up in the corner of their garage for the day, that was when I’d originally turned up on the diminutive Triumph Daytona. When I rolled back in after lunch, the piss-taking began, all good natured, but undoubtedly because I was now taking up twice as much room. With the luggage ditched, the Multi shrinks to a more manageable size and the laughter turned to excuses for not going out at the same time as it. Y’see, it may be a big ol’ adventure bike, but never forget that it’s still a 1200cc Ducati. 150bhp, proper-sized 17” wheels and the Skyhook suspension system mean that this big ol’ adventure bike will be filling your mirrors for a while.

The sniggering marshals at the end of pit lane (“Er, you sure you’re in the right group mate”) are dispatched with a wheelie that I know I’m going to pay for later, but right now there’s a big red point to be proven. After a lap to get some heat into the Michelin PR4s, I picked the first sports bike I saw in the distance and locked on. Being in a cruel mood; as I set up the overtake, I made sure I was sat bolt upright, police-rider style as the Multi carved a line round the outside of Yamaha’s flagship sports bike from 2007. This continued for the full 20-minute session, with me hammering the big Ducati around the track, pulling stupid poses at every bike I passed. It was mean, unnecessary and childish, but when I rolled back into the garages the piss-taking had stopped. Mission accomplished.

Hunting sports bikes, cue the 'Jaws' music.

Hunting sports bikes, cue the ‘Jaws’ music.

The brakes didn’t fade, the suspension didn’t tie itself in knots and nobody was moaning about a mobile chicane. Obviously it didn’t steer like the supersport 600 I’d been riding all morning, but I was having just as much fun. I did manage to deck the centrestand once but that was at the bottom of Paddock Hill bend and I’ve had a few sports bikes touch down there. As first rides go, I thoroughly enjoyed mine on the Multi, especially when I could cruise home in comfort at the end of the trackday without resorting to a van. If that was you on the R1, I’m sorry for being a dick; I blame peer pressure. Send us an email and I’ll bung consolation freebies in the post.


Things I love already about the Multistrada:

Keyless ignition – just stuff the key in your pocket when you leave the house and witchcraft does the rest.

Ability to charge around a trackday in the fast group and then carry leathers, tools and a picnic home again

Things I’d like to change:

Spoilt by the keyless ignition, I’d now like keyless panniers, topbox and fuel cap please. Ooh and remote gates and garage door too while you’re at it, ta very much.


Thanks to:

MSV trackdays for letting a bus out in the fast group.

Pics: MSV/Lloyd Horgan