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ADV NewsTesting The Multistrada V4’s New Semi-Auto Lowering Feature & More!

Testing The Multistrada V4’s New Semi-Auto Lowering Feature & More!

We try out Ducati's new-for-2022 tech updates on a ride through the San Bernardinos.

Published on 08.31.2022

After more than 25 years of testing, riding, and racing practically every genre of motorcycle imaginable, I’ve been a bit far removed from the motorcycle industry lately. But the chance to ride what could arguably be the current technological tour de force in heavyweight adventure tourers, the 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 S, and sample the latest electronic updates the Bologna boys have outfitted it with was an opportunity too good to pass up. In addition, the Multistrada V4 is one of Ducati’s best-selling motorcycles, with more than 10,000 units rolling out of dealer showrooms in its first year. That’s definitely a positive sign.

The plan was to run up to the Big Bear area in Southern California to get a feel for the bike’s new-for-’22 tech features and more. I focused my evaluation on four areas—the new ‘Minimum Preload’ semi-auto lowering feature, the revised Infotainment system with the Ducati Connect feature, and the already existing Blindspot Detection and Adaptive Cruise Control radar tech. When all was said and done, I ended up intensely appreciating one, feeling as if two of them were an outright stroke of genius and being quite happy to take or leave the last.

A new semi-automatic lowering feature, called Minimum Preload allows you to reduce the height of the bike, making it easier to place your feet on the ground during city use or when maneuvering at low speeds with a passenger on board.

Mental preparation was the first order of business. It had been several months since I last threw a leg over an ADV bike and a few years since said ADV machine had the name Ducati on its flanks. As I recall, that machine, the 2016 Multistrada Enduro, possessed a magical 1198cc DVT Testastretta Twin in a nice-handling but hefty overall package. With a curb weight of just under 650 pounds and a skyscraper-tall seat height, it was a challenge for all 5’6” of me to wrestle the big Ducati in tight, technical, or loose off-road conditions. The Multistrada Enduro was a heavyweight that demanded respect anytime you left the pavement. 

I know times change, but I was curious to see if the Multistrada V4 S would be a more user-friendly heavyweight ADV machine or just more of the same. While this is by no means meant to be a full-blown review of the Multistrada V4 S—you can read what Senior Editor Rob Dabney had to say about it in his 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 S review—I was hopeful that the new tech Ducati was touting would be a big help on the trail. 


With the destination set for Big Bear up in the mountains, I met Rob at the ADV Pulse Headquarters in Torrance, California early on a Saturday morning, only to find out that I’d pulled a boner move and left my riding boots at home. Ah well, reframing the situation, I took solace in the fact that I still wasn’t too old to make a rookie mistake. Fortunately, ADV Pulse is well stocked up on test products, and we resolved the situation with a great pair of SIDIs in short order. Moreover, the minor mishap proved far less of a time-robbing hassle than setting up navigation and comms using the Ducati Connect Connect and Sygic apps that I downloaded into my iPhone 12, but more on that later. 

Activation of the lowering system can only be done at speeds lower than approximately 59 mph. If not disabled manually, the function is automatically deactivated at speeds above 71 mph.

So off we went with the ambient temperature gauge on the Ducati’s large and crystal-clear TFT display already heading toward 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I also decided to take a quick look at the engine temperature, which was hovering right around 195 degrees. It would be interesting to see how much that changed when we got into the slow stuff around the Big Bear Lake area. By the time we arrived to explore our first two-track, the outside temperature was up to 96 degrees, but the billowing high clouds in the area would provide temporary canopies throughout the day. 

If you’ve never experienced adventure riding in Big Bear, it’s a great place to explore. Our route took us through many densely wooded areas, home to some great campgrounds. We cruised through quite a few of them, passing crowded campsites with no issues. I bring this up to point out what I perceive is the tremendous amount of good that the growth of Adventure Touring has done in terms of building a community between motorcyclist and non-motorcyclist outdoor recreation enthusiasts. While the hard-core hikers will probably never accept wheeled recreation of any kind, most of the people we ran into were happy to give us a wave and a nod. My take is that it’s because they don’t perceive ADV Riders the same as Dirt Bike, and a lot of it may be because most ADV trail riding isn’t done at the same dust-kicking pace as the smaller machines. 

There are also some neat little towns in the area, places such as Green Valley Lake. Well, it’s a lake, but it’s more like a big pond or a HUGE swimming pool. It was nice to kick back and see folks enjoying the lake and the park across the street from our lunch stop. 

Some of the scenic vistas in the area are nothing short of breathtaking if you are willing to ride out to them. At one point, we skirted along the south edge of the lake before heading into the woods along a two-track that took us to a spot that seemed like the edge of the world, but even that wasn’t the best part of the ride.  

Keller Peak was, by far, the most extraordinary experience of the trip. I’d never visited the place on any of my previous Big Bear rides, but it’s worth pursuing. The Keller Peak Fire Lookout is usually open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to mid-November (though it is sometimes closed without notice). Located east of Running Springs on Forest Road 1N96, it’s easy to access via the five-mile paved road that leads up to the lookout. On a clear day, from that one spot, you can catch magnificent views of the San Bernardino Mountains, including three lakes: Arrowhead, Gregory, and Silverwood, and on a clear day you can also see the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island. Pretty cool stuff! 

Throughout the day, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Multistrada V4 S is more sympathetic to the inseam-challenged right from the get-go. Its Minimum Preload feature is a Godsend for us short dudes. It’s part of the V4 S’s brilliant electronic suspension and it enables the rider to lower the seat height to its lowest allowable setting, which is helpful when climbing on and off the big V4. It also provides added security if you have to dab a foot on a downtown street or in a low-speed, technical section miles away from the nearest pavement. Simply press and hold the suspension button on the left handlebar for two seconds, and the Minimum Preload activates to lower the rear ride height without affecting the spring or damping rates of the rear suspension. It’s simple. It’s smart. And it’s effective. That eight-tenths of an inch might not sound like much, but it can mean all the difference between getting a much-needed solid footing or needing a hand to hoist the big Multistrada back to its proper upright position on the trail. 

To activate Minimum Preload press and hold the dedicated button for 2 seconds. To confirm activation, the instrument panel shows “Min”.
Minimum Preload shown ‘activated’ and ‘deactivated’ (sped up 2.5X for demo purposes). When enabled, the function allows setting the rear shock absorber preload to the minimum.

Yep, Minimum Preload is a darned handy feature, although some riders might notice a slight change in handling when tooling around with the system in the lowered position. I know I did. Lowering the rear ride height affects the chassis rake just enough to make the steering a little slacker, adding stability in rocky or sandy slow-speed sections to help keep the big ‘Duck tracking straight and true. The tradeoff is that steering slows just enough that the V4 S prefers to run just a little wider when exiting a corner. But it’s a trade I’ll gladly take any day and twice on Sunday, as I prefer improving my chance of touching the ground when I need to. It’s also cool that the system can be activated anywhere below 60 mph and automatically deactivates and returns the V4 S to full ride height above 70 mph. The Minimum Preload feature is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until you’ve used it. 

Speaking of 70 mph, it’s clear that despite the Multistrada V4’s notable off-road capability, it’s even more impressive on the open road. Blessed with a mellifluous, superbike-derived, 170-horsepower engine and comfortable ergonomics, it’s an all-day machine that begs to be ridden fast on the open road and in the twisties. That said, it’s nice to see that Ducati has paid as much (or more) attention to rider safety as it has to outright vehicle performance. As a feature released in 2021, Ducati and Bosch co-developed a front and rear radar system that introduces next-generation safety features such as Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) to the motorcycle world. While both are commonly used in the automotive world, the Multistrada V4 S was the first production motorcycle to incorporate these potentially life-saving technologies.

Blind Spot Detection 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. BSD along with ACC are features debuted in the 2021 model.
With Adaptive Cruise Control, 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.

The Multistrada’s BSD feature is excellent. It readily alerts the rider of approaching traffic on either side of the motorcycle by activating a bright orange light integrated into the mirror, appearing on the side where that traffic is located. It dramatically increases the rider’s situational awareness day or night. In addition to the safety aspect of the ACC, it’s a timely addition for no other reason than because modulating the Multistrada’s ride-by-wire throttle can fatigue the hand during long hours of freeway droning. The problem is that most cruise control systems require relentless fiddling if you want to keep your distance from traffic that never seems to be able to maintain a constant speed. The Multistrada’s ACC does the fiddling for you. It detects a slower-moving vehicle in front of you and automatically adjusts your speed to maintain a safe distance. Once the vehicle moves out of your way or you move to pass it, the ACC returns to the cruising speed you set. One more note: The ACC is deactivated when you toggle the riding mode to the Enduro setting. 

The compartment on the tank offers a convenient place to store your phone and keep it charged. However, it’s a tight fit on the sides for a larger phone.
Ducati’s Infotainment system integrates your phone features through the Ducati Connect app. Make and receive phone calls, dial phone numbers through the dash, and listen to stored music when used in conjunction with a Bluetooth Headset. 

Of course, having a trustworthy navigation system is a must on a modern ADV bike, whether it’s through your phone or some other means. The Multistrada’s Infotainment system is designed to accommodate the rider’s navigation and communication needs simply by downloading two apps onto your smartphone: Ducati Connect and Sygic GPS Navigation. After downloading the two apps, you must always choose to allow Ducati Connect location and enable Bosch My Spin inside the Sygic app. You can then use the joystick on the left handlebar to pair the devices via Bluetooth and connect your smartphone to the Ducati Connect WiFi. From there, the system is designed to give you complete control over your navigation and entertainment (music) and allow you to make and receive phone calls. 

Infotainment and Interface Revisions

  • Ducati Connect maintains your BT connection to the phone for up to 20 minutes after the ignition is turned off to avoid a restart after short breaks.
  • Improved audio volume management between music and navigation commands, along with volume level displayed on the dashboard.
  • New return to Navigation Screen function enabled when making outgoing calls through Ducati Connect.
  • Phone and Music Player functions are now enabled in Enduro and Sport Riding Modes.
  • Activation and adjustment of the heated grips controlled by a dedicated button rather than navigating through menus.
Turn-by-turn navigation with an on-screen map is enabled through the Sygic app. The mapping functionality continues to work, even when cell reception is unavailable.

Unfortunately, my experience with this system was mixed at best. When connected, the navigation system worked relatively well, although, on more than one occasion, it gave some bizarre directions for routes with which we were already familiar. And sometimes, it seemed as though it was not quick enough to keep up and provide enough warning of a pending turn along the route. But most of the time, the system would just give up in the middle of a route, requiring us to stop, fish the phone out of its nesting place in the small compartment at the rear of the fuel tank, and reboot the system. 

Even if you don’t experience the same glitches, I recommend you spend a lot of time familiarizing yourself with the Ducati Infotainment system features BEFORE you leave your driveway. It requires a lot of time and attention with the toggle switch to navigate the various options, which can be distracting. 

At the end of the day, it was the core attributes of the Ducati Multistrada V4 S that made the ride so memorable. The big Multi provides an excellent platform to see the world in a way only a motorcycle can provide. I loved the added stability the Minimum Preload affords short-legged riders, and I appreciate the added safety that the BDS and ACC provide. And if the Infotainment system is appealing to you, by all means, embrace it and have fun. The rumble of that sweet V4 exhaust note, the sound of tires sliding in the dirt, and the anticipation of visiting unknown locations will always be entertainment enough.  

Photos by Rob Dabney

Author: Scott Rousseau

Scott spent more than 25 years as a full-time motorcycle journalist working for many of the top print and online motorcycle publications. He began riding when he was 7 years old, and has competed in virtually every racing discipline on dirt, including speedway, flat track, motocross, off-road, hill climb, and observed trials. In his work as a journalist, he has traveled all over the world to cover every aspect of the motorcycle industry, from testing the latest bikes and product reviews to reporting on competitive events and industry happenings. These days he still enjoys riding and writing about motorcycles as much as possible.

Author: Scott Rousseau

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joe john
joe john
August 31, 2022 11:19 am

170 horsepower huh? I think my ’92 honda civic had about 119hp. At what point does more horsepower just become a silly stat? It’s not like anyone will ever need or use that much unless they are towing a small vehicle with their motorcycle.


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