In many ways, the Ducati Multistrada set the bar for sport touring motorcycles when the first model rolled out of the factory in 2003. And while either you loved the ’80s sci-fi aesthetic or hated it, it was a game changer. A hybrid of supermoto and sport touring, the Multistrada was ready to tackle “many roads.” But for those who purchased the first offering, riding the Multistrada off road, with its 17-inch cast wheels and superbike tires, didn’t bode well.
Fast forward to 2016, when the Multistrada became available as a 1200 Enduro model, provided increased suspension travel, additional fuel capacity, a double-sided swingarm, a 19-inch front wheel and spokes. But it felt like an afterthought. Now, with their new V4 power plant on the horizon, Ducati has changed the game again.
Borrego Springs, CA, was the backdrop for Ducati’s introduction of the 2021 Multistrada V4. The twisty pavement and wandering dirt roads were the perfect location to test the new platform.
At the heart of the new Multistrada beats an 1158cc, 168-horsepower V4 Granturismo engine, utilizing a counterrotating crankshaft that helps with wheelie control and rear wheel raise under braking via mechanical aid versus an electronic one. The V4 power plant is 2.6 lb. lighter than the outgoing 1260 motor and is physically smaller (85mm shorter and 95mm shallower), allowing for additional ground clearance. Ducati opted for an aluminum monocoque unit in place of a trellis frame, which some may consider a major shift from tradition.
While Ducati did increase horsepower and torque, reduce physical engine size, and opt for a more adventure-friendly wheel and tire combo, they didn’t manage to shed weight. The Multistrada 1260 S weighed in at 518 lb. wet and the V4 model should be roughly 535 lb. with fluids and a full tank. But scale weight and how a bike feels beneath you are two different things.
Three variations of the V4 will be available for 2021: A base model features a five-inch TFT display, cast wheels, and Brembo M4.32 brake calipers with 320mm discs upfront.
Ride modes can be changed on the fly using the control cluster on the handlebar.
The color touchscreen TFT display is both easy to navigate, and at five inches, easy to see.
The V4 S features either cast or tubeless spoked wheels, a quick-shifter and radar, with Brembo Stylema calipers mated to 330mm discs.
The V4 Sport comes standard with cast wheels and Akrapovic exhaust system, also with Brembo Stylema calipers.
All three are equipped with a 19-inch front wheel and Marzocchi’s Skyhook semi-active electronic suspension, offering 6.7 inches of travel in the front and 7.1 inches in the rear.
Seat height on the V4 exceeds the outgoing 1260 S model at 33.1 inches (versus 32.5) and adjusts to 33.9 inches. A low seat (31.8 inches) and a high seat (34.4 inches) are also available. The wheelbase has been shortened to 61.7 inches.
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2021 DUCATI MULTISTRADA V4
In many ways, the Ducati Multistrada set the bar for sport touring motorcycles when the first model rolled out of the factory in 2003. And while either you loved the ’80s sci-fi aesthetic or hated it, it was a game changer.
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