With ABR’s Multistrada long-termer being returned to Ducati, James Oxley reflects on life with a bike that can’t help but put a smile on your face
As I write this long-term update about life with the Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour, people up and down the land are excitedly counting down to Christmas. Festive lights adorn scores of houses on my ride home from work, the office Secret Santa has been drawn, and my wife has been nagging me to get a Christmas tree.
However, despite the fact the most wonderful time of year is almost upon us, the mood among the ABR editorial team is sombre. No, we’re not a bunch of Scrooges, it’s just that this time of year is the time when motorcycle manufacturers usually ask for their long-term review bikes back.
I’ve already been through the trauma of saying goodbye to my KTM 790 Adventure and now it’s time to wave off the Multistrada. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but the reality is, a lot of good memories were made on these bikes in what was a challenging year, and it’s sad to see them go.
Riding the Multistrada in particular acted as a refreshing escape from the stresses and strains of 2020. No matter what was going on in the world, I couldn’t help but smile when I opened the bike’s throttle in Sport mode and was catapulted down the road at barmy speeds to the joyous roar of the bike’s 158bhp engine.
And, for me, this sums up what riding the Multistrada is all about: Pure riding joy. Yes, it’s a capable touring bike which offers a decent amount of weather protection. And yes, it’s packed full of electronic rider aids to help you stay upright in a tricky situation. It also boasts plenty of creature comforts and gadgets like electronically adjustable suspension, cruise control, and heated grips.
But, whenever anyone asks me what it has been like riding the Ducati over the past few months, I use words like thrilling, exciting, exhilarating, and above all joyous. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the best-looking motorcycles you can buy either.
That’s not to say the Multistrada is a perfect motorcycle, certainly not. I’d like the seat to be more comfortable, the screen could provide more wind protection, and the messy layout of the TFT display is one of the most confusing I’ve used.
I’ve also struggled to squeeze 200 miles out of the 20l fuel tank, which isn’t ideal in a long-distance touring bike. However, Ducati has a talent for producing bikes that make you cast aside frustrating niggles and fall in love with them all the same because they are such a pleasure to ride.
So, now that I’ve waved farewell to my long termer, would I consider splashing out almost £19,000 on a Multistrada S Grand Tour with my own hard-earned cash? The answer depends on whether I listen to the angel or devil on my shoulder.
The angel is telling me there are more practical and less expensive bikes out there. The devil is saying there are very few adventure bikes that offer more thrills per pound than this sensational machine.
One thing I am certain of is this. If I were to find a Ducati Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour under MY tree this December 25, it would be a very merry Christmas indeed.