Although handling is not as responsive and quick like its bigger brother, the 1200, riders can still enjoy throwing it around fast turns. Size and positioning of handlebars make it great for a wide range of riders and aids in better steering control.
The handling is intuitive, turn-is is easy, yet the chassis is stable and stays on your chosen cornering line.
First impression? I really enjoyed the bike on my day in the Spanish sun. Our route included a little bit of everything, from divided highway to super tight and twisty backroads. The weather was perfect, the pace was spirited, and the traffic minimal—a perfect day to be out on a motorcycle, and maybe especially this one.
The 90-degree V-twin Desmo engine is smooth and revs freely, and it pulls without hesitation from 3000 rpm. Fueling is excellent. Claimed output is 113 horsepower (and 70-plus pound-feet of torque, with 80 percent of peak available from 3500-9500 rpm) is plenty to pull out of any corner or make any pass. It is highly satisfying but not intimidating. The brakes are strong but easy to control. The handling is intuitive, turn-is is easy, yet the chassis is stable and stays on your chosen cornering line. The riding position is comfortable, and air management from the manually adjustable windscreen is good, although there is some buffeting in the presence of side wind.
Power delivery is sufficient. When shopping around for a bike that creates the perfect medium in this motorcycle market, very soon potential riders will find themselves looking at the 950. Compared to the 1200, some riders might like the 950`s lower-end.
With 113 HP, the 950’s power is never an issue, but it isn’t the bike’s showpiece, either. The 950’s raison d’Ítre is accessibility. With a 19-inch front wheel and a 20mm offset on the fork legs, the steering is less twitchy than that of the 1200. Ride-by-wire allows configurable riding modes, and the rider can adjust the traction control, wheelie control, and ABS, as well as cut the power to as little as 75 HP.
Sure, the bike may not have an IMU, but even the full 113 HP doesn’t get you into sketchy situations as easily as the big bike does. In Sport mode, it feels like there’s an actual cable connecting the throttle tube and the injector. In Urban, it feels like there’s an elastic band—which should help novice riders stay out of trouble.
Ducati claims that 80 percent of the 71 ft-lbs of torque is available from 3500 to 9500 RPM. I believe it, and it was great for blasting around the twisty roads of our tests, but you won’t be screaming Yeah boooy! inside your helmet as you click into 4th at over 100 mph. Instead, it’s most enjoyable to exploit the midrange and blast around in 3rd and 4th, without ever really winding it out. On the launch though, we were in 2nd for the hairpins and clutching it up on the way out.
While not as well equipped, its not easy to find journalists and current owners complaining about the lack of riding technology. Maybe in future model years we`ll see Ducati gradually add what its bigger brother has.
To achieve the $13,995 asking price, there are a few concessions: No IMU for lean-sensitive ABS or semi-active suspension, although it does have traction control and standard ABS; a double sided swingarm and Sachs rear shock; and a cable clutch. The suspension is fully adjustable at both ends but not electronically controlled. None of these concessions are the least bit problematic in use. In fact, the simplicity is welcome when compared to the bewildering number of features on other models. The 950’s claimed weight is about 450 lb. without fuel, or about 10 lb. less than the 1200.
Anyone familiar with bigger Ducati`s should find themselves right at home on the 950. Even the seat is comfortable, although feedback on that can range depending who you ask. At 840mm, seat height is lower than other Multistrada's, helping slightly shorter riders be flat footed.
Ergonomically the 950 has the same rider triangle as the 1200 and feels just as relaxed but purposeful as its bigger brother, with feet positioned under the roomy seat, a wide, high handlebar and ample legroom underway provided by the tallish 33.1-inch seat height. With my 29-inch inseam I was on tiptoes at stops, but the bike’s lighter weight makes it fairly easy to maneuver in tight spots, and Ducati offers an accessory 32.3-inch low seat. The narrow windscreen adjusts up and down about 4 inches with one hand and does a decent job of keeping the wind off your chest at speed, though I didn’t notice much change in the moderate noise it creates with it up or down. Standing up on the bike is easy and seated the rider fits into it as much as on it, with the wide bar creating plenty of leverage for steering that 19-inch front hoop. Wheelbase is up by 2.6 inches over the 1200, and the 950 has 25.2 degrees of front-end rake vs. the 1200’s 24, so handling is a bit slower, but the 950 will still please even the fastest riders in the corners with its low-effort steering and predictable manners.
Made for mass appeal its easy to see how the Multistrada 950 is the do-it-all bike for anyone willing to pay the $14k (USD) price tag, which can be said for many other Adventure bikes. But with all the 1200 DNA included in a smaller, cheaper (and better?) package, this is undoubtedly a unique product.
For someone who is looking for a bike to ride to work during the week, and for sport on the weekend, with some two up and touring rides sprinkled in, this would be a great choice. If there’s a dirt road connecting two twisty paved ones, no problem.
That’s how 90 percent of adventure bikes are used, and this one is better at the job than most.
As for my larger question of diminishing returns, this bike made the point to me that less can be more. For years, the industry has focused on bigger and faster engines, and the idea that price and equipment should go up with engine size. That made sense when the fastest bikes were barely fast enough, but going forward I hope the equation will change. To me, the 950 Multistrada is more appealing to ride than the 1200, because I can use it harder within the constraints of the real world.