A lot can happen in nearly 20 laps around the sun. We’ve all been pinched or pulled by the hands of time, growing, adapting, and, with a bit of luck, meeting every challenge along the way. We can stretch that metaphor to Ducati’s Multistrada platform, seeing how one of the Italian brand’s longest-running monikers has morphed far beyond its street-focused origins. Through it all, the Multi has remained chained to Ducati’s performance pillar, demanding we add some excitement to the adventure sport-touring way of life through reworked superbike engines and dazzling technology. I dare say that we’re all the better for it.
Paved roads alone were never enough for the Multi. That presented a new frontier for Borgo Panigale engineers who hadn’t ventured outside painted tarmac lines in earnest since its original Scramblers. By the mid-2000s, the beak-nosed Multistrada 1200 spawned variants that delved deep into ADV territory, ditching its single-sided swingarm, increasing suspension travel, and opting for larger, off-road friendly 19-inch front wheels. With the popularity of the ADV market as of late, that’s precisely how the Multistrada V4 arrived on the scene—a true multi-tool if there ever was one that did break from tradition.
The 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak edition celebrates the brand’s achievements at The Race to the Clouds, and represents a return to form. Off-road components are shelved in lieu of revised frame geometry, a totemic single-sided swingarm, 17-inch Marchesini forged aluminum wheels, new Öhlins semi-active suspension, and updated ergonomics all speak to ticking off the miles and scraping up knee-pucks in comfort.
Founded over 100 years ago in 1916, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is America’s second-oldest motorsport race, and the public-road turned racetrack for a week fosters a palpable grassroots feel. Racers negotiate 156 corners over the 12.42-mile course, ascending 4,720 feet into thin air, while the peak’s fickle weather adds a bit of spice to the mix.
Ducati headed the mountain’s call in 2008 when Greg Tracy piloted a Hypermotard 1100 to victory on the then half-paved/half-dirt course. Tracy followed the success with another win in 2010 aboard a Multistrada 1200, inspiring the Pikes Peak edition tradition. The late, great Carlin Dunne stands as the brand’s most accomplished PPIHC challenger, securing back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2012 with Ducati, and was the first motorcycle racer to break the 10-minute barrier. He claimed one final title in 2018 with the MTS 1260 Pikes Peak. Bruno Langlois secured a win in 2013 aboard a Multi 1200 S Pikes Peak and Eric Piscione did the same in 2014 with a Streetfighter 848.
Numerous other privateer riders piloted Multistradas to the PPIHC podium and top-five finishes in the years between. DNA also developed the Squadra Alpina Safety Team, comprised of PPHIC champions and veterans, mentoring mountain newcomers through its Race Smart program. The highs and lows of racing created an indelible bond between Ducati and the mountain, one that Pikes Peak editions honor, even if motorcycles are once again barred from competition.
Palm Springs, California, is usually all sunshine and palm trees. Instead, I was treated to an authentic Pikes Peak experience—a dry spell, followed by rain, and freezing temperatures when the 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak and I ascended the rugged San Jacinto Mountains.
Fully testing Ducati’s sportiest sport-tourer at the ragged-edge, with its racey Desmosedici GP21 livery, sexy carbon bits, and Ducati Corsa badging will have to wait for a follow-up story soon enough. A short window of dry riding let me taste the sportiness in store and become familiar with a different side of the Multi.
Plenty of changes are afoot to transform the adventurous Multistrada V4 into the canyon quick-stepper we have here. Yet, what remains consistent is the massively powerful 1158cc 90-degree V4 Grandturismo engine, flexing a mighty 170 horsepower 10,500 rpm and 92 ft-lbs of torque at 8750 rpm.
The snarl of its raspy twin-pulse firing order is your muse, and the Akrapovič titanium-carbon fiber muffler amplifies the crescendo. Twist the grip and enjoy loads of tractable goodness anywhere in the revs. In fact, riders were so quick to explore the entire rpm range on the 1158cc V4 that a new rev-limiting strategy is employed, softening power near the bitter-end to signal you’re approaching redline.
Despite its might, the V4 has refinement to spare and boasts smoothness that the L-twins could never match, especially down low. Aspects such as the counter-rotating crankshaft not only aid in flip-flopping through corners, but also make sure all that torque is put to good use, helping plant the front wheel rather than lifting it skyward. Of course, the revised wheelie control strategy undoubtedly does its part, too. Then there is the class-leading 36,000-mile service interval, brought on by the non-desmo shim-and-bucket valve train. Less maintenance, more riding; sounds good to me.
Nicely spaced gearbox ratios let you settle into a groove, while the up/down quickshifter is revised with shorter kill-times and higher over-rev limits, fit for banging through the transmission with impunity at the track. When on the trot, the Pikes Peak shifts with a Panigale’s precision, though it can be a tad jumpy at low to mid revs.
Things come into focus when careening around the sun-kissed lower sections of California State Route 74—the famed Palms to Pines Scenic Byway. The new monocoque frame extends rake and trail, and is coupled with a lengthened swingarm, resulting in a longer wheelbase and a whole lot of stability.
The pièce de résistance are the forged-aluminum 17-inch wheels that bias more load over the front end and save a whopping 8.8 pounds of unsprung weight, compared to the standard cast wheels on the Multi V4—surely further flattering the handling. To put it bluntly, a motorcycle of this size has no business being this playful, tipping in with precision and delivering crystal-clear feedback. Luckily, those qualities extend to less than ideal conditions, too.
Sensibly sporty Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV rubber purchases a significant amount of grip in the dry and does more than admirably in the wet. I’m not sure if Italian engineers anticipated riders going from sunny weather to sleet in the one day, though they performed commendably all the same. The 190/55 taller rear profile allows for more edge grip when leaning.
New to the fold is Öhlins semi-active suspension that uses the same Smart EC 2.0 system found on the Panigale V4 S and Streetfighter V4 S, replacing the off-road-oriented Marzocchi Skyhook kit found on ADV-aimed Multi V4s. At the click of a button, one can transform the chassis from a cushy luxury touring machine to a taught canyon weapon, with “event-based” programming that adapts the suspension to your riding. The harder you push, the firmer it gets, making sure your chassis is rock solid, and only sure road-feel comes through. There is a fixed suspension mode, should you prefer retro suspenders. Heck, you can even dial in spring-preload on the shock to compensate for luggage and passengers.
Weather rolling in meant my canyon fun was curtailed. Phooey. As we began our steady climb to Idyllwild, the lovely 6.5-inch TFT dashboard informed me of everything I needed to know at a glance, including declining temperatures. Diving into the dash, one can switch between four fully-customizable riding modes (Race, Sport, Touring, and Urban) that corral multi-level cornering ABS, lean-angle-sensitive traction control, wheelie control, and suspension settings.
Other electronic niceties include front and rear-facing radar for Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Detection, hill-hold assist, and keyless ignition. Ducati went ahead and revised ABS modes 1 and 2 for more aggressive sport riding and took the opportunity to make the throttle connection in high power mode even more direct.
New to the party is Race mode, with its less restrictive electronic nannies and Panigale-esque throttle response. It was a hoot at lower elevations and made me itch for time on a circuit—the Multi has a long-standing history of sowing its wild oats on the racetrack, and you’d be silly not to imbibe, occasionally. The same can be said of Sport mode’s crisp throttle and aids that allow more than an energetic riding style.
Touring was where I settled as the temps crept into the 40s, cooled this motorcycle’s heels, and let the excellent TC step in when necessary. When an “ice” warning flashed up, and the temperature gauge bottomed out at a brisk 31°F, I switched to the 115-horsepower Urban mode that made the Pikes Peak as soft and fluffy as a Golden Retriever.
The rider aids never stepped in prematurely on dry asphalt and gave quite a bit of leeway during spirited runs. Once we ventured into the wet and wild wilderness, I was glad to have the watchful eye of ABS and TC, doing their work slyly that the indicator was the only way I knew it was happening. I brought the Pikes Peak home with unscathed bodywork; a doff of the cap to its spot-on fueling, tractable power delivery, and electronics is definitely in order.
Brembo’s best return to the party, and the Stylema calipers with massive 330mm rotors perform as expected. Feel and power are excellent, helping you hustle this 527-pounds bike to stop in an instant. A two-piston Brembo caliper clamps onto a 265mm rotor that is quite handy in the rear.
I’m happy to report that the 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak’s ergonomic updates led to a casual riding position with a sporting edge, while keeping a safe distance from anything that might inspire discomfort. Engineers did that by lowering and narrowing the handlebar, then took out some sweep, still providing all the leverage you’d ever need. The next step was to raise and kick the rearsets back a hair, creating additional cornering clearance, and canting the rider into a slightly more athletic position. You can ride all day without ever feeling the pangs of more focused machines.
Gandering at the spec sheet might make shorter riders weary of the dual-height saddle—your choice of 33.1 or 33.9 inches. Fortunately, the narrow nature of the V4 makes for quite the slim chassis, which should alleviate those concerns. My 32-inch inseam can reach the deck without issue, and low/high seat options are also available—they’re heated, too. Wind is protection ample, if a tad less than the ADV bike, thanks to the whittled down windscreen that can be adjusted with a simple push or pull. Other creature comforts include fairings that redirect engine heat away from the rider.
While enduring the blustering winds, rain, and sleet on the persistently twisting State Route 243, I couldn’t help wonder about the lead times on the accessory heated grips and seat. More importantly, could they be delivered to a gas station in a mountain town? Online shopping has skewed my shipping expectations. According to WebMD, I might have experienced frostnip, a reasonably cute name for a precursor to frostbite. Moral of the story, kids: Make sure your jacket cuffs are secure. Otherwise, water leaks in and fills your gloves. At least the handguards offered some reprieve.
On this day, I also developed an affinity for Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Detection—both standard on the Pikes Peak. ACC cleverly maintains distance from other vehicles, accelerating or braking based on what the radar sees. Tap the turn indicator with ACC activated, and you’ll engage the Overtake Assist function, giving a bit of throttle to pass and then returning to your set speed once completed. Meanwhile, Blind Spot Detection in the mirror was there to issue steadfast warnings when a colleague or I approached too close—seriously trick stuff.
There exists an intersection between what a racer needs in the extremes and what the average rider needs at home—a motorcycle that can be trusted to face all challenges. The 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak is a fitting homage to its pedigree, and we reap the rewards of its versatility. It felt right at home ripping around the dry bits, giving me a bright glimpse of its sporting prowess and excellent handling abilities; importantly didn’t wilt in the wet. When the going got rough, the all-day comfy ergonomics, ample wind protection, and top-shelf electronics provided a safety net that is worth its weight in gold. There’s not more you can ask in a flagship ADV sport-tourer such as this. Well, maybe heated grips.
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Jacket: Alpinestars T-Fuse Sport Shell Drystar
- Gloves: Alpinestars Belize V2 Drystar
- Pants: Alpinestars Raider V2 Drystar
- Boots: Alpinestars Radon Drystar
2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak Specs
- Type: V4 Granturismo; 90-degree V4 w/ counterrotating crankshaft
- Displacement: 1158cc
- Bore x stroke: 83 x 53.5mm
- Maximum power: 170 horsepower @ 10,500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 92 ft-lbs @ 8750 rpm
- Compression ratio: 14.0:1
- Fueling: 46mm-equivalent elliptical throttle bodies
- Valvetrain: DOHC; 4vpc
- Exhaust: Double catalytic converter w/ 4 lambda probes
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ straight-cut gears and standard quickshifter
- Clutch: Hydraulically actuated wet multiplate w/ assist and slipper functions
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Aluminum monocoque
- Front suspension; travel: Fully electronically adjustable Öhlins semi-active 48mm inverted fork; 6.7 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully electronically adjustable ÖhlinsTTX36 semi-active shock w/ electronic spring-preload adjustment; 6.7 inches
- Wheels: Marchesini forged aluminum
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.5
- Rear wheel: 17 x 4.5
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 190/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 320mm semi-floating discs w/ radially mounted Brembo Stylema 4-piston/2-pad calipers and radial master cylinder
- Rear brakes: 265mm disc w/ Brembo 2-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Cornering aware
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 62.8 inches
- Rake: 25.75 degrees
- Trail: 4.7 inches
- Seat height: 33.1 or 33.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 5.8 gallons
- Curb weight: 527 pounds
- Color: Pikes Peak
2022 Ducati Multistrada V4 Pikes Peak Price: $28,995 MSRP