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2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260S road test review

Abhay Verma  /
26 Oct 2018 21:07:45 IST

Given my strong affection for road-biased motorcycles, I was never a huge fan of adventure tourers. They might boast serious go-anywhere abilities, but didn't quite fit the bill in terms of entertaining on tarmac or looking as good as, say, sportsbikes and streetbikes. But all that changed with the Ducati Multistrada 1200S. It smashed every notion I had about adventure tourers to bits. It looked good, was scarily powerful, handled brilliantly on tarmac and could yet go places where most motorcycles won't dare to.

The Ducati Multistrada 1260S is an evolution of the game changer that the Multistrada 1200S was. A midlife update it might be, but the 1260S gets so many updates under its skin, you could pretty much call it an all-new motorcycle

In fact it was so good, Shumi bought himself one and has clocked more than 20,000km on it, in just over a year! So when the updated Multistrada 1260S came out, Shumi obviously pulled rank and rode it first, but surprisingly, the man came back with mixed reactions. I was expecting him to wax eloquent but he stated that while the 1260 does feel better in a lot of areas, it seems to have lost some of the edginess that made the 1200 oh-so-stunning. Really? I wasn't convinced. So when Ducati told me the Multistrada 1260S was in Delhi, I decided to ride it down to Mumbai, and put it through a thorough, 1,400km road test.

There aren't too many visual changes, which means it's easy to mistake the Ducati Multistrada 1260S for the 1200. Changes only include slightly different side panels on the fairing and a dull gold finish on the alloys

At first glance, the 1260S didn't look very different from the 1200S. The headlights look near identical and only a close look will tell you that the side panels of the fairing aren't exactly the same. Of course, the 1260 isn't a full model change, so the resemblance is a given. There's bigger changes under the skin - to the engine, chassis as also the electronics, apart from the semi-active suspension getting recalibrated. The new engine is the bigger, 1,260cc L-twin lump borrowed from the XDiavel and offers 158PS and 129.5Nm. The 6PS and 1Nm increment over the 1200 might sound modest, but the magic is in the improved power delivery at low to mid revs. The 1260S also gets a bi-directional quickshifter, while the TFT display is even crisper looking. I also like how vital information like tank range, average speed, fuel efficiency and the like are displayed legibly on the bottom left corner of the screen and can be toggled through easily, which makes processing information on the go easier.

The TFT display for the instrument cluster looks crisper and brighter now and offers information in a neater, more legible way than before

Accessing the suspension settings is an easier affair too now, thanks to a dedicated switch on the left handlebar

I started out early to avoid getting traffic and found myself accelerating hard to get to the highway Delhi-Jaipur highway soon. And the 1260S seemed to pull harder than the 1200S instantly, even below 5,000rpm. The quickshifter was working like a charm, offering quick, precise responses. As I hit the highway and opened the throttle to its stop, all hell seemed to have broken loose. I was thrust forward with an urgency comparable to litre-class superbikes and acceleration was so fierce, it was difficult to hold revs in even in higher gears! I won't deny that I was taken aback by the acceleration. And that's the beauty of a V-twin engine - it doesn't make you wait before offering its full wealth. Getting to ridiculously fast and (strictly illegal!) speeds is a cinch, which means you're also covering distances very quickly. More importantly comfort was excellent, and I could stay in the saddle for hours without needing to stand up on the pegs to stretch my legs. Butt breaks were far and few in between and I got to the outskirts of Jaipur - a shade under 300km from Delhi - in almost half the estimated time!

With 158PS on tap, the Ducati Multistrada 1260S is no less than a projectile on two wheels and allows you to carry blistering speeds on open roads

My destination for the day was Udaipur, 650km from Delhi. The blistering pace the 1260S allowed saw me get to Udaipur late in the afternoon, though it wasn't just the manic engine performance that made it possible. The new engine feels smoother and more refined which contributes to lesser fatigue. The quickshifter certainly helped as well with its butter-smooth clutchless shifts. The seat is wide and comfortable yes, though I wish the padding was softer, just a wee bit more. More importantly, the electronically damped, semi-active suspension helped make the ride supremely comfortable. The suspension uses sensors to relay information regarding the road surface to the ECU continuously, which adjusts damping real time to offer accurately measured ride and handling.

Long hours in the saddle of the Ducati Multistrada 1260S are easy, thanks to the comfortable ergonomics, though you occasionally do feel the need to stand up on the pegs and stretch your legs if the knees get cramped

The next morning, the 1260S had another revelation waiting. As soon as you exit Udaipur and head south towards Gujarat, it's all fast, well-paved tarmac and twisty roads. I chuckled with glee at the prospect, since the previous day had seen me only munch miles feverishly on arrow straight highways. The 1260S allowed me to carry serious speeds through corners, also courtesy the sparse traffic. As compared to the 1200S, the 1260S felt calmer and more composed while entering corners, thereby affording more time to absorb what's happening even when doing a fair clip. But in effect, as Shumi pointed out, it didn't feel as sharp as the 1200 at turn-in. That's courtesy an increased rake angle, up by 1 degree, and a swingarm longer by a significant 56mm, which has resulted in slower turn-ins, but improved stability. And the improved stability was welcome, particularly around corners where trucks had left the road surface undulated.

Despite its large dimensions, the Ducati Multistrada 1260S is quite a handler and feels agile on its feet, thanks to the revisions to the chassis

The six-axis IMU also deserves a thumbs-up, and typical of Ducati, electronics are top-notch. I stuck to Sport mode through most of the ride for the quickest of responses, as Touring mode offers the full performance too, but with softer responses. The cornering function of the LED headlights was a boon early in the morning and added to confidence levels. But the biggest confidence boosters, apart from the suspension, were the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres. The tyres offered massive grip levels throughout. I was also concerned that the long ride and high speeds I was doing would result in a fair amount of tyre wear, but that wasn't the case. Braking performance is excellent as well, courtesy the 330mm discs and Brembo M50 calipers, which offered braking prowess comparable to streetbikes in terms of bite and stability both.

Adjustability and positioning of the windscreen helped with good ventilation when lowered, along with excellent wind protection at high speeds by channeling the air perfectly above my helmet. The second day was a longer stint, but there was never a dull moment in the saddle. The bike enthralled me with its mind-numbing acceleration while handling is so good, the 1260S could give smaller streetbikes a run for their money. And as I got to the outskirts of Mumbai I didn't feel particularly exhausted. I felt as if I could have ridden the bike for another couple of hundred kilometres, such was the comfort.

With its heady mix of performance, comfort and handling, the Ducati Multistrada 1260S is a jack of all trades and master of most too

Overall, the Multistrada 1260S takes the already lofty benchmarks set by the 1200S a notch higher. Its performance will stun you as there's so much shove on offer at all times that it's almost impossible to get to the redline in any gear. In fact, everyone who rode the 1260S in office after me came back stunned, and with large grins plastered across their mugs. What makes the Multistrada 1260 even more enticing is the pricing. The base version retails at Rs 15.99 lakh ex-showroom, but if you ask me, the 1260S with its semi-active suspension is a steal at Rs 18.06 lakh ex-showroom. It builds on the strengths of the 1200S in a way that the overall package even more compelling, especially if you do a lot of touring on tarmac. Of course, you could take the bike to a racetrack and have a blast. Its experience is so wholesome that the Multistrada 1260S can pretty much be all the motorcycle you'll ever need - it's fast, comfortable and can go anywhere you like. If the 1200S was a beast, I can confirm to you that the beast has now evolved!

  • Aug 09, 08:29 PM (IST)

    That's a wrap on the high-stakes Rajya Sabha elections. Thanks for staying tuned. Follow moneycontrol.com for news, views and updates.


    * Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win the election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:30 PM (IST)

    In all, 11 Rajya Sabha members — one from Goa, one from Madhya Pradesh, six from West Bengal and three from Gujarat — were elected.

    FULL REPORT | Rajya Sabha elections: Here who's got elected and re-elected

  • Aug 09, 07:09 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 04:35 PM (IST)

    Why Patel's win matters: A defeat could have meant more trouble for the Congress.

  • Aug 09, 03:56 PM (IST)

    West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also congratulated Ahmed Patel on his victory.

  • Aug 09, 03:01 PM (IST)

    "How much more evidence do we require to understand that we opposition parties are up against a ruthless, finely tuned BJP political machine," Abdullah said.

  • Aug 09, 02:22 PM (IST)

    Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said that Congress leader Ahmed Patel's win in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls "should have never been this difficult" and the opposition needs to introspect and shift strategy to counter the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

  • Aug 09, 02:10 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 01:33 PM (IST)

    Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath says the party has always fought back.

  • Aug 09, 01:08 PM (IST)

    Amit Shah is choosing to focus on the third anniversary of his tenure as BJP President, thanking his followers his Twitter for their wishes. He has not yet commented on his Rajya Sabha victory or the BJP candidate's defeat to Ahmed Patel.

  • Aug 09, 12:15 PM (IST)

    There is no confirmation from the BJP yet over whether they will approach the courts over the EC's decision to disallow two votes.

  • Aug 09, 11:43 AM (IST)

    Congress President Sonia Gandhi says she is very happy with Ahmed Patel's victory. "Thank god for the Election Commission," she says.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)

    Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad says the defeat is a lesson for the BJP and they are free to approach any court.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)

    Kailash Vijayvargiya puts things in perspective. "We have won two seats and Congress only one [in Gujarat], no question of disappointment," the BJP leader tells News18.

  • Aug 09, 10:35 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 10:32 AM (IST)

    JD(U) legislator Chhotubhai Vasava is also believed to have voted for Ahmed Patel, defying the party whip.

  • Aug 09, 10:22 AM (IST)

    JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has congratulated Ahmed Patel on his Rajya Sabha victory. The JD(U) is now part of the NDA, but Yadav has been against the idea.

  • Aug 09, 09:58 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, six leaders were elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal on Wednesday. Five of them were from the Trinamool Congress -Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Manas Bhunia, Shanta Chhetri. Pradip Bhattachya of the Congress was also elected to the Upper House. 

  • Aug 09, 09:19 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:17 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:14 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 08:31 AM (IST)

    There is speculation that the BJP may approach the courts regarding the Election Commission's decision to disqualify the two votes. We should get some clairty as the day progresses.

  • Aug 09, 08:12 AM (IST)

    In the end, it was two disqualified votes that helped take Ahmed Patel over the line. Here's a recap.

  • Aug 09, 07:55 AM (IST)


    *Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Ahmed Patel has gone from a low-profile politician to the centre of attention in the past month. Here's a short history of Patel's career.

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Why does Patel's win matter so much? Read our report.

  • Aug 09, 07:50 AM (IST)

    After late-night drama that saw Ahmed Patel retain his seat, we can expect to see reactions pour in through the day.

  • Aug 09, 02:25 AM (IST)

    That's all from the Rajya Sabha election for now. Log on to www. moneycontrol.com for coverage of the Rajya Sabha elections during the day. Thanks for staying tuned.

  • Aug 09, 02:17 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 02:14 AM (IST)

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