Coming Soon, A Multistrada 950 Touring Model

Since it came out back in ’03, Ducati’s Multistrada family has gotten a lot of love from the riding community. It’s seen a number of upgrades and engine changes over the years, and the new-for-2017 “950” serves as the smallest Multistrada model this year. I wouldn’t call this an entry-level bike by any means, but it is the most accessible of Ducati’s multi-bikes, and thus is likely to help bridge the gap for folks looking to test the adventure-bike waters as it were. A 937 cc Testastretta powerplant drives the ride with 100-plus horsepower on tap and a host of safety-related features bundled in with the Ducati Safety Pack. Today I want to check out this newest bit of Ducatisti bait, and see how the genre has continued to evolve.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Multistrada 950.

Design

Ducati Multistrada 950
- image 731642
For 2018, the Multistrada 950 will be joined by the Multistrada 950 Touring with color-matched hard cases.

Adventure bikes are really a collection of unlikely design features borrowed from the “1200” and “1200 Enduro.” The 950, for instance, is a straight-up street machine with nothing in the way of off-road capabilities, yet it retains a bird’s beak front fender reminiscent of the true dual-surface bikes over a street-ish front fender. A tiered, angular fender comes with cheeks that act as a radiator cowl to protect the rad and funnel cooling air.

Typical of the breed, the fuel tank rides high on the frame ahead of the precipitous drop to the rider’s saddle and subsequent rise to the stadium pillion seat with a grab rail/luggage hardpoint at the ass end of the subframe. The taillight housing is neatly tucked away under the trailing edge, but the gains made by doing that were immediately squandered on the standoff-style turn signals, probably a requirement of the motor vehicle regulations. Oh well, it ain’t like you are liable to encounter a lot of brush trying to mow the signals off, and if you are, you’re doing it wrong. By contrast, the front turn signals are molded into the handguards for an ultra-clean installation.

Pullback bars and mid-mount foot controls define a relaxed rider triangle, and seat options provide a butt-altitude range of 32.3- to 33.9-inches high. Windshield height is adjustable on the fly for another layer of body-type accommodation, making the 950 easy for the riding public to make friends with.

If there’s a negative here, it’s in the aesthetics. I realize that purely function-driven designs have a beauty all their own, but I gotta say these bikes suffer from a decided lack of curb appeal to mine eyes. That’s OK though, what a boring place it would be if we all liked the exact same things.

For 2018, the Multistrada 950 will be joined by the Multistrada 950 Touring. The Touring model comes with color matched, lockable side cases and a center stand, and should join the base model 950 in the dealers at the end of 2017.

Chassis

Ducati Multistrada 950
- image 698460
Officially, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires are supposed to be “dual-surface” tires, but in actuality they perform best on the black with good wet-weather handling characteristics.

Duc loves its tubular-steel Trellis frames, and the 950 rides on just such a skeleton with thin-wall, large-diameter tubing and a cast-aluminum, yoke-style swingarm to articulate for the rear suspension. Steering geometry trends toward the stable end of the spectrum with a 25.2-degree rake and 4.16 inches of trail on a 62.76-inch wheelbase, and these numbers should provide for low-fatigue rides on long trips and daily commutes alike.

Suspension is the envy of many. Massive, 48 mm inverted forks from KYB supports the front end on 6.7 inches of travel with full adjustability to include spring preload, as well as variable compression and rebound damping. A sachs monoshock supports the rear end with the same adjustments and travel range as the front for a plush ride and near-infinite adjustability so you can tweak it to your heart’s content.

Duc spared little when it set up the brakes. Brembo M4.32 Monobloc calipers bite the dual, 320 mm front discs with the power of four, 32 mm opposed pistons driven by an axial pump. A twin-pot caliper pinches the 265 mm rear disc, and ABS comes standard as part of the safety pack. The Bosch 9.1 MP ABS comes with a three-level system that is controlled by the Riding Mode feature so the level of intervention can be moderated to account for changes in conditions or rider preference.

Cast-alloy wheels mount the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires with a 120/70-R19 leading the way and a 170/60-R17 bringing up the rear. Officially, these are supposed to be “dual-surface” tires, but in actuality they perform best on the black with good wet-weather handling characteristics.

Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Front suspension/Travel: KYB 48 mm fully adjustable USD fork/170 mm (6.7 in)
Front wheel: Cast alloy, 3.00" x 19"
Front Tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 R19
Rear suspension/Travel: Fully adjustable Sachs monoshock unit. Remote spring preload adjustment. Aluminum double-sided swingarm/170 mm (6.7 in)
Rear wheel: Cast alloy, 4.50" x 17"
Rear tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 R17
Front brake: 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, with ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper, with ABS as standard equipment

Drivetrain

Ducati Multistrada 950
- image 698457
Power numbers are decent with 113 ponies at 9,000 RPM and 71 pounds of grunt at 7,750.

Now for the beating heart; the liquid-cooled, 937 cc, Testastretta L-twin engine. A 94mm bore and 67.5 mm stroke leaves the engine significantly oversquare, and the 12.6-to-1 compression ratio is speecy-spicy indeed. A pair of 53 mm throttle bodies handles the induction with RbW controls and Bosch fuel injection, and a stainless-steel exhaust system carries off the waste gasses with four-valve heads in between. Duc’s famous Desmodromic valvetrain times the valves with push-open/pull-closed cams rather than the standard cam-and-spring system, allowing for high revs with no possibility of valve float.

Power numbers are decent with 113 ponies at 9,000 RPM and 71 pounds of grunt at 7,750. Wet weight is right at 500 pounds, so this is sufficient power to keep things exciting. The factory added its proprietary Traction Control system that provides eight levels of protection for various riding conditions, and it even networks with the ABS to help the two work in tandem for one-stop ride control. A six-speed gearbox helps manage the RPMs, and a slip-and-assist clutch couples the tranny to engine power with a tough chain drive to carry the power to the pavement.

Engine: Testastretta, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Mono Spark, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement: 937 cc
Bore x Stroke: 94 x 67.5 mm
Compression ratio: 12.6:1
Power: 83.1 kW (113 hp) @ 9,000 rpm
Torque: 96.2 Nm (71.0 lb-ft) @ 7,750 rpm
Gearbox: 6 speed

Pricing

Ducati Multistrada 950
- image 698456
In light of the electronics package, adjustable suspension and power output, the price isn't all that bad.

Ducati is known for quality, not necessarily low prices, and so the sticker isn’t much of a shock at $13, 995, especially in light of the electronics package, adjustable suspension and power output. Beware the accessories catalog though, the pannier kits and other attractive goodies will quickly drive that price up.

Colors: Star White Silk, Ducati Red
Price: $13,995

Competitors

2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
- image 654220
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
- image 668213
All three get points for having suspension components that are more-or-less fully tuneable, but the suspension travel tells the true tale of the bike's capabilities.

Adventure bikes are everywhere nowadays, so there are no shortage of worthy competitors, but for me it’s impossible to think “adventure bike” without thinking of the Africa Twin from Honda. Running a close second is the Kawi Versys, so rather than look at the other Euro’s and Brits, I’ve decided that I’m running with these two for my head-to-head.

Kawasaki and Ducati both run a bird’s beak front fairing that makes them look almost enduro-ish, but Honda went with a nice, rounded entry instead. Beyond that, the three follow the adventure-bike mold to the Tee with tall fuel tanks, low saddles and upright, relaxed rider triangles. Upswept exhausts lend an off-road capable look, but for my money the Honda is the only one I would actually take off the beaten path.

All three get points for having suspension components that are more-or-less fully tuneable, but the suspension travel tells the true tale of the bike’s capabilities. Kawi comes in at the bottom with a still-respectable 5.9 inches of travel and the Duc rolls on 6.7-inches, but Honda provides a long, 9-inch stroke up front and 8.7-inches in back for some actual light-terrain capabilities. Brakes are solid across the board with dual front discs and ABS overwatch, so none gain an advantage there.

Ducati surrenders a handful of cubes to the 998 cc Africa Twin and the 1,043 cc Versys, yet still manages to outpunch both handily. Honda manages a mere 93 ponies and 72 pounds of grunt from its “Twin” plant, and Kawi manages 102/59 (depending on whose dyno you use) with the Versys mill, but Ducati takes it with 113/71.

Kawi and Honda tie at the till with $12,999 stickers, a grand cheaper than the $13,995 Duc, but not a dealbreaker by any means. In fact, I’d say the prices are close enough to justify paying for that extra little bit of Italian performance.

He Said

“I’m still not sure how to feel about the Multistrada. In spite of its looks, it’s no more off-road capable than a soccer mom’s SUV, and so if it’s only useful on the road, there are plenty of other rides out there just as capable and with better looks to boot. That said, if adventure bikes are your thing, this model certainly will ease your passage into the genre.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I agree with my husband on this point. To me, adventure means off-road touring and I’m not seeing that in this Multistrada, though this is where a lot of the adventure bikes fall, so maybe it’s our definition that is off base. The push has been on for the last few years to go smaller when it comes to engine size, so the 950 may be more attractive than the 1200 for some buyers."

Specifications

Engine:
Type: Testastretta, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Mono Spark, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement: 937 cc
Bore x Stroke: 94 x 67.5 mm
Compression ratio: 12.6:1
Power: 83.1 kW (113 hp) @ 9,000 rpm
Torque: 96.2 Nm (71.0 lb-ft) @ 7,750 rpm
Fuel injection: Bosch electronic fuel injection system, cylindrical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, diameter 53 mm
Exhaust: Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, single stainless steel muffler
Transmission:
Gearbox: 6 speed
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.84:1
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=28/20 4=26/22 5=24/23 6=23/24
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43
Clutch: Wet multiplate clutch mechanically operated, self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Front suspension: KYB 48 mm fully adjustable USD fork
Front wheel: Cast alloy, 3.00" x 19"
Front Tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 R19
Rear suspension: Fully adjustable Sachs monoshock unit. Remote spring preload adjustment. Aluminum double-sided swingarm
Rear wheel: Cast alloy, 4.50" x 17"
Rear tire: Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 R17
Front wheel travel: 170 mm (6.7 in)
Rear wheel travel: 170 mm (6.7 in)
Front brake: 2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc callipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, with ABS as standard equipment
Rear brake: 265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with ABS as standard equipment
Instrumentation: LCD
Dimensions and weight:
Dry weight: 205.7 kg (453.5 lb)
Wet weight (KERB): 229 kg (504.9 lb)
Seat height: Not adjustable 840 mm (820 - 860 mm with accessory seats); (33.1 in standard; 32.3 - 33.9 accessory seats)
Wheelbase: 1,594 mm (62.76 in)
Rake: 25.2°
Trail: 105.7 mm (4.16 in)
Fuel tank capacity: 20 l - 5.3 gallon (US)
Number of seats: Dual seat
Details:
Additional equipments: Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (ABS + DTC)
Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage
Emissions and Consumption:
Standard: Euro 4
Consumption: CO2 124 g/km - 5,3 l/100 km
Colors: Star White Silk, Ducati Red
Price: $13,995

References

Honda Africa Twin

2016 Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
- image 654230

See our review of the Honda Africa Twin.

Kawasaki Versys

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
- image 684442

See our review of the Kawasaki Versys 1000LT.

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

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