Adding a brilliant V4 powerplant transforms Ducati’s adventure touring Multistrada into much more of an adventure, even on the road in Singapore
Photos by Derryn Wong
SINGAPORE – What is the V4 effect? Well, we remember riding the Ducati Panigale V4 sportsbike for the first time, and after 100 meters were convinced the V-twin was done. Just as Chief Ed Derryn found in the Streetfighter V4, it’s a powerhouse of an engine whose performance isn’t just higher, but also easier to access, and it sounds great too.
The same happens when you take Ducati’s V4 and plonk it into the Multistrada adventure tourer- it really lifts the game for Adventure Touring bikes, in a way that is arguably more than what liquid cooling did for the venerable BMW GS Boxer engine.
To use a car-world metaphor, it’s like the magical fairy dust effect of Audi’s 2.5-litre inline five, or BMW’s inline six. If you have a pulse, you simply can’t hate these engines. Ducati’s Multistrada with a V-twin- in 950 or 1200 versions – was always good, though not outstanding. With a V4, it is.
The Multistrada V4 (MTS V4) looks like its predecessors, continuing the eagle-like appearance with a prominent front ‘beak’ and frowning eyes. Technology takes centre stage, with a full LED light setup and indicators now flush in the fairing for a more streamlined look.
The cockpit is generous, with a comfy, narrow seat (adjustable 860mm to 840mm) and thanks to its relatively low weight, 215kg dry is quite light for this segment, we found it easy to maneuver at all speeds. Like other new Ducs, there’s an easy-to-read 6.5-inch TFT display, which is amongst the best in the business for usability.
But the key draw is of course the V4 engine. It’s a new unit, dubbed ‘Granturismo’, with 1,158cc displacement. It has some commonality with the Panigale/Streetfighter V4 engines (1,103cc) but overall there is less emphsis on top-end and overall output, but a more linear and generous torque delivery. On paper it delivers 170hp and 125Nm, the latter some 3,000rpm earlier than the Streetfighter.
The torque is doled out in a silky, uninterrupted torrent from about 4,500rpm to 11,500rpm, and feels far more refined than the V-twin it replaces, with significantly reduced vibration and harshness, with a wider powerband, and impressive responsiveness. Our only gripe was that Duc’s V4s are tuned to “feel” like a V-twin with the 0-90-270-380 firing order, perhaps for that continuity of character, so was still a little jerky below 4,500rpm.
The MTS V4S would lift the front wheel when liberal throttle was applied shifting from first into second gear, the V4 engine happy to comply with more and more throttle input. Also, unlike typical Adventure bike engines that are torque from the onset only to run out of puff three-quarters into the rev range, the V4 gives you everything all the way to the redline – meaning high-speed sport touring will be easier on it.
And going round corners is a blast too. Chicanes and tight corners were easily dispatched, the counter-rotating crank(shaft) encouraging the bike to lean more as more throttle was applied, unlike that of conventional engines.
The semi-active Marzocchi Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evolution with a new auto-levelling function allowed the MTS V4S to steamroll irregularities as if the tarmac perfectly flat and smooth, resulting in perhaps the most luxurious (motorbike) ride experienced so far. Even braking on rough surfaces – purposely challenging the bike – it felt utterly composed, with minimal dive.
But if you want to go slow, the V4 is more than willing to accompany you – there’s the usual slew of riding modes, and you can modify the suspension to suit.
BMW’s segment-defining GS adv bike has been updated for 2021 as well
Unlike a grumbly, gear-picky V-twin, the V4 has that multi-cylinder laziness and flexibility, which makes the bike a cinch to ride around town – not something you can say about all big adv-tourers. Another new Ducati bonus: Not much heat to be felt, thanks to side-mounted radiators.
We mentioned tech: There’s lots of it, besides what we just mentioned.
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) and blind spot monitoring is commonplace on cars, but the MTS V4 now has this (the S model here has it as standard). ACC is less useful outside of a touring context, but blind spot monitoring is, like on cars, a very useful feature to have in Singapore with other riders tending to lurk behind you at times.
The 6.5-inch screen enables you to sync your smartphone via the Ducati Connect application, so you can stream calls and music to your helmet intercom. Impressively it also supports Sygic navigation, which omits the need for a discrete GPS unit.
Slapping the new V4 into the Multi really makes it far more ‘multi’ than ever before: It handles better, goes faster easier, and is packed with lots of technology that’s mostly useful to the rider. If adventure tourers were SUVs, this would be something like a Lamborghini Urus: Very fast, tech-heavy, and still desirably Italian.
With motorbike touring in our region mostly made over paved and semi-paved roads, the feature-packed MTS V4S, luxurious ride quality, every-day liveability, and stonking Vee-4 engine makes it a compelling choice.
|Engine||1,158 cc, V4|
|Power||170 hp at 10,500 rpm|
|Torque||125 Nm at 8,750 rpm|
|Gearbox||6-speed manual with up-down quick-shifter|
|Top Speed||Fast enough|
|Dry / Wet Weight||215 kg / 240kg|
|Verdict||It’s not cheap but it is fantastically capable – not just as a sport/adventure touring bike, but now also in the technology field|
*OTR – On The Road, with COE, Road Tax, sans insurance