The benefits of Ducati design

Jon Lawson

The new Ducati Multistrada V4 is designed with different disciplines in mind: sport, travel, enduro and urban. Juliet Elliot explains how the engineers tackled the conflicting requirements

The latest incarnation of a product usually has a few upgrades here and there. Not so the Ducati Multistrada V4, which is bristling with new innovations including an optional radar system, something never seen before on a bike in this class.

The engine is new too. The result of a three-year development, the 1,158cc V4 Granturismo generates a lively 170hp (125kW) at 10,500rpm with 125Nm of torque at 8,750rpm. It’s derived from the Moto GP racing unit.

Claudio Domenicali, CEO at Ducati Motor Holding explains, “The layout of the engine is inspired by the Panigale and the Streetfighter unit, but it features a higher displacement. One of the advantages is undoubtedly the compactness - it is 95mm lower than the Multistrada 1260 twin and 85mm shorter so the positioning inside the chassis is much easier.” It’s also ended up being 1.2kg lighter than its predecessor, with the total bike weight tipping the scales at 215kg.

Domenicali continues, “It is designed for long distances, hence the importance of a very long interval between valve clearance checks, which is 60,000km - this is now the absolute reference in the motorcycle world.”

Gianluca Zattoniu is the head of engine project management. He says, “For the new valve train countless tests have been carried out, ranging from preliminary measurements with laser instruments, strain gauges and load cells, to a motoring test of over a hundred million cycles. That took more than 20 days non-stop.”

Vincenzo De Silvio is the R&D director. He adds, “We were asked to improve its fluidity, its smooth running at slow and medium revs, while improving performance. This led us to consider a number of alternatives to the twin-cylinder arrangement. When we were happy with the lab tests, we started sending our testers around the roads of Italy, to ride up to 120,000km on every single vehicle.”

Alessandro Valia is Ducati’s official test rider. He says, “From the very first time I tried the V4 Granturismo I immediately had a feeling of smoothness, a regular thrust that helps the rider manage every situation. At low revs it is smooth, at mid revs it has the torque of the twin but always without the kick, and at high revs it reaches the speeds you’d expect from its super sports sisters. Versatility was a goal here, and the implementation of the counter-rotating crankshaft has allowed us to head in that direction, improving the agility of the vehicle, which when touring helps us to relax while riding, while for sporting use it closes the lines at much higher speeds.”

The gearbox is also unique. Derived from the Panigale unit, it has a shorter 1st gear and a longer 6th gear in order to improve its flexibility as a multi-use bike. The low gear is for off-road crawling, while the higher top gear is purely for fuel economy.

The Ducati Multistrada V4 was built for comfort

Ducati wanted the machine to be just as comfortable in town as on fast roads or riding where there are no roads at all. In order to help with the high-speed side, a large amount of aerodynamics work was done, with an eye always on styling, which is what Domenicali likes to call “rugged and refined.” For off-road, he continues, “The centre and rear parts of the bike are very slim. This is particularly important while riding when standing, and the rear foot pegs are also very slim to allow for optimal off-road use of the bike.”

The chassis itself consists of a cast monocoque frame, a steel trellis rear subframe and a double-sided swing arm. Suspension travel is 170mm at the front and 180mm at the back. Much simulation time was devoted to the body cladding it, with a particular emphasis on the ducting as part of the heat management. This is important as both the rear cylinders are deactivated at idle speed.

Even the seat is unusual. The standard variant height can be adjusted from 860mm to a low position of 840mm, and there is an optional 810mm variant for shorter riders. Domenicali notes, “The seats are long and flat to allow for longitudinal movements on longer journeys. Also it’s narrow so the rider can rest his or her feet comfortably on the ground.”

Ducati carefully considered the passenger too. The padding is 25mm thicker than the lower rider’s section, and 40mm longer. Heated seats are an optional extra, and the self-levelling Skyhook suspension responds to changes in weight on-board to offer the most stable ride possible.

The bike comes in 3 trims, V4, V4S and V4 Sport, with an array of options including bigger brakes and different wheel styles.