Ducati Multistrada 950 S
The Multistrada 950 S can transform from a hard-charging track motorcycle to a quick, yet relaxed touring machine, with the push of a few buttons
The Madras Motor Race Track or MMRT is a racetrack that is best enjoyed on a super-sport or a well-equipped street naked. Which begs the question as to what is a big adventure motorcycle, like the Ducati Multistrada 950 S doing there? Read on.
The mere idea of riding a big adventure motorcycle on a racetrack is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight. However, the Multistrada is more of a Swiss army knife equivalent of the motorcycle world and the new 950 S’ comprehensive suite of updates have given it added tools to further establish itself as a genuine all-rounder.
To begin with, the L-Twin engine now complies with the Euro 5/BS6 emission norms, and while that has not had any effect on the peak power and torque figures, it feels smoother than the BS4 engine. It is paired to a 6-speed gearbox, with a new hydraulic clutch for reduced lever effort. Ducati has also thrown in an up-down quickshifter for good measure.
Then there is the new Bosch six-axis IMU system that enables functions such as lean-sensitive ABS, eight-level traction control and cornering lights. The most significant and welcome of all changes is the inclusion of the Ducati Skyhook Evo semi-active suspension, which is basically electronic wizardry at its very best. So, instead of using a C-spanner and screwdriver to adjust the suspension, racking your brains whether you have got the setting right or not, the electronics do that for you.
You can tailor the preload as well as damping at both ends with the click of a few buttons and voila, you have got a motorcycle that changes character so soon that it will put the Transformers to shame. More on that later.
On the whole, these changes have had a remarkable impact on the way this motorcycle rides and handles. The bodywork taken from the Multistrada 1260, as well as this bright red paint, makes the Multistrada 950 S quite a good-looking ADV.
Riding the Multistrada is an exercise in reminding yourself to never judge a book by its cover or in more accurate terms, the way a motorcycle is expected to behave considering its appearance. As an Adventure tourer, it is not supposed to make light work of riding on a racetrack, but it does — astonishingly well.
The engine, which is the same as that in the manic Ducati Hypermotard, produces 113hp, which may not seem like too much. However, with 80% of the 94Nm of torque available between 3,500rpm and 9,500rpm, the Multistrada is super responsive. For instance, while exiting some of the tighter sections of the circuit, which simulates a typical ghat road, the 950 S charges hard and fast. Keep the throttle pinned, bang up the gears using the quickshifter and the speedo readout on the new 5.0-inch TFT rises to eye-ball popping levels. The only gripe with the quickshifter is that, at times, it felt clunky while downshifting.
As expected, there are four ride modes — Urban, Touring, Sport and Enduro — that temper the power delivery, adjust the traction control as well as ABS, and optimise the suspension settings to preset levels.
Out on the racetrack, with the suspension set to the firmest setting, ABS backed down to its least intervention level, and the ride mode set to Sport, the Multistrada 950 S felt less like a big ADV and more like a sports naked. Whether it was the fast and sweeping C1, the assesses before C4 or the seemingly endless parabola that is C6 and C7, the Multistrada 950 S flows from corner to corner as if on rails. There is so much feedback from the trellis frame and the front end that, despite a 19-inch wheel, it takes little time for you to have faith in its ultra-stable chassis.
The wide handlebar also makes tipping the bike into a corner effortless, while the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres offer surprisingly high levels of grip and feedback, considering their application. The traction control works beautifully, without chopping power aggressively and upsetting the chassis. Also, the Brembo M4.32s are reassuringly sharp.
Once all the fun has been had on the track and it is time to head back to base, it is amazing to see how easily the Multistrada transforms from a hard-charging track motorcycle to a quick, yet relaxed touring machine, literally at the press of a few buttons. The Touring mode softens the suspension as well as the throttle response, while the engine hums away calmly at highway speeds. This is where you appreciate the spacious seat that can be raised or lowered by 20mm, in case the standard 840mm seat height isn’t accessible enough.
It is also contoured perfectly for all-day comfort, while the near-upright riding triangle and the wind protection offered by the manually adjustable windscreen makes it possible to cover serious miles without feeling fatigued.
At first, when you look at the ₹15.49 lakh (ex-showroom) asking price, the Multistrada 950 S appears to be an expensive proposition.Then again, the Ducati is powerful, loaded to the hilt with features and handles like nothing else. For this reason, and the fact that it adds a huge dollop of practicality to the mix, the Multistrada is an adventure touring motorcycle that simply cannot be overlooked.
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