The adventure touring class is growing faster than the population of India of. Have you seen the explosion of adventure touring motorcycles in India? You can get one for as little as a couple of lakh or at the other end of that spectrum you could get one for ten times that amount. And there’s something for every budget, in between. The moot point being that this season has been all about adventure touring in India and from the looks of it, this format of leisure motorcycling is here to stay.
To cash in on this phenomenon the world over, manufacturers are not only offering adventure touring motorcycles but also variants of the same ADVs as they are called, to cater to the requirements of different kinds of riders. For those who prefer tarmac and its predictability there are bikes that look like they’re ready to tackle any off-road section but in reality are as much of an SUV as any average crossover you can find on the road. So you can ride on a few trails here and there before you gladly get your rubber back on black top. There are however, a few who prefer a bit more adventure when indulging in touring and like riding off-road. For them, there are bikes like the one I’m riding today. Say hello to the Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro. The answer to all those who wanted the old 1200 Enduro but didn’t know where to look, once Ducati decided to not to make it anymore.
Bigger but not a bully
One of the things that would put off many a rider from getting astride the 1200 Enduro were its huge proportions. Ducati must have realised that it was losing out on potential owners, for the 1260 is 10mm lower with a saddle height of 860mm. The handlebar and foot pegs too are lower than before, by 30 and 10mm respectively. The lowering of these latter two would be to help retain the brilliant riding position that people love on the Multi. So for a rider of my height, I’m around 5’10” this bike feels perfect. It’s only on slopes or inclines that you feel the height of the bike somewhat. The other thing that helps remove the perception of being intimidating, albeit mostly at a psychological level, is the fact that despite having a bigger engine the 1260 Enduro weighs the same as the 1200.
So a bully, this big bike sure ain’t. But that’s not what makes this bike special. What makes it special is that XDiavel derived 1.3-litre L-twin. Now you can argue that for 60 extra cee cees you only get 4 extra horses, making 156bhp at the crank, but the game really is about increasing torque and tractability. And at this game, the 1260’s motor might be able to make mincemeat of its rivals, for up to 85 per cent of its peak 128Nm is available from just 3,500rpm. At 4,000rpm you can access more torque on the Multistrada 1260 than on any of its class rivals. How’s that for upping the ante? Cruising on the highways or even pottering through a busy town is a piece of cake.
Whether it’s back home in India or here in gorgeous Tuscany where we’ve come to sample the Multistrada 1260 Enduro. This wide spread of torque also enhances the impression of being unintimidating because it makes the 1260 easier to ride than the 1200. The delivery is linear and that amazing tractability means you don’t have to work too hard to get up to speed.
The other thing about linearity and tractability is that the power, when it comes in doesn’t do so suddenly and catch you unawares. It is strong and relentless but predictable. Which is great. Especially off the safety and predictability of black top, where even the most minute of throttle inputs have a huge impact on the bike’s behaviour.
The road show
A bunch of twisties along the mountains and some straights totalling about 120km was what constituted our road ride. In spite of its off-road focus, the 1260 Enduro stays true to its many road genes and feels quite at home. The bike is beautifully balanced and as soon as you’ve crossed 10-15kmph you’ll forget about its 254-kilo kerb weight. Thanks to that torque and tractability, you have an enormous amount of drive from the motor all through and getting up to 200kmph in just the third of its six cogs is child’s play. Should the revs fall to 1500, again no problem. The torque will do the talking and bail you out. It’s a peach that motor. It really is.
And then there’s the handling. Boy, she’s a sweet handler. The rake at 25 degrees, remains as sharp as it ever was but the wheelbase is longer. The result is agility without giving up on stability. Be it on straights or through the middle of the corners in the Tuscan mountains, the 1260 Enduro felt rock solid. No give at all. Comfortable and confidence inspiring the 1260 Enduro feels superb every kilometre of the way. In fact, even when I screwed up my line on a couple of corners, she was forgiving enough to allow me some leeway. And that cornering ABS works like a charm when you have to haul on the stoppers after you’ve tipped her in.
Black to brown
The real game however begins when black top gives way to brown top. Team Ducati took us on a 60km trail ride and what a ride it turned out to be. Even for Tarmac Tom me. The bikes we were riding had been shod with optional Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres, which are as good off-road as they are on road.
The Ducati Multistrada 1260 S and the BMW R 1200 GS are ADV’s for the road and everything else – Read about them here
In Enduro mode, which is off-road mode in Ducati-speak, with the TC off, sliding the rear on the gravelly bits turned out to be a joy. Especially with that boat load of torque available on twist. For an off-road noob like me, the knowledge that there is a huge electronic safety net to catch me if I goof up also gave me the confidence to push harder than I would have. And that riding posture is not just brilliant for road riding but also makes it super easy to stand up and ride when the going gets rough, as I was beginning to find out. Also, in spite of 15mm less travel on the suspension, the set up is pliant enough to absorb the inevitable shocks of off-road riding.
More than anything else, it is the ease with which this Ducati helps you make the transition from being a road riding enthusiast to an off-road enthusiast that stands out. That’s what makes this bike so special. Before the Multistrada 1260 I never thought I’d enjoy off-road or trail riding as much as I did riding on the road or on a race track. Yet, here I am, extolling the virtues of this bike off the road.
Bites as well as it barks
The Multistrada gets lovely Brembo stoppers that will help you stop on a dime if you have to. There’s plenty of progression and great bite, which makes them perfect for use in India. And I can’t stop talking about how good that cornering ABS really is.
It would be wrong to write a review about an Italian machine without once mentioning its looks. Now all of you are familiar with the Multistrada and not much more can be said about its silhouette than you can already see. But the fact is that this machine, it calls out to me. There’s something about the way that the Italians design their Multistradas that makes them more appealing than your average adventure tourer. That slash of flair on their styling is unmistakable and oh-so-desirable. It makes you want one even if you don’t know how to ride. Besides, if you’re a techno geek then you definitely want this bike. There’s enough tech wizardry here to keep a bunch of nerds happily occupied for a day. Or maybe even two.
Honestly, this is the difficult bit. On its own this is a great product and I wouldn’t have thought twice about recommending it. But then there’s the price. The Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro hasn’t been launched here but expect pricing to be in the region of Rs 18.5 to Rs 19 lakh. We’re of course speculating on the basis of the price of the 1200 Enduro that carried a sticker of Rs 17.99 lakh, ex-showroom. If Ducati prices the Multi at that point then it wouldn’t be great value for money given that the Triumph Tiger 1200 would be cheaper to buy.
Yet, given the price of the BMW R 1200 GS, the Ducati wouldn’t be very expensive either. In fact, it would be par for the course. What it will also be is a very interesting purchase proposition that you simply will not be able to ignore if you’re looking for an adventure bike that will do a fair amount of off-road riding too.