Small Changes And A New Engine Make For A Whole New Experience

Ducati pushes the envelope for its large-displacement adventure machines with the Multistrada 1260 S. This machines roll with top-shelf features such as Riding Modes, Power Modes and all sorts of yummy-goodness bundled together under the Ducati Safety Pack umbrella. A powerful twin-cylinder plant pushes the “S” well into power-adventure territory with upwards of 150 ponies packed away within. The “S,” and the airbag-jacket equipped “S D|air,” build on the base 1260 to deliver something to compete with the other top models on the world stage, so let’s get into the details and see how well they did.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S and S D|air.

  • 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1262 cc
  • Price:
    20995

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Design

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 779494
Overall, I gotta' say that Ducati manages to bring “the sexy” to the adventure-bike genre with its usual aplomb.

The overall design isn’t exactly an exercise in subtlety with plenty of the typical adventure-tastic features you’d expect, at least at the entry and the flyline. A bird’s-beak fairing leads the way with super-bright LED headlights in what can only be called an angry-bird arrangement, because that’s exactly what it looks like head-on. Not sayin’ it’s bad, just sayin’ it is.

Up top, the windshield carries itself with a pleasing shape that flows right into the lines of the fairing while contributing a minimum to penetration resistance with an equally-minimal protective pocket for the rider; not too small, but definitely not a barn door that wastes a bunch of energy by pushing a lot of air around unnecessarily.

As usual for this Italian builder, the lines exhibit a sensuous flow that graces the bike with almost feminine qualities, and I mean that in the best possible way. I’m not sayin’ it’s necessarily a girl’s bike, just that my tendency to think of bikes in the feminine is certainly justified in this case.

Behind the shield, a full-color, five-inch TFT screen displays all the pertinent information and serves as a rider interface to help you navigate through the considerable electronic possibilities the S brings to the table. The 5.3-gallon fuel tank rises up in the typical camel-like hump before a steep tumble down to the pilot’s seat. Seat height is variable, and you get a choice between 32.5- and 33.3-inches high via the stock adjustable saddle so you get to dial in for your inseam, within reason.

Naturally, the dramatic drop places the rider in the bike more than on it, and the rise to the P-pad creates a dramatic swale that fits right into the adv-bike mold. A set of fold-up footpegs support the passenger’s feet from their mounts on the subframe — much more comfortable than swingarm-mount pegs — and a set of discreet J.C. handles provides the final two points of contact.

The mudguard uses the tag as a sort of extension and mounts the turn-signal standoffs with the LED taillight nestled away in the fork formed by fender and seat. That last is a nice touch the way it flows and fill the niche, and it is a sight better than the afterthought-class illumination used by so many manufacturers. The mudguard offers sparse coverage, but it can get away with being so slight because most of the fling control comes via a pair of low-profile huggers that keep the rear-end clean in more ways than one. What can I say? I love what a hugger does for the southbound end of a northbound bike. Overall, I gotta’ say that Ducati manages to bring “the sexy” to the adventure-bike genre with its usual aplomb.

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Chassis

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 779497
With a reworked frame and plenty of electronic fandanglery in the suspension, the Multistrada rises to the top-shelf of top-shelf ADV bikes.

The factory tuned up the tubular-steel, Trellis-style frame for this generation with a swingarm that was stretched by 1.8-inches, and a steering-head-angle increase of one degree to 25 degrees and a longer wheelbase of 62.4 inches. In an effort to minimize unsprung weight, the factory opted for a single-side swingarm that also leaves an unimpeded view of the rear wheel from the right side for even more curb appeal. Trail measures out at 4.37-inches and coupled with the rake numbers, the metrics point to a ride that is marginally more stable than a full-on sportbike and nearly as nimble. Of course, the relatively high center-of-gravity will also play a role there as well.

So far, this probably sounds about like most every other adv out there, but that changes here. The suspension hardware is supplied entirely by Sachs with a 48 mm, inverted front fork and a monoshock out back, and it falls under the management of the Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evolution system that automatically tweaks the full spectrum of adjustments. Not only does it handle all that for you, it also comes with a number of preset values for quick, push-button adjustments in response to changes in passenger/cargo loads.

Both ends sport 6.69 inches of travel, so you can, in fact, count on it to handle rough roads and light terrain. The S and S D|air rock dual front discs that are 10 mm larger than the base model with a 330 mm total diameter; just about the largest you can expect to easily find, in fact. It comes with a pair of four-piston, Brembo monobloc Evo M50 calipers up front and a twin-pot anchor and 265 mm disc out back. This all comes under the protection of the cornering, 9.1ME cornering ABS that factors the cornering G-forces into the equation by calculating the available traction and levels of intervention. Plus, a Vehicle Hold Control feature comes standard to hold the rear brake for you, for up to 9 seconds, while you negotiate your uphill starts with both feet on the ground.

Cast-alloy rims mount 17-inch Pirelli Scorpion Trail II hoops with a 120/70 leading the way ahead of a 190/55. That’s not the end of the electronic wizardry, there’s plenty more to come.

Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Rake: 25°
Trail: 4.37 in (111 mm)
Rear Suspension: 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
Front brake: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo Evo M50 calipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, radial pump with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Front wheel/Travel: 5-spoke Y-shape cast light alloy 3.50" x 17"/ 6.7 in (170 mm)
Rear Wheel/ Travel: 5-spoke Y-shaped cast light alloy 6.00" x 17"/ 6.7 in (170 mm)
Front tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 R17
Rear tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 190/55 R17

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S D|air

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 784472
This wearable airbag detects when you and the bike part ways in an unplanned event and inflates to protect the back, thorax and collarbones.

Ducati and Dianese bring the ultimate level of safety to the table with the “D|air” jacket/vest. This little gem actually detects when you get separated from the bike in what seems like an unplanned manner, it inflates to protect the back, thorax and collarbones. Honestly, I’m surprised more bike builders haven’t adopted something like this. After all, rough and tumble guys like professional rodeo cowboys have been using something similar for years.

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Drivetrain

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 779500
The electronic fandanglery includes wheelie control and traction control, plus a quartet of riding modes that allow you to tune the engine's behavior, essentially making the “S” four bikes in one.

Ducati powers the “S” with one of its Testastretta V-twin powerplants. Not only does it use the signature desmodromic valvetrain that replaces the standard spring-closure system with a pull-closed cam, but it comes with the new variable valve-timing feature that changes both the intake and exhaust timing in response to rpm changes. This has the net effect of broadening the powerband, mainly downward so you don’t have to wind it up to get usable torque.

The 106 mm bore and 71 mm stroke gives it a 1,262 cc displacement with a sizzlin’ hot 13-to-1 compression ratio that’ll accept nothing less than the finest road champagne. There is plenty of good news though; the factory claims 158-horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 95.5 pound-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm, and that’s enough to put it neck-and-neck with the other top adventure-sport bikes currently on the market.

The aforementioned fandanglery continues with wheelie control and traction control, plus a quartet of riding modes that allow you to tune the engine’s behavior, even to the point of reducing the max output to 100 ponies with the “Urban” riding mode. “Sport,” “Enduro” and “Touring” riding modes round out the magic to make the “S”, essentially, four bikes in one. A slipper clutch binds that power to a six-speed transmission with the Ducati Quick Shift feature that lets you cycle up and down the range, sans clutch action, with the push of a button.

Engine: Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1.262 cc
Bore X stroke: 106 x 71.5 mm
Compression ratio: 13:1
Power: 155.88 hp (116.2 kW) @ 9.500 rpm
Torque: 95.5 lb-ft (129.5 Nm) @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, equivalent diameter 56 mm
Exhaust: Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, aluminum tail pipes
Gearbox: 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Pricing

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 779517
MSRP puts it just under $21k, but no surprising when you look at the advanced electronics package included.

The 2018 Multistrada 1260 S rolls for $20,995, and it can be had in Ducati Red, Volcano Black or Iceberg White. I like the white, but I do hear the Imperial March when I look at it.

Instrumentation: Color TFT display 5”
Safety Equipment: Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), Riding Mode, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Cornering ABS Bosch + DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Cornering Lights
Standard equipment: Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down, Cruise control, Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar controls, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), color TFT display, Full LED light, Automatic indicator switch off, Anti-theft ready.
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage
Color: Ducati Red, Volcano Black, Iceberg White
Price: $20,995

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Competitors

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt
- image 785821
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S / S D-air
- image 779518
As you'd expect, the Tiger is a bit more conservative with its overall design with little of the sex-on-wheels looks of the Duc

The ADV market brings the Multistrada 1260 S onto the same playing field as other top-shelf adv bikes, such as Triumph’s Tiger 1200 XRt, and I think they’ll definitely appeal to the same sort of buyer. As you’d expect, the Tiger is a bit more conservative with its overall design with little of the sex-on-wheels looks of the Duc; it has more of a pragmatic approach, if you will. If anything, it makes the Tiger look more like serious business against the swank of the 1260.

Trumpet matches Duc with a color, five-inch TFT instrument display and host of electronic delights to include a Hill Hold feature, switchable traction control and ABS — both optimized for cornering — and four premade riding modes with a fifth as a rider-programmable profile. Ducati comes out on top at the battle of the dyno against the Triumph since the Brit cranks out only 139 ponies against 158 horsepower from the Italian, and it carries that advantage to the checkout since Triumph asks $21,050 for its top-line, streetwise Tiger 1200.

He Said

“Really swanky, and as much as I like it, the looks wouldn’t be the big selling point with me, it’d be the power and the electronics. It’s nice to see the safety gear improvement with the D|air feature, as well as the corner-sensitive traction control/ABS, be cause let’s face it, riding is too dangerous to not appreciate such fandanglery.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I might have gone head-to-head with the BMW S 1000 XR, but that might be so done-to-death. There were a lot of small changes in the Multistrada 1260 S, including some small styling changes, but the most noticeable change is the new engine, which is a remapped Diavel engine. The remap makes a huge difference in performance with quite a bit more torque in the midrange. Slight changes in the steering geometry and wheelbase give it a more stable feel and not quite as twitchy feeling as the previous gen, and so it’s a much more mature version than the 1200. An added bonus is, you can use the new Ducati Link App with it to really enhance your riding experience.”

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1.262 cc
Bore X stroke: 106 x 71.5 mm
Compression ratio: 13:1
Power: 155.88 hp (116.2 kW) @ 9.500 rpm
Torque: 95.5 lb-ft (129.5 Nm) @ 7,500 rpm
Fuel injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, equivalent diameter 56 mm
Exhaust: Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, aluminum tail pipes
Gearbox: 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.84:1
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 40
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Rake: 25°
Trail: 4.37 in (111 mm)
Rear Suspension: 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
Front brake: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo Evo M50 calipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, radial pump with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment
Front wheel/Travel: 5-spoke Y-shape cast light alloy 3.50" x 17"/ 6.7 in (170 mm)
Rear Wheel/ Travel: 5-spoke Y-shaped cast light alloy 6.00" x 17"/ 6.7 in (170 mm)
Front tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 R17
Rear tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 190/55 R17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Seat height: Adjustable 32.5 - 33.3 in (825 - 845 mm)
Wheelbase: 62.4 in (1,585 mm)
Dry weight: 467 lb (212 kg)
Kerb weight: 518 lb ( 235 kg)
Fuel tank capacity: 5.3 gallon (20 l)
Consumption: 45.2 mpg (5.2 l/100 km)
Number of seats: Dual seat
Details:
Instrumentation: Color TFT display 5”
Safety Equipment: Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), Riding Mode, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Cornering ABS Bosch + DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Cornering Lights
Standard equipment: Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down, Cruise control, Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar controls, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), color TFT display, Full LED light, Automatic indicator switch off, Anti-theft ready.
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage
Standard: Euro 4
Color: Ducati Red, Volcano Black, Iceberg White
Price: $20,995

References

Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt
- image 785811

See our review of the Triumph Tiger 1200 XRt.

BMW S 1000 XR

2016 - 2018 BMW S 1000 XR
- image 787946

See our review of the BMW S 1000 XR.

Ducati Diavel

2016 - 2018 Ducati Diavel
- image 671862

See our review of the Ducati Diavel.

Ducati Multistrada 1200

2014 - 2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 / 1200 S
- image 737803

See our review of the Ducati Multistrada 1200.

Ducati Multistrada 1260

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260
- image 777812

See our review of the Ducati Multistrada 1260.

Ducati Links Your Bike To Your Smartphone

Ducati App Links Your Bike To Your Smartphone
- image 784473

See our look at the Ducati Link App.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ducati.com, triumphmotorcycles.com, bmwmotorcycles.com

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