In Sport mode the throttle response is crisp without being sharp. The Ducati charges hard out of turns and always has a wallop of acceleration for effortless overtakes. Gear-changing is enhanced by the new shifter, which works flawlessly and makes going either way through the impressively light six-speed box deliciously easy. The only slight drawback remains an occasional reluctance to find neutral, shared with other Testastretta-engined models, that seems to affect some bikes more than others.
Top-end performance is as addictive as ever. There’s a touch of vibration at higher revs but that seems more character-enhancing than annoying when the Multi is snarling towards its top speed of about 250 km/h like an angry grey rhino on the charge. Protection from the one-hand-adjustable screen is unchanged and welcome, without approaching the turbulence-free tranquillity of top tourers.
Ducati’s chassis tweaks are effective, judging by the ease and enthusiasm with which the 1260 S flicks through a series of smooth-surfaced sea-level turns, before feeling reassuringly solid on a windswept mountain after almost 2,000 metres of climbing. The wide, one-piece bar (riding position is unchanged and very roomy) gives sufficient leverage to counter any negative effect from the more relaxed geometry. In Sport the ride is very well-controlled despite the generous, and unchanged, 170 mm of travel at each end.
Switching to Touring softens the throttle response slightly but is more noticeable for doing likewise to the suspension, which gains a little ride quality at the expense of some vagueness due to a reduction in shock preload and damping at both ends. That’s fine when the weather and road surface deteriorate. Now I’m glad of the Multi’s more cosseting feel as well as the subtly reshaped fairing’s protection and the warmth of those grips, which are part of the Touring Pack that also includes centre-stand and panniers.
Touring mode is also fine back down on the dry coast road, where the more supple ride enhances the comfort of a seat that is broad and supportive, but can feel a bit firm by the time the unchanged, 20-litre tank’s normal range of over 250 km is almost used up. But Urban mode, which like Enduro limits power to 100 PS, softens the shock so much that the Multi grounds out under moderately hard cornering.
That’s the beauty of the Multistrada, though: with a couple of presses of the mode button the urban adventurer is transformed back into a potent, sharp-steering sportster that can make use of all the grip that its excellent Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2 tyres can provide. And which has its traction control level automatically fine-tuned for the job, along with the setting of the cornering ABS system that complements its ferociously powerful front brake blend of 330-mm discs and Brembo M50 monobloc calipers.
The day’s test ride has been more a case of experiencing Many Seasons than Many Roads, but either way the revamped Multistrada has coped admirably with the conditions. The 1260 adds a little performance, rideability and refinement to a bike that already had those attributes in abundance. If its substantial price seems high, bear in mind that, more than ever, the Multi is several outstanding motorbikes in one.
The Ducati Multistrada 1260 and 1260 S retails in India for Rs 15.99 lakh and Rs 18.06 lakh respectively.