Just in time for its 90th birthday, Ducati is venturing into territory it hasn't previously explored. Unpaved territory, that is.
The 2016 Multistrada Enduro is a new model aimed at the adventure-touring market, with a long list of changes to the Multistrada platform to make it capable of leaving the pavement and going a long way to the next spot of civilization, even two up or with a lot of gear. Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali called the Multistrada Enduro and the XDiavel the most important news he announced on the eve of the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. Both are "a departure for our brand," Domenicali said.
The Multistrada Enduro puts Ducati, a company known for sport bikes, in direct competition with European competitors BMW, KTM and Triumph, whose presence in the adventure-touring market ranges from dominant to significant.
"This is a product that we really never ever had in our range," said Domenicali. "We like to say it is the first Ducati to have the ability to travel cross continent on any terrain."
Sure, this will make an impressive bike to ride to Starbucks, but will anyone dare to try riding from the Caspian Sea to Ulaanbaatar on a motorcycle with desmo valves with variable timing and more electronics than the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan? Then again, maybe the numbers who are truly planning that trip are not enough to move the sales needle, anyway.
The Enduro gets a host of changes to make it more dirt-worthy and capable of true adventure-touring far from the beaten pavement, starting with edge-spoked 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels that allow the use of knobbier (and tubeless) tires. The nearly eight-gallon (30-liter) fuel tank will take you to the next outpost, and other changes, from a higher handlebar to an aluminum sump guard and even footpegs with removable rubber pieces are all intended to ease off-pavement riding. Weight is said to be 560 pounds.
If you're one of those adventurers who believe you should be able to repair your motorcycle in a any mechanic's shack on the Pampas equipped with some screwdrivers, a welding machine and an anvil, the Ducati may not be your choice, however. The Enduro still bristles with technology, like the street-going Multistrada. It's powered by the 160-horsepower Testatretta DVT engine with variable valve timing and comes with cornering ABS, the Ducati Skyhoook semi-active suspension, traction control, wheelie control and four riding modes. You can operate your smartphone through the TFT display on the dash, assuming you have a cell signal in Timbuktu.
Having surpassed 50,000 units in sales this year, Ducati is obviously feeling confident enough to branch out beyond its core of sport bikes. The Multistrada 1200 Enduro is a departure for the brand that is as big as the Scrambler line introduced last year (which is doing great things for Ducati's sales numbers, by the way).
The other bit of Multistrada news unveiled today was a new model called the Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak, an upgraded street-going Multistrada meant to capitalize on Ducati's success at the annual race up Colorado's most famous mountain. In addition to the sophisticated suite of electronics, the Pikes Peak gets Ohlins suspension front and rear and a special paint job. It may not be the ground-breaking (literally — and sod-busting, berm-pounding, etc.) bike the Multistrada Enduro is, but it is a fine looking Multistrada.