2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro Review – First Ride
There's a new ADV bike in town, and it's here to shake things up
In America, some might consider owning and riding a Harley-Davidson to be patriotic. But in Italy, Ducati is revered and more closely synonymous with religion. Hardcore Ducatisti take motorcycles, their performance, style, and love of their red rockets seriously, and the 2019 Multistrada 1260 Enduro is no exception. With its high-performance/racing pedigree, adventure touring and/or off-road riding is rarely (if ever) the first thing that comes to mind when the Italian marque is mentioned. The update and introduction of this new 2019 Multi aims to change all that, and it started with the goal of making the 1260 Enduro more accessible and intuitive to operate, easier and more enjoyable to ride, all while increasing its overall performance.
2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro
That’s a tall order, but the team at Ducati seemingly figured it out and made it happen. On paper, the first thing you’ll notice about the new Multistrada Enduro is, of course, its adoption of the 90-degree 1262cc Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) engine. Up from 1198cc on the previous version, the extra 64cc were the product of lengthening the piston’s stroke from 67.9 to 71.5mm (bore remains unchanged at 106mm). Upping the Enduro’s horsepower wasn’t the goal here (even though it’s now got 6 extra ponies at a claimed 158 hp @ 9,500 rpm). Rather, Ducati engineers focused on beefing up the 1260’s torque delivery in the low to mid range of its powerband.
According to Ducati, 85% of the motor’s torque output is available at just 3,500 rpm, and there’s a 17% increase at 5,500 rpm compared to the 1200 model. Max (claimed) torque is 94 ft-lbs @ 7,500 rpm. Given the 1260 Enduro’s 10k redline, the meat of its grunt is available right in the middle between 4 and 9,000 rpm – just where we like it to be. This newly realized, flatter torque curve makes riding the 1260 Enduro much easier, and you can now lug it way lower in the revs than ever before. The first use of DVT got rid of most of it, but now the herky-jerky, low-end clankiness of prior Ducati motors is completely banished. In the past, their performance/racing pedigree has preferred them to live happier and spin more freely in the upper revs. This performance aspect, of course, hasn’t gone anywhere and is still totally present as the 1260 continues to pull like a freight train as the motor winds out. The difference, however, is all that arm-stretching power is now accessible much sooner, and it’s delivered in a smoother fashion, too.
The end result means you don’t need to worry as much about ideal gear selection – on- or off-road – which is great, because it leaves more time to focus on other aspects of riding like line selection, balance, and body positioning so you can rail that corner harder. Additionally, the 1260 Enduro has a shorter first gear to improve slow-speed off-road maneuverability, and the rest of the gear ratios and spacing are improved, too. On top of that, engine braking control is now differentiated on a gear by gear basis, further enhancing the engine’s user-friendliness. Overall, the new motor makes the Multistrada 1260 Enduro considerably easier and more fun to ride, which effectively makes the bike more approachable and accessible to ride for newer or less experienced riders while simultaneously allowing more skilled riders to rip the thing like Carlin Dunne. (Carlin just won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on a 1260 Multi.)
Managing the 1260 engine’s output via its Ride-by-Wire throttle are four Riding Modes: Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro. Paired with its new six-axis Bosch IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) system, each ride mode features bespoke settings that manage Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Bosch Braking and Cornering ABS, as well as the Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evolution system. This model is also equipped with Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), which prevents the bike from rolling backwards on hills when starting from a dead standstill.
That’s a lot of acronym soup to digest, but what it boils down to is basically four motorcycles in one, and you can tailor the settings to your own individual liking and riding style within each Riding Mode. Sport Mode, of course, gives you all you can handle, leaving all the engine performance on the table with reduced wheelie and traction control, less ABS braking intervention (but with cornering ABS still very much active), and stiffer suspension.
Touring Mode offers up all of the motor’s ponies, but the initial hit doesn’t come on as aggressively as it does in Sport. Braking and Cornering ABS, as well as DWC and DTC intervention, are slightly higher, and the suspension is a little more plush to maximize comfort. Urban (read: rain) cuts the power down to 100 hp, all the rider aids and safety features are just about maxed out to help keep the Multi’s shiny side up, and the suspension is also softened up even more. Like the Urban mode, Enduro also limits the power output to 100 and mellows its delivery. However, DTC and DWC intervention is minimal, as is Braking ABS in the front. Cornering and rear wheel ABS are completely disengaged allowing you to lock up and slide the rear like a dirt bike. Additionally, Enduro mode now also has three power delivery parameters to even further tailor the engine’s character and how hard it hits because after all, 100 horsepower is still 100 horsepower – off-road or not.
Again, you can customize each mode to suit your needs, and I’ll explain below how and why I preferred to set mine up for both the street and dirt. First, I have to tell you a little bit more about what else is new or changed on the 2019 1260 Multi Enduro.
The 1260 Enduro’s Ducati Skyhook Suspension’s internal components, within the 48mm electronic Sachs fork and rear shock, have been optimized to provide a smoother ride, but in the process have lost about a half-inch of travel both front and rear, dropping from 7.9 inches to 7.3 compared to the outgoing 1200 Enduro. Aside from improved ride comfort and performance, one of the intended goals of this was to make the bike a little more accessible to a wider variety of (read: shorter) riders, because we all know at this point that too tall of a 500+ pound ADV bike does little to inspire confidence when you can barely touch the ground. The 1260 Enduro’s handlebar is 1.8 inches lower than the 1200’s and the seat height has also dropped about a half inch to 33.9 inches. However, there is a high or low seat option which changes the saddle’s height to either 34.6 or 33 inches – further expanding the bike’s overall accessibility and ease of use to a wider variety of riders.
To help make managing all the 2019 Multistrada 1260 Enduro’s ride modes and suspension settings easier, in addition to clearly displaying all gauges and pertinent travel info, the new Multi gets a five-inch, high-resolution, full-color TFT display that’s been derived from the V4 Panigale. With nearly 400 unique combinations of electronic traction and wheelie control, braking and cornering ABS, suspension and ride mode parameters, finding your ideal settings on a Ducati has never been easier or more intuitive – and I mean that! It’s all laid out pretty thoughtfully with little guesswork. There are no tricks or hoops to jump through, and the menus are easy to navigate via the left handlebar controls, even while on the move. Speaking of on the move…
Enough already with all the tech, what’s it like to ride?
Well, we’re glad you asked. We tested the 2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro both on- and off-road on its home turf in Tuscany, Italy. Depending on what type of riding you plan on doing, you get the option to have the bike’s wheels wrapped in either Pirelli Scorpion Trail IIs or the knobbier Scorpion Rally tires if more serious off-roading is on your horizon. For our 70-80 mile street ride we tested the Multi with the Trail IIs, and for a tire with “trail” in its name, this Ducati clawed its way around turns like no trail bike I’ve ever ridden. Of course, that’s not all to the tire’s credit because the Multistrada 1260 Enduro is one sweet, damn well-sorted street machine.
To get my feet wet and ease into the day (as if a nice Italian cappuccino wasn’t enough), I started off with the ride mode set to Tour, and just like its name implies, it’s the perfect combination setup to get out, enjoy the road, your surroundings, and cruise – even better if you’ve got your lady on the back to share the experience with. Like the “Skyhook” in DSS implies, the suspension feels like you and the bike are suspended or floating from an imaginary hook above the motorcycle while the wheels move and conform to the ground beneath you. The semi-active electronic suspension is constantly monitored while processing one hundred signals per second from various sensors to ensure optimal comfort and performance. Preload, rebound, and compression damping are constantly changing to keep the right balance depending on which ride mode you’re in.
Touring is great and all, but this is a Ducati we’re talking about here. You’re not buying one just to putt around on. There will always come a time when you’re going to want to wick it up and hang it out. That’s where Sport Mode takes over. With all its power on tap, the idiot lights and safety features like traction and wheelie control, as well as braking ABS at minimal levels, and suspension stiffened up, it’s time to let that 1260 eat. There’s an almost night and day difference between Tour and Sport, and like I alluded to before, it’s like having multiple bikes all in one. The Multi is almost instantly transformed into the Pikes Peak racer that us mortals have access to, and it’s an absolute riot to ride when the road gets twisty.
While the factory settings will work great for just about anyone as they are, it’s easy to make little tweaks to help make the bike suit your style or preferences even better. Wheelie and traction control both have eight different settings, plus off, and the preload offers four: rider, rider + luggage, rider + passenger, and rider + passenger + luggage. For me, I dialed the DTC to 2, the DWC to 1, and the preload to rider + luggage (even though I wasn’t carrying any). With wheelie control set at its least intrusive setting, I could let the front end fly as high as I wished without fear of looping out. Wait, did you get that? Do I need to repeat it again? If we’re talking about rider aids that help a rider feel like a hero, that’s the one. Of course you can turn it off completely if the wheelie gene is already just another part of your DNA.
I also preferred the bike to be a little stiffer at more spirited paces than what the rider only setting offered. Rider + luggage gave it just that little extra firmness and feel for the road, which made slaying turn after turn a surreal feeling – a sensation that can only be described by how riding a Ducati sportbike in the heart of its motherland like it was designed to be ridden should feel. That the bike comes with choice braking components like dual, radially-mounted Brembo monobloc M4.32 four-piston calipers and semi-floating 320mm rotors up front, and a two-pot rear Brembo unit paired with a 265mm disc out back, goes without saying. There’s nothing like great brakes that make riding a fast motorcycle fun, and as cliché as it sounds, it really inspires confidence, too.
The 1260 Enduro’s motor, though, really stood out for how smooth and flexible it was in its ability to reach down low and pull right off the bottom. You could be lazy if you wanted to be and keep shifts to a minimum while making the engine do all the work. Speaking of which, the up/down Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) made even lighter work of it all. There’s nothing like the howl of that V-Twin banging through gears while on the pipe. Upshifts worked almost flawlessly, but I just couldn’t seem to make clutchless downshifts feel as smooth or predictable. The force required to downshift using the quickshifter felt a little excessive to me, and it only seemed to work when the motor was real spun up. That’s really ok though, because like I mentioned before, each gear has its own unique engine-brake mapping which makes banging seamless downshifts as rewarding as clutchless upshifts.
Overall, the 2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro more than impressed with its on-road performance for a bike with “Enduro” in its name. Also, one wrinkle Ducati ironed out was the smoothness of its throttle inputs. Before, we felt like it was hard to maintain a steady, neutral throttle, as the bike either wanted to be accelerating or on the brakes. Not anymore. This Duc will cruise along steadily all day.
For a motorcycle that handles street duty as well as any sportbike, surely it’s going to suffer and fall short off-road, right? Nope, not the case. This was by far the biggest surprise to me, and I’m not just kissing ass here. If you’ve read any of my stories or reviews so far, you know that I’m a dirt guy at heart. I’ve also had a lot of seat time recently on all the big-bore ADV offerings both on and off the street, so I’m quite familiar with how all the various adventure bikes stack up. For a 500+ pound motorcycle, this Italian stallion would have certainly shook the rankings up in our 2018 Big-Bore Adventure Touring Shootout – without question.
For the dirt portion of our test, we got to test the 1260 Enduro with the Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires, and we did about 40 miles of mostly double-track, with mud, sharp rocks, and gravel. Truthfully, I was surprised and impressed by the course selection that the Ducati team chose to let us moto-journalists loose on. These trails were better suited for dual-sports or real dirt bikes, perhaps not for these behemoths, but as we would soon find out, the 1260 Enduro feels far from a behemoth off-road. We also got to run the course at the Ducati Ride Experience Enduro Academy training grounds, led by Beppe Gualini, who has 65 African rally-raids and 10 Dakars to his credit.
With the ride mode set to Enduro, DTC was pre-programmed to 1 or 2, cornering and rear wheel ABS was off, and front ABS was set to 1. Before we even let the clutch out, I turned traction and wheelie control off completely. While a little safety-net intervention might work better for most riders, I prefer to often steer with the throttle off-road, and being able to roost your friends a little is always fun, too. The rider aids definitely help keep everything else in check for less experienced or confident riders, though, and work great to help you get to those far off places to take in those epic views that only an off-road or ADV bike could offer.
One other thing I changed was the bike’s preload, and this time I set it stiffer again to rider + luggage to help with bottoming out. However, this wasn’t because I blew through the suspension’s 7.3 inches of stroke too quickly. Rather, it was just because I prefer the fork and shock to be on the stiff side so I can attack the trail instead of just getting through it. Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but regardless of your ability, the new 1260 Enduro is competent enough on its own to get you through more obstacles than you might think – you might just surprise yourself.
With Enduro mode front brake ABS set to 1, it was kind of crazy how much braking power you get without the intervention ever intruding and momentarily throwing you off your game (even though it’s there to help you). To that effect, the Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires worked really well, too, biting and hooking up anywhere you wanted or needed them to. Of course with traction control off and 100 horse at your disposal, breaking it loose, getting a little sideways, and throwing some roost was a hoot as well.
Like I said before, 100 horsepower is still 100 horsepower whether you’re on- or off-road, but with the 1260 Enduro’s shorter first gear and broader torque curve, you can still easily tip-toe through the tulips, but you can also let the beast eat. In the tighter stuff, you can comfortably chug along in first, but I often found that second was almost just as tractable. With a little clutch finesse here and there, you could smoothly tractor through or over just about anything you pointed it at.
For a bike as big as the Multistrada 1260 Enduro, it doesn’t nearly feel that way. One of the Ducati Engineers’ goals was to bring the center of gravity as low as possible to make it easier to ride. They were able to achieve that through tricks like designing and positioning the exhaust so that the pre-chamber that does all the real muffling and emissions duties sits just in front of the swing arm, rather than somewhere up higher on the frame. The seat/tank junction is also thinner to allow not only easier access to the ground, but also to make squeezing and holding onto the Multi easier. The end result is a big-bore ADV that’s actually quite nimble and capable off-road – not just relative to its competitors, but as an off-road bound bike in general.
If you can’t already tell, I’ve come away super impressed by this new 2019 Multistrada 1260 Enduro, and the fact that it’s a Ducati basically blows my mind. No, it’s not exactly a KTM or Africa Twin killer off-road, but believe me when I say it’s not far behind. It’s nipping at their heels. The street is of course another story – later nerds. We now know why Ducati didn’t want to give us the 1200 Enduro for our 2018 ADV Off-Road Shootout – this 2019 was just about to get released upon the world. This bike would have certainly shaken things up had it been one of our contenders this summer. The good news is that we can’t wait to see how the 2019 Big-Bore ADV Shootout shakes out with the big Multi included – it won’t be the same, that’s for sure.
Of the two colors you’ve seen here, Sand will unfortunately be the only option offered here in the States, which will be available in February to the tune of $21,995. We wish we had the red option as well, but past consumer demand has shown that us ‘Mericans prefer the more rugged-looking Sand color. If you must have the Ducati Red (which I personally prefer), it’s as easy as purchasing the tank shroud and swapping it over – easy peasy. Come February, there will be a new adventure bike in town, and it’s worth taking a closer look at. Ducati addressed a lot of little things that amounted to big improvements on the new 2018 Multistrada 1260 Enduro. In the end, the final result is a more accessible, user-friendly and easier bike to ride and own. While never known for its off-road chops before, this new Duc is blazing a whole new trail, and you could be too.
2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro
- Rippin’ motor with a much broader, torquier (sp?) powerband
- Doesn’t just handle off-road duty, it tackles it
- Clean and clear TFT display that’s easy to navigate and tweak ride mode and parameter settings
- 9,000-mile oil change interval / 18,000-mile Desmo service
- Although it looks clean, the turn signals in the handguards will get smashed sooner or later
- Quick shifter didn’t work as well as I’d hoped on downshifts
- Only offered in Sand color in the U.S.
2019 Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro Specifications
|Engine Type||Ducati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled|
|Bore x stroke||106 x 71.5 mm|
|Horsepower||158.3 hp at 9500 rpm (claimed)|
|Torque||94.4 lb-ft at 7500 (claimed)|
|Fuel injection||Bosch electronic fuel injection system, elliptical throttle bodies with Ride-by-Wire, equivalent diameter 56 mm|
|Exhaust||Stainless steel muffler with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes, aluminium tail pipes|
|Transmission||6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down|
|Final drive||Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43|
|Clutch||Light action, wet, multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run|
|Frame||Tubular steel Trellis frame|
|Front Suspension||Sachs 48 mm fully adjustable inverted forks. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo, 7.3 inches travel|
|Rear Suspension||Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo. Aluminium single-sided swingarm, 7.3 inches travel|
|Front Wheel||Tubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 3″ x 19″|
|Front Tire||Pirelli Scopion Trail II 120/70 R19 as optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally same measure|
|Rear Wheel||Tubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 4.50″ x 17″|
|Rear Tire||Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 170/60 R17 as optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally same measure|
|Front Brake||Dual 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc M4.32-piston callipers, 2-pad, radial pump with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment|
|Rear Brake||265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with Bosch Cornering ABS as standard equipment|
|Instrumentation||Color TFT display 5″|
|Dry Weight||496 lb (claimed)|
|Kerb Weight||560 lb (claimed)|
|Seat Height||Not adjustable 33.9 inches (34.6 inches with high seat – 33.1 inches with low seat)|
|Fuel Capacity||7.9 gallons|
|Safety Equipment||Vehicle Hold Control (VHC), Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack (Bosch Cornering ABS + DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Cornering Lights|
|Standard Equipment||Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evo, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down, Cruise control, Hands-Free, Backlit handlebar switches, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), Full-colour TFT display, Full LED headlamp, Auto-off indicators|
|Additional Equipment||Ready for Anti-theft|
|Warranty||24 months, unlimited mileage|
|Maintenance Intervals||9,000 miles / 12 months|
|Valve Clearance Check||18,000 miles|