Ducati’s Go (Almost) Anywhere Multistrada 1200

Ducati’s outgoing Multistrada never quite lived up to its name, which translates to many roads. But it certainly paved the way for a dramatically different alternative to its air-cooled antecedent. The all-new ’Strada ($14,995 to $19,995) counterstrikes adventure tourers like the BMW R1200GS and the Yamaha Super Ténéré with a serious sport-bike engine and enough high-tech gadgetry to give the competition a run for their money.

Plucked from the 1198 super bike, the Multistrada 1200’s power plant directs 150 pounding horsepower to the rear wheels, mitigated by an optional traction-control system. Four different modes--Sport, Touring, Urban, and Enduro?negotiate traction, suspension damping, and throttle mapping, and available ABS builds confidence in wet weather.

The Multistrada’s personality proved appropriately multifarious during on- and off-road blasts around the volcanic island of Lanzarote, part of the Canary Islands, where its torquey mill, comfy saddle, and touring-ready windscreen made us nearly forget our test bike was equipped with capacious saddlebags. But the biggest surprise of the ride came when we ventured on a pothole- and rut-ridden trail. The bike--set on Enduro mode--offered reassuring grip, and more impressively, a disarmingly smooth ride.

This hot-rodded Italian may draw eye rolls from die-hard BMW riders, but devoted Ducatisti have a bona fide reason to celebrate: Their esteemed marque has stepped up its game by offering a versatile ride that not only does justice to its name but also to the very best the brand has to offer. (www.ducati.com/od/ducatinorthamerica/)

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