But how the world does change: it’s 2010 and we’re in a new age of motorcycling (crystals and tepees optional), where bikes compete on techno overkill, on race-derived kudos and in niches within niches (“Sir is looking for a V8 two-stroke motocross scooter, with built-in penguin catcher? In pink? — Step this way…“). So it takes a brave manufacturer to launch a machine that seeks to create a niche for itself by filling many niches — aiming to be, if not all things to all riders, then at least many things to most of us. Which is exactly what Ducati has done with their new Multistrada 1200, the machine with which they’re pitching — in part — for a share of the lucrative adventure tourer or ‘tall-rounder’ market, a market created and dominated by BMW (latterly aided and abetted by a couple of under-employed actors) with their GS series. It’s also a market segment that’s growing rapidly and is, in the process, squeezing the ‘traditional’ sports tourer market where Ducati’s now-defunct ST range sat. Their own previous offering in the adventure bike market was the original Multistrada, the tall-rounder they launched in 2003, using Ducati’s venerable 2v air-cooled DesmoDue engine rather than the superbike-derived Testastretta power plant. Very much a ‘Marmite’ machine, it’s a complete hoot to ride but does lack the ultimate power and space for most peoples’ idea of sporty touring.
Thereafter, it was an interminable, kid-at-Christmas, wait for it to turn up — I finally got the call from the good folks at Snell’s at the end of April, at which point I was off to the airport just as fast as my partner could be bribed to drive me. At the other end of my own trains, plane and automobile saga was my Multistrada 1200S Touring, in damply-glistening black, with a few added extras either fitted or en-route: Termignoni exhaust (unnecessary but pretty), electronic filler cap (which makes the keyless ignition make complete sense and should therefore be standard) and extended pannier lids (for those “Imelda Marcos” moments). And if anyone’s idly wondering why I ordered a bike from a dealer 500 miles from where I now live, I’ve always had great service from Snell’s so had promised myself long ago that they’d get my next new bike order, come hell, high water or the Scottish climate (which is actually the first two happening simultaneously).
So what now follows is a real-world view of the bike from the perspective of someone who’s shelled out their own money for it, rides in all weathers and does so both solo and two-up.