It was way back in August that I saw one of the new 2015 DVT (Ducati Variable Timing) Multistrada’s ‘in the wild’ and blogged about the differences. But it has taken until now for me to get to ride one.
Thanks to the great sales team at Frasers, when the service department was out of loan bikes, they lent me a base model Multi.
What a Ride!
The seat is narrower on the new bike. I had no idea just how much narrower until the knobbles in my knees were banging against the trellis frame. Also both calves get hot in traffic, especially the left. It appears the radiator fan blows directly onto your legs.
The suspension is everything my 2010 Multi was, and so much more. Definitely better than my current bike (hopefully that’s an anomaly). Really confident in the corners in all modes.
If anything this bike is smoother again than the previous model. The 2013 introduced dual-spark cylinders to smooth out the ride in low revs, and I’m guessing the DVT does the rest here. Essentially altering the timing of the desmo engine through the rev range.
I found the new controls, menus and dash confusing. It seems some of the telemetry of the previous models is missing, but that could be unfamiliarity with the new menu, and that this is a base model.
Interestingly they’ve removed the ‘centre stand assist handle.’ Probably saving on a moving part that few people used.
Worth the Upgrade?
All in all, I loved the ride. If my suspension is a reflection of the 2013 model (rather than a failure) then this alone would be worth the upgrade. If, however, my suspension is improved through the fix, this wouldn’t be worth upgrading to.
I Love my motorbike. This is the second Ducati Multistrada I've owned.
The first was an ex-demo 2010 model. The first of the new Multistrada models, and it was my dream bike. A sporty 150bhp Adventure Tourer. Expensive sure, but the perfect bike for a versatilist like myself who:
Commutes daily through city congestion and on motorways
Rides day trips weekly through the twisties in our area
Tours quarterly with 1000 – 2500km week-ends
Occasionally heads off-road onto graded fire trails
At <200kg dry weight the Multi is light and nimble enough to navigate the most congested streets. Pop a pillion on the back, load the panniers, and you comfortably cross a continent on this bike.
It is referred to as the first comfortable Ducati. And my first one, the Touring S, indeed saw me in the saddle for many long days with no discomfort at all. I've ridden many km's on many bikes, and none compared to Lucia, my 2010 Multistrada.
Then 2 years ago I traded up for the 2014 model with 'skyhook' suspension, although I picked mine up in December 2013. Again a Touring S, I couldn't quite justify the Gran Tourismo at the time.
Whilst I do love the bike, to the tune of 30,000 km's so far, I've never been a fan of the suspension. No matter the setting (set on the fly electronically). I find the pre-load too soft, this is the first bike that bottoms out at the end of my drive; and the rebound too hard. On the 2010 I could do a day of riding, on the 2013 my ass is sore after 90 minutes.
I've mentioned this concern at every service, the 1k 'run-in', the 12k 'minor,' and the 24k 'major.' At the minor service they even took off the saddle to allow me to hear the hydralic pump working when changing settings to set my mind at ease. On the 2010 setting to a higher pre-load would lift you in the saddle. On this bike it doesn't do anything.
Is It Just A Feeling?
One of the challenges with bike suspension is how subjective it is. The fact that I 'feel' it's not as good as my previous bike could be for any number of reasons. Even so I could never shake the feeling. And I've never been as confident in corners on this machine.
There are other symptoms that add to this general unease: The bottoming out and sore ass syndrome I mentioned before. The occasional scraping of my boot when going around a roundabout.
Over the last four months this has increased, to the point where the bike feels 'squirrelly' in the corners. It feels like the rear tyre is flat and the rear end wants to slide out, although the wheels don't lose traction. This is serious enough for me to check tyre pressures at every fill.
At about 20k the fuel sensor started failing intermittently. I had this replaced at the 24k service.
About a month ago I noticed the Handle Grip Heaters weren't working. Of course this is something you'd only notice in cold weather, which we haven't had a lot of this summer 🙂
Then last week the Traction Control Sensor started failing, again intermittently. Then permanently. Then the ABS and speed sensors began failing intermittently too
Get It Fixed
As I'm about to head to Brisbane with my mate Justin (he's moving, I'm riding shotgun), I took it into my dealer of choice, Fraser Motorcycles, to repair the sensors. It's just not a good idea to start a 2500km week-end without knowing whether the bike is going slide in a corner, or stop when you need it.
Turns out it was a broken wire in the ABS harness, a relatively easy, if somewhat expensive, fix.
I asked them to look at the suspension again, mentioning that my analysis is hardly scientific, but the bike just doesn't feel right. It certainly doesn't feel like the $28k super machine it's made out and reviewed to be.
And it turns out, I'm right. Apparently there's a “failure in the rear shock assembly.”
No I don't know what that means. Is it the electronic 'Skyhook' computer? The hydraulic pump? The shock itself? The linkages? Can it be fixed with components, or do they have to replace the whole rear shock system? Is it dangerous or just uncomfortable? Will I be damaging the bike if I continue with this, or is there a default mode that essentially protects the chain, swingarm, and tyres?
If it is the whole rear shock assembly, that's $3300 for the parts before fitting (and before investigation) And the parts are in Italy, so weeks away at best.
And the bike is 4 months out of its 2 year warranty.
So has this been a problem from the first day? Is this particular Multistrada a lemon? If so, what are my options to get this repaired at manufacturers cost even though I'm beyond the warranty period?
To their credit, Frasers have been really good. They've submitted a Warranty Repair Request, which hopefully Ducati will honour. And they loaned me a demo Multistrada – a new DVT model.
Which is awesome.
Here's hoping my bike will become the machine it was always intended to be.
The promise of commoditised Augmented Reality is nigh. Everywhere you look there are AR applications, AR glasses, and if you're a motorcyclist like me, there's the promise of the AR Helmet. Even here in Australia we have a great AR Helmet start-up Forcite Helmets, whom currently produce smart helmets for action sports.
But all the current helmets are doing is shifting the location of information closer to the eye. However, all this does is reduce latency. And for the price, not very much. A Skully AR-1 for U$1500, or the IC-R [price TBA] helmet allows you to save the half-second it takes to look at your speedo, or rearview mirrors.
Of course their argument is “How much is your life (or licence) worth?” If that half-second saves you from being rear ended, it's probably money well spent.
Does this go far enough?
Why limit yourself to the constraints of old technology: The speedometer or rearview mirror.
As someone who rides 20k – 25k km's (12k – 16k miles) per year, I change my helmet roughly every 2 years. Sometimes more regularly. I know that many people only change every 10 years, but they probably don't do the same mileage as me.
At that cadence the cost isn't worth simply replacing old tech with a digital proxy. It's hard enough justifying $500 for a lid never mind $1500. Especially when that digital proxy is limited by battery life. I often ride for 6 hours or more. Even when commuting at home it's annoying when my BT headset goes flat on the way to work because I hadn't charged it for a week. Imagine that was my rear vision capability?
So what features would be worth the cost?
Actual Safety Requirements
The most common motorbike accident is the SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You). This is where someone pulls out from a side road in front of an oncoming bike. Also where people cut you up in traffic. They change lanes and simply didn't see you. Hence the name.
The second most common is attributed to 'Single Vehicle Accidents.' Essentially coming in too hot on a corner. There are probably more occasions of other vehicles contributing to these, I've often come around the corner to face a car or truck on the wrong side of the road.
Nevertheless both of these most common accidents require forewarning far more than rear vision. (It helps to know where things are behind you so you can manoeuvre though)
Imagine being able to 'see' in infrared as well as the visible spectrum? So you could 'see' the engine heat of a vehicle at a hidden road junction. Imagine the bike had LIDAR, so it could warn of impending motion.
Imagine that LIDAR 'saw' in 360 and informed you perhaps via a 3D soundscape. That would add to my mirrors rather than replace them. So I could 'hear' the proximity of cars around me, or through haptic acuators, 'feel' them.
Imagine that you could have the ideal line tracking on your NED (Near Eye Display) in green, changing to amber then red if you're riding too fast for road conditions. As well as the upcoming map. Like on Forza Motorsport
Imagine this system able to 'look' around corners. Made more intelligent with the combined insight of current weather, traffic, roadworks, and the history of every bike that had ever ridden that road.
Now that would be a helmet system worth spending the money on.
We all know that electric, self-driving cars, not to mention VR & AR will reduce congestion, road wear and tear, parking contention, and carbon emissions. But until then the best solution for a city are those who ride a motorbike.
Actually this picture is of a protest ride. And consider if everyone of those bikes were individuals in a car. The road would look more like this:
That is the I405 outside LA, but could be a motorway in any major city: Shanghai, Brussels, London, NYC, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Bangkok. We really don’t have a traffic problem in Australia.