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The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Touring Might Be The Best Heist Bike Ever

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If you were going to rob a bank on a motorcycle, what would you choose? It needs to be fast, like any good getaway vehicle, and agile enough to evade Johnny Law. There might as well be comfort and amenities too, right? Bluetooth connectivity to contact your crew on the burner phone, plus cruise control so you maintain an inconspicuous speed while you make the call. Plus electronically adjustable suspension and ride modes for city, freeway, and back roads. You’re a bank robber, not an animal! And of course, you’ll need space for the stacks of money.

Allow me to suggest a Multistrada. It’s fast, comfortable, dripping with technology, and there are approximately 10,000 new ones on the road each year, so you won’t stand out in the wrong way. Since you’ll be wealthy from your bold raid of First Merchants you might as well spring for the swankiest one to date: the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Touring. Yes, I know, $22,395 is a pretty penny to spend—and we’ll talk about why you might as well splurge on the S version rather than $18,695 for the base model—but you get an awful lot of motorcycle for the money.

The Tech, And What’s New

You might be thinking that the new Multi 1260 looks a lot like the bike that debuted in 2010 with the 1,198cc 11° engine, and you’d be right. Aesthetics withstanding, since then the bike has been updated with and Desmodromic Variable Timing (2015) as well as many other small upgrades over the years—saddlebag latches, a color dash unit, and the like. The meaningful moves for the 2018 model involve inheriting the ’s 1,262cc engine, a longer wheelbase, and updates to the color dash.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 static 3/4 view

The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 in white.

First, the powerplant, which caused a bit of a stir around here when it debuted the . Genius as it is, , but in XDiavel form the engine grew to be monstrously torquey (thanks to 1.6mm of stroke added) and smoothed out considerably with evolution of the tuning. Ducati claim 18 percent more torque at 5,500 rpm, patching the dip in torque that plagued the Multi 1200 DVT mill.


 
ducati multistrada 1260 vs 1200 dyno chart

This is Ducati’s provided dyno chart for the 1260 torque curve versus the 1200 engine—if nothing else, an admission that there was a massive hole in the torque on the first DVT engine.

The chassis updates involved lengthening the swingarm by 1.9 inches and adding a degree of rake (and 0.2 inch of trail), which adds up to a wheelbase that’s 2.2 inches longer—that’s a lot. The frame was also updated to hold the XDiavel powerplant, and while the Sachs fork and shock use the same external hardware, they are adjusted differently for the new setup. I asked why the wheelbase and rake stretch and what I heard was, “stability.” Apparently, Ducati felt it could make a bike just as agile but more stable when ridden fast with a passenger and full luggage. More on that later.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 static side view

The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 in profile. My, what a long wheelbase you have!

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 front wheel details

Beefy M50 brakes from Brembo are high-end binders and they feel like it. Good stuff.

The dash is the same size but has a higher-resolution TFT screen and updated software to navigate the galaxy of options within—that includes everything from damping characteristics in the suspension to adjusting each of the electronic rider aids individually. Basically, instead of only offering a spread of settings from which to choose (1 through 8 for traction control, for example), there is guidance built in—select TC Level 2 and the bike tells you that’s best for performance on dry roads, where TC Level 7 is best for performance on wet roads. It’s all a little arbitrary, and dependent on rider skill, of course, but it’s a step toward people learning how the system is meant to operate. (For an example of how the menus look and work, see the video embedded below.)

 

Other changes and updates slung around the Multi 1260 include new heated grips, a “more reliable” keyless ignition (evidently the previous one was finicky), an up/down quickshifter option (standard on the S), and a tire-pressure monitoring system option. There’s also the Ducati Link App, which will allow owners to adjust settings from their phone, link with social media, track and share rides, win badges and points for logging miles, and keep track of service intervals—18,000 miles between valve adjustments, by the way, and 9,000 for basic service. The app is available starting in February of 2018.

How It Feels To Ride

Enough with the specs! You want to know how fast this sucker can get you away from the vault and into the hills—hypothetically, of course. The short answer is, quickly and splendidly. So much of what has made the Multistrada a popular machine since 2010 is captured wholly in the new 1260. The engine is the biggest improvement. Ducati claim 6 additional ponies over the 1200, but it doesn’t really feel faster. The longer wheelbase makes it less prone to wheelie, I’m sure—mostly it’s how linear the power delivery is that made me smile. It’s happy to lug around town,and has a fat midrange that won’t disappoint.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 rear on road action

Dual fenders keep the Multi’s tail clean. Note that the left bag is larger because of the exhaust on the right side. Luggage is standard on the Touring models, an upgrade on everything else.

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 rear wheel details

Wheels are updated on the 2018 Multistrada 1260, and Ducati claims they are 300 grams lighter. Plus they’re gold! (Unless you get the bike in red, then they’re black.)

The chassis updates didn’t do it for me. In adding rake and trail and wheelbase I think they’ve dulled one of my favorite parts of the Multistrada blade—only a little, but it’s noticeable. It just doesn’t feel as light and direct to steer as it has in the past. The old bike is , and I love that about it. Ducati staff say the more relaxed geometry helps direct more feedback to the rider, but I’m not sure I felt it. If it’s for the sake of safety and stability, then I can’t argue—that should always be a priority in motorcycle design. Even if it felt less excitable, I dragged my toes all day and never broke a sweat. The 1260 is fully capable of slaying a twisty road.

More to the point of a getaway vehicle, the Multistrada’s ride modes are still some of my favorite of any bike. Trundling through small towns on the test ride, I flicked the 1260 into Urban mode. The preload in the shock automatically decreases, making the ride h lower (nice for stoplights) and the damping in the fork and shock loosens way up. Then there’s the engine, which mellows out in the Low power mode, making the bike easy to trot through suburban streets. Lastly, the dash reconfigures to show the clock and speedo nice and big, and forgoes the tachometer. Who cares about revs in the city? It’s excellent.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 front on road action

At 6-foot-2 I thought the Multi 1260 offered excellent touring manners and all-day comfort. It’s a tall and heavy bike, and rewards experience.

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 quickshifter details

The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 has an up/down quickshifter that works really nicely. You can turn it off if you hate it.

Should your getaway cover be blown and you need to make haste, Sport mode awaits. The suspension tightens, dash displays a prominent tach, and all 158 claimed horses are on tap. Touring mode is somewhere in the middle, and Enduro mode is designed to help if your ride takes you off road. Lots of bikes have different power modes available, others have adjustable suspension, and some even do this same trick of tweaking everything at once. In my opinion, though, the Multistrada offers the most comprehensive and drastic available changes. The bike’s personality really does change, and it’s a fantastic option to have.

Moreover, every parameter built in to the ride mode—traction control, wheelie control, ABS, throttle map, dash display, quickshifter, and suspension settings—are able to be tailored individually in the menu. That means each of the four ride modes becomes customizable to your preferred settings. Urban mode could be soft suspension for the cobblestone street approaching the bank, Touring mode could have full preload in the shock to account for the payload after the robbery. I’m just spitballing here. My preference for twisty roads was Sport mode, with the preload set a shade high, rear ABS and wheelie control off, and the throttle map set to Medium (that’s full power, but gentler delivery).

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 cornering action

One of my favorite things about the Multistrada is that if you ask it to be bad, it’s more than willing. How many 500-something-pound sport-touring bikes are comfortable when sideways? Not many, but the 2018 Multi 1260 is one of them.

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 left grip details

Switches on the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 are largely the same as they were on the previous DVT model. The rim around the base of the switch glows, too, which is handy in the dark—though you still can’t see what the buttons do. You’ll have to learn that yourself.

Aside from the nifty tricks that the Multi does, it delivers everything a sport-touring bike should. The weather protection is good, and easily adjustable via the pinch-’n’-slide windscreen. The mirrors are decent, the seat is nicely shaped, and the brakes are stellar. The seat is adjustable for h, if you please, and the saddlebags work nicely other than not being able to leave them unlocked. The quickshifter is great, and the LED headlights that come on the up-spec models also include cornering lights.

The Bottom Line

The Multistrada 1260 S Touring delivers everything it promises and, in my opinion, it damn well should. For a price tag north of $22,000 you, the consumer, should be getting everything you want in a motorcycle. Back to one of the first questions I posed: Why not get the base bike? For a “scant” $18,700 you can still have the new engine and new chassis so why not? The upsell is $2,300 to the S (in red), plus $1,400 for the Touring, and $200 for the gray paint on my testbike, which ends up at $22,595. That’s a no-joke, at nearly $4,000 more than the base bike, but I still say it’s worth it. If you want this burly beast of a sport-tourer, then you want the quickshifter, the color dash, LED headlight, luggage, centerstand, and the fancy suspension.

You can think the Multistrada is ugly, or doesn’t sound good, or is too big. Opinions are good to have. As far as delivering an exciting and capable grand touring experience, the Multistrada 1260 succeeds in spades. It would probably be a perfect getaway vehicle, too, if you happen to be up to no good.


TECH SPEC

   
PRICE $22,395 (S model)
ENGINE 1262cc liquid-cooled 90° V-twin
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 158.0 hp @ 9500 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 95.1 lb.-ft. @ 7500 rpm
FRAME Steel-tube trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION Sachs 48mm fork with adjustable spring preload and semi-active compression and rebound damping; 6.7 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Sach shock with adjustable spring preload and semi-active compression and rebound damping; 6.7 in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo M50 four-piston calipers (S), 330mm discs with ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo two-piston caliper with ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 25°/4.4 in.
WHEELBASE 62.4 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.3/32.5 in. (845/825mm)
FUEL CAPACITY 5.3 gal. (20L)
CLAIMED WET WEIGHT 518 lb. (235kg)
CONTACT  
 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 options diagram

The list of options and models in the 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 lineup. The MSRP on the Pikes Peak version is $24,995, and it comes with Öhlins suspension instead of the Sachs Skyhook kit, as well as a Termignoni pipe and a spicy livery. We won’t get the S D|air version (developed with Dainese airbag systems) in the US of A.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 cockpit view

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 cockpit: ready for whatever sport tour you can handle.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 luggage saddlebag details

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 bags are decent. You can also get the aluminum top-loading cases from the Enduro model if you like.

 
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 side view action

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260

 
 
 

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