When the engineers at Ducati, those illustrious purveyors of two-wheel dreams, responded to their design brief with the beautiful and practical 2004 Ducati 1000DS Multistrada, they produced an almost perfect amalgam of high performance sportbike engineering and upright enduro versatility.The Multistrada addresses the fact that on real world roads we are just as likely to encounter battered uneven asphalt as we are glass smooth thoroughfares.
The joy of riding the Ducati Multistrada is in the bike’s ability to deliver impressive performance on several fronts. Whether it is the juggernaut of a daily commute, or the freedom of the open road as part of a weekend getaway, the Italian mount is at heart what we all want a motorcycle to be—fun.With its signature Ducati trellis frame and 84-horsepower 992cc Desmodromic L-twin engine, the Multistrada is also at home on a racetrack and capable of impressive lap times. With an abundance of low-end torque, the motor delivers a solid punch right off the bottom and continues to pull evenly all the way through the powerband. A six-speed transmission with nicely spaces cogs certainly helps.The transmission, clutch and brakes have the well-engineered and refined feel we have come to expect from Ducati. The precise handling and light weight (441 pounds), combined with the added leverage and tall line of sight gained with the upright seating position, make the motorcycle a charm to ride in narrow canyons and sweeping mountain roads. Consequently, these are the same attributes which make it a savvy commuter, rewarding the rider with confidence and comfort in daily stop and go situations.The fairing top turns with the handlebars and is large enough to keep the wind blast off at speed. The versatility of the Multistrada’s design also allows the rider to take the road less traveled with its unpaved-road capability.When you consider the available factory side bags and that there’s ample room for a passenger, the options seem endless with regard to travel and adventure.The Ducati Multistrada is somehow a machine that’s mastered the range of possibilities, and yet feels as though it’s a machine without compromise.The 1000DS Multistrada is a motorcycle that in mind and body excels in real world everyday applications, while maintaining the essence and spirit of those flights of fancy that are inherent to the ideal of two wheeled machines.With the 2004 Ducati 1000DS Multistrada, the men from Bologna have managed to create the two-wheeled equivalent of a luxury, high performance SUV without surrendering the Italian brand’s revered lineage of attractive lines and provocative stature.What rider doesn’t love a look back at the motorcycles that preceded today’s tech-savvy creations? Welcome to the Ultimate MotorCycling retro review archives; we’re revisiting some of our favorite reviews from year’s past, highlighting the machines that laid the rubber for what’s on the today’s showroom floors. Enjoy. – Ron Lieback, ed.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.