The new Multistrada revealed at the EICMA show in Milan might be the most sophisticated and advanced bike in Ducati’s lineup. Styling has been revised with new graphics, but that pales in comparison to the significant evolutionary changes that have taken place with its Testastretta engine. That’s right; the new Multistrada is the first Ducati with latest evolution of the Testastretta 1,198 V-twin, which now features the revolutionary Desmodromic Variable Timing (DVT) in combination with dual-spark ignition and secondary air bleed. This bumps claimed horsepower from 150 hp at 9,250 rpm to 160 at 9,500, and claimed peak torque has increased from 91.8 pound-feet at 7,500 rpm to 100.3 at the same rpm. Simply put, there is no comparison between old and new engines. The new Testastretta 1,198 DVT powerplant has a much broader power curve starting as low as 2,000 rpm. The superior performance is also related to upgraded electronics. Ducati’s new electronics suite includes the Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU), which has all features from before (traction control, ABS, 4-mode ride-by-wire) plus wheelie control. It also manages the latest Ducati Skyhook suspension, which is standard on the Multistrada S. This electronically managed semi-active suspension, by Sachs, features an inverted 48mm fork and a single shock. The IMU also manages the latest Bosch Cornering ABS, which prevents the Brembo brakes from locking a wheel even when well leaned over.
Ducati’s base Multistrada has a non-adjustable 48mm inverted fork, plus a pair of 320mm front brake rotors by Brembo. The Multistrada S, with its electronically managed semi-active fork, gets 330mm front brake rotors and the latest Brembo M50 calipers. Of note, the S also has a full-color TFT dash, and the load settings of the Skyhook suspension are adjustable at rest or on the fly, as are the 4 riding modes: Sport, Touring, Urban, Enduro. The new Multistrada S ($ 19,695) also benefits from a new full-LED headlight with corner-lighting technology. Additional peripheral lighting for the Multistrada S is available via a switch near the left grip that actuates 2 additional lights. All Multistradas roll on 17-inch wheels shod with the latest Pirelli Scorpion Trail II, in 120/70-17 front and 190/55-17 rear sizes. In Europe, Ducati will continue to offer the Multistrada S D/Air model, which features a wireless connection to the airbag-equipped Ducati D/Air riding apparel by Dainese. If you’re one of those folks who plans to occasionally venture off road on your Multistrada, the Enduro Pack accessory includes engine crashbars, a radiator guard, an extended skid plate, auxiliary LED lights, and off-road footpegs.
DVT 101 Ducati’s Testastretta engine has benefited from twin-spark ignition and the development of the 11° version. That refers to the amount of valve overlap in crankshaft degrees. Overlap is that period when the inlet valves are open and the exhausts haven’t closed. This overlap exploits the depression created in the cylinder by the scavenging effect of the spent gases rushing out through the exhaust port. Via fluid dynamics inertia, the volumetric efficiency of the engine is pushed past 1:1. In other words, the inhaled charge exceeds the swept volume of the cylinder. Problem is, at low rpm, the scavenging effect is marginal, so little or no benefit at all comes from the overlap phase. Since the timing remains unchanged, there is more time for the fresh charge to be jettisoned through the exhaust, and the low flow speed does not create the correct turbulence in the compressed charge. Consequently, combustion is far from optimal. To address this, Ducati has developed a full variable valve-timing system for the 11° Testastrettra engine, the first of its kind applied to a motorcycle engine or any powerplant with desmodromically operated valves. Mechanically, the Desmo Variable Timing (DVT) system consists of an external housing rigidly connected to the cam belt pulley, plus an internal mechanism connected to the camshaft that rotates independently inside the housing. This rotation of the internal mechanism of each camshaft—advance or retard—is precisely managed by electronically controlled valves that modulate oil pressure on either side of a 3-vane rotor sealed inside the chamber of the mechanism and solid with the internal mechanism of the camshaft. The timing of each cam is dynamically controlled by a sensor located in the cam covers and continuously modulated based on factors sensed by the ECU, with engine rpm and throttle position most important. More significant is its effect. According to Ducati, the new 1,198 DVT twin generates 100 pound-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm and 160 hp at 9,500. The torque curve is very broad, with 59 pound-feet on tap at just 3,500 rpm. Compared to a standard 11° engine, the DVT version has 15 percent more torque, with improved combustion stability and smoothness, increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. Exact timing numbers haven’t been released, but the variation is likely in the range of about 30 degrees, starting with “negative” overlap at lower rpm. By this, I mean no overlap at all but rather a delay between the closing of the exhaust valves and the opening of the inlets. This means no fresh charge goes out the exhaust, combustion is improved at low rpm, and there’s no more “Ducati shudder” when opening the throttle below 3,000 rpm. DVT is revolutionary because overlap is crucial in achieving higher performance. It’s no longer the old “torque versus power” quarrel; now it’s torque and power, with superior efficiency.
|BY THE NUMBERS|
|;||2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200|
|BASE PRICE||$ 17,695|
|CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT||511 lb.|
|CLAIMED HORSEPOWER||160 hp @ 9,500 rpm|
|CLAIMED TORQUE||100.3 lb.-ft. @ 7,500 rpm|