Ducati Multistrada, the Lemonade Update

Ducati Patch
Credit: Del Campe – Ducati Meccanica

Ok, so we’ve heard from Ducati. Italy.

The word is that despite being (now) 5 months out of warranty, they will honour replacing the parts of both the heated handgrips (~$500) and the rear shock assembly (~$3300). Which is music to my ears.

The unfortunate part is that I still have to foot the labour. I mean I suppose I could technically get the parts and do it myself, or get another mechanic to do it, but essentially the choice is “working bike, pay labour” or “you’re on your own”

What? Oh, how much is the labour and fitting? A “deep breath, figure out which kidney or child to sell,” $675.

Still, I am really happy that they’ve acknowledged the fault, are prepared to replace the parts, and sometime when I get back from my travels, I’ll get my bike back.

Hopefully, rideable.

Yay.

Looking forward to the lemonade from this lemon.

What do you reckon? Is it worth trying to get Ducati to pay for the labour too?

 

Is My Ducati Multistrada A Lemon?

I Love my motorbike. This is the second Ducati Multistrada I've owned.

2010 Ducati Multistrada
Lucia - My First Multistrada

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.

New Machine

2013 Ducati Multistrada
My First Ever Set Of Brand New Wheels

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.

Other Issues

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.

Sigh.

Lemon?

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?

Great Service

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 Roaring Tiger – Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200

If the BMW R1200GS is the “Hummer” of bikes, and the Ducati Multistrada the “Porsche Cayenne,” then the Tiger Explorer must surely be the “Landrover.” It's not the Range Rover with a million modcons, but it certainly has it where it counts.

I picked the bike up in the pouring rain, and immediately the solid feel inspired confidence. Within a block of the bike shop I rode over a couple of wet metal plates (a little wee may've come out) and two blocks later I was on the 280 South with cars passing me at 70mph.

The triple cylinder doesn't quite have the torque of the boxer, or v-twin, but is no slouch either. From a pure “fizz” perspective I'd place this between the “sedate solidity” of the GS, and the “licence eating” thrill of the Multi. The throttle is certainly more responsive than the German bike, but slower getting to speed than the Italian. It is both fun, and confidence inspiring.

You don't get anywhere near the gizmo's of those other bikes. This is very functional. Like the GS, an analoque tachometer, with digital everything else. Speed, gear, fuel, range, and economy. That's it. But that's enough.

The dash and windshield are set far forward very much like the GS, although here the windshield isn't adjustable. This puts a bunch of turbulent air right on my brow. I found using the peak with goggles on my Explore-R helmet resolves this. There's something about peak helmets that seems to smooth airflow at speed.

Talking about speed, on the highway this bike really shines. Solid but not cumbersome. In 6th, fully loaded with luggage, a blip on the throttle accelerates from 70 mph (110 kph) to overtake pretty much anything.

I found the brakes take late. Much later than the Multi. There's seemingly nothing for-ev-er, and then you're suddenly stopped with your heart in your mouth. It takes a little getting used to, giving a LOT of pressure through the lever up front. Although at least you do have a good back brake. Possibly the best I've experienced on a bike. Riding in the rain for the last two days means I've been riding speeds that really don't need a lot of brake.

The seat-to-peg height is shorter than expected, and that combined with un-electronically adjustable shock absorption gave me a numb bum after about 2 or so hours in the saddle. Nothing that wouldn't be cured with a little adjusting, and a lot more riding.

All in all this is a great bike, and an affordable compromise to the Multistrada and GS. If you're crossing continents, you'd do a lot worse than getting one of these.