Saturday, November 24, 2018
Multistrada 950 Review
Breakfast was being served at home as I started talking to my fantabulous wife about what was going on regarding the bikes in the garage. “I am so bored of this conversation.” She says. “Every time you want a new bike you ask me to justify it for you, and I’m not going to do it anymore… But, if you want one, just go and buy it. I’m glad you want to talk to me, but just tell me what you’re getting with no explanations……please.”
And there we have it; the culmination of the past weeks activities. Allow me to expand. It seems I recently came down with a nasty case of Orange Fever. “No”, it’s not the political or religious type, nor is it the type derived from a crazy obsession with a certain soccer team from The Netherlands.
Am I ok?
Well, yes, I am ok. Thanks for asking, and lucky for me I found the remedy in time, but more of that later.
Alright now we have a decision to make. I really like the 1190 but I need to go away and think about it for a day or two and come back and see if I really like it enough to say arrivederci to the current Monster in my garage. I ride the Monster back home and stop in at the Ducati dealer on the way. A funny thing happens. A quick greeting by the crew upon arrival is followed by a longer conversation with the owner who chats about Iron Butt rides, what I’ve been up to, and where he’s going next. We end up talking about my old Hypermotard and the new one. I didn’t get along with the first water cooled 821 version while owning my 1100 so the opportunity to try the 939SP was welcomed.
These rides are usually accompanied with two riders and bikes heading out. This time we had a Multi 950 dressed up with Enduro rubber (Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR’s) on spoked tubeless rims accompany me on the 939 Hypermotard SP.
While the bikes were being readied another client of theirs was returning on a Monster 1200S along with the dealer rider on a Monster 821.
Hypermotard 939 SP
We headed out with me on the Hypermotard 939 SP following the Multistrada 950. Both bikes have the same motor albeit in slightly different tune, with the Multi having a milder cam and revised fueling. We got onto some residential back roads and the pace got hotter quickly. The lead rider was riding like a gentleman on the Multi and I was doing my absolute best to ride like a hooligan on the Hyper.
I would hold back when I knew we were coming into an interesting section and play catch up through the good bit. After about 10 minutes of me doing this the lead bike pulls over and the kick stand goes down as I pull in behind. I’m thinking he’s had enough of my antics and wants me to calm down a bit, so I’m preparing myself for a telling off when he asks me to do him a favor and ride the Multi back to the shop, so he can get on the Hyper for a while. Alright then, looks like it’s Game On!
He pulls away as I’m getting settled into the seat on the Multi. It takes a second to get acquainted with the LCD dash, so I give chase and to my utter dismay the Multi 950 is actually a better hooligan tool than the Hyper. The Hyper is quick, light, refined with uber good brakes and suspension, but again it’s a bike that seems to be missing the raw edge I’m looking for. The Multi on the other hand has it all, it is just like riding the KTM 1190. You don’t notice you don’t cover that extra 10 feet in the first two seconds that you cover on the KTM because you’re going more than fast enough. It’s an inch shorter so my feet are firmly planted, and you sit ‘in’ the bike whereas you’re ‘on’ the Hyper, and just like the 1190 the bars are wide and in just the right position to enable you to stand up any time you want. The other similarities are the manual fully adjustable suspension, no cruise, no heated grips or seat, no lean angle ABS but basic Traction Control and tubeless spoked wheels wearing street oriented Dual Sport tires. The Multi runs 19inch front and 17inch rear to match its primary function of a road bike. I was having a blast pitching it into tight turns, late braking and getting on the gas while leaning off the bike keeping it upright dirt bike style. It was asking for more, and just like the 1190 it felt like the bike has enough electronic aids to stop you getting into heaps of trouble and let you believe you are capable of reaching the bikes limits. At no time does it get out of hand; the dynamics of the relationship between bike and rider are borne out of the way the bike transmits to the rider what is going on with the tires and suspension through the controls. You have a feeling it will let you know when you’re pushing the limits, where the 1290 and the Hyper made you uncertain how they would react when things got tricky. In short, they felt a bit wooden because of all the safety functions as opposed to the feeling of freedom you get from the slightly less refined packages. For me this was the way I wanted to feel when riding my ‘fun’ bike. I need to feel I can reach the limits of the bikes capabilities before mine, even if I can’t really.
We got back to the shop and I felt great. The other test rider who’d been out on the Monsters earlier was still there, and we chatted about the 950. I told him about the 1190, the 1290, my old Hyper, my previous Multi and how much fun the 950 was. He shook my hand and thanked me for confirming his view. They sold at least, two Silk White Multistrada 950’s with the tubeless spoked wheels at that moment. It was a good day. I no longer had Orange Fever, it was cured by a healthy dose of Porcelain. In summary and in my humble opinion, the 950 Multi really is a better bike than the 1260 Multi. It is the bike the Multi should have been all along. It’s more Ducati than most of the recent crop of bikes to come out of the Italian factory, although they are all excellent bikes in their own right. Do yourself a favor, go ride one!