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Ducati’s first adventure bike: Multistrada Enduro

Charles Fleming
Los Angeles Times

It has been my good fortune to ride a number of modern Ducati motorcycles. They’re all terrific.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, powered by a 1,198-cc engine, makes 160 horsepower, has a claimed wet weight of 566 pounds and a starting MSRP of $21,295.

I really like Monsters. I like the Scramblers. I’m dangerously attracted to the hooligan Hyperstradas. I even grudgingly admire the Diavel — even though the sleek, sophisticated cruiser isn’t a bike I’d ever ride.

And the Multistradas? I love them. So it was with serious excitement that I finally threw a leg over a Multistrada Enduro, the Italian company’s long-awaited, much-delayed entry into the growing adventure-bike market.

Ducati is arriving a little late to the big bike adventure market. With the Multistrada 1200 Enduro, it’s attempting to compete with the BMW GS, KTM Adventure and recently arrived Honda Africa Twin motorcycles that already dominate the category.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, powered by a 1,198-cc engine, makes 160 horsepower, has a claimed wet weight of 566 pounds and a starting MSRP of $21,295.

Like all the Multistradas, the Enduro is a wonder of modern technology. For street riding, it’s hard to beat the 160-horsepower engine, with 100 pound-feet of torque, the slinky suspension, and the standard cruise control, traction control, wheelie control, ABS and riding modes.

It’s super smooth in the corners, and so ready for the open highway. Just aim it for Canada — or Chianti, as I did last summer on a non-Enduro Multi — and go.

Like other Multis, with whom it shares most engine, chassis and suspension characteristics, it’s an all-day rider. I spent hours in the saddle on this bike without becoming weary.

And like those siblings, it presents certain challenges. It has a reported 1.2 inches more ground clearance and suspension travel than the standard Multi, so it sits at a very high 34 inches. That could make starting and stopping in traffic a challenge for anyone under 6 feet.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, powered by a 1,198-cc engine, makes 160 horsepower, has a claimed wet weight of 566 pounds and a starting MSRP of $21,295.

It produces a lot of engine heat too, which will make slow riding or stopping in traffic a leg-broiling affair.

To make it off-road friendly, Ducati has dressed its Enduro model with tubeless tires — Pirelli Scorpion knobbies are an option and were strapped onto mine — spoked wheels, 2-inch handlebar risers and a center stand.

Ducati has also given the bike a suite of riding modes and blessed the rider with the ability to easily disable ABS and traction control — essential for riding off the pavement. In “Enduro” mode, the 160 horsepower is dropped to a more tractable 100 horsepower.

I couldn’t wait to get it into the soft stuff. So, I hit the dirt.

That’s where I discovered its limitations. The seat height made maneuvering the Enduro, and stopping on uneven ground, a little challenging. And the bike wears all of its advertised 566 pounds (when fully fueled) up high.

Those things could hinder its off-road abilities, and they do. It’s really superior on the pavement, and quite comfortable on a flat fire road. But in the rough stuff, with elevation changes, the Enduro feels less capable than some of its big-bike adventure rivals. It’s also cloaked in expensive body work that is going to cost a lot to replace when — not if — it goes down in the dirt.

Indeed, a slow-speed tip-over on a ride I attended resulted in a broken brush guard. On most adventure bikes, this would be a minor parts replacement.

But on the Multi Enduro, the brush guard also supports the turn indicator and the front brake fluid reservoir. That minor accident, of a kind that is almost guaranteed to happen to anyone who takes the Enduro off road, made the bike difficult to ride for the rest of the day. The repair will cost a minimum of $75 in parts, and plenty more in labor.

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, powered by a 1,198-cc engine, makes 160 horsepower, has a claimed wet weight of 566 pounds and a starting MSRP of $21,295.

Ducati, like its rivals, offers a line of aftermarket accessories that will protect the adventure bike from certain kinds of misadventures. The Enduro can be dressed up with crash bars, bash plates, and rugged luggage racks and cases.

Even with those aftermarket add-ons, the Enduro may be more of an asphalt adventure bike than an off-road warrior.

And guess what? That may not matter.

Many adventure riders never leave the pavement at all. For the Ducatisti who want to go long-distance adventuring, secure in the knowledge that the equipment is ready for some light off-road duty, there is nothing not to like about this motorcycle — except, maybe, the $21,295 MSRP.

And if that feels too high, wait a bit: Ducati has built and will soon begin selling a 960-cc version of the Multistrada. In stock format, it won’t be as off-road ready as this Enduro, but it will cost under $14,000, and will sit about 1 inch lower.