More, more, more. That’s what every customer wants when a new version of a motorcycle comes out, so when Ducati revamped their iconic Multistrada lineup last year it was no surprise to see more technology, more cylinders, more power…even more wings. What did surprise me was seeing more in terms of the front wheel – it went from 17″ to 19″.
That’s definitely an improvement for riders who sometimes venture off-road, but it’s a bit of a sacrifice if you’re going to stick to the tarmac, or even, like many owners of previous generation Multistradas did – take it to the track. So…what do you do?
For 2022, Ducati’s got your answer – meet the new Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak.
We’re big fans of the original Multistrada Pikes Peak here at Iconic, both in terms of the performance and its significance. In fact, to show up in a little style we called up a friend who bought a beautiful example of one on our auction site and he kindly let us take it to the new bike launch!
Jason Chinnock (the CEO of Ducati North America) freely admitted at the new bike launch that the 2012 Multistrada Pikes Peak was nothing more than a paint job and some carbon fiber goodies, though I’d say that’s fine because the 1200 S it was based on was already a fantastic road bike. That year, the Multi became the first bike to crack 10 minutes in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the next year the Multi placed first in class again. After a few years away from the competition, Ducati reclaimed the title of King of the Mountain in 2018 with Carlin Dunne.
The big change is the wheelset – it gets Marchesini forged aluminum wheels which save 8.8 pounds over the spinners on the V4 S. The front wheel is 17” (which is great news), and while the regular Multi already had a 17” rear, this has a wider rim so you can get super sticky rubber on it: OEM equipment is the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV. Slowing those sportier wheels are the same Brembo Stylema calipers on the same 330mm discs, however now they get the stronger pads from the Panigale.
Keeping everything in check are two more Panigale-derived features: a single-sided swingarm which shows off the gorgeous rear wheel + Akrapovic titanium/carbon fiber muffler, as well as Öhlins event-based suspension.
The proportion of tall motorcycles like this often look weird to me, but the single-sided swingarm looks fantastic. Along those lines, the Pikes Peak Multi gets several cosmetic upgrades over its cheaper siblings: a livery inspired by the 2021 MotoGP bike, carbon fiber fender and beak, a dark smoked low windshield, and a two tone seat with a V4 logo.
If the paint job didn’t give away the sporting intent, the ergonomic changes should make it clear – the bars are lower while the pegs are higher and further back. Please note that the deltas shown below are compared to the Multistrada V4.
Oh, and that’s all before you even turn it on. Press the button on the keyless ignition and you’ll find a first in Multistrada history – a dedicated race mode, which comes from the Panigale. This (and Sport) offer more of a direct connection between the throttle and the throttle bodies (the exact ratio was not provided but it’s not 1:1). In addition, the wheelie control strategy now uses a predictive method based on the IMU, which supposedly means that it understands when you’re intentionally trying to pull a wheelie and won’t get in the way. The quickshifter is also tied into the IMU, and it’s been given faster quickshifter cuts (borrowed from the Panigale) and the ability to accept more aggressive downshifts. This ended up being one of my few complaints with the Pikes Peak – I think the quickshifter isn’t smooth enough most of the time, though when you’re on the edge of the tire, it slows down the shifts to minimize chassis disruption. The most aggressive ABS system is now specifically programmed for on-road riding – this isn’t a bike to go off-roading with.
The electronic systems can be overwhelming, so I just want to sum it up by sharing the default values for the four riding modes. A lot of times, manufacturers will offer a “Custom” map in addition to the presets, which inevitably means you only end up with one map that you like but you sometimes may have to change depending on the situation. Ducati does it much better – they give you presets but you can customize all of the settings as you wish and it will save them for the future. That’s how it should be, because your idea of what Touring should be will probably be a bit different than mine.
Speaking of which, Touring mode is how I decided to start my day.
Riding the Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak
As you can imagine, it’s a bit too cold for riding at Pikes Peak right now so Ducati hosted us in Palm Springs instead. With that said, they also made sure we got a bit of the Pikes Peak experience thanks to a blast through the San Jacinto mountains.
As our day started in the streets of Palm Springs, I began my ride in Touring mode. Bottom end fueling is smooooooooth and it’s what I’d choose if I had a passenger on the back or if I was just on my daily commute to work. It ended up being my favorite of the ride modes as it’s by far the best balance of rideability and thrust (you still get full power). And yet…the way I ride at a press launch ends up being a bit different to how I ride day-to-day because I’m surrounded by friends who egg you on to go faster – especially when someone like Josh Herrin is backing it in and doing stand up wheelies.
So as soon as we got to Highway 74 (the appropriately-named Palms to Pines Scenic Byway), I popped it into Sport mode and then Race mode soon after. This ramps up the aggressiveness of the throttle as well as the immediacy of my enjoyment, though it does make the throttle much snatchier. It’s a price worth paying only in certain situations – it’s fine in high-speed sweepers and I’m sure it’d be a delight on the track, but in slower corners and hairpins it interferes more than I’d like.
It’s possible that some of my abruptness in the throttle came from having diminished feeling in my hands – as we got up in elevation, I had the unpleasant discovery that the Multistrada Pikes Peak does not come with standard heated grips. If I worked for Ducati I’d argue that heated grips aren’t necessary to go fast, but at this price point it’s a shocking omission for a bike that’ll spend many more miles on the street than on the track. Heated seats (in varying heights) are an accessory option.
However, if you’re riding in temperature warm enough to feel your hands, you’ll be blown away by how incredibly well the Pikes Peak handles. As noted above, this model saves a lot of unsprung weight with the forged Marchesini wheels. Combine that with the 17″ wheel sizing, Diablo Rosso tires, and wide upright bars which provide great leverage and you’ve got all the ingredients for a motorcycle that feels planted and holds its line well.
But the new V4 engine also features a counter-rotating crankshaft, which significantly reduces the gyroscopic effect of wheel rotation. In other words, it’s much easier to lean the Multistrada Pikes Peak (and pick it back up) then you’d expect. I could not believe how quickly I could huck the Multi over from side to side, and in quick successive S-turns the bike wants you to treat it like a giant supermoto because it’s so easy to move it around underneath you.
The highs continue with the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension, which was pulled off the Panigale V4 S. It allows you to adjust preload and firmness electronically, though it also changes how the damping responds during acceleration and braking depending on what ride mode you’re in as well as measurements from the IMU. So if you’re accelerating from a stop as hard as possible, the Ohlins suspension will stiffen up the rear spring much more if you’re in Race vs. Touring to keep the back from squatting and to maximize forward drive. I’m curious to see how well it keeps up when it also has to support a passenger and some hard luggage, but when only tasked with my 190 pound self it works brilliantly. This is not a light bike at 527 pounds wet, but all I had to do was press a couple of buttons in the suspension menu (meaning I didn’t have to get off the bike) and I was rewarded with a motorcycle that won’t wallow even at extra-legal speeds.
It also means the forks barely dive when you get hard on the brakes, and that’s a heck of a statement considering how good these brakes are. The Stylema calipers and 330mm rotors (265mm in the rear) are standard fare on the Multistrada V4 S, though some reviewers complained that they were a little soft. I reckon Ducati’s fixed that this time around with the usage of Panigale-spec pads. The stopping power is great, but more importantly the feel is excellent as well. Overall, this chassis is outstanding, and I constantly found myself wishing I was on a track during the ride day because that’s the only place you can go fast enough to find out what the Multistrada Pikes Peak is truly capable of. In that sense, it truly feels like an upright superbike – it’s too good of a motorcycle to only be enjoyed on the street and anyone who buys one of these is doing themselves a disservice if they don’t take it out for a track day every once in a while.
When I say that the frame, suspension, and brakes are all best suited on the track, that’s a compliment. I also feel the same way about the engine, but in a less favorable way. I’m not saying the V4 is a bad motor at all, just that it has a different personality than the V2, which was a bit rowdier and more fun down low. I loved the way the 1200cc V-Twin delivered power in the 2012 bike I rode to the launch, whereas I merely like the way the V4 dishes it out. The peak numbers are impressive: 170 horsepower at 10,500 rpm, 92 lb-ft of torque at 8,750 rpm. But it doesn’t get my heart racing until the tach sweeps past 6k rpm, which is sort of the opposite of what I want from an upright bike like this. I want low-down torque that pushes me out of the tight twisties of the Pikes Peak Hillclimb, but this V4 engine feels like it was pulled out of a superbike (because it was) and you need to be wound out in the fast stuff to get the most out of it. I also wish it had a bit more sound to it, as the exhaust note felt uninspired to me even though it was built by Akrapovic. There’s only so much that can be done with all the regulations:
We don’t have a dyno (yet), so I’ll respectfully refer you over to Cycle World for an example comparing the 2021 Multistrada V4 S (same engine as what’s in the Pikes Peak) to a 2021 BMW R1250GS to illustrate the difference. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but it depends on your riding style and preference: at 2,500 rpm, the Ducati is making approximately 25 hp and 55 lb-ft. The BMW is making approximately 35 hp and 78 lb-ft. The Multistrada never makes more torque than the GS, though after 7k the Multi just keeps making power and leaves the BMW in the dust (143 peak hp at 10,580 rpm vs. 117 hp at 7,770 rpm). Hell, by the time the BMW has hit redline the Ducati is still gaining revs and power. So it all depends on what you’re looking for – I was hoping for more of a bottom end hit but that’s not what the V4 is designed to do. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a top end rush the Ducati V4 is hard to beat!
There’s one other big reason to prefer the V4 over the GS motor (or what any of the competitors offer) – service intervals. By ditching the desmodromic valve train and going with traditional spring valves instead, Ducati now offers you a staggering 37,282 miles in-between valve clearance checks. You can also go 9,000 miles between oil changes, so pack those bags and feel free to hit the highway. Our day concluded with a few miles on the interstate, which gave me a chance to think about the wind protection as well as the radar-driven technology. The Pikes Peak has a short screen but it does an excellent job shaping the wind, I experienced no buffeting at all. In fact, even with the changes to the bars and pegs for an extra dash of sportiness, this bike is all-day comfortable.
Both ends of the Multistrada feature technology powered by radar. I’m a big fan of the adaptive cruise control (ACC) up front, less so about the blind spot detection in the rear. I first experienced adaptive cruise control when I rode the BMW R18 Transcontinental back home from the launch (which coincidentally included a ride up to the top of Pikes Peak), and I fell in love with it.
Ducati uses the same Bosch-built hardware, though their UI is a bit different. I think BMW has the advantage with UI (it shows when the radar sees something in front of you, Ducati does not) and the execution of maintaining following distance smoothly a little bit better, but Ducati has an indescribably large advantage with regards to brake feel – bear with me for a minute, as the two things may not seem related at first.
At the R18 launch, BMW representatives told me that their ACC system required the use of fully linked brakes (apply either front or rear and the bike will automatically apply the other). It worked, but the only thing that was consistent about the brake feel was that it was inconsistent, and I hated using the brakes on that bike. I don’t know what Ducati engineers did differently, but it’s infinitely better as any changes made to the braking system to allow the bike to brake automatically when needed are transparent to me as a rider when I want to do my own braking. It’s one of those things where you only notice when it’s done poorly, and the only reason I knew to look for it was my previous poor experience on the BMW. Well done, Ducati.
You can probably guess what the blind spot detection (BSD) does. Each rear view mirror has a light which glows when something is in your blind spot on that side, and it will flash if you switch on the turn signal in that direction. The system works as advertised, but I don’t think it’s a big value add. During my ride I thought the warning lights weren’t bright enough during the day and were a little too bright at night (though they are adjustable). My opinion on the BSD was finalized on my way home from the launch whilst on the 2012 model – I was surprised to not see the warning lights the first time I checked my mirrors, and then I promptly forgot all about them until I started writing this review. Even though I’m not too excited about it, the system does work well and it surely will save a small percentage of riders from changing lanes into another vehicle in the future. For those people, the technology will be worth its weight in gold!
$28,995 isn’t a small amount of money to spend on a motorcycle (and that’s before the destination charge and tax), but I’m sure that most Pikes Peak buyers are going to spend plenty more on farkles at their local Ducati dealership.
Personally, I would insist on getting the Touring pack ($1,400 for heated grips, center stand, and plastic side bags, though they force you to pay an extra $175 to color-match the bags slightly), and the race exhaust ($3,200). It’s worth noting that the race exhaust gets you 10 more horsepower and 5 more pound-feet out of the engine, plus it shaves 11 pounds. Most importantly, it fixes my complaint about the muted sound because a bike like this deserves to sound better.
Other notable factory options include an engine guard ($600), carbon fiber rear fender ($400), carbon fiber windscreen ($400), center stand ($300), and for the ultimate Ducati fan, a dry clutch kit ($3,241.05, requires $307.50 modular clutch cover). Spend a couple of minutes with the online configurator and you can easily spec a Multistrada Pikes Peak past $40k.
A big part of dual-sport marketing is trying to sell you on the idea of backcountry adventure – but how many buyers actually see the world and go camping on an ADV motorcycle? If you’re a rider who’ll almost never go off-road and can be honest with yourself about it, then I’m not sure how you can do better than this if you’re willing to swallow the price pill. At this point the only bike I can think of that comes close to competing with the Pikes Peak is the BMW S1000XR, which isn’t as good (but is also roughly $5,000 cheaper when similarly equipped).
It might sound a bit silly at first, but if you are willing to spend almost $26k for the Multistrada V4 S (non Pikes Peak), then the $3,200 bump for the Pikes Peak upgrades is actually quite a bargain when you factor in the wheel, suspension, electronics, and cosmetic upgrades.
Mr. Chinnock calls this the “sportiest dual bike ever.” I disagree – the Pikes Peak isn’t a dual. It’s a superbike disguised as a sports tourer, and it can dice it up with the best of them.
They say you get what you pay for, and with the new Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak you get a hell of a lot. It’s an incredible machine and if the motor hit like a nasty V-Twin it would be one of my favorite motorcycles of all time. Regardless, it handles better than it has any right to, it’s supremely comfortable, and it definitely makes you feel special while you’re on it. I hope every owner of the new V4 Pikes Peak gets the chance to experience it on both the street and the track, because you’ll be seriously missing out if you only use it for street duty.
When it comes to sport-touring with an emphasis on sport, the Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak does a great job carrying on the tradition of the original 2012 model – it’s the new king.