Multiple personalities

The Project

One of the big things we wanted to achieve with our Project Multistrada was to test what it would be like to live with the machine over a decent length of time and distance – so we put it in the hands of Cycle Torque’s contributors as well as letting the staff ride it as much as possible.
So Adventure bike owner Daniel Ballantyne took it bush and road racer Dave Mason took it thrashing, while CT Publisher rode it to meeting in Sydney and to a rally, and Picko took it to Queensland, a couple of times. It’s also been to a couple of Snowy rides.
In all we’ve racked up close to 15,000 kilometres in less than one year, a decent amount of that two-up as well.
So, it hasn’t sat idle in the shed. Along the way we wore out tyres, had it serviced, added some accessories and wished we had more time to ride it.

Genuine accessories

At the first service Ducati added the optional top box, a voluminous container which added enormously to the standard (on the ‘T’-model) capacity of the panniers. The standard luggage has stood up well to the rigours of a bike magazine.
After nearly 15,000km all three boxes still look great and work perfectly most of the time – get dust and grime in the pannier brackets and they get sticky, but are fine. The first batch of panniers had a single large latch, but Ducati quickly found people overloading them and added front and rear latches as well, eliminating Bulging Pannier Problem.


I wrote about the first service in the December 2011 issue, where I discovered one small issue for home mechanics – the centrestand, when down, actually restricts access to a couple of the bellypan bolts which need to come out to replace the oil filter.
Remove the bellypan with the bike on the sidestand first. Ducati has stretched out the intervals between services for all its bikes these days, and the Multistrada is no more expensive to own than the majority of bikes.

Although the factory would like you to take your bike to a Ducati dealer for servicing, the electrical system plugs into the universal diagnostic tools every repairer of high-spec bikes would own, which makes servicing quick and easy.
The Desmo valve gear rarely needs checking or adjusting and while the final drive chain and sprockets will need replacing, the standard equipment is high quality and is still looking good after 15,000km.
The last service was conducted by Motohansa at Rydalmere in Sydney (02 9638 4488).
Motohansa is better known for its servicing, spares and accessories for BMW motorcycles, but the workshop can handle any make of motorcycle because it has the expertise and the right gear to do not only your handbook servicing, but all repairs too.

Ducati Multistrada with Xenon lights fitted
Ducati Multistrada with Xenon lights fitted

In our case the Multistrada was there to have Xenon headlight and spot lights fitted.
This isn’t a five minute job, and will require Motohansa to have the bike for a full day, depending on what bike you have, which dictates how much bodywork needs to come off first. While it was there it was deemed prudent to have the 12,000 kilometre service done. Incidentally this is only an oil and filter change, plus a general going over.
The more intensive service, including valve clearances is due every 24,000 kilometres, so dispel any doubts you have over servicing costs or reliability.
The modern Testastretta engine is a great engine.

Even though all new Ducatis will be bought from a dealership, what happens if you are the second or third owner, or you move to a remote area?
In a perfect world you would take your machine to a Ducati dealership, have your bike lovingly serviced by an impeccably attired technician, who has Italian as their second language, and you are served a strong short black while you wait.
This of course isn’t always the case, and although the Multistrada is a very technologically advanced machine you shouldn’t be put off buying one if access to a Ducati dealer isn’t a viable option.

The Xenon lights lit up just nicely.
The Xenon lights lit up just nicely.

The project bike has been back for one warranty claim – the electronic key failed.
The Multistrada was Ducati’s first machine to get a proximity sensor key – get close enough to the bike and the steering can be unlocked and the ignition started.
Usually I would think this is a pretty cool idea, but given the panniers and top box must be operated using the key, I found the idea less practical than maybe it could have been (Kawasaki made the same mistake with the GTR1400).
A few months into the project, I got a call from Daniel, who was out and about on the bike and it wouldn’t recognise the key was nearby, so he was stuck – until he was walked through the procedure Ducati has for such a situation – basically, you can start the bike without the key if you know its PIN – which is something owners set. As Daniel wasn’t the owner, he didn’t know what to do… Ducati simply replaced the key, mapped the new fob to the bike and the problem was solved. A nice touch in these days where we can’t ride our bikes as much as we’d like too is acknowledged by Ducati giving each customer a trickle charger to keep the battery right to go.

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