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AMCN Adventure Test – Ducati Multistrada 950 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia

THE NEW-FOR-2017 Ducati Multistrada 950 has most things an adventure rider would be looking for: all-day comfort, ABS, traction control, engine modes and a relatively low seat. What it doesn’t have is any of the things that might be nice to boast about, but essentially only add higher numbers to the bike’s price tag. In a way it’s the very lack of fancy features that is the jewel in this bike’s crown.

It’s not a full-blown adventurer, and it was never intended to be. For the so-called mid-sized Multistrada, adventure is defined by the places it’ll take you. Its legs are long enough to bound along dodgy dirt roads, and its suspension travel, stand-up ergonomics and adjustable output means it (and you) can happily do this all day long. But when the dodgy dirt road begins to deteriorate into something particularly sloppy, steep or slippery, you will find the (intended) limits of the Multistrada.

The thing that will probably turn the Multistrada back when other similarly equipped machines are forging further into adventure is its heft. We weighed the bike at 247kg, and while a lot of that is carried relatively low in the frame for an intuitive feel, it’s still a handful at low speed. Where it beats its rivals, however, is on price and, more importantly, on versatility.

I understand a bike’s on-road capabilities aren’t the focus of AMCN’s annual adventure test, but to would-be owners of this bike, they count. Because we ask a lot of our adventure bikes these days
and they do need to be all-road all-rounders. And an all-road all-rounder is exactly the category this so-called adventure bike slots into.

The Multistrada 950’s switchable engine maps sum it up: Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro. If only a quarter (or less) of your riding is going to be spent off the bitumen, why buy a bike designed to cross the Simpson Desert?

There are loads of different accessories to help you coax it more in the, er, direction you want to take it, too. Our test unit had crash bars ($597.81), as well as protectors for both the rear brake disc ($51.79) and the rear sprocket ($51.79). In terms of luggage, we used the powered tank bag and its associated bits and pieces which totalled just under $400 as well as the huge aluminium panniers and mounting brackets which retail for $2690.63.

I wouldn’t blame a would-be adventure bike owner for not including the Multistrada 950 in their test-ride list, especially if they’re keen to explore some of Australia’s more remote locations. But if adventure for you is about packing up, buggering off and not having to worry about which colour the road on the map is and what it might mean to your somewhere-over-there destination, then the Multistrada does need to be added to your list. Because it’s a talented all-roads all-rounder that you’ll be happy with for years.

I liked

If I’m in the market for an adventure bike around 1000cc, the Multistrada 950 is only $1800 more than the similarly equipped Africa Twin. Admittedly, the Honda is a more capable off-roader, but the Multistrada is exciting, exotic and runs rings around its rival on the way to the dirt.

Not so keen on

If “Hey, [insert taller person’s name here]? Can you give me a hand just to turn this thing around please?” came out of my mouth once on the trip, then it came out half a dozen times. When the ground got sloppy, rocky or steep, it’s heft meant my confidence began to wane.

If I had my time again

I would have told he who can’t be named to leave the panniers on — they make excellent crash bars. And I also would have pried someone off the Honda CRF250 Rally X to have a bit of a lightweight off-road romp. Either that, or I would have swapped legs with Chris Dobie. Same outcome.

By Kel Buckley