The Ducati Multistrada has been around for many years (since 2003, 1000DS) and many distinct generations — evolving from air/oil-cooled to the liquid-cooled V-twin, spinning off a smaller-capacity middleweight (the 950 / V2), and eventually arriving at the V4 since 2021.

Each of these generations has a number of distinct models and deserves its own buyer’s guide, so I’ll break them up.

This is the Ducati Multistrada V4 buyer’s guide. I’ll go over

  • An introduction to the Multistrada V4 and what makes it special
  • The Multistrada V4 model variants
  • Alternatives to the Multistrada V4
  • And any other random thoughts that cross my mind!

Updated Oct 2024 for the 2024 Ducati Multistrada V4 RS.

Ducati Multistrada V4 RS Action shot
Ducati Multistrada V4 RS, action shot

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Brief History of the Ducati Multistrada

Ducati released its first Multistrada, the Ducati Multistrada 1000DS, in 2003. It was a shocking design, both conceptually, and visually (courtesy of Pierre Terblanche, who brought us bikes including the Ducati 999).

Ducati Multistrada 1000 red studio RHS 3-4
Ducati Multistrada 1000DS

Before the Multistrada 1000DS, there were very few bikes in this category, that we now know as the adventure sport tourer. There was the Yamaha TDM900, at least, then the Yamaha FZ1 Fazer / FZS1000, and Suzuki snuck in the V-Strom 1000 the year prior. But there was very little in the market of bikes with comfortable riding positions, sporty light weight, willing engines, and road-oriented wheels.

So, Ducati didn’t exactly invent the adventure sport tourer, but they were among the first to recognise its potential as a tactical part of a motorcycle lineup.

Since the first Multistrada, both the market and the motorcycle have evolved dramatically.

There have been roughly four phases of the Ducati Multistrada:

PhaseYearsEngineMultistrada models
Air-cooled2003-2009Desmodue, air-oil cooled* Multistrada 1000 DS
* Multistrada 1100
* Multistrada 620
Liquid-cooled Twins20010-2020Testastretta 11-degree* Multistrada 1200 / DVT
Smaller Liquid-cooled twins2013-currentTestastretta 11-degree* Hyperstrada 821, 939
* Multistrada 950
* Multistrada V2
V42021-currentV4 Granturismo, Desmosedici Stradale* Multistrada V4 / S / Rally / Pikes Peak
* Multistrada V4 RS
Ducati Multistrada phases in brief

See here for a guide to Ducati engines to understand changes in the Desmodue, Testastretta, etc.

The Ducati Multistrada has evolved fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the first incarnation.

Firstly, the Multistrada’s purpose has broadened. Initially, the Multistrada was a road bike (the word “strada” means “road” in Italian). But that has evolved, as some incarnations of the Multistrada have off-road orientation, e.g. those with “Rally” in their name. They’re not dual sports or even enduros like the Ducati DesertX, but they’re capable in many environments.

Secondly, the Multistrada’s engine has evolved in engine technology and power. The modern Multistrada V4 has twice the cylinders, double the peak power, four times the valves, and six times the valve service interval of the original air/oil-cooled Multistrada (6000 miles / 10000 km). It could very well be cheaper to run, if you get other people to do your service.

Thirdly, the ride aids have exploded. Ducati was first to innovate with ride modes on the 2010 liquid-cooled Ducati Multistrada 1200 — they marketed the bike as “four bikes in one” at the touch of a button. Later bikes introduced active suspension, even with an auto-leveling function. And the Multistrada V4 was the first production motorcycle with radar-assisted active cruise control.

These days, there are options on the market for adventure sport tourers with a road focus.

But as you can see in the alternatives section below, there are relatively few in the high-power, high-spec category.

Overview of the Ducati Multistrada V4 — What Makes it Special?

There are a number of things that make the Ducati Multistrada V4 models special. And there are a number of things that make the V4 RS special as well, in a separate way.

Firstly, there’s the V4 Granturismo motor. This is the feature element — it’s not just a high-power motor, it marks a break with Ducati’s tradition of using Desmodromic timing in its valves, and makes for a high-power, versatile engine with very wide valve service intervals — an almost unheard-of 36 000 miles / 60 000 km. The only ones wider are motorcycles with no valve service intervals, like the Harley-Davidson Pan America.

See more about the Ducati engines and their evolution here.

The V4 Granturismo is not just a reliable, low-maintenance engine, but a very powerful one, making a peak of 125 kW / 170 hp at 10 500 rpm. That’s more than enough for anyone — other than those who want the Ducati Multistrada V4 RS’ even more bonkers motor, of course.

Secondly, there’s radar-supported active / adaptive cruise control. Very few motorcycles have active / adaptive cruise control, and the Multistrada is one of these few. It means that when you hit the cruise button, the motorcycle automatically adjusts speed if it detects a vehicle going more slowly in front. It also brings other niceties like lane change assist, and more.

Thirdly, while it doesn’t get a lot of press attention, the Multistrada V4 introduces an aluminium monocoque frame, replacing the trellis frame of past generations. While the trellis frame is a looker, the monocoque is much lighter. It’s frame technology that’s used on very few motorcycles, due to the cost of construction, but Ducati has used it on Panigale V-twin superbikes, and more recently on some of its street motorcycles.

Finally, Ducati continued to update the semi-active suspension on the V4 S. It has Ducati Skyhook, as before, but also introduced “Autoleveling”, which automatically adjusts according to the load on the motorcycle (passenger, luggage, and so on).

Finally, Ducati started making some architectural improvements to the Multistrada V4.

Ducati Multistrada V4 Models — Overview

Below is an overview of the Ducati Multistrada V4 models available.

The V4 RS has quite a lot that’s different about it, but there’s just a high-level overview here. See the V4 RS’ section below for more detail on how its engine is different.

ItemV4 (base)V4 SV4 Pikes PeakRallyV4 RS
First year20212021202220232024
EngineV4 GranturismoV4 GranturismoV4 GranturismoV4 Granturismo1103 cc Desmosedici Stradale (180 CV)
SuspensionMarzocchi 50mm fork, adjustable fork and monoshockMarzocchi Electronic semi-active, DSS Evo (Auto leveling)Öhlins Smart EC 2.0Electronic semi-active Marzocchi DSS Evo (Auto leveling)Öhlins Smart EC 2.0
Suspension travel (front / rear)170 / 180 mm (6.7 / 7.1 in)170 / 180 mm (6.7 / 7.1 in)170 / 170 mm (6.7 / 6.7 in)200 / 200 mm (7.9 / 7.9 inches)170 / 170 mm (6.7 / 6.7 in)
Wheel sizes19 front, 17 rear19 front, 17 rear17 front, 17 rear19 front, 17 rear17 front, 17 rear
TiresPirelli SCORPION Trail IIPirelli SCORPION Trail IIPirelli Diablo Rosso IVOptional Pirelli SCORPION Rally / StrPirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa
WheelsAlloyAlloyMarchesini forgedSpokedMarchesini forged
Brakes320 mm discs, Brembo M4.32 calipers330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers
Cruise controlOptionalStandard (Radar)Standard (Radar)Standard (Radar)Standard (Radar)
Clutch typeWetWetWetWetDry
Tank size22 L / 5.8 US gal22 L / 5.8 US gal22 L / 5.8 US gal30 L / 7.9 US Gal22 L / 5.8 US gal
Swing armDouble-sidedDouble-sidedSingle-sidedDouble-sidedSingle-sided
Quick shifterOptionalStandardStandardStandardStandard
Display5-inch TFT6.5 inch TFT6.5 inch TFT6.5 inch TFT6.5 inch TFT
HeadlightStandard bulbFull LEDFull LEDFull LEDFull LED
Cornering lightsNoYesYesYesYes
Ducati V4 vs V4S specs

More details on all these below.

Ducati Multistrada V4 (Base model)

Ducati Multistrada V4 Standard RHS 3-4
Ducati Multistrada V4 Standard

This is the base model Ducati Multistrada. It gets the style and poise of the new Multistrada, the frame, the V4 Granturismo engine in its highest (and only) spec, and the full suite of rider aids (cornering ABS), apart from a few optional extras included in the other models, like cruise control, and some exclusive riding modes (“Sport”, “Enduro”, “Track”, etc).

A few items in the base model are “down spec”, which is still relatively high-spec. These include the suspension (still fully adjustable on both ends, but not electronic / dynamic), the brakes (still sport bike spec, but of an earlier gen), and TFT display (still a TFT display, but 5 inches rather than 6.5).

In general, if you’re looking for the experience of the V4 Granturismo motor and a plush adventure sport tourer bike, it’s unlikely you’ll be unhappy with the base model Multistrada V4.

But the biggest item that V4 base model owners miss out on — if they don’t (or can’t) add a “travel and radar” package — is the radar-supported adaptive cruise control. It’s a really nice differentiator of the Multistrada V4, and somewhat of a shame to not be able to benefit.

Ducati Multistrada V4 S

Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport RHS 3-4
Ducati Multistrada V4S (Sport pack)

The Ducati Multistrada V4 S gets the same engine, chassis, and overall look of the base model, but it gets all the up-rated parts mentioned in the earlier section — better brakes (Stylema, on larger discs), optional active suspension with automatic adaptation to load, a larger TFT display, and adaptive cruise control (in some markets with a travel + radar package).

Aside from that, the V4 S still has a double-sided swingarm, and a 19/17 inch front/rear tire combination, which helps it perform well both on- and off-road (though most would agree it’s a mostly on-road motorcycle).

Unlike some earlier models of Multistrada S, the V4 S doesn’t look that visually distinct from the base model. There are no gold forks, for example!

Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak

2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak
2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak

The Pikes Peak model of Ducati Multistrada, made since the early Multistrada 1200 in all the incarnations of the Multistrada, has traditionally been Ducati’s most unabashedly road racing-oriented model, with 17-inch wheels, sport bike-spec rubber, and high-end road-focused suspension.

The Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak is no different. Again, the core of the motorcycle is the same as others in the Multistrada V4 line — same frame, and engine in the same tune.

But there are several things that make the Pikes Peak special:

  • The 17-inch front/rear wheel tire combination. Get out of here, off-road, this is for on-road shenanigans! The Pikes Peak also comes with Pirelli Diablo Rossi IV tires.
  • Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension, the same used on the Ducati Panigale V4 S. It’s a different kind of semi-active suspension than the Ducati Skyhook system on the other high-end Multi V4s
  • Marchesini forged lightweight rims, for less un-sprung mass
  • A single-sided swingarm
  • A sport exhaust by Akrapovič (also in the sport pack for the other models)

Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally

2023 Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally RHS 3-4
2023 Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally

The Rally is mostly the same as the V4 S. But it has some gear that makes it suitable for long-distance adventuring.

It’s still not anywhere as offroad-focused as something like the Ducati DesertX, but it is just more oriented that way than the other V4 models (especially the Pikes Peak and V4 RS).

Firstly, the Multistrada V4 Rally only comes with spoked rims with tubeless tires. The V4 S has optional spoked rims, but the Rally only comes with spoked rims.

Secondly, it has the same active suspension as in the V4 S, but with more suspension travel — 200 / 200 at the front and rear, vs 170 / 180 on the V4 S.

Thirdly, the Rally has some off-road functionality/equipment, like the Enduro power mode for off-roading, wider footpegs, and extended deactivation of the rear cylinder bank under some conditions (e.g. low-speed manoeuvring).

Finally, the Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally has a long range tank with 30 L capacity, vs 22 L in all other models. Combined with its efficiency program, this gives it much more range.

Ducati Multistrada V4 RS

Ducati Multistrada V4 RS Studio RHS 3-4
Ducati Multistrada V4 RS

The Ducati Multistrada V4 RS is conceptually new for the Ducati Multistrada line. It’s a high-spec sport bike wrapped up in a comfortable package. What is it?

It’s part of an emerging new trend — comfortable, high-end tourers, like the Audi RS 6 with which the V4 RS was photographed in some of the press images, and like the BMW M 1000 XR (soon to be released), which packs the power of an untamed ShiftCam S 1000 RR motor into a comfortable bundle.

The Ducati Multistrada V4 RS is like the Pikes Peak, conceptually — it shares a lot of the same components, like Öhlins active suspension from the Panigale V4, 17-inch wheels with sport bike rubber, forged lightweight rims, and a single-sided swing arm.

But the V4 RS ups the ante considerably by ditching the V4 Granturismo engine in favour of the Desmosedici Stradale motor out of the Panigale.

That’s not the full story, though. The Desmosedici Stradale is detuned, slightly, peaking at 180 hp in base trim, rather than the 210 hp at which the Panigale peaks. It also revs a little lower. But in most people’s hands, that’s still a bonkers amount of power in an upright bike.

Here’s a comparison table of the specs of the engines of the Panigale V4, Multistrada V4, and Multistrada V4 RS.

ItemPanigale V4Multistrada V4Multistrada V4 RS
Engine designationDesmosedici StradaleV4 GranturismoDesmosedici Stradale
Valve systemDesmodromicSpring returnDesmodromic
Displacement1104 cc1158 cc1104 cc
Bore / Stroke 81 x 53.5 mm83 x 53.3 mm81 x 53.5 mm
Compression ratio14.0:114.0:114.0:1
Rev limiter14,500 rpm / 15,000 rpm (6th gear)11,500 rpm13,500 rpm
Peak power154.5 kW / 210 hp @ 12,500 rpm125 kW / 170 hp @ 10,500 rpm132 kW / 180 hp @ 12,250 rpm
(195 with performance exhaust)
Valve service interval18,000 miles / 30,000 km36,000 miles / 60,000 km18,000 miles / 30,000 km
Specs of engines in Panigale V4 vs Multistrada V4 and V4 RS

Still, the colour accents, copious carbon fibre, and the titanium subframe remind you constantly that this is a very high-end sport tourer.

The V4 RS is made only in limited numbers and is sure to be a collector’s item for those with deep enough pockets!

Using the Multistrada V4’s Screen and Controls

The below will be helpful when evaluating any Multistrada V4 in person.

The Multistrada V4 base model differs from the others (S, Rally, Pikes Peak) in that it has a 5-inch TFT rather than a 6.5-inch TFT. Otherwise, the displays work the same way.

Base model Controls

The base model Multi V4 has a slightly different set of controls. It still has cruise control, but the mode button configuration is a little different.

Ducati Multistrada V4 (base model) controls.
Ducati Multistrada V4 (base model) controls. DRL optional

To use cruise control on the Multistrada V4, you press the “on” button with your thumb while riding at any speed between 30 and 160 km/h (18 and 98 mph). The minimum speed is only possible in first gear. When on, an icon will appear on the display. Then, set the cruising speed with the “Set” button.

The rest of the cruise control system is intuitive — you can stop cruise by braking, using the clutch for a long time, or by exceeding the top speed.

Some interesting ways of disengaging cruise control on the Multistrada V4 are

  • Twisting the throttle forward beyond the normal maximum
  • Leaning very heavily (a whopping 50 degrees!)
  • Exceeding 180 km/h / 112 mph.

The second thing to be aware of is the ride mode control. You can set the ride mode control while moving, but it’s best to be familiar with it so you can avoid looking at the screen while riding. Also, when you’re moving, you’ll have to release the brake and throttle for the new mode to take effect.

The base model has four riding modes: Sport, Enduro, Urban, and Touring.

To change riding mode

  • Press the mode/enter button for a long time.
  • When the screen is displayed, use the scroll buttons to scroll up and down ride modes
  • Press the mode/enter button to confirm the change.

You can cancel out of it by selecting “exit” and pressing mode/enter.

The ride modes impact engine power delivery, DTC, ABS, DWC, and DQS (which is, by default, enabled all the time.)

Ride modes for base model Ducati Multistrada V4

The ride modes are customisable in the menus, if you wish.

V4 S / Rally / Pikes Peak controls

Below is the switchgear for the V4 S / Rally / Pikes Peak. Adaptive cruise is optional or standard on these models, depending on the model and market.

Multistrada V4 S handlebar controls
Multistrada V4 S handlebar controls

Since the Multistrada V4 is one of the few motorcycles with adaptive cruise control, it makes sense to know how to use it rather than poke about on the fly.

Using cruise control with adaptive cruise control is fundamentally the same — you use “on” to turn it on, and then “set” to set your cruise speed.

The main difference is that you also have buttons to set your buffer zone between your motorcycle and other vehicles.

There are easiest way to set cruise distance is with the adaptive + and – buttons, next to the cruise control toggle. There are four settings:

SettingDistance (meters / feet)Time (seconds)
at 100 km/h (62 mph)
Near22 meters (72 feet)0.8 seconds
Medium34 meters (112 feet)1.2 seconds
Far44 meters (144 feet)1.6 seconds
Very far55 meters (180 feet)2.0 seconds
Multistrada V4 Radar distance settings

Once you have engaged adaptive cruise control, observe how it behaves in the following situations:

  • When there are or aren’t other vehicles present (see the icons on the screen), which tell you whether or not ACC is engaged. Note the motorcycle’s automatic acceleration or even braking.
  • Cornering: The ACC system will detect lean angle and slow down the motorcycle as necessary.
  • When there is a yellow icon: Asking for your assistance (e.g. to brake hard).
  • Passing / Overtaking: ACC can speed up when you turn a turn signal on to overtake in a faster lane, when you’re cruising over 65 km/h (40 mph).

Interesting side note. The Ducati Multistrada V4’s radar-guided overtaking assistance is calibrated for right-hand driving or left-hand driving. So it’s a setting you may need to change if you travel internationally, e.g. from the UK to Europe, or from Australia to as far as you can swim…

Alternatives to the Ducati Multistrada V4 Family

The Ducati Multistrada spans a wide gamut of high-end adventure motorcycles, from the road-oriented adventure sport tourers, to the travel enduros designed to be able to ride off-road, provided you are comfortable scratching (and picking up) an expensive luxury vehicle.

Thus, the below selection includes a couple of models from each brand, where each one has a different focus (road vs enduro).

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