2021 Ducati Multistrada gets the V4 treatment, front and rear radar
The third application of Ducati’s V4 platform gears up for adventure touring duties in the new 170-hp Multistrada V4, which is loaded with cutting-edge electronics while, surprisingly enough, ditching the desmodromic valve system.
For a company that built its fame on sportbikes and roadracing, it sounds almost ironic that its first attempt at a tall adventurer became its best seller. More than 110,000 Multistradas have been produced since 2003, when the first generation launched with the air-cooled 1000DS desmodue twin and quite unusual looks.
The next step in 2009 upped the ante with the liquid-cooled Testastretta breed that introduced modern electronics, far greater horsepower and the design that still distinguishes every contemporary Multistrada, including the brand new 2021 model. This generation proved to be extremely successful; in 2018 Ducati reported that this model family accounted for almost 22 percent of its global sales.
In this sense, moving on to a V4-powered Multi was practically a no-brainer. But the 2021 Multistrada V4 doesn’t simply come with the V4 powerplant of the latest Panigale and Streetfighter – it gets its own variant, the 1,158 cc V4 Granturismo engine.
Ducati invested in designing a brand new aluminum monocoque frame and extensively reworking its four-cylinder motor for less sporty and more practical purposes. In fact, the Italians went as far as replacing Ducati’s technological staple, the desmodromic valve system, with traditional springs. And they candidly revealed their reasoning: compared to the desmo, springs stress the components of the valve system less.
The ingenious desmo design carries the signature of one of Ducati’s greatest legends, the late engineer Fabio Taglioni, and has proven its worth to the extent that it forced all the other factories that race in MotoGP to turn to pneumatic valves in order to compete with the accuracy it offers at very high engine rotation rates – that is after they unsuccessfully tried to outlaw it.
Obviously a motorcycle like the Multistrada doesn’t really care about high-rpm performance, nevertheless ditching the desmo must have been a tough decision at the Borgo Panigale headquarters. It’s more a matter of marketing than of essence, as Ducati and desmo have been advertised as synonymous for decades, even in motorcycles more benign than the Multistrada, like the Scrambler and the Monster series.
Yet it’s not only about stressing the valve system. The desmo also has far greater maintenance needs, its periodical tuning being very important for the engine’s efficiency and costing quite a bit more compared to the traditional valve spring setup that doesn’t require any servicing at all for tens of thousands of miles.
Sure enough, one of the major selling points Ducati pushes for the 2021 Multistrada is the 60,000-km (37,000-mile) major service intervals of the new V4 Granturismo motor. For a bike that counts touring as one of its main talents, the ability to circumnavigate the planet 1.5 times before you need a major service that includes valve checks is definitely a huge plus.
Several innovative features of the V4 motor remain in the Granturismo variant, such as the counter-rotating crankshaft, a MotoGP-derived solution that provides a lightweight feeling right where it matters most, in corner entry.
The motor also retains the Twin Pulse ignition, which sets the two cylinders of each bank to fire closely together. Both left- and right-side throttle bodies are driven by separate electric motors, ensuring better fueling accuracy and allowing for more detailed settings by the several electronic controls available to the rider.
Another interesting treat for the Multistrada commuter is the deactivation of the rear bank of cylinders. When the bike sits in neutral, the combustion stops in the two rear cylinders, saving the passengers from excess heat. As soon as the throttle is twisted, everything comes back to normal.
In terms of power, the new engine outperforms the 1,260 cc Testastretta twin of the previous Multistrada significantly; with 170 hp (125 kW) at 10,600 rpm and 125 Nm (92 lb-ft) of torque at 8,750 rpm it ushers Ducati’s adventurer to the next level. The same can be said for the bike’s electronic safety systems.
The main new feature is front and rear radar, jointly developed with Bosch, placed under the headlight and at the tail. The front unit is used by the Adaptive Cruise Control and is operational at speeds between 30 and 160 km/h (19 and 100 mph), to constantly monitor nearby traffic. When the cruise control is on, it regulates the throttle and brakes to retain a safe distance on the road, and with the quickshifter in place it won’t even deactivate during a gear change.
The rear radar is used for Blind Spot Detection, informing on the bike’s display when a vehicle is approaching fast out from the rider’s sight.
Ducati claims that this is “the first production bike in the world to adopt radar technology,” but BMW actually beat them by a few weeks, revealing its new 2021 R 1250 RT tourer with a similar front-facing radar and adaptive cruise control. KTM is also expected to incorporate a similar Bosch kit in its new flagship 2021 Adventure model, which is expected in the very near future.
Unsurprisingly the 2021 Multistrada V4 comes with a very long list of electronic equipment, including all the traditional safety systems that control traction, wheelies, cornering ABS and provide several riding and power modes.
Since 2009 Ducati has been describing the Multistrada as a four-in-one machine, a notion reflected in the available riding modes: sport, touring, urban and enduro. The first two modes use the engine’s full power, while the latter two employ only 115 hp of the available power, and all are combined with relevant settings in all of the bike’s electronic systems.
The rider controls everything from a new 5-inch TFT screen and a set of handlebar buttons, as well as a new small joystick on the left-hand side of the handlebar – similar to the very practical joystick that Triumph has employed on many of its motorcycles for some years now.
The new Multistrada V4, with its 22-liter (5.8-gal) fuel tank, manages to keep its mass at the same levels as the previous V2 models. Tipping the scales at 240 kg (529 lb), it doesn’t veer far from the 232 kg (511.5 lb) of the basic Multistrada 1260 and is even lighter than the 254-kg (560-lb) Multistrada 1260 Enduro.
All of the above can be found on the basic 2021 Multistrada V4, but there are another two versions, the S and the S Sport, which will be available with more equipment on their standard lists.
The main difference with the S is Ducati Skyhook Suspension, the electronic active suspension kit that was also used in the previous Multistrada generation and replaces the standard model’s fully adjustable Marzocchi kit. There's also bigger disc brakes (330 mm, over 320 mm for the basic model) with Brembo M50 Stylema calipers, a larger 6.5-inch screen with Bluetooth connectivity and navigation system, vehicle hold control, (conventional) cruise control, quickshifter and a full LED headlight with cornering lights.
The top-of-the-range S Sport simply adds an Akrapovic exhaust can, a carbon fiber front fender and a dedicated color scheme.
Ducati will offer the new Multistrada V4 in several trim and accessory packs, which are different for each of the three main model variants. All three variants roll on 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, with the option for either spoked of alloy rims in the S and S Sport models.
The basic Multistrada is available in only the essential trim, and can be equipped with accessory packs for enduro, touring, urban, performance or functionality, each containing relevant kits of optional equipment. But there’s no radar for the basic model.
The Multistrada V4 S can be ordered in five different trims, two of which include the radar and can be further complemented with accessories. Finally the V4 S Sport will be sold in two trims, performance and full, with a selection of three accessory packs.
The bike should hit dealerships at the end of November, with pricing expected to start at around €19K for the base model in Europe.