The Futuristic 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S [Review]


Jim Pruner sitting on a 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

The 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S has magically appeared at my local Ducati dealership: Blackfoot Motosports in Calgary. The dealership’s Ducati brand champion invited me to come and get an intimate, first-hand look at what Ducati is calling “the best motorcycle they’ve ever built.” Have a look at our Model Overview piece written by Joe Appleton if you’re unfamiliar.

I couldn’t test ride this newest Multistrada (thanks to our inconvenient Canadian winter weather), but I did create a video to talk about some things I think the other reviewers passed over. The cost of ownership, maintenance, and some comparisons to the 1260S Multistrada.

I Haven’t Ridden it Yet, But Others Have

There are a number of ride reviews available online from people like Revzilla’s Zack Courts documenting how awesomely beautiful, powerful, comfortable, and delightful this motorcycle is out on the road. Zack even jumped this 560lb bike off a pile of dirt about a foot high to test the Skyhook suspension confirming what Ducati has claimed about the new V4S Multi. This motorcycle can do it all and look sexy while doing it. Zack ends up ranking the Multi V4S as his favorite motorcycle tested thus far on his channel.

Click on the link above to see his review along with the radar and Adaptive Cruise Control systems in action.

The front end of a 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

I’m not going to rhyme off the exhaustively long list of features on this motorcycle since that data is readily available here on Ducati’s website. I’m only going to highlight the ones I think make this machine above average in its class in the following video.

I covered a lot of ground in that video and learned a lot even without riding the Multistrada V4S. You can rest assured that I will report more once I have the chance to attack the road with all the fury of 170 Italian thoroughbred horsepower. I actually forgot to mention the linked front and rear braking and rear cylinder deactivation features in the video. Those are so useful in my mind, but I’m not about to reshoot the video just for that.

Safe or Sorry?

Some people may feel the ACC and radar are distractions, unnecessary, even dangerous because it could erode rider skills if people come to rely upon them instead of their training. I can see how that could be true for some people, but not me. I’ll take any sort of help I can get while out riding in traffic especially. Motorcycling can be dangerous after all.

If it does become a distraction you can order the Multi without these options or turn off the ACC and radar system altogether.

The mirrors on the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S have small yellow lights used by the radar system on board.

Have you ever had a deer or moose run out in front of you or see a car brake suddenly without warning while on your motorcycle? I have and it’s taken years off my life thanks to the resultant stress and heart palpitations. I’ve also failed to notice cars in my blind spots more than once, only spotting them thanks to my habitual shoulder-checks. I’ve driven cars with ACC and blind-spot detection before and feel they’re a godsend. YMMV of course, but if I were buying a Multistrada tomorrow it would have these new features on it.

The front end of a 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

It’s Ugly and “Soul-less”

The loud sounds of gnashing teeth, and “Kiai” shouts emanating from the Multistrada social media groups I subscribe to has been near-deafening, ever since the new V4 models were unveiled.

“No Desmodromic valve train?!!! No trellis frame?!!! Mamma Mia!!!”

It seems some Ducatisti feel it’s not a Ducati without these unnecessary components included. Honestly, if that’s what you believe makes a Ducati-a Ducati, you’ll find plenty of like-minded fellows in the “the LiveWire and Pan America aren’t Harleys” crowd.

It disappoints me whenever I hear this kind of groupthink-founded criticism surrounding a new motorcycle. I think we should applaud any manufacturer willing to bravely leave tradition in favor of chasing greatness or something more efficient… like a monocoque frame… or springs in a valvetrain. Continued innovation is the first step towards excellence in my opinion.

From what I can see and the feedback from three other reviewers, the latest Multistrada changes have paid off in a huge way and this new Multistrada will likely become the Motorcycle of the Year in 2021.

Ugly

If I had a dime for every time someone called a new motorcycle ugly I wouldn’t need to work anymore.

The 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

The grey-colored 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

The two colorways of the Multistrada V4S (above)

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but what’s “ugly” about the new Multistrada V4? I think I know what they’re trying to say in this case, but I don’t agree with the label. I would call the V4 and V4S color schemes unbalanced or disorganized when compared to the 1260S. That lack of symmetry is what they’re inaccurately referring to as “ugly”. It’s an observation I can agree with, but that doesn’t make it “ugly.”

Xherdan the sphynx cat on the other hand… *shudder* eeee-gad. That’s ugly. I’m glad no motorcycles look like that feline does.

Xherdan the sphynx cat.
Xherdan the cat from Sandra Filippi

Luckily, there’s the more visually pleasing V4S Sport to help counteract the unbalanced looks of the other two models. I think red V4S owners should install the red side panels from the V4S Sport on their motorcycle to correct the aesthetic issues and bring balance to The Force… err, Multistrada again. Dare I say, make the Multistrada great again in their esteem?

The 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport.
The V4S Sport model (above)

It’s worth a try. Now that I look at it, even the V4S Sport gas tank and fairings look a bit like they were designed by a color-blind person going for a Union Jack flag layout. Maybe Ducati just tried so hard to make the new model more beautiful that it ended up backfiring on them?

I did find one very ugly/sloppy bead of silicone sealant on the stator cover of both V4S models in the Calgary Ducati showroom. I don’t know if all of them are like this, but I would expect a $25,000 US premium motorcycle to have that excess goop trimmed away before it leaves the factory.

The silicone sealant on the Multistrada V4S stator wiring harness didn't have the excess trimmed away.

Other Observations

This is mock outrage on my part because I think Ducati put a great deal of thought and care into the new design, including;

  • A tire repair kit lives under the rear seat.

The Ducati Multistrada V4S has a tire repair kit under the rear seat from factory.

The Ducati Multistrada V4S has a tire repair kit under the rear seat from factory.

  • Plenty of vents on the front of the fairing to push hot air away from the rider while directing just enough flow past the rider to calm turbulence. This should in theory create a quiet ride and less buffeting of the riders’ head and chest.

Vents and scoops are built into the Multistrada V4S to keep hot air away from the rider while directing flow past the rider to curb turbulence.

  • Every comfort feature I’ve seen on a motorcycle is included on the new Multistrada, including heated grips, front and rear seats, and a one-handed adjustable windscreen with travel spanning about 4 inches.
  • Look at how reasonably sized the muffler is on the new Multistrada. Compare that to the incredibly bulky eyesores on other new motorcycles these days.

The exhaust muffler is compact on the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

  • The front-wheel has grown from the 1260S 17” to 19” on the Multi V4 models to give it better performance off-road. Yes, that means it won’t corner quite as well as the 1260S but I think it’s a good compromise on what is first an adventure motorcycle, not a sportbike. No sane person is going to take it deep into the woods where a 21” wheel is best that’s for sure.

The front-wheel has grown from the 1260S 17” to 19” on the Multi V4 models to give it better performance off-road.

  • The new GranTurismo V4 engine is notably shorter than the Testastretta V2 in the 1260S. That blesses the new Multistrada with significantly better ground clearance.

The new GranTurismo V4 engine is notably shorter than the Testastretta V2 in the 1260S. That blesses the new Multistrada with significantly better ground clearance.

  • The dash display is much larger and clearer compared to the 1260S, but there is an issue with the Ducati Connect App and the Sygic Navigation app used with it instead of CarPlay or Android Auto. Watch my video to see this explained.

The Multistrada 1260S dash display.The Multistrada 1260S dash display (above) the new V4S (below)

The new dash from the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

Cost of Maintenance

Other than the awesome radar and ACC this is my favorite improvement to the Multistrada.

The new GranTurismo V4 engine in the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S.

Most anyone who owns or has owned a Ducati with a Desmodromic valvetrain has felt the financial pain associated with major services on the engine.

Ducati claims to have put an end to that with the new V4 GranTurismo engine service intervals.

  • 37,000 miles or 60,000 km between valve inspections/adjustments
  • Engine oil changes remain at ~9000 miles (15,000 kms) but can wait 2 years if you don’t hit the mileage.

It’s still expensive to get a major service completed by the dealer when it’s time (5.3hrs labor plus parts/fluids), but you’re only doing it half as often on the GranTurismo.

I was shown data from a Ducati study comparing the cost of ownership between 3 different owner profiles of all the competitor motorcycles in the same class as the Multistrada V4. Ducati claims that with their new engine and other improvements the Multistrada V4 line will finish second or third lowest for overall cost of ownership now. They’re claiming to have moved from being the most expensive to own to almost the least expensive to own.

A chart from Ducati showing cost of ownership between all the big adventure bikes on the market.

In fact, they say if you exclude the cost of replacing the chain and sprockets from the calculations the V4 Multistrada is the best of the bunch. Of course, these numbers are unconfirmed and don’t take into account the recently announced Harley Davidson Pan America. It doesn’t require valve inspection or adjustments at all thanks to the cam phasers and hydraulic lifters used in that design.

Even if this report is biased due to the source, I believe the cost of ownership for the new Multistrada should be significantly less expensive to own because the playing field is now level with Desmo out of the equation.

The Engine Air Filter

Unfortunately, Ducati couldn’t find a way to make the engine air filter easily accessible like it is on mid-sized adventure motorcycles like the KTM 790 adventure or BMW F850GS.

Yep, it’s located under the gas tank and it’ll take a while to get at it for maintenance. The only saving grace is that you can remove everything to get access using just one tool.

The gas tank from the 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S with the cell phone pocket open.

It’s too bad you couldn’t access the air filter through the cell phone holder pocket somehow.

It Looks Really Good

The reviews from people who have ridden this motorcycle are unanimously singing its praises while noting only minor issues. Even without having ridden it my sense is I’ll find the same.

Really it’s only the poor fuel economy and range that elicits any serious concerns. Zack Courts and others placed it in the neighborhood of a paltry 160 miles before needing immediate attention. I’d be sizing up some sort of auxiliary gas tank installation if I were to buy one. Maybe Camel Adventure Products will step up and build something that works for it?

I can’t find a lot wrong with it and will wait impatiently for my turn at the helm of this 170hp 92 ft-lbs of torque super, premium, adventure motorcycle. The sweet, sweet, sound of a Ducati V4 engine at high revs is definitely the music of my people.

  • Jim

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S Overview

General Info

  • Price: $26,095 USD / $28,795 CAD
  • Key Features:
    • Brand new 170 HP Granturismo V4 engine
    • Ducati Skyhook Suspension
    • Carbon and titanium Akrapovic exhaust

Main Specs

  • Engine: 1,158cc liquid-cooled Granturismo V4 engine
  • Power: 170 HP
  • Torque: 92 lbs-ft
  • Dry Weight: 478 lbs (217 kg)
  • Seat Height: 33.1 in (840 mm)

Competitors

2021 Ducati Multistrada V4S Photo Gallery

4 Comments

  1. Chris
    March 11, 2021
    Reply

    Ducati lost me on this one l own a multistrada like the 30l tank not interested in plastic panniers made from butter rider adds added to the bike takes the fun out of it rather rely on my own rider skills than technology disappointment to me

  2. Patriot
    March 11, 2021
    Reply

    As with a few others, this bike is too much of too much for too much. The performance and extended service intervals does not offset the lousy fuel mileage and range to me. A nice exercise in tech though for those that like that.

  3. John Chapman
    March 12, 2021
    Reply

    This is more or less exactlyu what i have been looking for. I think it addresses some of the points i did not like on the MTS, like seat and fueling. My only concern is the reported MPG. Test ride booked

    • Jim Pruner
      March 12, 2021
      Reply

      Hi John!

      It’s an exciting upgrade to what was already an excellent motorcycle in my eyes, but yes the range is a concern if you venture somewhere remote.

      The issues with the Ducati connect app are also irritating, but i think they’ll be able to sort that out with a firmware upgrade at some point soon.

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