Ducati Multistrada 950


2017 Ducati Multistrada 950

Ever since its complete revamp in 2010, Multistrada 1200 has become one of the most unique and arguably desirable motorcycles there is. For 2017, finally, a more affordable version is offered, the all-new Ducati Multistrada 950. 

Any reasonably minded buyer expects that paying less means getting less. The big question is how much less? Sometimes so much has been taken that what’s left just doesn’t do justice to the original product. What’s left, then, becomes nothing more than a cheap version of the original. 

Not so with the Ducati Multistrada 950, on the contrary. Based on the very desirable Multistrada 1200, the new 950 is by no means less interesting. Yes, it does have less equipment and power than the 1200. However, the 1200 had a lot of equipment and power. Some would say —and I would agree— enough to spare. What this means is while the 950 has «less» than the 1200, it still has plenty. And at $15,295 it’s also considerably less expensive than the $19,395 base 1200, let alone the $21,395 1200 S and $22,595 1200 Enduro. Actually, at about $15k, the MS950 finds itself in a very interesting spot as it’s similarly priced as Honda’s Africa Twin and KTM’s new 1090 Adventure R. Both these bikes have a more focused off-road nature, but to many buyers, the Multistrada 950 is still the same general type of motorcycle, so they will consider it, which might not have happened with the more expensive 1200. 

The 950 essentially offers the same package in terms of ergonomics and proportions as the 1200. The new bike is somewhat lighter, by about a dozen kilos fully fueled. Interestingly, the 950 has a 19-inch front wheel rather than the 1200’s 17-inch, so steering requires only marginally less effort on the smaller displacement model. All in all, the 950 feels and handles very much like the base 1200. There’s no electronically adjustable or semi-active suspension, but both the shock and the fork are manually fully adjustable and provide a great ride. Comfort remains good over bad pavement and on twisty roads, handling is great even at a sporty pace. It’s one of those well sorted out «do-it-all» types of settings that just work in the real world, whatever the conditions. 

And although the off-road scenery was magic in Fuerteventura (one of the Canary Islands) we didn’t ride the MS 950 in the dirt. That was unfortunate. Not only do I think it would have been OK for light off-road duty, mostly because of its compliant suspension and 19-inch front wheel, but also —and I’m pretty sure of this— that it would have been better at it than the sportier 1200 and its 17-inch front wheel. Maybe this explains best how I see the 950 : I do not consider the Multistrada 1200 a true adventure model, but rather a crossover type of bike, like Kawasaki’s Versys. I do, however, see the Multistrada 950 as belonging to the adventure class. It’s a nuance, but an important one nonetheless that should make it clearer to potential buyers the type of motorcycle they should expect.

Performance is clearly where the biggest difference exists between the 950 and the 1200. Horsepower and torque come down from 160 hp and 100 lb-ft to 113 hb and 71 lb-ft, which is clearly a substantial drop. That being said, even for a demanding rider, the Ducati Multistrada 950 remains plenty fast and fun. On the 950, throttle pinned and V-Twin screaming, going through the gears is an intense yet still accessible and smile-generating —if somewhat buzzy from mid-revs to redline— experience. The same exercise on the 1200 doesn’t quite generate a superbike-type of acceleration, but still, a seriously ferocious one. Horsepower junkies will want the 1200, but if 15 grand sounds like a much better number to them than 20 grand, the 950 will remain very much acceptable in terms of performance. To anyone else, the new Multistrada 950 is simply a Multi —a real one every bit as competent and versatile as the 1200— they can finally afford. 

Sidebar : The new Ducati Multistrada 950 is built from a mix of Multistrada 1200, 1200 Enduro and new parts and powered by an excellent 113 hp 937 cc V-Twin. To get the price down by about $4000 compared to the base 1200, fancy items like the single-sided swingarm and equipment like cruise control have been dropped. Really, though, not much of it is missed as handling is great, the engine peppy and comfort high. Four riding modes are standard, as is the Ducati Safety Pack (traction control and ABS). Many accessories including hard bags with 56 liters of total volume, low and high seats, and protection bars are offered.