A new adventure: Discovering the many personalities of the Multistrada 950


Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Multistrada 950 on first approach. It’s tall, wide, sky-high, and more than a little intimidating. This was also my first experience with a adventure motorcycle and I was filled with more questions than answers as I grabbed the keys and fired it up for the first time. Despite my trepidation, I was excited to explore the 950’s varied personalities and learn what it was all about.

Mills1

What exactly is the Multistrada 950? What Ducati will tell you this bike decidedly is not is a “base” Multistrada. It’s built on the same basic architecture as the more powerful Multistrada 1200, but the 950 is all new for 2017 and is designed to be a more approachable motorcycle than its big brother. Multi’s have always been comfortable, versatile, and engaging machines with more of an adventure/touring bent than any other bikes in Ducati’s lineup. To be successful, the 950 needs to embody that versatility as well as replace the quirky touring/sport hybrid Hyperstrada that was recently phased out. A tall order for a new branch on the family tree.

What’s it like as a sport bike? While the 950 might not seem particularly sporty, it’s actually a blast to ride. It shares the same v-twin engine found in the new Supersport and Hypermotard 939, and develops 113 horsepower and 71 pound-feet of torque. The engine is a gem and delivers smooth and entertaining power through the entire rev range.

One thing I definitely didn’t expect the 950 to do was woo me with its exhaust note. Up to 5,000 rpm, the sound is all angry v-twin growl. Stay on it, and the 950’s lungs fill with a hollow howling akin to a bucket of chainsaws dropping into a black hole.

I found myself repeatedly banging down a gear and jumping on the throttle just to hear it. It’s marvelous.

Mills2

The big Brembo brakes are strong and progressive and are accompanied by a suite of electronics including ABS and four rider modes (Sport, Touring, Urban, Enduro). Each mode adjusts power output, traction control, and ABS severity and are completely customizable. Verdict: No shortage of Ducati DNA here.

As an adventure machine? The 950 isn’t a pure adventure bike, but its off-road street cred is boosted by a large 19-inch front wheel. As the mountain bike enthusiasts in the audience well know, bigger wheels make rolling over obstacles easier. And, when paired with Ducati’s ‘Enduro’ package – brighter LED lights, engine and radiator guards, sturdier foot pegs, larger side stand – the 950 reveals itself as a perfectly capable off-roader. Verdict: Bring on the dirt.

As a daily rider? Despite its size, the 950 would make a fantastic daily rider. Its imposing stature provides a sense of security and command of the road, the dash is incredibly easy to read, and it was deeply rewarding to ride, even in traffic.

Dash

Steering inputs elicit direct and honest responses and the 950 remains surefooted when things get spirited. While the high center of gravity took a bit of getting used to, especially when tipping it into a slower corner for the first time, the large handle bar and loads of steering lock allow for agility that beguiles the 950s size. Verdict: This big girl can dance.

As a long-distance cruiser? One of my first thoughts as I plunked down into the saddle is how terrific this bike would be for gobbling up miles. It has great ergonomics, a big 5.3 gallon fuel tank, respectable fuel economy, and ample luggage options.

Probably my favorite feature is the adjustable windscreen. A simple pinch and pull mechanism extends the screen a few more inches for even more wind protection. Fully extended, the screen deflected air up over my helmet with just the smallest amount of turbulence whirling around the top of my head. Verdict: Your sit bones are the weakest link.

Any negatives? As for criticisms, I have but a few. Gearing in sixth seemed rather short: at highway speeds, the engine was wound up to higher rpms than I was expecting and was totally comfortable. Also, a heavy handful of brake causes significant dive from the front end. Fortunately, that can be mostly sorted out thanks to the Multi’s adjustable suspension.

Those things aside, what I came to understand about the 950 is that it’s a skilled wielder of its many talents. It is equal parts capable sport bike, fun adventure machine, willing daily driver, and comfortable long-distance cruiser. As my miles on it rolled by, it proved itself a worthy member of the Multistrada family.

Lake

Many thanks and much respect to Seacoast Sport Cycle in Derry, NH for the opportunity to ride and review this bike. SSC is a full-service dealer with incredibly knowledgeable staff and a wide array of motorcycles and gear to choose from.

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