Ducati's New Multistrada 950 - The Down And Dirty

As Ducati rides out its new Multistrada 950, the sound of bikers rewriting their holiday gift list is drowning out the rumble of its Testastretta twin cylinder engine.

Filling the role of Ducati’s smallest ‘multibike’, the 950 is designed to provide all the excitement of the Multistrada in a way that makes it more accessible and versatile. This latest model follows the popular road taken by manufacturers of offering affordable motorcycles to tempt riders into showrooms.

When the Ducati Design Center started working on the Multistrada 950 the goal was to develop a compact, eye-pleasing bike that had to be above all else, a true Multistrada. That's why it takes its cue from the two bigger-engined Multistrada family members.

The Multistrada 950 combines Multistrada 1200 and Multistrada 1200 Enduro design features to perfection, taking the ‘lightest’ elements from both. The front-on view, with the distinctive headlight, 'beak', adjustable screen, two ‘wings’ and tank come from the Multistrada 1200. The rider's seat with narrow mid-section, the passenger seat, rear grab rail, the design of the exhaust and swingarm and the wheel sizes were, instead, taken from the Multistrada 1200 Enduro.

The bodywork color extends to the seat and the numerous black-painted parts, such as the engine guard, silencer and swingarm to make the Multistrada 950 look even lighter. Carefully designed alloy wheels make the thin Y-spokes look as similar as possible to wire spokes.

Other Multistrada 950 hallmarks include the assertive, high-tech front headlight and LED tail light. Features such as the frame which is designed to maximize efficiency in terms of both weight and performance, the rear sub-frame made of aluminum with integrated pannier supports and new switchgears are just some of the characteristics that underscore Ducati's attention to detail.

Proving Ducati didn’t cut corners when designing this new offering, the 950 enjoys four Riding Modes, Touring, Sport, Urban and Enduro.

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Engine

Lighter than the Multistrada 1200 and with a seat height just over 33 inches, the Multistrada features 19" light alloy front wheel, suspension with a generous 170 mm of travel and a twinsided swingarm that all come together to deliver smooth ride whether a paved road, or no road at all is chosen. A gas tank holding over five gallons puts plenty of miles between refueling stops.

The Multistrada 950 is powered by the already renowned twin cylinder 937 cm3 Testastretta 11°, now extensively overhauled. Promising enough engine to do what’s needed but not too much as to intimidate the rider, the 937 cm3 Testastretta engine gives the Multistrada 950 113 hp at 9,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 96.2 Nm at 7,750 rpm.

EURO 4-rated, it has four valves per cylinder, is liquid cooled and features two new cylinder heads with a redesigned oil circuit and secondary air intake ducts on the covers. The Multistrada 950 gulps in the fuel mix through new 53 mm cylindrical-section throttle bodies controlled by an advanced Ride-by-Wire system. Moreover, this engine also features a new control unit and electronic injection system. The exhaust system is of the 2-1-2 type with lateral silencer.

The clutch, instead, is of the oil bath type with slipper function and low-effort lever control. The slipper function cuts in when the rear wheel exerts back-torque, reducing pressure on the discs to ensure vehicle stability during the aggressive down-shifting typical of competitive riding.

As with its entire line, how much off-road effort for the engine is required has been improved. The 937 cm3 Ducati Testastretta 11° twin cylinder engine has a maintenance interval of 9,000 miles or 12 months, with valve clearance inspection every 18,000 miles.

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Handling

The Multistrada 950 has been designed to ensure outstanding comfort, even when the bike is fully laden for both the rider and passenger thanks to an ergonomic ‘triangle’ that guarantees, comfort and control whatever the situation.

Part of this triangle, the frame design features a front Trellis made up of large-diameter yet thin tubing, plus two lateral aluminum sub-frames to ensure maximum torsional rigidity. The shell-cast aluminum twin-sided swingarm is painted black.

The Multistrada 950 has a front upside down 48 mm fork with 170 mm of travel, a dedicated cast fork leg, plus adjustable spring pre-load and hydraulic compression and rebound damping. At the rear, a Sachs shock connects the swingarm to the left sub-frame: again, spring pre-load is adjustable as is hydraulic compression and rebound damping. The spring is progressive, consequently increasing ride comfort even with the bike fully loaded.

The wide tapered handlebars have been designed to optimize comfort, provide a dominant riding position and make the most of the generous steering lock. And that's not all: it's been mounted on silent-blocks to filter out vibration, giving an optimal balance between comfort and 'feel'.

While not strictly a handling feature, the spacious stowage area under the passenger seat should be mentioned. It can be used for tools, the motorcycle handbook and personal items. The GARMIN sat-nav, available as a Ducati Performance accessory, is powered via a special connector in the dashboard area. There's also a USB port underneath the seat which can be used to charge smartphones or other devices.

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Getting a grip

The Multistrada 950 is equipped with alloy wheels that mount Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires: 120/70 R19 at the front and 170/60 R17 at the rear. Ducati considers this tire a perfect blend of off-road racing capacity and great road performance enjoying pluspoints of high mileage, consistent performance throughout its life-cycle and first-class performance in the wet.

The Multistrada 950 features Brembo M4.32 monobloc radial calipers with four 32 mm diameter pistons and 2 pads, an axial pump and dual 320 mm front discs. At the rear a 265 mm disc is gripped by a floating caliper, again by Brembo. Such top-drawer components ensure unbeatable performance, a feature that has always been a Ducati hallmark. 

Looking at the 950’s brakes leads us into the safety systems and features. The Multistrada 950 is equipped with a Ducati Safety Pack that includes ABS and Ducati Traction Control, enhancing bike performance, optimizing control and boosting safety levels. This package is managed through the riding modes mentioned earlier. These give the Multistrada 950 a distinctive personality with different ABS and Ducati Traction Control settings. Readers who love details will be happy to learn the choices cover 3-level adjustment’s for the ABS and 8-level Ducati Traction Control.

Controlled by the Bosch 9.1 MP control unit with integrated pressure sensor, the 3-level system ensures short stopping distances and stability whatever the riding conditions due to full integration with Riding Modes. Level 1 adapts ABS intervention to off-road use: there is no intervention on the rear wheel and no rear wheel anti-lift. Level 2 sees the ABS act on both the front and rear wheels but rear wheel anti-lift remains deactivated. Lastly, the highest level 3 setting provides maximum braking stability and rear wheel lift-up prevention. The ABS system can be deactivated in any Riding Mode and will stay off until the next Key-On.

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Ducati Riding Modes

Ducati has its own version of an accessory becoming more common on the modern motorcycle, riding modes. Essentially, these brings together the different technologies that affect a motorcycle’s performance and handling with setting for different riding situations. Generally speaking, riding modes also allow riders to program their own preferences.

Calling theirs Ducati Riding Modes, they were first introduced on the Multistrada in 2010,  the 950 has four Riding Modes, Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro, each programmed to act on the electronic Ride-by-Wire (RbW) engine control system and the ABS and DTC levels. Riding Modes can be changed on the go, while personalized ABS and DTC settings need to be made with the bike at standstill with the throttle closed.

A closer look at the presets tell us the following;

Touring Riding Mode delivers 113 hp with progressive Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response, DTC is set higher (level 5) as is the ABS (level 3), maximizing both braking stability and wheel lift-up prevention.

Selecting Sport Riding Mode transforms the Multistrada 950 into an adrenalin-fueled 113 hp machine. This Riding Mode is characterized by a direct Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response, a low DTC setting (level 4) and low ABS setting (level 2) with no rear wheel lift-up prevention.

Urban Riding Mode delivers a maximum power of 75 hp with progressive Ride-by-Wire throttle twist response; DTC is set to an even higher intervention level (level 6) and the ABS setting is at level 3, maximizing braking stability and wheel lift-up prevention.

Finally, Enduro Riding Mode gives the Multistrada 950 a maximum power of 75 hp with progressive Ride-byWire throttle twist response; DTC intervention is suitable (level 2) for off-road use and the ABS setting is low (level 1), deactivating rear wheel lift-up prevention.

What mode the motorcycle is currently in can be seen on the 950’s LCD Instrumentation. The unit also gives info on speed, rpm, total distance ridden, selected gear, trip1 and trip2, engine coolant temperature, fuel level and, of course, a clock. Showing its thoroughly modern roots, the information includes miles remaining, real-time fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, average speed, air temperature, travel time and road ice warning.

Like other bikes in the Multistrada family, the 950 has an assertive-looking, high-tech headlight. At the rear there is a LED tail light. A hazard warning lights function is also available on the Multistrada 950; this is activated by pressing the dedicated key.

Ducati is quick to help riders who want a little more from their Multistrada 950 with accessory packages. These would be;

  • Touring Pack: side panniers and center stand.
  • Sport Pack: type-approved Ducati Performance exhaust by Termignoni which complies with EU homologation standards, billet aluminum frame plugs, billet aluminum front brake fluid reservoir plug.
  • Urban Pack: top case, tank bag with tank lock and USB hub to charge electronic devices.
  • Enduro Pack: supplementary LED lights, Ducati Performance components by Touratech: engine crash bars, aluminum radiator guard, aluminum sump guard, broader kickstand base and offroad rider pegs.

The Multistrada 950 will be available in January of 2017 priced at $13,995 in Red and $14,195 in White.

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