The Multistrada has seen quite a few changes over its nearly 20-year run in Ducati’s lineup. What started off as an odd-duck favorite (no pun intended) in 2003 has grown to be the best-selling worldwide model for the Italian manufacturer by the close of 2019. And today we’ve learned that it is changing once again.
According to my sources in the industry, Ducati will be releasing a new 2021 Multistrada V4 S which will be available in America as early as January, 2021. While we’ll have to wait until the official Ducati World Premiere (tentatively scheduled for October) to learn the official specs and pricing, I do have a few facts and photos to share.
I also reached out to Andy Janik, a friend, fellow ADV enthusiast, and Ducati Multistrada Enduro owner, for insight on what he’d like to see from the new model based on his years of abusing a 2016 Ducati Multistrada Enduro on- and off-road.
Multistrada Enduro vs. Multistrada S
Despite its upright, adventure-bike stance, there’s a reason “strada,” or street, was part of this motorcycle’s name from the beginning. It was first and foremost a comfortable, performance-oriented, sport-touring bike. It wasn’t until 2016 that Ducati introduced a proper off-road-focused version with the Multistrada Enduro.
That’s not to say no-one ever took a Multi off-road before 2016. I’ve personally witnessed a few brave souls spooning TKC 80s onto the 17-inch rims on their Multistrada S’s, but they are very few, and very far between. And aside from Mr. Janik, who I met when we teamed up to race an ADV endurance event together in Canada, I’ve yet to see many people (i.e., nobody but Andy) attending off-road events with the Enduro version.
That’s why I find it extremely surprising that Ducati has apparently decided to create a single new Ducati Multistrada V4 S to replace both the road-going Multistrada 1260 S and the off-road-oriented Multistrada 1260 Enduro.The current 2020 Multistrada S comes with 17-inch rims that wear sport bike rubber, a smaller fuel tank to keep claimed weight around 518 pounds, and a sportier suspension setup. The Enduro has a 19-inch rim up front for more adventurous tire options, a massive 7.9-gallon tank, weighs a claimed 560 pounds, and features a different suspension tune. The 2021 will be a combination of the two.
The spy photos I was able to obtain primarily focus on the bike being test-ridden off-road. This seems to speak to the growing popularity worldwide of the ADV segment, but it’s a bold play for Ducati to alter their best selling model so drastically. At this time, there is no word that a 17-inch-wheel version will be available in 2021, so it’ll be interesting to see if the new version can maintain the sporty nature of the “S” while improving the off-road capability of the Enduro.
The one clue to the performance side of things is that, according to my sources, the new bike is claimed to be lighter than both the current versions. This means that the bike will most likely be outfitted with a smaller fuel tank than the one found on the current Enduro, a change Andy said he would welcome.
“The current tank on my Enduro is comically large,” Andy commented over the phone. “As an owner, I’d love to see a smaller fuel tank on a future version. I’d much rather have a smaller, lighter, more compact version of the bike and sacrifice a bit of range.”
The 2021 V4 engine
News on the exact specifications of the Multistrada’s new engine is limited, but it is confirmed it’ll be getting the V4. However, from what I’ve been told, it will not be the same engine found in the Panigale V4, but rather a ground-up, newly designed motor built for the Multi’s intended audience.
Andy’s biggest excitement around the Multi receiving the V4 is that it’ll most likely get rid of the timing belts on the current 1260 and move to gear-driven cams.
“Don’t get me wrong, the service intervals on the 1260 engine are better than ever, but having timing belts on a bike designed for off-road adventure is still something that bothers me,” Andy explained. “Any time I’m traveling far off the beaten track, I want as few options for mechanical failure as possible. And to that end, I would hope they would simplify the bike, less electronics and bells and whistles. But let’s be honest, it’s a Ducati, they’re not going to get rid of the bells and whistles.”
Final thoughts on a new Multistrada
By the looks of these spy photos, it’s clear that Ducati is taking the Adventure segment seriously. The new bike looks meaner, more svelte, and more capable off-road than ever before. Yet it appears to me that Ducati is being calculated in their approach.
They didn’t appear to go for massive suspension travel, crazy ground clearances, and a 21-inch front tire, items that improve off-road capability but sacrifice street performance and create crazy-tall, intimidating seat heights (a la KTM). Rather it seems like they’re taking a more civilized approach, like their German competition to the north.
While I’ve always appreciated the Multistrada as a fun and capable street bike, I’ve never given it much serious thought as an off-road ADV must-have, even in Enduro trim. But these photos have my interest piqued.
It looks like Ducati might have a bike that is as refined and as comfortable as the BMW R 1250 GS but with a sporty and performance-oriented V4 to please their current core “S” audience. If they can offer better performance off-road than a BMW while not going quite as aggressive as a KTM, this could be one of the best Multistradas yet. A bold claim for a bike that is already a cult favorite for so many Ducati owners.