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 — see the official site here.
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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).
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:
|Air-cooled||2003-2009||Desmodue, air-oil cooled||* Multistrada 1000 DS|
* Multistrada 1100
* Multistrada 620
|Liquid-cooled Twins||20010-2020||Testastretta 11-degree||* Multistrada 1200 / DVT|
|Smaller Liquid-cooled twins||2013-current||Testastretta 11-degree||* Hyperstrada 821, 939|
* Multistrada 950
* Multistrada V2
|V4||2021-current||V4 Granturismo, Desmosedici Stradale||* Multistrada V4 / S / Rally / Pikes Peak|
* Multistrada V4 RS
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.
|Item||V4 (base)||V4 S||V4 Pikes Peak||Rally||V4 RS|
|Engine||V4 Granturismo||V4 Granturismo||V4 Granturismo||V4 Granturismo||1103 cc Desmosedici Stradale (180 CV)|
|Suspension||Marzocchi 50mm fork, adjustable fork and monoshock||Marzocchi Electronic semi-active, DSS Evo (Auto leveling)||Öhlins Smart EC 2.0||Electronic 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 sizes||19 front, 17 rear||19 front, 17 rear||17 front, 17 rear||19 front, 17 rear||17 front, 17 rear|
|Tires||Pirelli SCORPION Trail II||Pirelli SCORPION Trail II||Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV||Optional Pirelli SCORPION Rally / Str||Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa|
|Wheels||Alloy||Alloy||Marchesini forged||Spoked||Marchesini forged|
|Brakes||320 mm discs, Brembo M4.32 calipers||330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers||330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers||330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers||330 mm discs, Brembo Stylema calipers|
|Cruise control||Optional||Standard (Radar)||Standard (Radar)||Standard (Radar)||Standard (Radar)|
|Tank size||22 L / 5.8 US gal||22 L / 5.8 US gal||22 L / 5.8 US gal||30 L / 7.9 US Gal||22 L / 5.8 US gal|
|Display||5-inch TFT||6.5 inch TFT||6.5 inch TFT||6.5 inch TFT||6.5 inch TFT|
|Headlight||Standard bulb||Full LED||Full LED||Full LED||Full LED|
More details on all these below.
Ducati Multistrada V4 (Base model)
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
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
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
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
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.
|Item||Panigale V4||Multistrada V4||Multistrada V4 RS|
|Engine designation||Desmosedici Stradale||V4 Granturismo||Desmosedici Stradale|
|Valve system||Desmodromic||Spring return||Desmodromic|
|Displacement||1104 cc||1158 cc||1104 cc|
|Bore / Stroke||81 x 53.5 mm||83 x 53.3 mm||81 x 53.5 mm|
|Rev limiter||14,500 rpm / 15,000 rpm (6th gear)||11,500 rpm||13,500 rpm|
|Peak power||154.5 kW / 210 hp @ 12,500 rpm||125 kW / 170 hp @ 10,500 rpm||132 kW / 180 hp @ 12,250 rpm|
(195 with performance exhaust)
|Valve service interval||18,000 miles / 30,000 km||36,000 miles / 60,000 km||18,000 miles / 30,000 km|
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!
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).
BMW S 1000 XR
The BMW S 1000 XR (see buyer’s guide) is BMW’s road-focused adventure sport motorcycle based on a de-tuned version of the inline four-cylinder that powers the BMW S 1000 RR superbike. The XR isn’t just a comfortable tourer, though; it has active suspension for a plusher, more balanced ride, whether riding actively or at a leisurely pace. The XR comes with cruise control (non-active) and full cornering ABS. BMW is soon due to release the BMW M 1000 XR, a high-power version of the XR with a ShiftCam engine straight out of the RR, similar to the M 1000 R roadster.
BMW R 1300 GS / R 1250 GS
The BMW R 1300 GS (2024+) (see what’s different page), is the latest in the long line of GS boxer-powered adventure motorcycles. It’s a high-power, high-spec, and very capable adventure tourer, designed to be at home on highways or on dusty 4×4 paths. It’s powered by a 1300 cc liquid-cooled boxer engine with VVT (“ShiftCam”). The R 1300 GS replaces the already high-spec R 1250 GS (resources page), with updates including optional radar-supported adaptive cruise control, improved Telelever design, improved optional dynamic suspension, and 12 kg / 25 lb reduced weight. The R 1300 GS “Adventure” is not yet available, though the GS is available with optional spoked rims and 20mm longer travel suspension (just not a longer-range tank).
Ducati Multistrada V4
The Ducati Multistrada V4 (see resources page) is Ducati’s re-invention (again) of the long-running Multistrada adventure sport / travel enduro bike. It’s powered by an all-new engine, the V4 Granturismo, which combines high (125 kW / 170 CV) peak power with very long maintenance intervals of 36000 miles / 60000 km, game-changing for the brand, thanks to spring valve return rather than Ducati’s trademark desmodromic timing system. Ducati also introduced radar-supported active cruise control, making it one of the few bikes on the market with the tech.
Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250
The Pan America 1250 is Harley-Davidson’s surprise hit in the adventure motorcycling world. It’s powered by the Revolution Max 1250 engine, a liquid-cooled V-twin that makes 112 kW / 150 hp at 9000 rpm. The engine has hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, meaning you don’t have to ever adjust valve clearances — but this adventure motorcycle does have a chain drive, so chain maintenance is needed. Another other special trick is the suspension — semi-active suspension that lowers itself at a standstill! That, coupled with niceties like cruise control and cornering ABS, make the Harley-Davidson a very modern motorcycle, a contrast with the rest of the brand’s fleet.
Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L
The Honda Africa Twin is Honda’s revival of an iconic brand that put them on the map as adventure touring manufacturers. The 2016+ models are powered by a parallel twin “Unicam” engine which has a 270-degree crankshaft, and has loads of torque and character. The Africa Twin has a 21-inch front tire and comes with tubes in some configurations, which is something to be aware of. The 1100+ model has cruise control and a 6-axis IMU for cornering ABS.
KTM 1290 Super Adventure S / R
The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and R are the bikes that most riders describe as something spanning “berserk” to “crazy” for their engine’s wild character. Both bikes are powered by the LC8 V-twin, a 1301 cc liquid-cooled high-power beast that also powers the 1290 Super Duke R. It makes 118 kW / 160 hp @ 8750 rpm, and gob-loads of torque. The S is the street bike, with a smaller front rim, semi-active suspension, and radar-supported active cruise control, and the R is the off-road adventurer with long-travel suspension (non active), both rims spoked with a 21-inch front wheel, and a shorter screen — but no semi-active suspension, nor radar.
Suzuki V-Strom 1050 / DE
The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and 1050 have always been budget contenders in the adventure touring market, but this doesn’t mean they’re not capable and very well-equipped — plus stylish! For 2023, Suzuki updated the 1050, releasing the DE, granting it a 21-inch front wheel, and letting you disable rear ABS for better off-road work. Otherwise, it’s the same V-twin powered adventure bike with a motor that traces back to the iconic Suzuki TL1000S.
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT / Rally
Triumph has been making the big triple-powered Tiger 1200 for many years, but in recent years has made concerted efforts to make it more off road-ready. The 2021 model has a slightly smaller engine, but one that revs higher, and with a new firing order (“T-plane”). The GT models replace the XR from the last gen, and the Rally models replace the XC models. But they’re the same concept — a big triple-cylinder engine powering an adventure tourer through a shaft drive, a relative rarity in this class. The Rally models have a 21-inch front wheel, still with a tubeless tire.