Five small things you'll love about the 2018 Ducati Multistrada and three things you won't!
The 2018 Ducati Multistrada is considered an upgrade to the 1200 - think of it as a face lift. But the truth is that Ducati has made significant changes that add up to a more mature motorcycle that is both more versatile and more useable. It's almost easy to forget that at 160PS and with a flatter, higher torque curve, this is also a notably faster Multistrada. But all that's been covered in a separate detailed 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S first ride review already. This story is about the smaller details that you will like, or not.
In silhouette, the 2018 Ducati Multistradas 1260 S looks the same but the wheelbase is significantly longer and the steering geometry is slightly lazier
The little updates
On the handlebar in front of you, Ducati has made two small changes which I rather liked. First, the cast aluminium stalks of the mirrors are now finished in a textured grey that looks a lot classier than the simple matte black of the old one.
The cockpit looks virtually identical to the 2017 Ducati. But the first giveaway that this is a 2018 are grey mirror stalks. And there's no mistaking the high-reach notably brighter new TFT screen once you turn the bike on
And just forward of those are the hydraulic fluid reservoirs for the clutch and front brake which are made of clearer plastic that makes it easy to see the level.
The adjustable screen
The 1200's screen is visually and in dimension, identical to the 1260 but it's better. The 1200 was known to have a rattle that you'd have to tackle with superglue - see the forums. Gone. I failed to rattle the 1260 entirely. In the process though, the mechanism to lift or lower the screen seems to have become much, much lighter and that means I used it often. Full height for the fast highway bursts, and lowest height for the smaller, twisty bits.
New keyless ignition
Ducati has made the new keyless ignition system more powerful by upgrading the antenna. Sometimes, you get a needless 'No Key' error on the 1200 because, say, you have the key in the left pocket and there's a tank bag full of electronics interrupting the signal. Ducati has also updated the security protocols to deter thieves.
The 2018 Ducati Multistrada boasts new graphics and menus that make it easier to navigate the menus - and there's a fair few given how adjustable the motorcycle is overall.
The nice touch is a small key logo on the left dash surround that gives you something to aim the key at if you need to. Oh and there's also the slick new key fob.
The seat fit and finish
The Ducati system of adding and removing a small plate from the pillion and rider seats to adjust seat height is a good one. But on the 1200 it produced the worst panel gaps of all. You grew used to it but it lagged behind the rest of the bike. The new seat design solves this and the lines looks a lot cleaner.
The 2018 Ducati S seats are new with extra attention being paid to the fit and finish of the plastic elements that are screwed in or taken off to permit two levels of seat height adjustment (840 and 825mm). A 815mm seat is an optional accessory
Future riding mode selections
Sometimes, you selected a new riding mode but couldn't close the throttle or release the brake on the 1200 - you were busy. In these situations, the Ducati would timeout your selection and retain the current riding mode. The 1260 removes the time limit so that you arrive in your new mode selection whenever you can close the gas and release the brakes.
The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S uses the same brilliant LED headlights with a cornering light function. The base model, though, doesn't get the LED head lights.
The new app
Ducati will release the new Ducati Link app in February which will supersede the current Multistrada Link app. In the app is a cool function that allows you to play with the settings of the motorcycle - the suspension for example - at home. When you reconnect the app to the bike, the app will transfer you settings to the bike. For a bike with this much flexibility in setup, this sounds like a great idea. The app is in beta so confirmations will come in time.
The new side panels
Because Ducati has only updated the carrier plate and the outer side panel on the 2018 model, it means that older Ducati owners have the opportunity to update the looks of their old 2015-2017 models if they're willing to spend a little bit of cash. This always helps - even if you don't ever make the update.
The 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S rear footpegs have a small damper but are still the source of the biggest rattle. Note the plastic Givi-made panniers, an optional accessory. They mount to slots in the rear subframe and rest on a black metal stay with a rubber damper that is mounted behind the passer peg subframe. They're solid mounted in feel and open and close with the bike key
The passenger pegs
If you read the long term updates on my 2016 Multistrada 1200 S you will see complaints of a rattle. The solvable one was the screen. The other one is the passenger footpeg. They lock loosely into place whether deployed or retracted and that means the Ducati clatters over the bumps and on bad roads.
The white 2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260 S and the grey one get the 300g lighter new cast alloy wheels in this fetching dull gold colour. The red comes with black as before. The Pikes Peak gets forged alloy wheels that are lighter still
Unfortunately, while Ducati has added a thin damper to the new pegs, it isn't enough. Our hotel's cobblestone driveway had the 1260s clattering away.
No 24-hour clock!
I'm very obsessive about punctuality and precision and all my watches and clocks are set to the HH:MM format with no AM/PM suffixery. Except for the Multistrada's dash, that is. The 1260 does nothing to change this!
Starts Rs 15,38,000
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