2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 S politely lowers itself as you stop
Big adventure bikes: they're terrific tourers on the move, deceptively good on a twisty road and surprisingly dirt-capable if the rider's up to the task. But ground clearance comes at a cost. Jeez, they can be tall. As an average-height dude, I'm used to putting a foot down without a second thought on most bikes, but on some of these adventure machines, the ground can be a long way away when you come to a stop.
Ducati has made the decision to address this with its latest Multistrada V4 S, updating its semi-active suspension system with a "minimum preload" feature that can be set to wind out the spring preload on the forks and shock, lowering the bike a little as you approach a stop, so you can get your boot down more securely. Owners of last year's bike will get this system free in a software update.
A similar feature was pioneered last year on Harley-Davidson's Pan American adventure bike, albeit as an option, and it strikes us as an excellent and rider-focused use of electronic suspension tech that'll save a few embarrassing topples, especially for shorter riders. We'd be interested to learn exactly how it operates in practice, and how quickly it adjusts; will it drop quickly enough to help out in an emergency stop from low speed in traffic? Plenty of riders have ended up under their machines that way, myself included.
There are other options to make the big Multistrada's standard 840 mm (33.1 inch) seat height more suitable for a wider range of riders. There's optional low and high saddles, as well as a factory suspension lowering kit, so depending on what you need you can move that seat height between 790-875 mm (31.1-34.4 inches).
The bike has other things too. 170 horsepower (124.1 kW), for starters, from its 1,158 cc desmodromic V4 engine, which Ducati says can now go a whopping 60,000 km (37,000 miles) before it needs its valve clearances checked. That kind of power'll get a few tickers tocking.
Then there's the front and rear radar – this is the first bike ever to ship with both, enabling both the freeway magic of adaptive cruise control and the added safety of blind spot warnings. Ducati says it's also overhauled the infotainment, phone connectivity and human-machine interfaces on the bike.
The Multistrada S has always sat at the roadier end of the adventure market, and this bike carries on that tradition, although its 19- and 17-inch rims are available in both cast and spoked versions, shod in street touring and adventure-style tires respectively, so if you really want to get your US$26 grand-plus Italian crotch rocket dirty, knock yourself out.