EXCLUSIVE: 2024 Ducati Multistrada V4 RS Review – First Ride
A Panigale wrapped in Multistrada clothing – and we're one of only three in the world to ride it.
The arc of the aging sportbike rider goes a little something like this: In their youth, going fast and taking chances is the name of the game. Sportbikes are the status symbol that fulfills this desire and is the closest thing to a two-wheeled land missile they can get their hands on. Not to mention it costs a fraction of what supercars go for. The aggressive position of clip-on bars and rearset pegs adds to the sensation of speed and places the young rider in a position of power they may not have experienced yet in their young lives.
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2024 Ducati Multistrada V4 RS
Is a Ducati without a Desmo engine really a Ducati? Apparently not in the case of the Multistrada. With the V4 RS, adding the Desmosedici Stradale engine is the finishing touch to an already well-rounded lineup. And it's surprisingly capable on track.
Editor's score: 90.0%
- The V4 engine is the star of the show
- A bike this big shouldn't be this good on a racetrack
- It's still really comfortable, too
- There's no getting around it – it's still a heavy bike
- Dry clutch = heavy clutch pull (it also weighs more than a wet clutch)
- Desmo engine will require more frequent upkeep compared to the Granturismo V4
As they get older (assuming they get older, sadly), a few bones might have broken, the joints aren’t as limber as they used to be, and the thought of comfort weighs larger on the mind. Still, the need for performance hasn’t waned – it’s only matured. By this point in life these individuals have presumably climbed up the corporate ladder a little bit and have some disposable income to satisfy their moto desires. They might also have a companion they want to share moto adventures with, and let’s face it, a sportbike is terrible for such things. What this person really wants is a Ducati Panigale V4 – but life is telling them they’re really meant for a Multistrada.
Now said rider can have their cake and eat it too. Ducati, being the passionate brand of enthusiasts that they are, have come out with this – the 2024 Multistrada V4 RS.
A Panigale In Multistrada Clothing
At its very core, you can call the Multistrada V4 RS exactly that – a Panigale V4 wrapped in different skin. The core element here being the V4 engine at the heart of it all. Ducati shocked the world when it introduced a V4 production engine in the first place, then shocked us all again when it fit that engine with traditional valve springs, gave it ridiculously long service intervals, and called it the V4 Granturismo. It makes perfect sense inside the Multistrada platform.
But as impressive as the V4 Granturismo engine is, Ducati is a racing company after all, and the Ducatisti are willing to give up a little convenience for utmost performance. Hence why the Multi V4 RS is powered by the 1103cc Desmosedici Stradale engine – the same one in the Panigale and Streetfighter V4s (mostly). Yes, that means desmo valves are back.
The engine will get a deep dive in just a moment, but let’s first reverse course and take a look at the Multistrada V4 RS holistically – and that’s a Panigale heart in a Multistrada body. To give the Multi V4 RS its own sporty identity compared to the rest of the Multi lineup, it has some subtle differences. But first, there’s a not-so-subtle detail: the livery. Ducati calls it Iceberg White and it’s a matte finish with traces of Ducati’s MotoGP livery sprinkled throughout. Then there are the forged 17-inch Marchesini wheels with red accents and Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa tires.
After that comes the details. First, there’s carbon fiber – the true sign of sportiness. The front fender, beak, hand guards, and rear cylinder heat shield (more on that later) are all carbon. From there, you’ll notice a smoked windscreen and air deflectors. Behind the screen is a numbered top yoke for a little extra exclusivity (but the bike is not a limited edition). Further leaning into the Multi V4 RS’ sporty nature, the bars are solid-mounted to the risers for a direct feel to the front end. Not that we really had any issues with the rubber mounted bars of other Multistradas, but this is a sign of the bike’s serious intent to tackle twisty roads and racetracks.
Moving to the back of the bike, the tail section is slightly different than other Multis and has passenger grab handles, and pannier mounting points, integrated into the design. This is all supported by a new, exposed, trellis-type titanium subframe Ducati says is 5.5lbs (2.5kg) lighter than the standard subframe on the Multistrada V4 S. Not to mention it looks way cooler, too.
Now, Back To The Engine
The real talking point here is, undoubtedly, the engine. Very similar to the one used in the Streetfighter, the 1103cc V4 is plucked from that platform and delivered to the Multistrada. It makes more peak horsepower than a standard Multi – 180 hp vs. 170 hp – but that’s largely because the engine reaches a higher redline, due in part to the desmo valve actuation. Below roughly 10,000 rpm, the Granturismo makes noticeably more power. Now, by virtue of being smaller than the 1158cc V4 Granturismo engine, the RS also makes less torque than the standard Multistradas (87 lb-ft vs 92 lb-ft). To help make up for the reduction in power, gear ratios are also a little different. The RS uses a 15/43 final drive ratio compared to the 16/42 ratio on the Multistrada V4 S. The smaller front and larger rear sprockets should give the RS better acceleration in comparison.
I think the thing to consider here is that we’re splitting hairs over 55cc, 10 horses, and five lb-ft of torque. The reality is that the Desmosedici Stradale engine begs to be revved. Not only that, but when combined with the dry clutch, it makes all the right sounds you expect from a Ducati – heavy clutch lever be damned.
As far as the engine itself is concerned, the V4 RS still features rear cylinder deactivation when the bike is stopped, in neutral, and engine temps are above 70ºC (158ºF). Unlike the Diavel V4 and other Multistradas however, the rear cylinders are still active even when cruising. Compared to the Multistrada V4 S, the RS gets a 50mm throttle body instead of the 46mm piece on the S, and the RS also uses the same high-flow air filter used on the Panigale V4 R for more breathability.
Expelling spent gasses is the job of the homologated Akrapovič silencer with its own pre-silencer fitted under the engine specifically tuned to provide a low rumble at low rpm and a distinct wail when revved like you think you’re riding a Panigale instead of a Multi. To that end, there’s also an accessory Akra exhaust that frees up 12 more horsepower, two more newton meters (1.5 lb-ft) of torque, and shaves off 11 pounds (5 kg) from the overall weight. There’s only one catch – it’s for off-road use only and isn’t street-legal. Not that that’s going to stop some of you…
As much as the V4 engine has been praised for its insane power, it’s also been criticized for its insane heat – and I’ve been one of those vocal critics. With such a monstrous beast packaged so tightly under the rider’s butt, managing heat has been a challenge since day one. On bikes like the Panigale and Streetfighter, where lightness is a concern, the options to deflect heat have been limited. Turning off the rear cylinders helps, but not enough.
With the Multistrada V4 RS, Ducati had a little more freedom to try some things. The most noticeable being the closable air deflectors below the cooling fan shrouds also seen on other Multis like the Rally version. Given Ducati’s obsession with winglets, the scoops could easily be confused for downforce generators, but Multistrada Project Manager, Anna Bondioli insists comfort is the goal here. Instead of forcing the front tire onto the tarmac, she says the closable scoops, when open, take the incoming cool air and direct the hot air from the engine away from the rider and passenger. To that end, there’s also added heat shielding, including a carbon fiber heat shield to the left of the shock, to help keep the rider and pillion cool(er).
Like the Panigale V4 S and Streetfighter V4 S, the Multistrada V4 RS shares the same Öhlins Smart-EC 2.0 electronic suspension with event-based strategies, meaning you can dial in more or less support under acceleration or braking. All at the push of a button. Unlike the Skyhook system with a more touring and ADV bend, this one is all about attacking the pavement quickly but comfortably. Because the Multi is heavier than the Panigale and Streetfighter, and is meant for a little bit of touring, the control strategies and damping characteristics are slightly different. But the overall brains and hardware are largely the same.
Of course, the RS cements its sporty roots with 17-inch wheels front and back, meant for sticky sport tires. In this case, the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa. But these aren’t any ol’ 17-inch wheels – these are forged Marchesini wheels that shave 6.0 lbs compared to the Multistrada V4 S. The result, in theory, should be quick and nimble handling (for a bike this big anyway).
Bringing the show to a stop are a pair of radial-mount Brembo Stylema calipers biting on 330mm discs. A radial master cylinder and cornering-ABS are also standard. At the rear sits a 265mm disc, but the rear master cylinder now gets a 12mm piston instead of the 13mm piece on the Multi V4 S for more braking power when you tap the lever.
Since the Multi RS shares the heart of the Panigale and Streetfighter, naturally it also shares its IMU-assisted electronics, which we’ve come to praise as some of the best in the business as far as production bikes go. This includes multiple levels of traction control, wheelie control, and engine brake control but it also includes ABS, quickshifter, and something you won’t find on the Panigale or Streetfighter – Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Detection, made possible by the front and rear radar system.
As you toggle on the menu screen through the various ride modes, you’ll notice a Race ride mode that replaces Enduro mode on other Multistrada models. This is in addition to the Sport, Touring, and Urban modes also included. On top of the ride modes are the four power modes: Full, High, Medium, and Low. Full and High modes give a more dynamic throttle response, while Medium and Low smooth the power out as you apply it. However, only Full power doles out all the power in all the gears. The rest of the power modes reduce power slightly in the first three gears before giving everything in the last three cogs.
Finally, a new, smaller lead-acid battery shaves 3.0 lbs compared to the V4 S battery.
Ducati being the racing company that it is, I was taken to a racetrack to put the Multistrada V4 RS through its paces. However, the 1.5-mile Autodromo di Modena was more akin to a go-kart track than a proper testing ground for a 192 horsepower beast (Ducati installed the optional Akra race pipe on my test bike, naturally). Tight and twisty with little time to rest and hardly an opportunity to flog it past third gear, this would have to serve as a teaser to the bike’s true potential. To add a little spice to the festivities, drops of rain started to sprinkle as I headed out… on Pirelli slicks.
Still, a few things stood out. First is the seat. It’s well padded, which is weird for a track-focused bike. Then again, it’s a reminder that this is a bike equally at home at the track or burning up miles. It’s also height adjustable, with two different positions available by simply installing the seat in upper or lower mounting tabs. As I rode it, the seat was in its higher position.
Sitting on it brings back the natural, comfortable upright seating position you come to expect from the Multistrada. My immediate thought floated back to the aging sportbike rider – the one who still enjoys going fast but can do without the aggressive track-focused ergos. Reach to the bars is natural, with a relaxed knee bend as the feet rest on pegs mounted in a neutral position – not too far back or too high up. So far, the Multi V4 RS is showing off is touring side. Not so much its sporty side.
Thumb the starter and that equation gets flipped on its head. Once I brought that raucous 1103cc V4 to life, the freer-flowing exhaust rumbled with a patient growl at idle. Clacking along in harmony was the dry clutch that evokes the sound of Ducati superbikes of yore – though you certainly wouldn’t recognize it by looking at the Multi RS.
Pull in the heavy clutch lever, click it into gear, and the Multi launches off with the oomph you expect from something with this much power. And this was still in Sport mode. Granted, the bigger 1158cc Granturismo engine has more torque and more power down low, but the Stradale engine really hits its stride when you let it sing.
With rain drops sprinkling and sunlight starting to fade, my time with the slick-shod Multi RS would be filled with stress and urgency. Thankfully, the drops never got worse than a sprinkle, the asphalt still had moderate grip, and the SC1 compound Pirelli slicks never even flinched. This combined with the Multi’s safety net of an electronics suite gave me the confidence to carefully push my limits with each successive lap.
What I found was both expected and a little surprising. After tapping fourth gear on the front straight, the longest portion of the track, it’s immediately back down on the brakes to set up for Turn 1. Though I wasn’t running anything resembling a race pace, the 330mm discs and Stylema calipers never showed any signs of fading. Tapping down two gears was smooth as can be thanks to the Ducati Quickshifter.
Tipping the RS into turns is surprisingly easy for such a big bike. The forged wheels and direct-mounted bars probably contribute to that ease. To some degree, placing my CG higher up with the seat in the upper mounting tabs helped with that, too. But because I’m small (5-foot, 8-inches) and I was sitting so high up, it felt like I had to lean quite a bit to get my knee on the ground to gauge my lean angle. No big deal, really, and the combination of the Ducati chassis and Öhlins electronic suspension helped the bike feel stable at full lean.
Picking the bike up again for the short chute to Turn 2 highlights something a lot of people take for granted: Throttle mapping and fueling. No matter how you slice it, 200 horsepower is hard to manage. Traction control definitely helps, but minimizing how often it’s used is even better. This is done through careful, linear, progressive throttle mapping so you can manage how much power is put down. And this is something Ducati has utilized its racing department to help with. I’ve mentioned it before on Panigale and Streetfighter reviews and it remains true with the Multistrada V4 RS; the throttle mapping is some of the best I’ve experienced on a production motorcycle.
Picking the bike up off its side is easy with a gentle twist of the wrist and a direct input on the bars. Turn 2 is a late apex left that’s slightly downhill leading into it. Once again, the Multi handles it easily, with great feel from the Brembo master cylinder to allow me to trail the brakes to the apex. Turn 3 is a quick right that leads to the Omega – a late apex right that flows into a wide-arcing left that seemingly goes on forever before tightening up again for a quick (and tight) left-right flip-flop.
The RS favors flowing corners, so it’s no surprise the start of the Omega doesn’t offer much drama. However, flicking the bike back to the left to start the Omega gives a glimpse into the bike’s heft. At roughly 521 lbs (wet), it’s about 6 lbs lighter than the Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak but it’s still no lightweight. Wide bars help get leverage where you need it, and as the Omega opens up, the chassis feels solid at lean thanks to the long 62.7-inch wheelbase.
Leaning into the left is simple enough, but the ultra fast flick to the right is a blunt reminder of how heavy the bike is. The 25.75º rake angle isn’t exactly Panigale-steep, and the 4.7-inches of trail favors stability over nimbleness. You really lean on yanking the solid-mount bars to get you through quick transitions like this. It’s times like these where it’s good to put the Multistrada back into perspective: this is a sport-touring bike after all. It just happens to also be very comfortable in a track setting.
After a quick break, it was back on track with the bike in the Race riding mode. With full power at my disposal in all the gears, it would be a good test of the throttle mapping and electronics. And with the sun really getting low, it was a rare opportunity to test lean-sensitive headlights on the track! As expected, the extra punch in the first three gears is noticeable but not unwieldy. Even in these tricky conditions, I preferred to have the full might of the engine under my control instead of having a computer decide for me. However, were conditions truly awful I might reconsider.
As I continued lapping, I noticed I didn’t have any opinions about the suspension. Part of this was due to the smooth nature of the track surface, but also that the standard settings didn’t leave me much to complain about. There was sufficient dive under braking to give me front end feel, mid-corner stability felt planted, and the electronic suspension gave me just enough squat on acceleration to drive out of a corner without running wide. So, unfortunately, any real-world evaluation of the clickers will have to wait until I can get one, well, out in the real world.
Who’s This Bike For, Anyway?
The reality is my time aboard the Multistrada V4 RS was very short. I didn’t get to load the saddlebags, ride two-up, or really put the electronics to the test. Nor was I able to really test for myself how effective the closable air flap or additional heat shielding was. However, I can report that I noticed the extra light that shines on either the left or right to illuminate the corner ahead.
Then again, if you’re familiar with the Multistrada family then you already know what it can do. There’s a reason why it’s Ducati’s best-selling model. Its versatility is unmatched in the Ducati lineup. Until now, though, there have been some murmurs about customers wanting a track-ready version complete with Desmo heads and a dry clutch. Well, Ducatisti, your time has finally come. You won’t mistake the Multi V4 RS for a Panigale or Streetfighter – it’s still a big and heavy bike in comparison – but since tracking full-dress baggers is a thing now, this bike will feel like a rocket in comparison, and in the right hands, will embarrass proper sportbikes at your next trackday.
But it won’t come cheap. With a price tag of US$37,995, or $6,400 more than the Pikes Peak model, it is the most expensive of the Multistrada family. Deliveries will begin starting in January 2024.
2024 Ducati Multistrada V4 RS Specifications
Ducati V4 Desmosedici stradale, V4 - 90°, 4 valves per cylinder, counter-rotating crankshaft, twin pulse firing order, semi dry sump, liqued cooled
1,103cc (67 cu in)
180 hp (130 kW) @ 12,250 rpm
12.0 kgm (118 Nm) @ 9,500 rpm
Aluminum monocoque frame
Öhlins Ø48 mm fully adjustable usd fork with TiN treatment, electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode
4.7 in (120mm)
62.7 in (1,592 mm)
Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa 120/70 ZR17
Öhlins TTX36 fully adjustable monoshock, electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode, electronic preload adjustment, aluminium single-sided swingarm
Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa 190/55 ZR17
2 x Ø330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Stylema monobloc 4-piston 2-pad callipers, radial master cylinder, Cornering ABS
Ø265 mm disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calliper, Cornering ABS
Adjustable, 840 mm - 860 mm (33.1 in - 33.9 in)
22 l (5.8 US gal)
Riding Modes, Power Modes, ABS Cornering, Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Wheelie Control, Daytime Running Light, Ducati Cornering Light, Ducati Brake Light, Vehicle Hold Control, Radar system (Adaptive Cruise Control + Blind Spot Detection)
Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 electronic suspension, Ducati Quick Shift, Hands-free, Backlit handlebar switches, 6.5” TFT colour display with Ducati Connect and full-map navigation system, Full LED headlight, Carbon fiber front mudguard and beak, Carbon fiber handguards, Type-approved Akrapovič muffler
Emissions and Consumption
Euro 5+ Standard - CO2 Emissions 170 g/km - Consumption 7.3 l/100km
Racing exhaust, Carbon rear mudguard, Carbon headlight fairing, Dry clutch cover, Billet aluminium tank cap, Clutch fluid reservoir, Brake fluid reservoir, Pair of reservoir supports, Aluminium protection grid for water radiator, Protective mesh for oil cooler, Clutch lever, Brake lever, Pair of dynamic LED turn indicators
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More by Troy Siahaan