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ADV NewsDucati Multistrada V4 Rally First Ride Review

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally First Ride Review

The latest Multistrada gets more suspension, improved tech and extra range.

Published on 07.13.2023

It was a scary moment in Albania, when I first cracked the throttle and hit the trail on Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro. This was 2015, and at that time the monstrous Italian machine was powered by a 90-degree V-twin which put a whopping 160 horsepower to the rear wheel. Factor in that this was the first early prototype of the bike, and the software to control the ride modes had not been completed yet, so that obscene amount of power was free to trench the rocky soil of this Balkan nation uninhibited.

Here in present-day Colorado, I was preparing to once again climb aboard the latest iteration of this Italian design — a liter-plus flagship adventure tourer with an off-road-focused chassis and long-range fuel tank.
Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Rolling up to the quaint Rochester Hotel in the equally quaint town of Durango, Colorado and staring down the line of Multistrada V4 Rally bikes parked out front, resulted in a mix of excitement and curiosity. This bike had two more cylinders, 10 additional horsepower, and a dizzying list of other new features which had been added in just the past couple years. Moreover, this was the first new bike intro where I would be riding both solo and with a passenger. This machine looked familiar, but these few days in the Rocky Mountains would reveal immense differences between the earlier model and the 2023 bike, with just enough familiarity in its raw performance and technological creature comforts to remind me this is the successor to the Multistrada Enduro.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

In a similar way that the original Multistrada 1200 Enduro added more off-road oriented features to the standard Multistrada 1200, in 2023 the V4 Rally takes the current Multistrada V4 S and adds a bigger tank, taller suspension, improved crash protection, and more creature comforts designed for improved long-range travel both with or without a passenger.

The Motor

Before diving into details about the new features for 2023, one of the key changes which occurred in 2021 should be noted. That was the year a paradigm shift occurred when Ducati’s flagship adventure bike switched from a 90-degree L-twin Testastretta power plant to a V4 Granturismo engine. The 2023 Rally model sports this same V4 Granturismo powerplant, and many other important points are connected to the engine alone. By moving away from the 90-degree V-twin, Ducati managed to shrink the size and weight of the engine, and increase power at the same time.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review
The new V4 Granturismo engine is not only more powerful but also more compact and 2.6 pounds lighter than the old Testastretta Twin-cylinder engine used in the previous Multistrada 1260.

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A class-leading 170 horsepower and 92.2 ft-lbs of torque now propels the Multistrada, from an engine that has shed 2.6 pounds, 3.3 inches in length, and 3.7 inches in height over the previous twin-cylinder model. Also shed is the “desmodromic” valve train system which has a long association with Ducati. The switch to a “traditional” sprung valve setup may not sound so traditional when you consider desmodromic valves were invented in the late 1800’s and first patented by Daimler-Benz in 1889. This design change extends the service intervals on the V4 to an impressive 37,000 miles for valve checks and 9,000 miles for oil changes.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Ducati’s V4 Rally features a rear cylinder deactivation system designed to work not only when the motorcycle is stationary but also while it is traveling below certain speeds. When the full power of the engine isn’t required, this system deactivates the rear cylinder bank, effectively turning it into a small parallel twin. While specific numbers aren’t available, this feature not only improves emissions, but squeezes even more range out of the already long-distance 7.9-gallon fuel tank. Once speeds and riding conditions merit use of the entire engine, the cylinders are automatically brought back into the mix.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review
A counter-rotating crankshaft improves the handling and agility of the bike by allowing it to track straighter and counteract wheelieing under acceleration.

Unique to the Granturismo V4’s design is a counter-rotating crankshaft. Where most bikes have a crankshaft that spins in the same direction as the motorcycle’s wheels, through extensive testing in the ultra-high-performance world of MotoGP Ducati found a traction advantage by taking the mass of the crankshaft and spinning it in the opposite direction in order to help counteract the gyroscopic forces of all spinning things on the motorcycle, including the wheels. These gyroscopic forces are extremely dynamic, changing in vector and intensity as the motorcycle changes speed and direction. By incorporating this unique crankshaft design, the simple operation of the engine itself helps mitigate these forces, and allow improved contact of the front wheel with the pavement.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Design philosophy starts rattling around when you compare bikes of different engine designs. V-twin designs are perhaps the most recognizable platform for big-twin adventure bikes, and KTM’s LC8 platform could be considered the king of this segment with their years of Dakar Rally success. With their Boxer engine, BMW was producing gobs of low-end torque over 100 years ago, which continues to the modern day in the R1250GS. Ducati’s incorporation of the desmo valve system in the 1950’s/60’s started exploring the upper rev limits in a unique way for motorcycles at that time. In the modern era, Triumph’s Speed Triple held a unique spot in the adventure bike class, trading a bit of low-end grunt for high-rpm performance. Now, Ducati swapping out the Testastretta L-twin for the Granturismo V4 with the latest in both valve train and crankshaft technology, is just the latest evolution of cutting-edge tech filtering down into a heavyweight adventure bike.

The Electronics

Another key change first introduced in 2021 was the addition of a front and rear radar system, which allows for adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection. While the ACC hardware was included in the bike back then, it wasn’t yet approved for use in the U.S., but in 2023 the full package is now active.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

An inertial measurement unit (IMU) is carried over from previous models to handle operation of lean-angle sensitive traction control, ABS, wheelie control, and cornering lights. Aside from the electronics, the engine’s counter-rotating crankshaft also provides a mechanical form of wheelie control with its use of inertial forces increasing traction to the front wheel.

In their default states, the four available ride modes can be divided into two categories, based on max power output: Enduro and Urban modes limit peak horsepower to 114 hp, while Sport and Touring modes unleash the full 170 hp. The new Enduro mode for 2023 is based on the previous “low” power mode. Both modes are similar in that they limit peak horsepower to 114, but the previous version was designed primarily for wet pavement. Now, the “dynamic” throttle response offers a more aggressive feel within that horsepower threshold, more appropriate for off-road riding. These horsepower numbers are tuned within each category based on throttle response, traction control, wheelie control, engine braking, and ABS. A surprisingly welcome feature turned out to be the Multistrada V4 Rally’s lack of “custom modes” because the bike simply doesn’t need them — all of the default modes are customizable.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Through the Menu side of the TFT, the various ride mode parameters can be tweaked to your liking while the bike is at a standstill, and stored for easy recall on-the-fly by simply switching ride modes with the Mode button at any time whether rolling or stopped. Once the various modes are set up as desired, those settings are retained, which makes for a seamless experience, free of navigating menus, during the stops and starts which usually occur during a long day of riding. Of the myriad of tuning parameters available, the only one that is reset at key-off is ABS. If you want this feature’s setting to be retained like all the others, that’s a discussion to be had with a NHTSA lobbyist rather than a motorcycle manufacturer.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

While we didn’t have an opportunity to test it during the launch, the Ducati Connect app offers Bluetooth connectivity to the TFT for all the linked device things such as navigation, music, and phone calls. Aside from the app, the Multistrada V4 Rally clearly has smartphones in mind as it includes an air-cooled cellphone compartment with an internal USB port to keep the phone both cool and charged. With the case removed, this compartment  fits phones up to around 6.5” in length, but it can be a tight fit for larger phones.

The Chassis

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

For 2023, travel on the Rally model’s Marzocchi suspension has grown by 1.2 inches in front and nearly an inch in the rear resulting in 7.9 inches of travel at both ends along with 9.1 inches of ground clearance when compared to the Multistrada V4 S. To provide more precise adjustments to the semi-active suspension in a given ride mode, a sensor on the fork relays the position of the front wheel in real-time to the Multistrada’s computer. A cross-spoke arrangement on the redesigned 19”/17” tubeless wheel setup bears resemblance to BMW’s R1250GS hoops, and this feature, coupled with a fuel tank increased from 5.8 to 7.9 gallons and a longer travel suspension, are a couple factors which seem to indicate the Multistrada V4 Rally clearly has the BMW R1250GS Adventure in its competitive sights.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Unique to the Skyhook semi-active electronic suspension is the minimum preload function. A three-second press of the switch cluster’s suspension button activates this feature and rolls off all the preload, making it easier for riders to get both feet solidly on the ground when preferred. Repeat the switch process, and the bike returns to whatever the previously selected suspension settings were. The Multistrada V4 Rally extends the ease of use even further with a new Easy Lift function. The new feature opens the valves of the semi-active units, which softens the suspension, making it easier to lift the bike off the side stand.

Several things about the cockpit environment have been updated compared to the Multistrada V4 S. Greater wind protection is provided by a larger windscreen (1.6 in higher and 0.8 in wider), and down low the Rally features baffles which can be opened to direct airflow to the rider and passenger on hot days or closed when temps drop. Also directing airflow are unique pass-through tunnels positioned behind the radiators which create buffer zones of cool air between the rider and the hot airflow emanating from the engine. This feature is among a handful of understated details about the Multistrada V4 Rally that Ducati seems to have a penchant for. Things like the logo-emblazoned padded liners for the standard equipment aluminum panniers and under-seat tool kit in an articulated pouch with a matching storage recess built into the bike are examples of detail which is out-of-sight, and underscores the fine level of design throughout this machine.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review
Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Wider footpegs on the Rally model are coupled with a unique rear brake lever that can be adjusted for on or off-road riding, without use of any tools. Passenger footpegs have been updated as well with larger rubber isolation inserts to help with vibration damping. Passengers on the Rally also have more available space due to the lengthened rear portion of the bike which places a top case farther back, and seats of varying heights are available for both rider and passenger to fine-tune riding positions.

On The Road

Admittedly, I went into this review thinking more of the road-going touring comfort than off-road prowess. Even with my preconceived expectations, I was surprised by the changes and improvements the Multistrada now features. For anyone who has spent time on the previous 1200/1260 V-Twin models, the V4 feels oddly easy to ride. Odd, in that this is a significantly more powerful engine, yet delivers that power in an extremely smooth, linear, and almost understated way.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

While the V4 design makes an effort to mimic a V-twin feel with valve timing, some flywheel inertia of a big-twin is replaced with firing-stroke power, trading engine “hit” for smoothness. Riding higher in the revs felt necessary to fully take advantage of the power and torque offered by this many-cylinder machine. Even then, it’s deceivingly smooth. Between the buttery power delivery, a couple tweaks to the traction and wheelie control modes, and the counter-rotating crankshaft managing inertial forces, it was incredibly easy to find the Multistrada V4 doing massively inappropriate speeds on the tarmac before realizing it.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Test

Feedback from my passenger on the rear underscored how the V4, coupled with all its incorporated features, affects the experience on the road. Differences in shifting technique were easily noticeable, even from the rear seat. The bike is incredibly smooth, and very fast, but requires a bit more attention to gear selection and engine revs than lesser-cylinder designs. Where the low-rpm torque of big-twins (and thumpers) can mask some mistakes or inaccuracies in shifting to a degree, the V4 wants to change gears where a four-cylinder power plant requires. It won’t complain too much if you short shift or lug a gear, but you won’t feel the full power of the bike until you enter the upper RPMs. Working the gears properly perhaps reveals its MotoGP heritage and will give you hints of that experience when you ride it higher in the revs, dreaming of a lap around the Circuit de Catalunya. It’s extremely linear, with exceptionally subtle gaps between gears when you really get after it.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Test

Also enhancing comfort for the passenger was the lengthened rear portion of the motorcycle. While there was no optional top case mounted for this test, the standard panniers did not interfere with the seating position, and my long-legged passenger did not have issues with feeling cramped by either the passenger pegs being too high or the seat being too low. Of note are the panniers themselves as well — the cool asymmetrical design incorporates a clean latching system, welcome grab handles positioned in the center of the lid, and Ducati-branded padded inserts lining both boxes.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Ducati put a lot of thought into airflow on the V4 Rally. Up front, one of the first impressions was how the larger windscreen did not interfere with the field of vision. I’m somewhat particular about these things, and tend to prefer smaller or non-existent windscreens in favor of a clear view of the road. Good visibility and almost no buffeting from the screen was complimented by the new adjustable baffles down low. Temps over these two days of riding in Colorado varied but tended to be on the cooler side of things, so I kept these vents closed most of the time. Aside from blocking wind, they helped block rain (and perhaps hail) as well. 

Cool-but-not-cold temps provided the opportunity to fire up the heated grips and seat as well. The button for the heated grips can be a bit awkward to reach while riding, but the passenger had no problem with the heated seat as there is an independent control for it on the rear. Regarding heat, I never felt much of it from the bike due to the redesigned airflow and unique pass-through ducting behind the radiators — a system I’m very curious to test in the middle of a SoCal summer desert.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Aggressive pavement riding on the V4 Rally while solo proved interesting, in that I did not notice as significant a change as I had expected. More than ample power from the Granturismo V4 was not a surprise, but how the Skyhook suspension seemed to figure out what was necessary based on weight was the unexpected part. Changes in fork dive, settling of the bike through tight corners, and weight transfer during quick changes in direction were almost imperceptible with or without a pillion rider. The most noticeable difference between riding solo or with a passenger was the feeling of flicking the bike through a chicane-like section of road. A slight delay in the bike changing direction could be perceived with a passenger in these situations, but even that seemed to be easily overcome and fade into the background with just a bit more throttle and input on the bars.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

With or without a passenger, the surefooted and light feel of the Multistrada V4 Rally seemed like almost contradictory characteristics. On the road, over 570 lbs of motorcycle when fueled changes direction surprisingly easily. Semi-active suspension tuning things in real-time helps prevent fork dive under hard braking or slackening of geometry when grabbing a gear and accelerating aggressively out of a corner. Even with traction control set to its minimum levels, or shut off entirely, the front wheel was inclined to hold traction by virtue of the counter rotating crankshaft pushing things down when the front wheel would want to lift off. In the dirt, this was not always ideal, but we’ll discuss off-road character in a moment.

A couple long days of riding revealed the overall cockpit geometry agreed with my frame. Visually, the bars looked a bit high and quite swept back, but in the saddle the hand and feet position, combined with a seat height just shy of 35”, offered roominess perfect for an all-day ride for my 5’11” frame, and just compact enough to feel ready to attack aggressive twisties.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

For riders wondering what the appropriate preload setting might be for a given situation, the V4 Rally can take over that responsibility with its Auto-Leveling feature. This system dials in front and rear suspension based on the weight at the beginning of a ride, and retains that setting until the next power cycle or stop. Damping force is constantly adjusted by the Skyhook’s DSS Evo system to what it determines the bike needs. Turns out magic carpets are comfortable and accurate, but unfamiliar to me. It takes some getting used to having the machine constantly adjusting and feeling a bit different each moment. Locking the suspension down in a particular setting and feeling the differences in the road was more natural to me, and preferred in the more aggressive twisties.

In spite of the monstrous specs, almost everything about the Multistrada V4 Rally felt like it had rounded edges, including the braking. Having just come from testing a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, the slightly larger front rotors, and slightly smaller rear rotor of the Multistrada V4 Rally in comparison to the KTM seemed to further highlight an on-road race DNA of the Ducati. Braking is precise and strong, yet feels more behind the scenes and translates less harsh feedback through to the controls.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

The Multistrada V4 Rally’s brakes are precise and accurate, as you’d expect in a bike at this price point. Compared to the KTM, the Multistrada’s brakes had an almost forgiving feel to them. Not inaccurate, just simply not as needle-point precise as the big twin. This lever feel could be based on a myriad of things, but in the end they seemed less “purely race oriented” and straddled a wider swath between race and tour style performance. 

The V4 Rally’s brakes also have a unique twist among adventure bikes — they can partially activate themselves in certain situations. When Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is active, it will read the environment and adjust speeds as needed to maintain safe distances from other vehicles, including applying up to 50% of the bike’s braking capability when necessary. What constitutes “50%” of the bike’s braking capability is an interesting question, because that would seem to vary depending on speed, lean angle, and other factors. For you math types out there, the maximum deceleration the Multistrada V4 Rally’s ACC system will apply is 5m/s2. On-the-fly adjustments include turning the system on or off, adjusting speed, and selecting the desired distance to maintain from other vehicles. 

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

The distance ACC can maintain while cruising behind other vehicles varies depending on the speed. Ducati’s Head of Vehicle Project Management, Davide Previtera, explained the system uses both time and distance to tune a parameter called “time to collision.” From the rider’s perspective, follow distance is the most apparent factor, and is represented in the adjustment level icons on the TFT. When things slowed down suddenly and the brakes were automatically applied, if a gear change was necessary the ACC icons on the TFT display would turn yellow, indicating human intervention of some sort was necessary. Gear changes are possible even while ACC is active, so I found simply setting a maximum speed and letting the system take over was the easiest course of action. Vehicles approaching from the rear would not affect either braking or throttle, but will activate the Blind Spot Detection lights on the right or left mirror when something enters the radar’s field of vision.

Off-Road

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Looking at the bikes staged in front of the hotel in Durango shortly after landing gave the impression there would be some decent off-pavement riding, and some of the routes we followed were a bit more “adventurous” than I initially would have guessed. Pirelli Trail II tires are the default stock tread for the Multistrada V4, and their 80/20 (or perhaps more realistically 90/10 pavement/dirt profile provides an impression of what you think the bike might be all about. All our bikes had these tires swapped for the 70/30 road/off-road Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tread.

Our ride started out like you’d expect on tread like this… for about two miles. Then, we went up into the mountains. Colorado’s Rocky Mountains reward you with world class postcard views, if you stay on your toes. My head was on a swivel checking out the views and navigating what I initially had the impression was a street bike over terrain intended for something half this size, and shod with more aggressive dirt tires.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

The first section of off-road was a smooth and fast series of curves climbing up towards Last Dollar Road. It was the perfect opportunity to become accustomed to the standing ergos, and again alleviate my initial impression of an odd bar bend. Wider footpegs on the Rally are still smallish when compared to more purely off-road oriented pegs, but were adequate, and the easily adjustable brake lever seemed ideal when set to the high position for off-road riding. There were a few early impressions that I pleasantly overcame in these first few miles. Reading that the windscreen was now larger brought to mind peering through plexiglass off-road, but surprisingly I didn’t notice it. Same was true for the tank, and its 7.9 gallons are positioned in a uniquely discrete way. 

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Rounding a couple switchbacks with both wet rocks and muddy ruts to contend with, I noticed I wasn’t thinking about the bike as much as the trail. The Multistrada V4 Rally has an unusually light feel to the bars off-road, and changes direction surprisingly easily for something this size. I had wondered if the grip-providing counter rotating crankshaft would be a mixed blessing by providing more front wheel traction with its inertial forces driving the tread into the ground, yet simultaneously making it more difficult to keep the front end light. However, this characteristic seems to be more of a factor on the road, when both bike and engine speeds are higher, resulting in greater inertial forces. Several sections of trail featured rock gardens with small bonus boulders to test the front end’s ability to lift when needed. While proper use of the V4 multi-cylinder power band takes some getting used to for anyone coming from dirt bikes or big twins, the Multistrada surprised me with its solid and light feel, especially for a bike this large.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Some quite technical sections of trail were encountered as we neared the top of Cinnamon Pass. Huge melting snow drifts turned long sections of rocks and mud into a wet, slippery mess. Keeping your momentum up was necessary, and made more difficult by some exceptionally tight and rutted switchbacks. Super tight turns, and pointing the front wheel where you want seemed effortless from a chassis perspective, and big spinning things in the engine did not seem to have enough inertial influence to hamper front-end handling at lower speeds. 

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

More difficult was wrapping my mind around the use of a four-cylinder machine in this terrain. Back to the earlier discussion from the on-road section about riding this bike higher in the revs compared to big twins — this is key if you want to have the bike’s torque available to navigate more technical off-road trails. This might sound like a minor point, and unrelated to a motorcycle’s performance, but use of earplugs really helps me understand the feel of bikes sometimes. Deadening the scream of a MotoGP-like power plant leaves only the feel of the machine through the pegs and the bars. Once I found the proper levels of throttle, braking, and clutch, the bike seemed to go anywhere I wanted it to.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

What the “proper level” of throttle and braking is in a given situation can vary, depending on how you’ve tuned your chosen ride mode. Like many bikes in this class, ABS can be fully deactivated on the rear wheel, but remains on in an “off-road” mode up front. Traction control can be fully deactivated as well, but I found using the lowest levels worked quite well in almost all the terrain encountered on this ride — caveat being, we did not ride any deep sand. The Traction Control system feels more conservative on the Multistrada V4 Rally compared to other bikes in this class, and I felt the system intervening a bit earlier than expected in the most slippery and technical situations on this ride. If I had to pick a number I’d guess level TC level one on the Multistrada V4 Rally would be roughly equivalent to level three or four on a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. Fortunately, for those riders daring enough to unleash the rear tire, the system can be completely deactivated. Enduro mode would be highly recommended for this, as it tames the V4 to 114 hp. 114 hp is still a huge amount, but it’s all relative. No traction control and 170 hp in the dirt is also possible, but a bit ridiculous. Tom Cruise parachutes off cliffs with motorcycles, so all sorts of ridiculous things are possible, I suppose.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Effectiveness of the Multistrada V4 Rally’s longer travel and more ground clearance was demonstrated in the rockiest sections of trail. Speeds were such that the bike wasn’t subject to many big hits, but depending on line choice, hopping off wheel-high waterbar jumps was possible to play around with the feel of the bike’s suspension travel. When speeds increased over rough roads strewn with smaller rocks, the Skyhook electronic suspension provided a plush ride without sacrificing precision. While there weren’t a great deal of big hits along the routes, there were plenty of rocks and little jumps to play with and I never bottomed the suspension either with or without a passenger.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

Feedback through the bars and the pegs was honestly not what I expected at first, as looking at the thinnish handlebars reminded me of early versions of Honda’s Africa Twin Adventure Sports model, which had an overly plush, almost vague feel off-road. While the V4 Rally does not have the race-like feel of a KTM 1290 SAR in more technical off-road terrain, handling is still very precise and stable. 

Opinions about performance can be incredibly subjective, but this test in Colorado provided at least one memorable example where Ducati’s new adventure bike can take you. While our smallish group was stopped and staging for photo passes along a particularly dramatic section of rocky mountain views, the only other vehicles that passed us were a couple dirt bikes, going down the same trail we were climbing on our huge Italian street machines.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

The Bottom Line

I’ve ridden plenty of adventure bikes, and I’ve ridden Colorado several times. However, I’d never done this on a four-cylinder machine, both with and without a passenger. Some preconceived ideas about what this experience would be like were confirmed, but vastly more had to be redefined. This test was hugely instructive, in that Ducati’s Multistradas have always been somewhat enigmatic to me. When it comes to heavyweight adventure bikes, most of my motorcycle life has tended towards the more off-road side of things, and I simply didn’t encounter many Ducati’s in the mix over the years. “Multistrada” means “many roads,” and it’s amazing to realize Ducati has been developing these bikes over many roads, over the past 20 years.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

While some impressive old photos show the original Multistradas in extraordinary off-road situations, the bike always had more of an on-road reputation. With the Multistrada Enduro, the model line veered more deeply into the dirt riding realm nearly 10 years ago. 2021 saw a quantum leap for the Multistrada with the switch from a two-cylinder to a four-cylinder engine. This would seem a shift focusing more on the road-going qualities of the bike, however Ducati enhanced both tarmac and dirt performance in the V4, in a significant way. Now, with redesigned wheels, improved suspension, more ground clearance, high level of tech, and premium travel package as standard, this Ducati has gone from an enigmatic adventurer to a serious contender for the throne typically assigned to the stalwart BMW GS.

Becoming accustomed to such a unique bike in the heavyweight adventure class would seem to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Anyone coming from riding a twin-powered ADV might miss the big hit and torque on the bottom end, but could easily get used to it in time. For those coming from the sport bike realm wanting to check out high-level adventure touring, this is probably the bike for you.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

I kept thinking about this being the bike I’d like to take on a leisurely cross-country journey, full of creature comforts at my fingertips for use on the road, and that seemed almost in contradiction to how well it worked off-road. My only hesitation in really pushing the limits in the dirt was a nagging echo of not wanting to potentially bang up something with a price tag hovering around $30k. That’s a seemingly unholy sum of money for a motorcycle, but once I started to consider the extensive feature list that comes “standard” with this bike, the price started to make a bit more sense to me. 

It’s possible to pour the same amount of money into almost any adventure bike in this class with factory and aftermarket options. Ducati is welcomely unapologetic in this regard — they most definitely do not nickel-and-dime buyers with options. There’s simply one standard trim package which includes front and rear radar, aluminum panniers, heated grips, semi-active suspension with a lowering option, tubeless spoke wheels, heated pilot and passenger seats, sump guard, a centerstand, and two premium color options.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Review

2023 Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Specs

ENGINE TYPE:Ducati V4 Granturismo, V4 – 90°, 4 valves per cylinder, counter-rotating crankshaft, twin pulse firing order, semi dry sump, liquid cooled
DISPLACEMENT:1,158 cc
BORE X STROKE:83 x 53.3 mm
COMPRESSION RATIO:14:1
POWER:125 kW (170 hp) @ 10,750 rpm
TORQUE:121 Nm (89.2 ft-lbs) @ 8,750 rpm
FUEL INJECTION:Continental electronic fuel injection system, Øeq 46mm equivalent elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire system
EXHAUST:Stainless steel muffler, double catalytic converter and 4 lambda probes
GEARBOX:6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift up/down
PRIMARY DRIVE:Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.8:1
GEARING RATIO:1=40/13, 2=36/16, 3=34/19, 4=31/21, 5=29/23, 6=27/25
FINAL DRIVE:Chain, Front sprocket z16; Rear sprocket Z42
CLUTCH:Multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
FRAME:Aluminum monocoque frame
FRONT SUSPENSION:Ø50 mm fully adjustable usd fork with internal stroke sensor. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension EVO (DSS)
FRONT WHEEL:Spoked wheel 3″ x 19″
FRONT TIRE:Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 R19
REAR SUSPENSION:Cantilever suspension with fully adjustable monoshock. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring preload adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS). Aluminum double-sided swingarm
REAR WHEEL:Spoked wheel 4.5″ x 17″
REAR TIRE:Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 R17
WHEEL TRAVEL (FRONT/REAR):200 mm – 200 mm (7.9 in – 7.9 in)
GROUND CLEARANCE:235 mm (9.25 in)
FRONT BRAKE:2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Stylema 4-piston calipers, 2-pad, radial master cylinder with cornering ABS as standard equipment
REAR BRAKE:265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with cornering ABS as standard equipment
INSTRUMENTATION:6.5″ TFT color display with Ducati Connect and full-map navi system
DRY WEIGHT:227 kg (500 lb)
KERB WEIGHT:260 kg (573 lb)
SEAT HEIGHT:Adjustable 870 – 890 mm (34.3 – 35.0 in);
885 mm – 905 mm (34.9 in – 35.6 in) with high seat accessory;
855 mm – 875 mm (33.7 in – 34.5 in) with low seat #1 accessory;
825 mm – 845 mm (32.5 in – 33.3 in) with low seat #2 accessory;
805 mm – 825 mm (31.7 in – 32.5 in) with low seat #2 + low suspension kit accessory
WHEELBASE:1,572 mm (61.9 in)
RAKE:24.7°
TRAIL:105.5 mm (4.15 in)
FUEL TANK CAPACITY:30 l (7.9 US gal)
NUMBER OF SEATS:2
SAFETY EQUIPMENT:Riding Modes, Power Modes, cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Wheelie Control, Ducati Brake Light, Ducati Cornering Light, Vehicle Hold Control
STANDARD EQUIPMENT:Ducati Skyhook Suspension EVO, Ducati Quick Shift, Cruise control, Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar switches, 6,5″ TFT colour display with Ducati Connect and full-map navigation system, Full LED headlight with DRL, Engine Brake Control (EBC), Extended Cylinder Deactivation (ECD)
WARRANTY:24 months (48 months*), unlimited mileage. *Only for countries where 4ever Multistrada warranty applies.
MAINTENANCE SERVICE INTERVALS:15,000 km (9,000 miles) / 24 months
DESMOSERVICE:60,000 km (36,000 miles)
STANDARD:Euro 5
CO2 EMISSIONS:152 g/km
CONSUMPTION:Data under revision. Bike specifications and equipment may vary from market to market. Please refer to your local dealer for further information

The 2024 Multistrada V4 Rally is currently available in U.S. showrooms with an MSRP of $29,995 for Ducati Red and $30,595 for Brushed Aluminum & Matte Black. For more details check out the Ducati website.

Gear We Used

• Helmet: Arai XD-4 Depart  
• Boots:
REV’IT! Expedition GTX 
• Goggles:
100% Strata 2
• Jacket (Street): REV’IT! Defender 3 GTX
• Pants (Street):
REV’IT! Sand 4 H2O
• Gloves (Street):
REV’IT! Dominator 3 GTX  
• Jacket (Dirt):
REV’IT! Blackwater WP
• Pants (Dirt): REV’IT! Peninsula
• Gloves (Dirt): REV’IT! Sand 4
• Jersey (Dirt):
REV’IT! Trailblazer
• Helmet (Passenger):
Arai XD-4 Vision  
• Jacket (Passenger):
REV’IT! Sand 4 H20 Womens
• Pants (Passenger):
REV’IT! Sand 4 H20 Womens
• Gloves (Passenger):
REV’IT! Sand 4 Womens
• Jersey (Passenger):
REV’IT! Rough Jersey 

Photos by Gregor Halenda, Scott Rounds, Alberto Cervetti and Jon Beck

Author: Jon Beck

Jon Beck is fulfilling a dream of never figuring out what to be when he grows up. Racing mountain bikes, competitive surfing, and touring as a musician are somehow part of what led Jon to travel through over 40 countries so far as an adventure motorcycle photographer, journalist, and guide. From precision riding for cameras in Hollywood, to refilling a fountain pen for travel stories, Jon brings a rare blend of experience to the table. While he seems happiest when lost in a desert someplace, deadlines are met most of the time.

Author: Jon Beck
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Bob
Bob
July 13, 2023 8:09 pm

Lucky you, Jon. Great story, great ride, fine motorcycle.

Tom Brown
Tom Brown
July 29, 2023 7:37 pm

As a 1250GSA rider, I really am interested in this bike…until the part about active cruise and a computer applying the brakes for me. No, No, NOOOOooooo!!!!

Can I get one without the active cruise? No? Didn’t think so. This junk is evil. I want no part of it. Cruise Control is great and I won’t buy another bike without it…I’m not a Luddite. This is answering a problem that no one has.

Jon Beck
Jon Beck
July 30, 2023 9:52 am
Reply to  Tom Brown

I can definitely remember a time when I was on the exact same page… maybe a bit deeper. Even cruise control was a bit much IMO. Given most of my riding over the years has been remote adventure travel, anything beyond an ECU felt like problems waiting to happen. Even to the present, my longest single day ride has been on a bone-stock KTM 950 Adventure without so much as a throttle rest (1,257 miles).

I’ve driven plenty of cars with ACC and other bits of similar advanced tech, but incorporation on a bike always seemed sketchy to me… until now. Just returned from a week of exploring and further testing on the V4 Rally, and the ACC system in particular worked so seamlessly it’s hard to imagine how I lived without it previously on these longer adventures. Was among a handful of features that affected the experience in a really good way.

Miles
Miles
August 14, 2023 10:38 am
Reply to  Tom Brown

Not sure why the malcontent. You can disable the ACC feature and use standard cruise control if you like, or just not turn it on in the first place?

Neil
Neil
August 3, 2023 10:30 am

Great review, thanks Jon. Really, informative and thoughtful. Excellent photos too. After a number of GS’s, I’m considering going back to the MTS having enjoyed a 2012 1200 so much (once I got the engine mapping sorted)… Thanks again.

Mortarman
Mortarman
August 3, 2023 8:32 pm

As an owner of this bike, the ACC is a blessing on a long highway slog, especially if you hit traffic. You don’t have to worry about running into the person in front of you, while still giving your wrist a break.

For me, the biggest problem I have is what to do with my throttle hand while riding with ACC…it feels kind of useless just hanging by my side, but it sure is nice to be able to give it a break without having to constantly monitor my distance to the vehicle in front to me.

Kind of like on my truck, once I experienced ACC I’ll never buy a street bike without it again.

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