The Ducati Multistrada V4 S has marked the before and after point for modern motorcycles.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Ducati must have taken note of Honest Abe’s words because the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S is the first giant leap into the future of production motorcycles.
The digital age has been upon us for years, but motorcycles have been slow to adapt. Some 26 years after Mitsubishi created the first adaptive cruise-control system for passenger cars by equipping its 1995 Diamante sedan with a Preview Distance Control system, Ducati has teamed with Bosch to bring the first motorcycle-specific system to market in the ’21 Multistrada.
It is available in the four different versions—the $19,995 base model; the Ducati Red Multistrada V4 S with cast wheels ($24,095) or off-road-focused spoked wheels ($24,695); the same V4 S in Aviator Grey for $24,295 ($24,895 for spoked wheels); and the Multistrada V4 S Sport ($26,095, alloy wheels only). All models fitted with the radar (V4 S/V4 S Sport) require $850 for the software activation. Ducati has created nothing short of a super sport tourer. Seeing as our test bike was a V4 S with both the cast and spoked wheels available to us, we’ll focus on that model. See the chart at the end of the article after the video for what bike comes with which features.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S Review | Inside The Motor
This is not just a reworked machine with a new motor. It’s a ground-up redesign powered by a bigger version of the V4 motor found in the company’s Panigale superbike. That motor is, in itself, a different animal than when used on the racetrack, as Ducati has fitted conventional valve springs instead of their beloved desmodromic valve actuation system. The result is a mammoth valve service interval of 36,000 miles, more than any current production motorcycle.
Ducati is claiming 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 8750 rpm, achieved by a 2mm increase in bore size to 83mm.
Compared to the outgoing 1262cc L-twin, the V4 is 2.6 pounds lighter despite the two extra pistons, con-rods and associated bearings, 3.3 inches shorter front-to-back and 3.7 inches shorter top-to-bottom, with only a 0.8-inch increase in overall width.
Running the counter-rotating crankshaft, there’s more torque everywhere, with Ducati claiming its third-gear roll-ons at 62 mph showed the motor produced 25 percent more torque than the L-twin.
Unfortunately for Ducati purists, the new V4 makes the L-twin feel somewhat anemic. Not only does the V4 spin up much faster than the old 1262cc twin, but its counter rotating crank helps plant the front end, making it less prone to wheelies—until you switch off wheelie control, then it’s another story.
You can’t lug the V4 from really low in the rev ranges like you can the twin, but once you’ve cleared 3000 rpm, the V4 is in another league. Drive is in such abundance you wonder when it’s going to run out. The peak power may be at a claimed 10,500 rpm, but there are significant amounts of overrev that you can keep the revs pegged high if you desire and still get plenty of drive.
However, the Ducati is happiest between 6-10,000 rpm, dolling out massive dollops of torque to the rear tire. And with such a wide range of performance, you don’t need to go dancing on the Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) system too often. Thankfully, Ducati has not fitted the ultra-touchy DQS found on the Panigale—the Multi’s system lets the rider preload the gearlever somewhat and isn’t as prone to cutting the ignition if your foot accidentally hits the lever.
The motor’s performance is mated to the usual four ECU modes of Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro, the latter of which limits the V4’s power output to 100 horsepower. For me, Sport mode is where it’s at, not only because it has the most performance but because the throttle has close to the 1-1 feel at the tire I love so much.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S Review | Chassis Bones
The Multistrada V4 S chassis is a mixture of old and new. Up front you have a version of the monocoque frame found on the previous edition Panigale superbike range (not the Front Frame found on the V4 Panigale), with the motor acting as a stressed member of the chassis.
As such, the main portion of the monocoque does double duty as the airbox and is attached to the motor via mounts on both cylinder heads.
Between the monocoque and the subframe sits a central support strut, which, in turn, links to a side plate that have the footpegs at the bottom, and the mounting points for the subframe at the top.
Tradition still has a place in Ducati as the steel trellis subframe is kept over from the outgoing 1260 Multi, and a revised double-sided swingarm has been used that’s stiffer and lighter than before.
New for this year, the Multistrada now comes standard with a 19-inch front wheel, along with the 17-incher out the back. This gives the V4 equal footing with something like the BMW R 1250 GS, making it more applicable to riders who want to take their Multistrada off-road.
For that, Ducati has teamed with Pirelli to offer three choices of tire options in the road-focused Scorpion Trail II, the 50/50 road/dirt Scorpion Rally STR, or the more off road-focused Scorpion Rally. Should you take the spoke-wheel option at purchase, you’ll likely be getting the Rally tires fitted, but if you’re only sticking to the tarmac, the Scorpion Trail II will be your bet.
Hauling you up is the job of racetrack-level stoppers in the Brembo Stylema calipers, gripping twin 320mm discs with Cornering ABS, so you know you’ve got the best brakes in the game on your side.
The suspension comes in the form of chunky 50mm Marzocchi inverted forks and rear shock, fully adjustable and electronically controlled by the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evolution algorithm.
The DSS also comes with the new auto-leveling function that’s a real plus for riders taking a passenger or large amounts of luggage. Simply climb on and hit the auto-level feature and the chassis will set itself to the ideal preload setting for the given payload. Pretty cool.
The ride on the DSS system is absolutely superb, especially when used on the street. You can individually set the suspension parameters for rider/rider and passenger/rider with luggage/rider and passenger with luggage within each of the four ECU modes of Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro, and you’ve also got a Soft/Medium/Hard/Hardest front and rear adjustability at your fingertips.
The Ducati thus stays absolutely planted for pretty much every ride occasion. Sport riding on a 500+ pound motorcycle is far easier than you’d expect thanks to the DSS system, allowing you to flow from one corner to the next as the algorithm takes care of everything.
Switch over to off-road with the Enduro setting and the ride is equally impressive, although the weight starts to really become at the forefront of your mind. In this instance, I went into the sub menu and went for Hard on the rear and Hardest on the front, simply to keep the chassis balanced when traversing the rutted-out roads near our test loop in Borrego Springs, California.
The Multistrada is capable of going off-road but it’s not a real adventure bike, despite what Ducati hopes. This is more a two-wheeled BMW X6—pure luxury on the road and capable of dirt roads, but it’s not a rock-crawling ADV bike like what you can expect from the boys and girls northeast of Ducati in Austria.
What the Multistrada V4 S has shown is Ducati absolutely needs a dedicated adventure bike in its lineup, one that makes off-road riding a firm priority in the guise of the KTM 890 Adventure R or the Yamaha Tenere 700. This could be easily achieved with the company’s 937cc motor that powers the Supersport 950 and would finally show the world Ducati is serious about the fastest growing sector of motorcycling. I don’t believe it’s fair for the Multistrada V4 S to continue to do double duty as the leading sport touring and ADV machine for Ducati.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S Review | It’s All About The Radar
Okay, now to the bit we’ve all been waiting for.
The big news for the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S is the inclusion of a front and rear radar that mitigates the function of the first production motorcycle Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Blind Spot Detection (BSD) systems.
The ACC features four levels of distance control to the car in front and is constantly on when you engage cruise control (so, no traditional cruise control where you set your speed and have to monitor it yourself).
It works thusly: You’re traveling down the motorway and engage cruise control at 75 mph, with level three. You gradually close the gap to the car in front, get to within a certain distance but no closer. The radar holds you there. As the car speeds up, so do you (up to your chosen 75 mph). As the car slows down, the radar sends a signal to the ECU to gradually close the throttle bodies and a apply a little front and rear brake pressure to slow you and keep you at the distance dictated by your chosen setting of level three.
Then it comes time to overtake. You turn on your indicator, move to the left out of the radar’s field of vision, and over the next five or so seconds, the Multistrada gradually increases speed with no extra input from your throttle hand to 75 mph, you pass the car and pull back into your lane. It may have taken 26 years for the technology to arrive in motorcycles, and it’s not going to be until July that the radar receives full U.S. homologation, but to experience the radar in action doesn’t make it any less impressive.
The next factor in the radar system is one every motorcycle should have from now on. The dreaded blind spot accident has been a bane of riders for generations, and now Ducati is the first to implement the warning system for production machines. For the Blind Spot Detection to work, you need to be traveling at least 15 mph, with less than 33 degrees of lean angle, have ABS on level two or more, and Ducati Traction Control (DTC) activated.
The BSD system works via the rear radar that sits beneath the seat unit, above the number plate. If a vehicle is sitting in your blind spot, which is about 90 degrees to the direction of travel, you’ll get a bright yellow light emitting on the corner of that side’s rear-view mirror. And if you then put your indicator on in an effort to change lanes, the light will flash quickly, so much that it’s impossible to ignore. It’s not as mind blowing as the ACC, but the BSD is arguably more important to the survival of motorcycle riders on the road.
It’s all controlled via the new 6.5-inch Human Machine Interface (HMI) TFT display, a feature Ducati is very proud of. The engineers have spent a huge amount of time trying to make the user experience a better one when it relates to phone mirroring, navigation, calls and vehicle dynamics adjustment, and I won’t bore you to tears with every little thing you can do within the dash, because we’d be here for a day.
The main feature is the new partnership with navigation company Sygic, which works in conjunction with the Ducati Connect app, and the USB connector located in a neat little compartment behind the fuel cap.
The Sygic navigation app is pretty easy to use but takes a bit of playing around if you’re used to Google Maps, for example. The dash will let you program your music, but it sadly won’t let you play songs off Spotify like you can with Apple CarPlay, which, at least for me, is a real bummer.
Regardless, the vehicle dynamics are much easier to use thanks to a joystick on the left handlebar, in much the same fashion as Triumph has had for many years. As I say, the dash holds myriad features that would need your attention for days to get on top of, but at a quick glance, everything seems to work more intuitively than it has in previous Multistradas.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S Review | The New Benchmark?
It’s hard not to look at the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S as nothing less than the before and after point of modern motorcycles. While other machines will soon be coming out with the radar system, it counts to be the first to market with such a system and Ducati beat everyone to the punch.
On top of that, the motorcycle itself is revitalized, and the proof is in the ride. The V4 engine is a masterstroke of performance, mated to a guttural exhaust note that hints at Ducati’s sporting ethos. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s an incredibly fun machine, and does everything it says on the packet, and then some. My hope is Ducati now focusses on producing a real ADV bike to take the pressure off the Multistrada, because it’s an absolutely stunning sport tourer for the street, and while it’s capable of dirt roads and light ADV work, there’s a hole in the Ducati lineup they really need to fill.
However, when all is said and done, it’s impossible not to be thoroughly impressed with the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S. Ducati has followed Lincoln’s words and created one of its greatest hits in the process. CN
VIDEO | 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S
Here’s the list of what version of the Multistrada gets what feature. Everything next to the “+” sign is an aftermarket extra.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S Specifications
||$24,095, as tested
||Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft
||4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder
|Bore x stroke:
||83 x 53.5mm
||Electronic, twin injectors per cylinder, full ride-by- wire 46mm elliptical throttle bodies, fixed length intake system
||170 hp at 10,500 rpm
||92 lb-ft at 8750 rpm
||6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 2
||Self-servo wet multi-plate, hydraulically controlled slipper
||4 Riding Modes, Power Modes, Cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Wheelie Control, Daytime Running Light, Ducati Cornering Light, Ducati Brake Light, Vehicle Hold Control, Cruise Control, Ducati Skyhook Suspension, full LED lighting
||Marzocchi 50mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment, electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension
||Fully adjustable Marzocchi monoshock, electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension, aluminum double-sided swingarm
||Dual 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema 4-piston calipers, radial master-cylinder with Bosch Cornering ABS
||265mm disc, dual-piston caliper with Bosch Cornering ABS
||Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 ZR19
||Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 ZR17
||Adjustable 33.1 in – 33.9 in.
|Weight (curb, claimed):