Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Italy by Multistrada

Family commitments, our rubbish summer and trying to get benzina relaunched in a bigger format has meant riding fewer miles this year than ever before, but I've just had a week in Italy with a Multistrada so mustn't grumble. Renting from Francesco, a Ducati dealer who also manages Motorrent motorcycle hire in Rimini, was surprisingly relaxed and hassle free. An out of season special offer (look under "our supplies" on the website, or just ask) made the fly/ride option much cheaper than riding down, especially as Rimini is 3 or 4 days each way. It also gave me a chance to find out if all the fuss about the Multistrada is justified.

First impressions? Silly seat height, and I'm six foot with a 32" inside leg. Keyless ignition drives you mad. Filling up means fumbling in your pocket for a key, rather than just moving the key from the ignition to the tank cap. Ditto getting camera kit from the top box. Mainly though I was reminded of the guy who's wife dropped him at the airport and only realised hubbie still had the car key when she stopped for fuel. Confession; Dr Girlie Nice-Smile had to run and retrieve the car keys from me after dropping me at the airport.

But quibbles aside, my-oh-my, is the Multi flippin' fast. Francesco had said he'd leave it in Sport mode "Because you will want the full 150bhp at your wrist." Err, no... Nosing into the Rimini rush hour and narrow mountain roads beyond, I felt I'd acclimatise in the nice-and-easy touring mode. But after meeting up with the rest of the group for lunch, most of whom were on Fireblades or GSX-R1000s, I tried Sport mode for an overtake. Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say. High bars meant an unintended wheelie and equally surprised compatriots looking for a lower gear to keep up. It is truly astonishing to have clip-on-and-rear-set power delivered via a touring riding position. Would have happily traded some top-end power for to loose the typical Ducati twin snatchiness at low-rpm, which remains even in low power Urban mode. Funnily enough, a reader has discovered a cure for this that doesn't involve the usual need to spend a grand on Termis, rechipping and other guff. More anon. But in essence the Multistrada 1200 is a great bike, especially on the Rimini to Pesaro Panoramica road (above): but better than the old air-cooled version Sir Al rides in Puglia for the current issue of Benzina? Hmmm... If you're miles are many and usually two-up with luggage, perhaps. I'd rather have the lower weight and much lower running costs and purchase price of the old bike.

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