New Bikes

First ride: 2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro

With a torque-rich engine, low seat height and new tech, the Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro is a very exciting prospect indeed

 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro

DUCATI’S MULTISTRADA is the Swiss Army knife of motorcycles, offering beautiful European craftsmanship in a conventional tool that covers a breadth of purposes.  

And the Enduro takes it to the next level of capability, with the addition of a larger tank, taller screen and 19-inch front wheel.

The original Multistrada Enduro made its debut back in 2016, featuring the 1,198cc powertrain of the last generation Multistrada. It was a worthy – and stylish – opponent to the like likes of KTM and BMW and given that it was Ducati’s debut travel enduro, it was highly capable both on and off-road.

But for 2019, the Italian manufacturer has further refined the model, with not only a new powertrain, but new electronics, and revised ergonomics.

With this new torque-rich engine, rider aids and a lower seat height, the Multistrada Enduro is now more accessible and impressive than ever.

First impressions

The later iterations of Ducati’s Multistrada have to be among the best looking adventure bikes out there. Tall and muscular, yet sleek and stylish, the Multistrada 1260 Enduro is no exception – apart from in that scratchy beige sand colour scheme (you could practically file your nails at traffic stops).

Quality components and awesome styling – just look at that all-consuming honeycomb bashplate and brushed aluminium tank panels – combine to make this an adventure bike that looks great while going the distance.

Engine, gearbox, exhaust

The new Multistrada 1260 Enduro features Ducati’s 158hp, 1,262cc Testastretta DVT powertrain with variable cam timing. While this engine was introduced in the new Multistrada 1260 last December, it actually made its debut in Ducati’s X-Diavel street machine back in 2016.

As with the previous Multistrada Enduro, gearing on this model – in particular the first gear and final drive – is shorter than on the standard model, slightly lowering the speed the bike achieves in that first gear, but giving it a more urgent feel as you move through the gears.

That doesn’t make it at all jerky, however. The Enduro benefits from smooth and plentiful pulling power from the bottom of the rev range, thanks in part to a smooth ride by wire throttle. This power not only makes the bike effortless to ride, but also allows for less frequent gear shifts. And for those necessary gear changes, there’s the Ducati Quick Shift and autoblipper, which allows fluid and clutchless up and downshifts.

This powertrain will require a oil service every 9,000 miles, and a Desmo service every 18,000 miles. However, Ducati believe this won’t bother potential buyers as many of the manufacturer’s customers trade their bike in before achieving this.

Power and torque

This powertrain makes 158hp and 94lb-ft of torque at 7,500rpm. And this torque delivery is massively improved over the previous model – there’s now so much more torque available pretty much throughout the rev range.

Ducati claim that there is a 20 per cent increase in torque at 5,500rpm, which is certainly noticeable both on road and off. And the majority of this is available from 3,500rpm, which makes for thrilling, grunty acceleration right from the bottom of the rev range. There’s loads of useful power in second and third gears, which is particularly useful off-road.

It still peaks at the same 7,500rpm, however there is no longer a noticeable drop off after this peak, which makes for better top end propulsion.

Economy

Ducati claims the Multistrada 1260 Enduro achieves a fuel economy of 51mpg. Combined with the 30-litre tank, this allows for a range of more than 250 miles. As would be expected, ride it hard and this mpg rockets.

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The previous Multistrada Enduro drew criticism for the compromises its off-road focus gave on road. And while the new machine still boasts a 19-inch front wheel and dual sport tyres, subtle chassis refinements, including 15mm reduced front and rear suspension stroke, 1mm increased trail, 65mm increased wheelbase (to 1594mm) and weight reductions throughout, have leant a tighter, more stable and refined road ride.

It’s never going to match the Multistrada 1260 S in terms of sharpness on the road, but the scaled back road performance is a worthwhile compromise for the off-road performance the Enduro features.

These weight reductions comprise half a kilo from the double-sided swing arm (the standard multi has a heavier single-sided unit), and 2kg from the redesigned spoked wheels. Despite the weight loss, the bike’s payload has increased by 20kg to 231kg, which seriously improves its two-up globetrotting capability. To put that into perspective, the Multistrada 1260 Enduro could take a BMW F850GS on the back, with 2kg to spare. The bike itself weighs 254kg wet – the same as its predecessor.

The new model features recalibrated electronic semi-active 48mm Sachs forks up front, with electronic Skyhook compression and rebound damping adjustment, and Skyhook suspension with electronic spring pre-load, compression and rebound adjustment at the rear. According to Ducati’s engineers, there’s more than 400 different suspension setup combinations.

This is an extremely capable system, and performs best when set to ‘rider only’ mode, although it did feel slightly vague at the top of the suspension. It seriously softens up in Enduro mode, which makes for a wonderfully fun, bouncy ride, but for more serious pace off-road, adjusting the suspension to make it firmer is advised.

There’s tons of travel – 185 mm –  both front and rear, and ground clearance is not compromised by the height reductions Ducati gave this model.

Tubeless tyres fit on the 19-inch front and 17-inch rear. Pirelli Scorpion Trail II come as standard, although the more aggressive Scorpion Rally can be specified. The former are good for light off-roading, but if you’re serious about the dirt, the Rally are definitely recommended.

Brakes

Ducati claim the new Multistrada 1260 Enduro features superbike level brake components, and the Italian manufacturer knows a thing or two about superbikes.

Radial Brembo Monobloc four-pot callipers feature on twin 320mm semi-floating discs up front, while a two-piston floating calliper features on a 265mm disc at the rear. Stopping power on road is excellent, and off-road skids come easy. Three-level Bosch cornering ABS and traction control feature, which are handy features. These are controlled by a 6-axis Bosch IMU, which also determines the cornering lights, wheelie control, Skyhook Suspension Evo and auto-off indicators.

Enduro mode turns the traction control down to level one, and deactivates the rear ABS (keeping the front). Turning both off completely turned the bike into a giant, incredibly powerful trailie.

Comfort

One of the main off-putting factors for the last Multistrada Enduro was its sky high seat height of 870mm. Well, Ducati has addressed that for 2019, and brought the seat down 10mm to 860mm, and also lowered the bike’s centre of gravity, making it far less top heavy. There’s also an 840mm low seat option, which I used on launch. Despite being much firmer than the plush standard seat, this was well shaped, and didn’t boast the defined edges that some low seats do (when all the foam has been effectively scooped out of the middle).

Revised riding ergonomics have also contributed to improved comfort. The footpegs are lower by 10mm, while the handlebars are 30mm lower than on the 1200 version. Despite still being super wide, these lower bars made the road ride much more comfortable, and didn’t affect my off-road standing position either.

And of course, that plush new suspension setup also makes for more comfort on road and off.

Equipment

It wouldn’t be a Ducati if it wasn’t dripping in tech. The new Multistrada 1260 Enduro boasts a new 5-inch TFT HR dash, which displays a so-called ‘Human Machine Interface (HMI)’.

Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) also features, connecting the bike to the rider's phone via Bluetooth (you need the Ducati Link App for this), allowing you to answer calls, read text messages and listen to music. Helpfully, through this app, you can adjust the bike further, access maintenance info and record performance and routes.

Alongside the DQS, the Enduro features an incredibly smooth ride by wire throttle and a standard electronics package including cruise control, riding modes, Bosch Cornering ABS, LED cornering lights, wheelie control, traction control and vehicle hold control.

And of course there’s a wide range of accessories, available in various configurations in the Touring, Sport, Urban and Enduro packages.

Price

The new Multistrada 1260 Enduro will be available in Ducati Red and Sand from early next year.

The red option – by far my favourite –  costs £17,755, while Sand will set you back £200 more, at £17,955.

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