Ducati's latest offering, the 2024 Multistrada V4 S Grand Tour, builds upon the success of previous Multistradas by incorporating a wide range of factory touring accessories and making them standard features on the GT.
This iteration also borrows technology and components from the excellent Multistrada Rally, including a Rally-style direct-mount handlebar setup, improved engine-heat shields, adjustable cooling air scoops and enhanced pillion comfort courtesy of a Rally pillion seat.
The Grand Tour boasts a long and impressive spec sheet, featuring Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Blind Spot Detection (BSD); practical additions like a centre stand and a smart lowering system that allows the rider to reduce spring preload and reduce the seat height at low speeds or when stationary.
Ducati describes the Grand Tour as "the most complete Multistrada ever" for long-distance travellers seeking maximum comfort and safety. The package includes 60-litre side cases and comes with a unique livery, all at a price of $28,395, which makes it more affordable than a comparably equipped V4 S.
It was a huge change in 2021 when Ducati launched the new Multistrada V4. The talking point was its Granturismo motor, a new Panigale-derived V4 to replace the much-loved V-twin, with a counter-rotating crank and spring-operated valves, rather than the traditional Desmodromic actuation.
Outraged Ducatisti initially threatened to storm the Bologna castle, but soon came around to the idea of a non-Desmo Ducati once they'd sampled the V4's smooth delivery. Its 168bhp/170hp/125kw at10,500rpm and 92lbft/125Nm of torque at 8750rpm were inarguably superior. Super-wide service intervals of 36,000 miles (60,000km) between valve clearances simply sealed the deal.
Those who loved the old V-twin couldn’t argue with the easy-revving versatility of the new Granturismo V4. Furthermore, while it may have been a couple of centimetres wider than the twin, it was somehow alsolighter by 1.2kg, as well as shorter and lower, too. Win, win, win.
The Grand Tour uses the same spec engine as the Multistrada V4 S. It is versatile and powerful, with four riding modes – Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro – which brilliantly adapt and configure the bike's power modes and rider aids to suit the moment.
Ducati wanted us to experience the new Grand Tour in its element, which meant two long days of sporty touring with its integrated panniers stuffed with enough kit for an overnight stay near Imola in northern Italy.
First up was a long haul on the fast and furious autostrada, and with the now-standard Adaptive Cruise Control engaged and the Blind Spot Detection working overtime (an LED light on each mirror clearly illuminates when aggressively driven cars are storming up fast on either side), it was a ridiculously undemanding ride. As the miles slipped by under the GT's Pirelli Scorpion Trail II-shod wheels, I just sat there and enjoyed the chaos.
If mile munching is genuinely effortless, on day two the GT proved again how versatile that V4 motor is, and how useful and intuitive its riding modes are, too. While the Multi GT is able to dispatch swathes of Europe with high-speed efficiency, it can also cut it in the city.
In Urban mode, peak power is reduced to 84kw/114hp, with the throttle response re-configured to sweetly soft and even the up-and-down quick shifter subtly adjusted to city needs too. Sport and Touring modes give full power; however, Touring has a marginally less direct feeling at the throttle, while Sport is sharp without being overly aggressive.
Touring mode was my preferred option for the workaday miles, but when the Italian roads became sporty and the adrenaline began to flow, I called up Sports mode. I did this not only for the pin-point connection between throttle and tire, but also for the extra support it puts into the electronic, semi-active suspension.
Make no mistake, the new long-legged Grand Tour whooshes along like a train and is delightfully easy going around town. Butwhen you want to have fun, it has the power, the handling, and the grip to deliver what we would have called stunning sports bike performance just a decade or so ago.
All that, and it goes around corners
Like its engine, the Grand Tour's dominant handling characteristics depend largely on the selected riding mode. In Touring mode, the ride is plush and soaks up road decay without fuss, but it still has control and holds the chassis when you want to make the most of all those frisky Italian ponies.
In Sports mode, the Marzocchi Skyhook suspension transforms the Grand Tour into an eager sports-tourer, with the suspension movement and travel reduced with more damping control when you’re braking deeper and accelerating harder.
For a bike with a 19-inch front wheel along with what is long-travel suspension for a roadster, it’s a taut, accurate and rewarding package, and one backed up by some of the smartest rider aids on the planet working in the background, enabling you to have fun in safety.
The 2024 Grand Tour additionally comes with two welcome suspension aids, minimum preload and Easy Lift, which are standard features. The minimum spring preload function allows the rider to reduce the preload of the rear shock to a minimum setting at low speeds or when stopped, which increases sag and effectively lowers the seat height as the weight of the rider more easily compresses the spring.
Easy Lift is again a useful tool that opens up the suspension, thus making it softer when the ignition is on, which makes it easier to lift the bike from the side stand. With a fully loaded bike – think panniers, top box, a full tank – it makes a welcome difference.
Stopping power is the same as on the V4 S, and comes via tasty race-spec Brembo Stylema calipers, 330mm discs and corning ABS as backup. The radial master cylinder adds to the high-specification and is similar to what you would expect on a superbike a few years ago. There's excellent stopping power when needed, the ABS isn’t intrusive in any way, and there’s also a lovely smooth actuation at slow speeds.
This is where the new 2024 Grand Tour comes into its own with a long and hugely impressive spec sheet over and above the already impressive V4 S. Some of this we have already mentioned but, just to clarify, it also has: heated grips and heated seat for the rider and pillion, as well as a radar system with blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control.
There are LED fog lights, a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), a center stand, a hands-free fuel cap, fully integrated 60-liter panniers, and a Grand Tour livery with black rear pegs and swingarm. Then there are the new additions to the 2024 Multi, which include closable side air vents, new heat shields, a ventilated (and rather fiddly) phone compartment and directly-mounted bars that Ducati says will give a more direct feeling without increased discomfort or vibration.
The list continues with a 6.5-inch color TFT dash with smartphone connectivity. There is also that easy lift system and minimum preload for shorter riders, as well as the hill hold control. And finally, the rider aids – multiple power modes, riding modes, wheelie control, traction control, and the up and down quick shifter and Skyhook suspension. That’s a good list.
The large, adjustable screen is still not electrically driven, which some may see as a flaw on a premium tourer. However, it’s very effective and only takes the lightest of touches to operate. Even at 140-160kph (or about 87 to 99 mph), I could ride visor up, without my eyes watering or any discomfort.
The TFT dash is adopted from the S model (the stock Multistrada has a five-incher) and bristles with information, especially when you have the navigation screen active, but it’s relatively simple to navigate and the backlit switchgear is a nice touch.
Regrettably, because the new Grand Tour shares its V4 with the current V4 S and not the new 2023 Rally, it doesn’t benefit from the latter bike's cylinder deactivation system (also installed in the Diavel). That feature deactivates the back two cylinders below 4000rpm, improving fuel economy and emissions and, crucially, reducing engine heat to the rider at low rpm. Instead, the Grand Tour has the same and less effective system as the V4 S, which drops the rear two cylinders only when completely stationary.
Still, Ducati has tried to take engine heat away from the rider with new heat shields on the swingarm and the left side of the rear subframe, plus new closeable air ducts on either side just in front of your legs.
Ducati claims 43mpg (35.8mpg USA), the same as the standard V4 S. I usually average just under 40mpg (33.1mpg USA) on the standard Multi V4, and over two dayson this test I averaged 37mpg (30.8mpg USA). With a 22-liter (5.8 gallon) fuel tank, Ducati suggests that over 200 miles between fuel stops is possible, but that figure is more likely to be between 180 and 190 miles depending on how and where you ride.
The Multistrada V4 S left a strong impression during my initial ride in 2021, and subsequent miles have deepened my appreciation for its versatility. Now, Ducati has enhanced it further by drawing inspiration for the 2024 Multistrada V4 S Grand Tour from the V4 Rally, creating an exceptional long-distance touring machine that also excels in spirited riding. Priced at $28,395, it also represents comparatively good value.