Ducati adds displacement, but aims to give the Multistrada Enduro more user-friendliness.
Ducati does performance. Sometimes at the expense of accessibility. With the 2019 Multistrada Enduro 1260, it plans to change that, turning the wildly fun but sometimes over-stimulating Multi Enduro into a more rider-friendly model that works in a wider range of conditions. I’m at the Ducati Riding Experience Academy stomping grounds in Italy to find out.
By Michael Gilbert | Photography by Milagro
Introduced in 2017, the DRE Enduro Academy is aimed at improving riders’ off-road skillsets. Here, you’ll find technical rock gardens, serious elevation changes, and slippery slopes—all terrain that would challenge any rider or bike. You need a bike that works with you, not against you. The previous Multi just almost did.
But almost isn’t enough, at least not for Ducati. And so, the Italian manufacturer went to work on revising the Multi Enduro with functional changes targeted at enhancing its riding experience. For every type of rider in every riding condition.
Engine specifications alone will tell you Ducati took the revamp seriously, the 2019 Enduro now using the same 1262cc Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) powerplant as the current base model Multistrada, which was introduced last year. The added displacement is thanks to lengthening the piston stroke to 71.5mm (from 67.9mm), though bore remains the same. It also sees new piston rods, a redesigned crankshaft, and revised cylinders.
The goal here wasn’t achieving a higher peak power figure, but rather to improve the rideability at low-to-mid rpm where this motorcycle is meant to be ridden. In fact, Ducati takes pride in the fact that the 1260 DVT makes 85 percent of its maximum torque available below 3500 rpm and a 17 percent increase in torque at 5500 rpm. Pick a spot in the revs, any spot. There’s no shortage of power, plain and simple.
Keeping that power in check is a whole host of electronic rider aids, all of which are selectable via the new five-inch TFT display that has been adopted from the V4 Panigale. A six-axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and ride-by-wire throttle zeros in the precision of the eight-level Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) systems, while also managing the Cornering ABS and Cornering Light functions. Other standout features include cruise control, Vehicle Hold Control (VHC) and a bi-directional quickshifter dubbed Ducati Quick Shift (DQS). All trick stuff that comes standard. 2019 is a great year to be riding.
What might be the most exciting detail of the Multi’s electronic suite is the ability to adjust settings via the Ducati Link App. On your smartphone, you’re now able to personalize the parameters of each riding mode (traction control, wheelie control, suspension settings, etc.) and even create custom setups while sitting on the couch. It also keeps track of service intervals, reminding you when it’s time for routine maintenance. Call me petty—a millennial, maybe—but this adds a whole new element to ownership experience.
Ducati’s emphasis on making the Multi Enduro more accessible to any and all riders meant shrinking ergonomic measurements, because let’s face it—the Enduro 1200 was a tall motorcycle. That said, the seat height drops nearly half an inch to 33.9 inches, while the handlebars have been lowered by 1.2 inches. Ducati claims that this goes a long way in lowering the center of gravity and improving the rider’s control in tight, technical sections, but also for the smaller rider who has been longing to join the Multi owner’s club but are intimidated by its size. Should the standard seat height not suit your liking, Ducati offers accessory seats that will increase or decrease the measurement by 0.8 inches in either direction. Us smaller guys thank you, Ducati.
Performance On (And Off) Road
To showcase the all-new Multistrada Enduro 1260’s capabilities, Ducati arranged a unique on and off-road test in the Tuscany countryside, which ended with an hour spent flogging around the DRE Enduro Academy. Long asphalt stints to deep mud sections and everything in between. You name it, this route has it. Because if you have that much confidence in your creation, this is the way to justify it.
The ultra-linear power delivery of the Multi’s new 1262cc powerplant made an instant impression, which proves equally remarkable both on and off-road. As Ducati claimed, power is readily available from low revs until it signs off at redline. On the road, I opted to stick in the Sport riding mode, which is the most aggressive of the four preset mappings. Here, you get the full 158 peak horsepower of the Multi, while less intrusive DTC and DWC settings offer peppier acceleration off the corners in a way that says, “I’m not going to spit you off, but her comes a fun time.” The next step down, Touring mode, works as it should by smoothing out power for more leisurely riding.
I’m skimming past that bit because, honestly, the Multi Enduro’s engine is most impressive in the dirt. There’s a lot that makes me feel this way, like the adventuring-specific Enduro riding mode, which allows for three adjustable power settings. I chose to stay in the Medium setting, where I felt confident using the engine’s grunt to loft my front wheel over obstacles, while still being gentle enough to feel in control at all times.
Granted, all power settings in the Enduro riding mode limit peak power to just 100 horsepower. But really, do you need any more than that? Stalling the Enduro is nearly impossible, the big L-twin engine smoothly lugs its way around at revs lower than 2,500 rpm, meaning there isn’t need to constantly be searching for the ideal gear. And should you need to make a shift, the bi-directional quickshifter works magic in providing a seamless change, something that quickly proves its worth off-road.
Quite honestly, I’ve never had a deep love for the previous Multi Enduro due to its extra tall riding position, but revisions given to the 1260 play a large part in changing that. The lowered handlebars and seat height change the feel of the Enduro from sitting “on top of” to “in” the motorcycle, which inspires confidence in slow, tricky sections of trail. Swapping to the lowered seat option only boosted that off-road confidence further, proving completely useful for my (cough) short inseam.
Standing up, I was welcomed by a revised shape of the tank cover, which allows you to better lock our knees into for stability. This is also important in better using your legs to help manipulate the bike have a good feel of where the bike is underneath you. Ducati won in this department.
The semi-active Sachs suspension bits go a long way in providing the Multi Enduro with a sure-footed feel, even though Ducati decreased travel by 15mm front and rear. You’d think that you’d want all the travel you can get for a bike that tips the scales at 560 pounds, but not once did we bottom, even off small jumps littered along the fire roads. Suspension feel is adequate under any sort of load, meaning you almost always have an idea of where it is in the stroke, whether it be a hard-braking or fast-sweeping section. And with the change of riding modes, suspension adjustments of the fork and shock also change, though you do have the ability to infinitely fine tune individual settings, like compression and rebound damping as well as spring preload. To be honest, I didn’t even bother going that far. Ducati seems to have nailed the preset settings for each riding mode spot on, at least for my liking.
There were other small bits about the Multi Enduro that grabbed attention for good reason, including the easily navigated Human Machine Interface (HMI) via the TFT display perched behind the handlebars. Here, you can quickly swap riding modes on-the-fly, or individualize the settings further while at a stop. The dashboard also had a small plastic frame that enclosed the gear position reading. Silly, I know, but it makes the difference when quickly glancing down to know what gear you’re in before tackling a hill climb.
As you can tell by now, it’s difficult to find faults in the new Multistrada Enduro 1260, meaning Ducati has achieved what it set out to do. The Italian manufacturer’s work to tame the Multi and make it more accessible to a wider range of riders has paid off, with the bike now offering more confidence and smoother performance, asphalt or not. Even for a short guy like me.
Ducati – A Manufacturer Where Things Happen Quickly
There’s no time to be wasted at Ducati. Engineers here don’t get any breaks, hold for the morning and afternoon espresso hiatus. This holds especially true for the Multistrada 1260 Enduro according to its Project Manager, Davide Previtera, who says that R&D for the new model began only weeks after its predecessor was released to the public. It’s this rather aggressive approach that allows Ducati to get the most out of the Multi Enduro’s all-around performance and accessibility.
Davide Previtera: “Right after the press launch of the Multistrada Enduro 1200 and first feedback from our clients, we collected all the information and all the critiques in order to develop a better product to. In this version, the Multistrada Enduro 1260.
“The Multistrada Enduro 1200 was a very big bike, much bigger than the 1260. Here, you can’t touch with your feet. The seat height is too high, it’s too big, and also the engine’s performance is not perfect. You can see the difference between the two power curves. The difference is huge.
“Then we worked together with the marketing team and the R&D department to find a good compromise between the off-road performance that the Enduro 1200 had—it’s a very good bike in off-road—and very good performance also on-road, and for all people.” CN
||2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro ($21,995)
||Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled
|Bore x stroke:
||106 x 71.5mm
||Tubular steel trellis
||Sachs 48mm fully adjustable USD forks; electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo
||Fully adjustable Sachs unit; electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment; electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo; aluminum single-sided swingarm
||2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc M4.32-piston calipers, radial pump with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
||265mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
||Pirelli Scopion Trail II 120/70 R19 in.
||Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 R17 in.
|Weight (curb, claimed):
||Sand (Ducati Red not available in the U.S.)