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.
Ducati is preparing to add a new Grand Tour variant to its Multistrada V4 lineup, joining the existing V4, V4 S, V4 Pikes Peak, and V4 Rally models. The new Ducati Multistrada V4 S Grand Tour will be part of the 2024 lineup as a successor to the previously offered Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour.
From a pure performance standpoint, the Ducati in the runner-up position would wipe the floor with the Suzuki here. But every year it’s worth reminding readers that these awards are about more than just outright performance. We also factor in the intangible factors, like what a certain model means for the brand or for the category, and the GT+ is a sign that the traditional, non-adventure-based, sport-tourers are still alive and kicking. There’s also just the shock and awe factor. As in, we expected Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT+ to be a nice motorcycle – but we didn’t expect it to be this nice.
As I observed to my Ducati host just before we started up the mountain toward Idyllwild (elevation 5,800 feet) from Palm Desert, California (220 ft) – this is either going to be one of the greatest rides ever or one of the worst. Pity the poor new model launch planner: If it rains hard more than a few days a year around Palm Springs I’d be surprised. But logistics have to be laid out weeks ahead of time, and as the day for our ride drew nearer, the weather forecast for last Tuesday had evolved from 20% to 40% to 100% rain, to “atmospheric river.”
To those of you who have been paying attention over the past year, our selecting the 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special as Motorcycle.com’s Motorcycle of the Year should come as no surprise. To win the MOTY, a bike has to do two very important things. First, it has to claim victory in one of the MOBO categories, proving that it has the chops to successfully compete against its peers. For the Pan America to do this in the ultra-competitive heavyweight adventure touring class in the first year of its production says a lot about how seriously Harley took the task of stepping out of its cruiser/bagger comfort zone. Second, the MOTY has to say something about the current state of the motorcycle art, where the industry is, and where it’s going.
The Multistrada has always been an exciting machine. It showcases Ducati’s sporting heritage in an upright touring-focused package that has been an absolute weapon in the canyons for some time thanks to its sporty V-Twin and 17-inch wheel combo. The latter, however, is exactly why the big Ducati could never quite hang with its ADV rivals when the pavement ran out. In addition to the stonking Granturismo V4, which has been specifically designed for adventure touring, the `21 Multi now features a 19/17-inch wheel combo that makes all the difference when the road runs out.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last two Ducati Multistrada press launches for MO. In late 2017, I was in Gran Canaria putting the then-new Multistrada 1260 through an endless series of switchbacks up the side of a volcano. I came away thoroughly impressed with the chassis and quickness of that big adventure/sport/touring bike. In addition to the motorcycle’s natural ability, the electronics suite allowed the ride to be tailored to fit a large swath of rider preferences. From the throttle response to the suspension – all was easily adjusted with the handlebar’s switchgear. It was the swiss army knife of motorcycles, I thought.
Ducati officially revealed its new Multistrada V4, which joins the two-cylinder Multistrada 1260 and Multistrada 950 in its adventure-touring lineup. The 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 will be offered in three versions, the base model V4, the V4 S and the V4 S Sport.
All our conjecture was resolved early this morning when Ducati CEO Domenicali unveiled the new V-Four engine that will power the next generation Ducati Multistrada. The biggest surprise is that the new “Granturismo” 1158 engine will not use desmodromic valve actuation, but regular springs. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing in this application, as it gives the engine “record-breaking maintenance intervals”– 60,000 km or just over 37,000 miles. (It’s probably an excellent thing, in fact, since the mystery and expense of having to have one’s desmodromic valves adjusted has always loomed large for the non-wealthy when contemplating Ducati ownership.)
Ducati has started teasing a new model reveal for Oct. 15, with all indications suggesting it will be for the new Multistrada V4. Contrary to our initial report, however, it looks like the engine might be going smaller than the Panigale V4’s 1103cc engine and not larger to 1158cc. [UPDATE: Ducati clarified that the Oct. 15 announcement will be for the Multistrada V4’s engine. The bike itself will be revealed Nov. 4.]