My pre-owned Ducati Multistrada 1260S: Ownership experience

I had also shortlisted the BMW S1000XR, but ruled out the GS1250 and Honda Africa Twin.

BHPian narula123 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The Need for Comfy Speed:

As I age, the body demands a motorcycle which is more comfortable but the mind demands the adrenaline associated with mad brute power. I am also an advocate of safety tech on motorcycles (No 'Real men ride raw bikes" fundas for me).

My 10R was now even more acutely set up for the track and it was a royal pain to ride her on Sundays through the city traffic. She's a mad banshee on the highways but her current tune doesn't make her a happy puppy in traffic or on broken roads. The engine heat and committed egos aren't good friends with my back beyond 100 km either. Net-net she's not something I look forward to riding on our broken roads or through traffic.

My Ninja 650, though old, was still a pleasure to ride and made sure I was comfortable whenever I swung a leg over her. But she's still a basic 650cc twin and has limited dynamic capabilities. Make no mistake, she's a very capable machine but I had outgrown her a few years ago (that's why the 10R for the track). She still remained with me to take me everywhere else but the track. Riding her was no doubt fun but she made me miss the 10R's surge and safety net. Every fast highway run on her was us winning "Fear Factor" seasons in my head. Not a good feeling when you come home from a ride realizing you are pushing your luck.

Hence, the need (want?) arose of finding something which is comfortable, safe and yet powerful enough for me to replace the 650 with and use everywhere without yearning for the 10R's power. My mind zeroed down on two options - the Ducati Multistrada 1260S and the BMW S1000XR. I am not an off-road buff hence ruled out the BMW GS1250 and Africa Twin (both extremely competent machines in their genre) and the need for strong power (150bhp+) kept me away from the Tigers, and the Versys. The new Ninja 1000 was very tempting at the price and I did think about it a couple of times. If buying pre-owned, I was typically looking for something that was not more than 2-3 years old.

I was in no hurry to buy so was very picky about evaluating all the used options I saw on forums. Ducatis are mercurial machines and a badly kept one will be grumpy for a long time. Plus, both the 1260S and the XR are very rare to find though I did come across a few which were either discarded for registration concerns or the crazy prices being quoted. Few of these options were very tempting especially a 2021 XR and a 1260 Enduro being sold by NS1 but they would have meant me breaking the bank and going way out of budget.

Divine Intervention:

They say patience pays and boy did it! Got talking to the Mumbai Ducati dealership and found out that there is a pre-owned BS4 (mid-2020 registered) Multistrada 1260S for sale under the Ducati Approved program. For the uninitiated, Ducati Approved is Ducati's pre-owned bike program where they verify the bike on various checkpoints and then back it with a warranty for the new buyer. The bikes obviously have to qualify an age and mileage criteria to be listed on Ducati Approved.

Spoke to the showroom and got some details on the bike. It sounded very very tempting on paper and looked super crisp & clean in the pics. The bike was also under warranty (important for Ducatis I am told) and had just been serviced a week ago. I blocked time with the dealership team to inspect and check out the bike in person.

Prompt as a swiss watch, I was at the dealership on the assigned date. The next 3 hours went about like a blur - Saw the bike, skipped a heartbeat, rode the bike, skipped another heartbeat, saw all details, agreed on the price & terms, gave a deposit, had coffee, got back home.

It was only when I was back home doing the enormity of what had just happened hit me. I had finally found a bike that was loaded to the gills on tech, carried 160 bhp (Yummy!), looked like a supermodel, had a personality that I loved and more importantly at a price I could stretch and afford.

The bike had done about 9000kms and was clean as a whistle. Ordered some Evotech (radiator guard, engine guard, oil cooler guard), Barkbusters (handguard protection) and Eazigrip parts from my mates at LazyAssBikers and then some SW-Motech bling. Got a fresh pair of Michelin PR5s from Torque Block in super quick time too. Everything was installed, inspected and the bike was ready for delivery. Next to go on were R&G case savers, Shocktube for the rear spring and a bit of trinket here and there.

Being a bit cheesy, I decided to coincide the delivery date with my birthday in August. Finally, The Greyhound was home among the wishes and blessings of all loved ones.

The Greyhound's First Sprint:

Post the bringing home ceremony and adding a few fast Sunday ride kilometres, I decided to test her for what she is made of - sports touring. Zeroed in on a 1600 km round-trip to Udaipur from Mumbai. Why? Because Rajasthan is beautiful, the weather is nice and the last 150 km from Shamlaji to Udaipur is probably the best riding tarmac I have witnessed in India so far (must go and thank me later).

She went about her business without a fuss the entire trip and the beautiful roads gave her ample opportunities to stretch her legs and make that 1260cc pot sing. The Skyhook tech really is a work of art and if you haven't experienced it on a motorcycle yet, trust me you need to do so at least once. It just transformed the way I enjoyed the whole ride. The comfort, performance and convenience that the motorcycle gave me throughout the trip were exactly what I had in mind when I was thinking about what to buy. It just ticks all the right boxes on your list and then adds a few other bonus ones to it. The ability to switch ride modes on the fly is oh-so-convenient when you move from a broken road section to a fast, winding highway and vice-versa. I have done Rajasthan before on the 650 and I can tell you that doing this trip on the Multi has been an amplified sensory experience vs the previous trips. The bike is almost intuitive in how she moves with you. (Remember the English movie Avatar where the rider connected neutrally to the bird-ish thing?)

The LED headlamps on the bike are probably the best OEM stuff I have seen on any motorcycle. They are highly effective even in pitch darkness and were a boon riding back from Udaipur where all the other bikes had halogens that were turning out to be useless. So far, I haven't felt the need for Aux lights so that is one major expense off the list for now.

What I like so far:

  • That engine. It's a torque hammer and you can easily connect the 160bhp on paper to how the bike feels in real life. Especially on the Sports mode, the bike is a proper hoot and easily catches the average-ridden-superbike on highways. The engine is very tractable even in the low power mode with a nice & crisp feeling but being an L-Twin it does feel a bit grouchy below 2000 rpm at crawling speeds. It revs cleanly all the way to the redline and the Desmo Valve system gives this engine a diabolical nature. Paired to a very smooth bi-directional quick-shifter, the engine feels pleasant in any scenario. My favourite is the Touring mode unless I am in the mood for some fast fun (Sports) or crawling on broken city tarmac (Urban).
  • That suspension. I have no words to describe how awesome that Skyhook suspension is. It's a magic carpet ride that instantly transforms the bike into a pseudo-Supersports handler if needed at the switch of a button. The front pre-load is manually adjusted but everything else is done electronically and you can fine-tune it through the console as well. The system gives you the option of choosing the level of load you are carrying as well - pillion/luggage or both. It's a very very smart system and I have never experienced a two-wheeler suspension better than this. Period.
  • All that tech. You name it and the bike has it. The TFT is crisp. The cornering-enabled LED headlamp is wow, the electronic aids are well-tuned and the overall feel of riding the bike is proper premium. Ducatis are known to throw an electronic fit from time to time and the sensors aren't really cheap. So far, so good. Keeping fingers crossed. The drive-modes are very very nifty and allow you a zillion permutations on the suspension, engine & throttle settings and these can be shifted on the fly. They completely transform the way the bike feels and behaves. I am not even getting started on Hill-hold, cornering abs, 6-axis IMU, Brembo hardware etc.
  • That look. I love the way the bike looks and feels, especially in the matt-grey colour. Very stealth and classy. Honestly, the colour of the bike wasn't a decision input for me as usually Ducatis sold in India are the trademark Red. I was just plain lucky that this particular bike turned out to be the very rare Volcano Grey. Paired with the light golden alloys I just love how premium the whole bike feels vs the sporty-looking Ducati Red. Every angle feels well-chiselled and every part feels beautiful. I especially love the headlamp and tail-lamp design and only time will tell if I need aux lights to compliment the stock LEDs. The downside of these tight looks is that everything on the machine is tightly packed and that doesn't give you too much room to install after-market parts (eg. Denali horn).
  • Love the customer experience at both the Infinity Ducati showroom and service centre. The teams are very courteous and accommodating and try their best to live up to your expectations.

What I think Ducati can do better:

  • I know people crib about heating on a Ducati but honestly, the Multi heats up lesser than my 10R in stop-go traffic. The only problem is that the rear cylinder is right under your buttocks and it makes its presence felt. It only becomes very noticeable when you are in the city traffic and hot enough to ensure you cant ride the bike in shorts. It's not unbearable, just uncomfortable.
  • Half the nuts and bolts need special tools which are rare and expensive. Imagine being unable to remove the rear wheel on a trip because neither you nor the roadside mech has the required tool for the single-sided swingarm.
  • Every Ducati certified accessory is obnoxiously expensive. I understand that it's made by brands like Rizoma but it's still shockingly overpriced. I would sincerely recommend looking at after-market accessories as far as possible.
  • The build quality is decent but if you have ever felt/seen a GS or S1000 up close you will realise that this is a slight notch below the BMWs. It feels better put together than my Kawasaki but at this price point, the Italians could have probably matched the Germans a bit more. The Kawa's switches and instruments of course are less flashy than the Ducati but the former feels slightly more reliable in the long run. Keep in mind, all the sensors and parts on the Ducati are expensive so the warranty is a big plus on these bikes.
  • Small oversights (intentional?) like the bike has keyless ignition but the fuel tank lid needs you to use the key to unlock it. Ducati sells the keyless tank lid as an accessory though. Heck, I wish at this price the optional TPMS was standard fitment.
  • I knew what I was getting into when you buy a 1262cc L-Twin engine. It will guzzle fuel. But I was a bit taken aback to see the real-time consumption figures in Sports mode being nastier than what my 10R delivers on a track-setup tune. When is fuel coming under GST now?

The 1260 L-twin is a torque monster. So much so that it can be a proper handful in less-than-experienced hands. In fact, the first time I gave it the beans in sports mode it sort of woke me up as I did not expect this ferocity of torque to come in so early and in never-ending waves. Just a heads-up for the first time you experience this engine and challenge it to a showdown.

People always have polarized opinions about Ducatis, you either love them or hate them. There is no middle ground compromise the way you would do for a Jap brand. I for one, have always been excited by the proposition and personality of a Ducati, especially a Multi. So after having lived with two Japs for almost a decade, I wanted a different flavour. And trust me, Ducati and Kawasaki are chalk and cheese. Except for the fact that both are motorcycles, there is nothing similar in the way they ride, behave, handle or perform. I am loving this dichotomy every time I ride either of them and it gives me a feeling that for the moment my garage is complete.

Will keep updating this thread with more adventures of the many-roads oriented Greyhound! Adios.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Live To Drive