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ADV NewsDucati Multistrada V4 S: More Ready For All Roads Than Ever?

Ducati Multistrada V4 S: More Ready For All Roads Than Ever?

The Gen-4 Multistrada gets a complete revamp with no bolt left untouched.

Published on 02.16.2021
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review

It’s hard to believe the Ducati Multistrada has been around for nearly two decades now. Starting out with the 1000 DS in 2003, the Multistrada has always hung out in that intersection between Sport Touring and Adventure Bike worlds through its many iterations. While classified as an ‘Adventure Bike’ by Ducati, last year’s Multistrada 1260 S, with its 17-inch cast wheels, superbike powerplant and sporty chassis, might feel more at home turning a lap at Circuito Mugello than exploring a rock-strewn trail on a BDR. 

Not to say there is anything wrong with an Adventure Bike that can go around turns at mind bending speeds. The popularity of the Multistrada is a testament to the many riders who appreciate its advanced tech, incredible performance and alluring Italian design. But its days of being typecast as ‘just’ an upright sport bike may be over after the release of the all-new 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review

Ducati realized there was room for improvement in the Multistrada 1260 S’s off-road and touring capabilities, and seemed determined to make it a more, dare I say, practical machine. Yet in attempting to do so, their engineers have made efforts not to diminish any of the street performance the Multistrada is known for. Were they able to pull it off? We’ll answer that question and more below, but first let’s look at what’s changed.

First Look

While at first glance you could easily assume the Multistrada received a light update for 2021, Ducati has actually implemented sweeping changes all around in this fourth-generation of the model. The bodywork, electronics, ergos, suspension and chassis, have all been updated, plus the new machine now sports a completely new powerplant. 

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review
The next-gen Multistrada features a completely new V4 engine, revised chassis and ergos, more ground clearance, updated suspension, bigger front wheel-size, significantly-longer maintenance intervals, radar technology and more.

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The new V4 S model now also comes in both cast wheel and ‘tubeless’ spoke wheel models. There is also a standard version of the V4, which comes with cast wheels and a reduced feature set (available only by special order). Then there is the top of the line Multistrada V4 S Sport, which comes with cast wheels, all of the advanced equipment of the V4 S, plus a unique livery and carbon-fiber goodies. The Multistrada V4 also marks the launch of the first production motorcycle featuring front and rear radar technology.

The Motor

One of the most notable changes for 2021 is the switch from a 1,260cc V-Twin to an 1,158cc V4 powerplant. If the idea was to make the Multistrada a better off-roader, adding more cylinders seems like a turn in the wrong direction. But the new V4 Granturismo engine is actually more compact and lighter than the Testastretta DVT V-Twin it replaces. In fact, the new motor measures 3.3 inches less front to rear, is 3.7 inches shorter and weighs 2.6 pounds less.

The new 170hp V4 Granturismo not only distinguishes itself from the outgoing V2 powerplant for its significantly longer maintenance intervals but also for being more compact, lightweight, high-performance and torquier.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review

Not only does the new V4 engine get a boost of 10 more horsepower (now rated at 170 HP @ 10,500 rpm) but its compact design helps free up some much-needed ground clearance. While 170 horses may seem like overkill for an ADV Bike, the engine has been tuned to deliver smoother, more-manageable power than the one it replaces. The low-end punch of the old V2 has been subdued a bit, but torque has been increased throughout the midrange (92.2 ft-lbs @ 8,750 rpm) with a more linear power delivery. A counter rotating crankshaft also uses its inertia to help keep the front wheel planted on the ground.

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.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review
A counter-rotating crankshaft improves the handling and agility of the bike by allowing it to track straighter and counteract wheelieing under acceleration.

Another surprising change in the engine is the replacement of Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valvetrain in favor of traditional spring valves. Ducati has learned a few tricks through the years though in perfecting its unique Desmo valves, and they have applied those to a traditional valvetrain setup to make it even more resilient. The new Multistrada V4 S’s high performance engine now has significantly lengthened maintenance intervals, extending the valve clearance checks to an impressive 36,000 miles and oil changes every 9,000 miles.

The Electronics

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

State-of-the-Art technology has always been a core tenet of the Ducati Multistrada and now that’s truer than ever. The big leap this year in technology has to be the inclusion of a front and rear Radar system, and the Multistrada is the first production bike to feature it. Developed together with Bosch, the radar tech has nothing to do with avoiding speeding tickets, as much as this bike might need it. What it does do is enable some innovative features like Blind Spot Detection (BSD). BSD alerts you when another vehicle enters your blind spot with a bright orange light integrated into the mirrors, appearing on the side the vehicle is approaching from. If you’ve ever been surprised by a vehicle coming into your lane or when you forgot to give a full look over your shoulder while switching lanes, you’ll realize the value of this new safety system.

The second system enabled by Radar is more of a convenience feature – Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). While having electronic cruise control is huge on a long journey, it still requires a fair amount of fiddling to adjust your speed to match the flow of traffic. Sometimes it can be more work than it’s worth, causing us to just turn it off. With ACC, the radar detects a slower moving vehicle in front of you and automatically adjusts your speed in order to maintain a safe distance. Once the vehicle moves out of the way or you make a pass, the ACC returns to the max cruising speed you originally set.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
With the Multistrada V4, Ducati also introduces front and rear radar system, which allows the use of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Blind Spot Detection (BSD). 

Radar is an exciting new technology on the Multistrada but there is one caveat. Due to COVID delays, ACC is still awaiting approval in the U.S. So if you buy a new Multistrada V4 S now, the system will not be active. All the hardware already exists on the bike but the software must be installed and activated at a Ducati dealer for an $850 fee once federal approval is given (expected in June or July of 2021). Ducati is currently discounting all Multistrada V4’s by $850 with the inactive ACC system, so that owners pay no additional cost in the end once it gets activated.

As in the past, the heart of the electronic package is the inertial measurement unit (IMU) that manages operation of the lean angle-sensitive ABS and traction control, wheelie control, and cornering headlights.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

The new Multistrada also uses a Marzocchi fork and rear shock, fitted with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), a system that actively levels the bike over varied terrain with continuous electronic measurements and adjustments. Damping settings can be configured from Soft to Hard for both front and rear suspension, and the rear shock preload can also be adjusted electronically for different loads.

Lighting on the new Multi is full LED with and it sports an improved set of cornering lights. Additionally, the S model comes equipped with a 6.5” full-color TFT display that can be adjusted in three positions for better viewing. What’s more, the display’s interface has been reprogrammed for more-intuitive menu navigation and is now controlled by a set of backlight left-side handlebar switches and a joystick.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Ride modes remain Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro, but each mode can now be individually tailored with different settings for power, ABS, traction control, suspension damping, wheelie control, and more. And thankfully, those settings stay set in your custom configuration after the bike’s ignition has been turned off. Other electronic rider aids include an up/down Quick Shifter with slipper clutch and Vehicle Hold Control to keep the bike from rolling on steep hills.

The new Multistrada V4 is also equipped standard with Smartphone integration features for both IOS and Android through the Ducati Connect App. This allows you to get turn-by-turn navigation with an on-screen map using the Sygic platform. And Sygic‘s global mapping functionality continues to work, even when cell reception is unavailable.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

With Ducati Connect, you can also access your phone’s contact list to make and receive phone calls, dial phone numbers through the dash interface, and listen to stored music when used in conjunction with a Bluetooth Headset. The system was developed for Cardo headsets but works with other Bluetooth compatible headsets like Sena as well.

The Chassis

For 2021, the Multistrada V4 switches from the previous steel trellis frame to an aluminum monocoque design. The new monocoque frame is said to be more compact and offers better fine tuning of the design. The rear subframe continues to be a steel trellis construction and is visible peeking out below the seat. Another iconic Multistrada feature gone is the single-sided swingarm, in favor of a stiffer and more wheel change-friendly double-sided swingarm.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

In addition, the Multistrada now comes with a 19-inch front wheel (still 17-inch rear) with both cast and tubeless spoke wheel models available.  The new Multi still has 6.7 inches of suspension travel up front but gets a lift up to 7.1 inches (up from 6.7 inches) in the rear. The combination of the new chassis, shorter motor, increased rear suspension travel, and bigger front hoop all help to bring the ground clearance up to  8.7 inches (up from 6.85 inches on the 1260 S). In an effort to improve maneuverability, the wheelbase has been shortened by 0.7 inches as well.

Touring Comfort

Many of the changes for 2021 have been made in an effort to improve long-distance utility and comfort. For example, ergos have been revised for more leg room on the highway and improved standing ergos for the trail. Fuel capacity was increased from 5.3 gallons to 5.8 gallons to help extend range, and a new windscreen, along with side deflectors, have gone through extensive wind tunnel testing for a significant reduction in wind noise.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

As with the previous model, you still get heated grips but there are now heated seats as well for both pilot and passenger. The passenger can also set their own seat heat independently. Seat height on the two-piece seat is adjustable between 33.1-33.9 inches. An optional tall seat brings that up to 34.4 inches, while a low seat option brings it down to an inseam-friendly 31.8 inches.

The Multi’s windscreen has always been one of the easiest to adjust with its pinch design, but that apparently wasn’t good enough for Ducati engineers. Now a new design takes just one finger to adjust the windscreen up or down. 

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

In an effort to reduce engine heat discomfort on hot days, a set of side vents draws heat away from the rider, while a set of side scoops directs fresh air toward the legs for an additional cooling effect. Ducati also deactivates the rear cylinder bank (turning it into a parallel twin) when the motor is idling, to further reduce engine heat buildup.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
The right-side cooling scoop is vulnerable to trail hazards, even with the engine guards installed.
2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
A convenient glovebox on the fuel tank holds your phone while keeping it charged and connected to the bike’s TFT display during your rides.

As mentioned previously, there is a full suite of apps that integrate your phone with the TFT display for navigating to your destination, communicating on the road and listening to tunes. There is also a new glove box on the fuel tank, which is designed to store your phone while keeping it charged and connected to the interface during your rides. There is ample storage for a few other essential items like keys, ear plugs, garage door opener, or sunglasses as well.

First Impressions

We got our first ride on the new Multistrada V4 in California’s Anza Borrego Desert – an ideal place to test the performance with a variety of different types of terrain from the mountains to the desert floor. For our street test, we rode the Multistrada V4 S spoke wheel model equipped with the Akrapovič homologated performance exhaust upgrade and the standard Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires, while the off-road test units were outfitted with factory optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires, a short enduro windscreen, engine guards, and a more heavy-duty bash plate.

After a quick overview of the technology and controls, we headed out for an early morning ride. I’ll admit I was feeling a bit intimidated for the first few miles by all the tech and knowing the throttle could unleash an unintended 170 horses with an errant twist. At 536 pounds wet, this new Multistrada is on the heavy side too (18 pounds heavier than the outgoing 1260 S).

While I didn’t notice any additional bulk or weight compared to the old 1260, I did immediately appreciate the improved ergos in the saddle. The last Multistrada had a more rear set peg position that put you in a forward leaning angle, more like a sport bike. Now the pegs are placed in a traditional ADV position offering extra leg room for a taller rider like myself (6 foot, 2 inches).

The handlebar switches and TFT screen are always a bit overwhelming at first when so many options are available, but I quickly got familiar with them. Most configuration settings I could figure out on my own, and once I had completed a task, it was easy to remember how to do it again later. This is definitely one of the more well thought out and intuitive interfaces I’ve used on an advanced-tech Adventure Bike.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

One disappointment for me was the sound of the motor. While the new V4 does its best to mimic a V-Twin, it doesn’t quite have the same character-rich sound, even with the Akro pipe installed. It’s a good sound but doesn’t quite make your soul quiver like the old Testastretta motor. Perhaps that’s just the way of things to come with the latest Euro 5 sound compliance laws.

On The Road

Heading into the hills for the street portion of our test, the power delivery was smooth off idle and I soon realized that I didn’t need to worry too much about surprise wheelies or wheel spin. The new V4 feels less threatening than the old V2 in the lower RPMs, yet pulls stronger from 3,500 RPMs up. Similar to the Triumph Triple engines, there is less pop on the low end, with a smooth rush of power all the way into the high RPMs. It’s a usable, more linear power that is less likely to catch you off guard, but is in no way uninspiring. 

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Compared to say the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, which wheelies effortlessly in first through fourth gear, the engine feels relatively tame in the lower RPMs. The Multi can pull power wheelies in first through third gear, yet takes a bit more timing and coaxing than the Super Adventure. The power still needs to be respected though and I kept traction control set on at least level 1 throughout the day on the road.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

While it may not feel as scary fast as its 170 class-leading horsepower rating might suggest, in reality it is that fast. Accelerating from around 60 mph up to 120 mph is almost instantaneous. Flogging it in Sport mode with throttle pegged, banging through the gears with the Quick Shifter, will get your adrenal gland pumping at max volume. It’s still a monster, just a friendlier monster.

In the Twisties
This is where I was really looking forward to riding the new Multistrada. The old 1260 was an excellent performer on asphalt. With its 17-inch front wheel, it was extremely nimble and you could change lines easily mid turn. The only problem was that if you weren’t an experienced sport bike rider, the handling felt twitchy and required constant attention to ride it fast. With its lower ground clearance, the pegs touched down rather quickly, forcing you to hang off the bike à la MOTOGP to maximize peg clearance.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Now with the 19-inch front, the new Multi has new found stability and you don’t feel like you are riding on a knife’s edge. There is also more ground clearance, so you aren’t scraping toes prematurely when riding in the saddle. The seat shape is still conducive to hanging off the bike and getting a knee out if you want to though.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Performance from the twin front 330mm discs with radially-mounted, Monobloc, 4-piston Brembo calipers, matched with a single 265mm disc and 2-piston floating Brembo caliper in the rear is as exceptional as I remembered. Downshifting under hard deceleration using the Quick Shifter with auto-blipping, ABS and a slipper clutch was silky smooth, even when I wasn’t, and the Skyhook auto-leveling suspension always seemed to get me set up perfectly for the next turn. While some hardcore sport bike riders might miss the 17-inch front, I felt like it was more enjoyable to ride fast than the old machine.

Highway
Ducati definitely put some thought into how the Multistrada could be improved for long-distance comfort. The old Multistrada 1260 S was a good touring bike but for my height, I felt the legs were too cramped. Now with its revised ergos, my legs and arms felt like they were in an ideal position. The seat felt even better than the old one, and during a full day of riding, I never felt sore.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

The new wind-tunnel optimized windscreen is very good at blocking the wind, letting you cruise at 80-90 mph all day with less wind noise and fatigue. In the high position, it drew the wind well over my head and the only place I could notice wind pushing on me was at the shoulders. This is the bike you want to take when you need to crush some serious miles.

Adjusting the heated grips and heated seat were the only things that seemed a bit cumbersome on the TFT interface, but when activated, they did let off an enormous amount of heat. I didn’t have a Bluetooth headset set up on my helmet to get audio navigation or music, but the map on the dash worked excellent. However, my bike did have a glitch with the software that wouldn’t allow it to exit the map mode unless you unplugged the phone. Perhaps it was a bad USB cable or some software bug on my bike, but the other riders in the group seemed to have no issues.

Radar System 

To understand the true value of the Adaptive Cruise Control, you really have to use it. When Ducati initially explained how it worked and gave us some testing scenarios, my eyes kind of glossed over and I figured I’d have to ask them to re-explain everything again later. But its operation turned out to be pretty simple.

Once we got on a long straight, the lead rider held a steady 60 mph and I set my ACC to 80 mph, just like I would with any other traditional electronic Cruise Control system. As I got close to the lead rider, my ACC gradually and smoothly slowed me down to 60 mph as it detected the motorcycle in front of me. The system uses engine braking mostly to slow you down, but it can smoothly apply the brakes as well if necessary. With my thumb switches, I could adjust the distance to the vehicle within 60-80 meters or so, enough of a safe distance where you can override things if needed.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
The Adaptive Cruise Controls system adjusts your speed to match the vehicle in front of you, while maintaining a safe distance.

In order to overtake a vehicle, I just put my turn signal on, which notifies the ACC you are about to pass. As I pulled out into the open left lane, the radar detects a clear path and starts to accelerate smoothly up to 80 mph again. If you are in too low a gear (or too high), it will alert you to shift with a blinking yellow light on the dash. Once it achieves your set speed, it stays at that speed until you reach the next slow-moving vehicle in your path.

With typical passing and following scenarios, it worked brilliantly, even around turns in the highway. I tried out a few non-typical scenarios as well, like ‘not’ putting on my turn signal to pass. This just caused it to take longer to sense that you had a clear lane in front of you, but it would eventually overtake the vehicle. I also tried jumping back in behind the slow-moving vehicle abruptly while it was being overtaken, to see if it would detect it again and slow me down. It did sometimes, but often I had to intervene and hit the brakes before colliding with the rider in front of me. It’s still a new system so you can’t completely trust it in every scenario. But this is the beginning of a whole new world of autonomous driving tech. 

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
BSD alerts you when another vehicle enters your blind spot with a bright orange light integrated into the mirrors, appearing on the side the vehicle is approaching from.

As for the Blind Spot Detection, I was a little afraid it would go off all the time when passing objects on the road. But it really only got set off when another rider or vehicle was actually coming up in my blind spot from behind. It’s a nice thing to have when you are waiting for another rider in your group to catch up. Once they get within 20 yards or so behind you, the light on the mirror goes off and you know they are right there, without having to constantly look back. I would like to see how it performs in a more congested traffic environment though, which we didn’t have time to test during this first ride.

In The Dirt

The old Multistrada 1260 S was always a handful on anything more than a smooth dirt road. With its low ground clearance, paper-thin hand guards and 17-inch front wheel, stints off asphalt were far from confidence inspiring. Another drawback in the dirt were the standup riding ergos. With the rear set pegs and low handlebars, it put you in an awkward standing position that quickly became uncomfortable. Standup ergos are now pretty much spot-on with the Multistrada V4, especially for tall guys like me. Even another tester in our group who is 5’9” felt the standup position was ideal. My only gripe with ergos is the smallish footpegs, which don’t provide much support on longer trail rides.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested
Standup ergos on the new Multistrada V4 now feel pretty much spot-on, although the footpegs are still a bit on the small side for longer dirt stints.

Transitioning from the seated position to standing is also effortless with the seat in the high position. And while the stepped seat design limits some movement in the saddle, this is not a bike intended for aggressive off-road riding. You are carrying a fair amount of weight, but the bike hides it well with more nimble handling than I expected. The turning radius is good too, making it easier to get the big girl turned around on the trail.

Generally speaking, the bike doesn’t feel top heavy but if you lean it over on its side, the weight suddenly becomes apparent. There is a point of no return where it’s nearly impossible to counteract the pull of gravity with just your own arm strength. That’s what crashbars are for though, and the factory units seem pretty stout. The hand guards also seem like they can handle typical trail tip overs, at least better than the old 1260’s potato chip-thin hand guards.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

One piece of equipment that isn’t quite trail ready is the right side plastic scoop that sends cool air to your legs. It sticks out below the right-side crashbar and is dangerously exposed. One rider in our group had a light fall in the sand and it cracked off under the weight of the bike. I also knocked mine off while clipping a root sticking out of the trail. It’s probably a good idea to remove this scoop before you hit the trail and save it for those hot summer days on the road.

After getting acquainted with the bike enough to up the pace, I soon realized this was a completely different animal than the old machine. Where previously, ground clearance was more of a concern, I was now able to put that out of my mind after not bottoming out on several mid-sized dips and even a few small jumps.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Playing around with the electronic suspension damping, I put the front and rear on its softest setting, just to see how it would do. I actually liked it even better than the standard off-road damping setting (medium) as it kept both wheels planted on the ground better and gave the bike a livelier feel. You could definitely feel the fairly shortish suspension going through its travel, but it seemed to use every inch to the fullest and had good hold up on the bigger bumps.

Granted, we weren’t riding gnarly whooped out tracks or rocky jeep trails, but fairly smooth, somewhat chunky, typical big bike roads where the Ducati felt perfectly at home. At one point I didn’t see a large boulder in the trail while chasing another rider’s dust. A big impact on the front wheel popped the bike up abruptly, then the rear kicked up like a bucking bronco. But it came down perfectly straight and settled itself again without any fuss. I pulled over to check the front wheel, which was running only 23 pounds of pressure, but it still looked unfazed and no air had burped out past the bead.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

So what’s the secret to the Multistrada’s new found composure in the dirt? For one, the new 19” wheel gives it more stability to ride through the crud without getting knocked off line. The combination of more-compliant spoke wheels, along with the increased rear suspension travel and ground clearance definitely helps absorb the bumps better. Also, the Skyhook semi-active suspension is constantly adjusting damping to keep the bike level sensing when those big hits need a little extra boost to keep it from bottoming. All I can say is, Skyhook works well and you get your money’s worth with this electronic system.

Speaking of electronics, I kept it in Enduro mode throughout the day, which tamps down the full fire and fury of the Multistrada to around 100 horsepower with a soft throttle response. There are a wide range of customizable settings that are configurable, which thankfully are saved after you turn the bike off.

In Enduro mode, the default traction control level is 2 out of 8. This setting felt like it was a manageable amount of slip and intervention on the trail for most riding situations. Going up to level 5, it was barely rideable with the engine constantly cutting out. After dropping it down to level 1, I didn’t notice much of a difference from level 2 and would have liked to have less intervention. Going from level 1 to no traction control was quite a big jump though. The rear tire would spin on almost anything beyond ¼ throttle, yet it still felt like the power delivery was manageable. I didn’t try unleashing the full 170 horsepower in the dirt, but if you do, let me know how it goes.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Enduro mode also gives you off-road-tuned ABS that allows you to turn rear ABS off completely. The massive Brembo brakes worked perfectly out on the trail, without an overly-sensitive pull. The front ABS is not defeatable but does have a good off-road algorithm that lets it lock up slightly before kicking in, giving you some feel for the trail limits and letting you know it’s using every last bit of braking power before taking over. I never once had any ABS pucker factor on the trail, although we didn’t ride a lot of super loose terrain.

We did however, get it into a fair bit of sand and this is where my confidence with the bike diminished significantly. The front ABS still continued to work well, but suddenly the front end began to tuck, and at times unexpectedly. You really had to be on top of the bike, making sure you were loose on the bars, perfectly balanced and riding with some momentum to avoid the tuck. After a couple of close calls, I was happy to get out of the sand.

Limitations are to be expected when you are riding a 536 pound bike off-road. Another factor that makes the Multistrada not so great in sand is its steep 24.5° fork rake. This sport-biased front end geometry pays dividends on twisty roads with additional feel and flickability, yet it makes the front wheel prone to tucking in sand. I’ll also say that my experience with the Pirelli Scorpion Rally front tire has not been great in sand in the past, so a different tire choice and potentially lowering the fork tubes in the triple clamps (there’s ample room) could help improve some of its sand woes.

The Bottom Line

Although the new Multistrada V4 S still clings to the sporty side, Ducati did manage to improve its long-range touring comfort and convenience, along with its off-road prowess significantly. Plus the whole package is underpinned by a more-resilient engine with adrenaline-pumping power that is easier to manage. Some riders who typically don leathers might feel it lost a step in the twisties with the move to a 19-inch front. But most will find it easier and more enjoyable to ride at a sporty pace than the old Multistrada 1260 S.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

It’s a lot easier and more enjoyable to ride fast off-road too. The gen-four Multistrada V4 still probably isn’t the bike you’d pick for a mostly off-road trip, but you would be more confident to take it on a journey that includes a significant amount of dirt. Set it up with proper protective equipment and It’s capable of running with the other Big ADV Bikes in the segment like the R1250GS, Super Tenere 1200 ES, KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, and the Tiger 1200 XCa once the asphalt ends. We’ll have to do more testing to see how it handles trail abuse and more technical terrain, but the improvement in off-road performance compared to the previous generation model is pretty dramatic.

Much has improved in the touring department as well from its larger tank, increased leg room and improved aerodynamics, to the advanced radar tech and intuitive TFT interface. Not to mention the class-leading 36,000-mile valve check interval. This is a bike that is begging to go on a long journey – an iron butt cheater bike with all the accoutrements to comfortably clock 1,000-mile days in record time. Fuel consumption and range could perhaps be a concern though. During my day of testing, I was getting only 29 mpg, but that was riding with a heavy throttle hand.

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S tested

Yet there is one hurdle that is hard to overlook – the price. The red Multistrada V4 S spoke wheel model we tested starts at $24,695 MSRP, which does include a set of color-matched plastic panniers and a center stand in that price. Adding the factory Akro pipe, heavy-duty skid plate, enduro screen, and engine guards like our test bike had, increases the price tag to $27,505. Before you start typing off a comment about how many KLR’s you could buy for that price, let’s take a look at what you get. 

The new model offers cutting-edge technology like Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Skyhook electronic suspension, lean-angle sensing Traction Control and ABS, tunable ride modes, cornering lights… features that extend your reflexes and sensitivity beyond your own capabilities, making you not only a faster rider, but a safer one as well. There is also the engineering built into the powerplant and chassis that lets it perform as well as it does on both the street and dirt spectrum, while offering amazing comfort for longer journeys to boot. And there’s always that seductive Italian styling that’s hard to put a price on.

The Multistrada V4 S is a machine for the sport-touring-leaning Adventure Rider that values eye-popping street performance, yet wants the option of being able to explore typical big bike trails with confidence. The latest iteration is more well-rounded, easier to manage, and yes, even more practical. Now more than ever, it’s a bike that lives up to its ‘Multistrada’ moniker. 

Ducati Multistrada V4 S Specs

ENGINE TYPE:V4 Granturismo, V4 – 90°, 4 valves per cylinder, counter-rotating crankshaft, Twin Pulse firing order, liquid cooled 
DISPLACEMENT:1,158 cc (71 cu in)
BORE X STROKE:83 mm x 53.5 mm
COMPRESSION RATIO:14.0:1
POWER:170 hp (125 kW) @ 10,500 rpm
TORQUE:12.7 kgm (125 Nm, 92 lb ft) @ 8,750 rpm
FUEL INJECTION :Electronic fuel injection system, Øeq 46 mm elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire system
EXHAUST:Stainless steel muffler, double catalytic converter and 4 lambda probes
GEARBOX:6 speed
PRIMARY DRIVE:Straight cut gears, ratio 1.8:1
RATIO:1=40/13, 2=36/16, 3=34/19, 4=31/21, 5=23/29, 6=25/27
FINAL DRIVE:Chain, front sprocket z16, rear sprocket z42
CLUTCH:Multiplate wet clutch with hydraulic control, self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run
FRAME:Aluminum monocoque frame
FRONT SUSPENSION:Ø 50 mm fully adjustable usd fork, electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension
FRONT WHEEL:Tubeless spoke rims, 3″ x 19″
FRONT TIRE:Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 120/70 ZR 19
REAR SUSPENSION:Fully adjustable monoshock, electronic adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension, aluminum double-sided swingarm
REAR WHEEL:Tubeless spoke rims, 4.5″ x 17″
REAR TIRE:Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 ZR 17
WHEEL TRAVEL (FRONT/REAR):170 mm / 180 mm (6.7 in / 7.1 in)
Ground Clearance:220 mm (8.7 in)
FRONT BRAKE:2 x Ø 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo M50 Stylema monobloc 4-piston 2-pad calipers, radial master cylinder, Cornering ABS
REAR BRAKE:Ø 265 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating caliper, Cornering ABS
INSTRUMENTATION:6.5″ TFT color display with Ducati Connect and full-map navigation system
DRY WEIGHT :218 kg (481 lb)
KERB WEIGHT*:243 kg (536 lb)
SEAT HEIGHT:Adjustable, 840 mm – 860 mm (33.1 in – 33.9 in)
WHEELBASE:1,567 mm (61.7 in)
RAKE:24.5°
TRAIL:102.5 mm (4.0 in)
FUEL TANK CAPACITY:22 l (5.8 US gal)
NUMBER OF SEATS:2
SAFETY EQUIPMENT:Riding Modes, Power Modes, ABS Cornering, Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Wheelie Control, Daytime Running Light, Ducati Cornering Light, Ducati Brake Light, Vehicle Hold Control
STANDARD EQUIPMENT:Ducati Skyhook Suspension, Ducati Quick Shift, Cruise control, Hands-free, Backlit handlebar switches, 6.5″ TFT color display with Ducati Connect and full-map navigation system, Full LED headlight
WARRANTY:24 months (48 months**), unlimited mileage
MAINTENANCE SERVICE INTERVALS:15,000 km (9,000 miles) / 24 months
VALVE SERVICE:60,000 km (36,000 miles)
EMISSIONS STANDARD:Euro 5
CO2 EMISSIONS:162 g/km
CONSUMPTION:6.5 l/100 km (36.2 MPG)

Model Pricing 

ModelColorUSCanada
Multistrada V4 Ducati Red$19,995$22,395
Multistrada V4 S Travel + Radar Ducati Red$24,095$26,745
Multistrada V4 S Travel + Radar Aviator Grey$24,295$26,945
Multistrada V4 S Travel + Radar + Spoked WheelsDucati Red$24,695$27,345
Multistrada V4 S Travel + Radar + Spoked WheelsAviator Grey$24,895$27,545
Multistrada V4 S Sport + Full + Alloy WheelsSport Livery$26,095$28,795

Gear We Used

Jacket: Klim Badlands Pro
Pants: Klim Badlands Pro
Helmet: Klim Krios Pro
Boots: Klim Adventure GTX
Gloves: Klim Adventure GTX Short

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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11 thoughts on “Ducati Multistrada V4 S: More Ready For All Roads Than Ever?

  1. The performance of the new V4 sounds impressive however fuel economy is down, weight is up and road performance with the 19″ front wheel is likely compromised and seat height is higher than it needs to be. It appears with the larger front wheel, increased clearance and suspension travel that Ducati is trying to give this bike some off-road credibility. However, I doubt that many are going to use this bike to go off road so it appears to me this is more a marketing decision than one of functional practicality. The active radar and blind spot monitoring are cool technology advancements however they don’t justify the increase in cost which is now out of my price range.

      • No I wouldn’t, however I think the Multistrada would be a great bike for sport touring. Great review – you did a very good job of reviewing this bike identifying both the pros and cons. The Multistrada has been at the top of my list for my next purchase due to its performance and, in my opinion, being one of the best looking bikes on the market.

        • Hey Doug. Thanks for the kind words!. I felt the same way about the old 1260 S. It was a bike I would only use for very light off-road. Or use it off-road with a lot of caution just to get somewhere, not for enjoyment. This new Multistrada is totally different and I felt comfortable riding it off-road like I would a big GS from the first minute I got on it. I still rode it with a bit more caution than I might normally though, just because it is such a beautiful motorcycle. I think after a few off-road rides I’d get over that though. I come from a sport bike riding background and grew up riding the bay area backroads. I’m pretty confident most riders will feel it’s just as good or better than before in the turns. Mainly, because the peg clearance is better. I think this new V4 looks better than the old one too with more balanced proportions. Well if you do get it, or get a test ride, let me know what you think!

  2. I work at a dealership in Sweden an so far we have sold 9 of these, I’m predicting maybe 20-25 this year which would be almost 40% of all the new Ducatis we’ll sell this year, so a lot more then the 1260S and 950S combined. Havn’t had the opertunity to test it as of yet but hopefully next week but I think I’ll like it more then the 1260S. Up till now I’ve prefered the 950S.

    • The trip meter showed whoever was riding the bike before me had been getting 33 mpg. Their claim for consumption is 36 mpg under ideal conditions. That would get you somewhere north of 200 miles range with a 5.8 gallon tank. It’s a high performance bike so you can’t expect great mileage, but I would still expect something around 40.

  3. You report 29mpg but dismiss that horrible figure by saying you were riding with a heavy throttle hand. Others also report horrible mileage and also dismiss it for the same reasons. One reviewer broke the mold and said it gets horrible mileage no matter how you ride it.

    • Hi Robert. I would not make that claim after one ride. Especially going down the trail and road full throttle nearly all the time for photos/testing, which is not regular riding conditions. I also saw the previous rider’s trip stored on the dash had been getting 33 mpg, which still isn’t great. Clearly its a concern, but I’ll reserve my final judgement until we get in a bonafide adventure on it.

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