Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Test ride: first thoughts on the 2013 Multistrada 1200 S

I scored a test ride of the new 2013 Multistrada 1200 S at Ducati City so I've penned down a few raw first impressions.
First up it feels big and low compared to my retarded little dirt bike wannabe Hypermotard. The Multi feels much more like a grown up bike and instantly I could tell it was a lot heavier, but that really should be pretty obvious. Now I've ridden the MTS before, back in 2012 I rode the 1200 S model and really loved it, but something has changed in this new model apart from the Skyhook suspension and the other upgrades, the gearing has been slowed down to the point where it feels like a giant slug to get off at the lights.

This is not me, but it is exactly what I looked like today, well sort of.

I guess it was all new to me, wet clutch, bigger 4 valve per cylinder engine and a heavier bike, but the old Multi didn't feel like this - it was ready to pounce and slam up through the gears off the lights. The new one just takes its time to get moving. While I did love the MTS last year I could really tell in the new model that a few other bits have been worked on, the seat position is different.

 It sort of makes you sit in one position and there ain't really much shifting around you can do slabbing down the freeway. No biggie but I couldn't get comfortable because I twitch and fiddle and move my legs around and generally can't sit still. So I felt sedentary. It was a big bike that I sat IN while it did all the work for me. I dunno, something about this model just doesn't grab me like the older one did. I know that's crazy, but that is just how I feel.

 The foot pegs feel higher as well, I am certain that my gangly legs were up around my neck more, the old model had a more versatile seat I could wiggle around on and I'm sure the pegs were lower giving my knees a break. UP notch on on the soft response throttle (by the way I never took it out of Sport mode cause I wanted everything it had, DTC was at 2 and ABS was on) and you start to see where the bike comes to life. It has the mid range punch and more of the previous model and it's fuckin' raucous power. It throws your head back and surges forward with massive amounts of grunt which I love but that throttle is a tricky beast.

 It feels somehow soft, I dont know quite how to explain it but I for me I couldn't find the sweet spot in the same spot every time I was giving it some. On the Hyper with its twitchy all-or-nothing throttle, I can tell you exactly where I am at in the rev range at all times, I have grown to know every part of that throttle range by touch. The Multi, and I just realised it is ride-by-wire, has a lack of feeling, of connectedness to the back wheel.

That has to be it, the ride-by-wire throttle feels incredibly different and would take some getting used to. I love the Multi dash, everything you could possibly need is there. Fuel gauge (Eureka!) twin trip meters, gear selection, temperature, sport mode indicator it goes on and on, there are more lights, gauges, readouts and colours than on my iPhone I kid you not. And I love technology so it's a match made in heaven. I could easily change ride modes while moving, and did so, briefly put it into Touring mode but just found it lost all of its grin factor so I put it straight back into Sport, all while sitting on a 100km on the freeway,  very simple and straight forward.


 I took in some pretty crapola road surfaces and all that wizardry did its thing as far as I know but I can't really talk about suspension very well because I don't know how to. I have no idea about setting up dampening and rebound, before I left the shop Jamie showed me how to cycle through that setting and we just put 1 up, no luggage and let the bike do the work.

 To that end, the new Multi does everything to make your ride super comfortable and even though I was getting belted by some serious wind I felt pretty good aside from the few points above. Oh, hang on, what is with that centre stand? Every time I put my toe on the peg my heel was resting on the spring loaded centre stand.

 That feels weird (rip the thing off I say). So what did I learn? I really love this bike and could easily see me upgrading to one. But it wouldn't be the new one. No sir, I'd hunt down a low kay black 1200 S from around 2011 onwards that already has a full system and all the other go fast bits we like. Yes sir, that's what I'd do. Anyone wanna buy a trick 2012 Hyper EVO SP Corse with custom panels with all the go fast bits?