Just when you thought Ducati had provided us with every possible variant of the Multistrada, from the excellent off-road biased Rally, to the sporty 17-inch wheeled Pikes Peak, the Italian factory comes up with yet another.
Ducati unexpectedly and unpredictably announced an even quicker, sportier, more powerful and exclusive Multistrada than ever before. A machine that goes like crazy on road and track, but that crucially retains that Multistrada usability.
The exclusive RS uses the more powerful Desmosedici Stradale engine from the Streetfighter, and not the spring valve-operated Granturismo found in every other Multi V4. That makes it the most powerful Multi yet. But it still comes with adaptive cruise control, a comfortable riding position and the facilities for integrated panniers. The Ducati Multi RS is comfortable, practical, blisteringly quick – and a bit mad.
Those Tasty Specs
This is a sizable step and a significant transformation for the Multistrada, as every other V4 in the range uses the non-Desmo 1158cc Granturismo engine. Introduced in 2021, the GT makes 170hp/125kw at 10,500rpm and 92lbft/125Nm of torque at 8750rpm and features extra wide service intervals, including a 36,000-mile valve check.
By contrast, the new RS uses the 1103cc Desmosedici Stradale V4 that you would normally find powering the Streetfighter V4 or Panigale V4. This smaller-capacity V4 retains Ducati's signature Desmo valve system and narrower, conventional service intervals. However, it also revs higher and can generate up to 180hp/130kw at 12,250rpm. With the booming, optional Akrapovic race exhaust fitted that figure is elevated by a further 12hp, pushing claimed peak power to 192hp. Not bad for an all-rounder that can also take panniers.
A slight disadvantage of the revvier, racier engine is that it produces a little less torque and makes its peak numbers higher up the rev range than the 'normal' Multi V4s. Peak torque is a claimed 87lbft/118Nm at 9500rpm, compared to 92lbft/125Nm at 8750rpm. That race exhaust pushes it to 88.5lbft/120Nm.
This is quite a transformation, and something we weren’t expecting at RideApart, as the Pike Peak is already a seriously quick and sporty Multistrada. The RS's 180hp is ten more than the Pikes Peak, and with the race exhaust fitted (as tested), 22hp more. To add to the excitement, the RS runs shorter gearing than the Pikes Peak and kicks more like the super-aggressive Streetfighter than a Multi.
As expected, there's an embarrassment of rider aids to help the pilot get the most out of the bike's improved performance. We still have four riding modes: Sport, Touring, Urban and a Race mode to replace the usual Enduro setting. This latter mode brings the RS in line with the street and track focused Streetfighter and Panigale.
Each riding mode also controls the level of intervention of a large raft of lean-sensitive rider aids. There are four power modes – low, medium, high and full – again, much like the Streetfighter and Panigale. Even in the high-power mode, there is a reduced torque in first, second, and third gear. If you want undiluted power in every gear (and I'm not sure many will!) you have to opt for the full-power mode.
The power delivery is massive and feels more dramatic on the RS than it does on the Streetfighter, even though it’s a few horsepower down. As I left the pitlane to join the Autodromo di Modena racetrack in northern Italy, the RS felt just like a 17-inch wheeled Multistrada. But then, when I opened the gas, it revved and delivered with the brutality of a Panigale V4 – a bizarre and most exciting combination.
Modena, We Meet Again
Aware that I was only the second rider outside of Ducati to ride the new RS, I was certainly a little anxious. Thankfully I’d ridden the Modena circuit many times, including on a Pikes Peak, so was able to focus on what is an astonishing machine, and attack from Lap One.
It’s a tight and twisty track with a lengthy straight, which gave the RS the chance to stretch its legs. Instinctively, I revved it hard – the Stradale V4 makes you do this – shifting from second gear to third and fourth, then fifth gear on the straight, only when the shift lights illuminated.
The digital rev counter builds as the V4 revs with liquid ease. There's no such thing as a ‘slow’ Multistrada – the Granturismo V4 is truly class leading – but the conventional all-rounder, tuned for midrange and drive, is done with just 10,000rpm showing.
By contrast, at this rpm, the new RS is still revving towards peak power at 12,250rpm and will happily rev on to 13,000rpm. In the twisty sections of the circuit, I could hold onto the revs as if I was chasing a lap time on a Panigale.
On paper, torque is down compared to the standard Multi. However, when you are on track and using the upper 25 percent of the rev range, you don’t miss the slight lack of grunt. Out of Modena's final turn, with the anti-wheelie on a low setting, I could feel the 17-inch forged Marchesini wheel hovering above the Italian track as the power kicked and catapulted me down the main straight.
The combination of a fast-revving, powerful engine, a perfectly synchronized up-and-down quick-shifter, and excellent rider aids understandably perhaps, tricks you into riding the RS like the Streetfighter V4 S or even the Panigale. When you remember it can accommodate fixed panniers, it feels, as noted, pleasantly odd.
A significant change from Multistrada normality is the introduction of a 17-inch front wheel to replace the 19-inch front on the standard Multi. The rims are also 2.7kg lighter, which saves on unsprung weight, and can also be shod with track-focused rubber. Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV Corsa are the OE fitment but our test bike wore Pirelli slicks.
Other weight savings include the introduction of a titanium subframe, which is a first for Ducati and also saves another 2.5kg. (Ducati had a separate subframe in the garage for me to examine, and I couldn’t believe how light it was.)
The premium Multistrada V4 S and the new Grand Tour both use the familiar Skyhook Marzocchi semi-active suspension, whereas the new RS uses Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 units similar to the Panigale V4 S, Streetfighter V4 S and the Pikes Peak.
Each riding mode changes the damping characteristics of the suspension. To allow me to get used to the new RS, I initially selected Sport mode, with a little more support from the excellent rider aids. However, within a few laps on grippy Pirelli slicks, it was obvious this was a little too soft with too much transition and the pegs were close to touching down, toes sliders occasionally touching too.
You can change ride modes on the move (with a closed throttle) but I opted to return to the pits, then change the mode and trim the rider aids. Now in Race mode, the suspension was very different, with far less dive on the forks and the suspension holding the chassis on the apex and giving the Pirelli slicks an easier time.
Ground clearance was also increased, meaning that the RS could carry more corner speed. On every lap it encouraged more lean angle and more corner speed. Very addictive.
The long-travel, semi-active suspension is perfect for long-distance performance,yet less idyllic for the racetrack. Still, the feel and feedback from the Öhlins units are excellent, especially considering the Multi started life as a multi-purpose adventure bike. The RS instilled so much confidence that I turned down the traction control intervention and removed the anti-wheelie altogether. I could feel the limit approaching as if I was on a well set-up sports bike.
In the pictures, the RS certainly looks like a big bike, but that's not how it feels onboard. The Pikes Peak is 214kg (about 471.79 pounds) dry and the RS is 3kg (6.6 pounds) less. With the optional race exhaust installed that figure drops by another 5kg to 206kg (or another 11 pounds to just over 454 pounds), which would make the RS just 28kg (61.7 pounds) heavier than the Streetfighter V4 S.
As you would expect, the RS gets the very latest stoppers from Brembo: Stylema monobloc calipers and 330mm discs with a radial master cylinder and corning ABS. These race spec stoppers are the same as you’d find on the Multistrada V4 S and Pikes Peak, but now they are stopping less weight.
On the track, they were faultless, and the high riding position and upright stance resulted in excellent stability. The corning ABS is superb, even at a solid track day pace, it’s not intrusive and can be relied upon.
Ducati has added a more progressive rear brake lever, something they started on the Multistrada Rally. They’ve also changed the master cylinder to make the rear brake sharper and more usable.
Because the RS runs a similar engine to the Panigale and Streetfighter, this allows the introduction of a three stage Engine Brake Control, which allows you to control the amount of engine braking from the V4 and is a first for the Multistrada range.
I’d like to run the RS against the stopwatch to see how close it is to a Streetfighter or Panigale over a lap or three. I think on the right (possibly tight) track the RS will be close; its wide bars and tall stance should make it relatively easy to throw around in slow corners.
This was a track-only test, but the RS is still a Multistrada and should come with all the excellent ergonomics and comfort of the Pikes Peak model, with which it shares many similarities. As mentioned, the RS still comes with adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection. There is even an Urban mode which drops maximum power to 84kw/113hp and reduces the power in all gears. Strange to think that the ‘safe’ Urban mode is still more than Ducati’s legendary 916.
The slight downside of a revvier engine with more performance is worse fuel consumption. The standard Multistrada Pikes Peak is quoted at 7 liters/100km whereas the RS is 7.3 liters over 100km. That’s not a huge difference, but I’d expect an RS owner to use the revs and ride a little harder. With a 22 liter fuel tank, however, you won't have to fill up as often as you would on a Streetfighter, which has a 17 liter fuel tank. Plus, if you are overly concerned about fuel consumption on an exotic Ducati, you’ve probably bought the wrong bike.
An extensive list of rider aids and high-tech features, including radar detection, makes the RS the most advanced Multistrada ever. In fact, it’s one of the most advanced bikes on the market as it combines the racy tech of the Streetfighter and Panigale with the proven touring and distance-focused electronic witchcraft of the Multistrada range.
For example, you have track-focused rider aids including changeable engine brake control, and also Vehicle Hold Control, backlit switchgear, and that radar – also not forgetting the Öhlins Smart EC2.0 suspension. All this is managed via a familiar 6.5-inch TFT dash with Ducati Connectivity. Yes, that means you can have a full map navigation on the display to guide you to your next track day.
Carbon fiber bodywork (mudguard, 'beak' and handguards) is standard, along with the road-approved Akrapovic muffler (though not the full race exhaust as fitted to our test bike).
Other small touches worth noting are a new heat shield, closable air deflectors, and an air-cooled phone compartment, all of which were first seen on the Multi Rally.
If you want to add more, the color-matching integrated panniers look very neat. The catalog of optional factory goodies is pleasingly long and expensive and includes an open dry clutch (which sounds fantastic), crash protection, and even an indoor bike cover.
I was impressed by the Multistrada Pikes Peak when I rode it at the Modena track a year ago but, with the RS, Ducati has moved the game on and pushed the boundaries of what is possible on a crossover machine.
A 192hp, free-revving beast of a V4 in a chassis that possesses many of the qualities of the excellent Streetfighter and Panigale, mixed with the all-round adaptability of the Multistrada, makes for an fascinating blend. Especially when, for me at least, it's the best-looking Multi in the range.
This was a track-only road test, but I'm certain that like all the Multis, the RS will be capable of churning out some big miles in comfort, and I can hardly imagine how exciting it will be on a deserted road.
Yes, it’s expensive at $37,995, but it’s also exotic and built by the brand that just won MotoGP and WSBK again. How many times, I wonder, have Streetfighter owners craved a little more comfort, range or workability? This RS will tear up a canyon road as easily as it will hold its own in the trackday fast group.
The question many will ask, who needs that? I do, and I suspect many more will too. I love the fact that Ducati has been brave and bold enough to produce something that's somehow both so practical and so extremely ridiculous. In a world which sometimes appears dull and riddled with rules, it is refreshing for the world champions to try something a little crazy.
Photos by Alex Photo