Everybody dreams of the one tool that can handle every job. A single wrench for any nut or bolt. The perfect car to keep for life. But in the real world, having the right tool for every job becomes more important. Whether a full socket set for metric and imperial or the popular “two-car solution” on Instagram.
But, what if one magical motorcycle managed to effortlessly straddle the line between sport and touring? A bike that somehow combines the power and handling of a crotch rocket with the comfort and tech of a highway cruiser. Enter Ducati’s Multistrada Pikes Peak, possibly the best do-it-all motorcycle on the market.
In short: Demand for ADV and touring bikes blew up during the Covid-19 pandemic. For buyers with enough disposable income but perhaps not enough space to store multiple bikes, Ducati unleashed a new Pikes Peak edition of the Multistrada. With performance goodies borrowed from the Panigale V4 tacked on, this bike can handle long road trips just as capably as canyon carving.
- Engine 1,160cc V4
- Transmission 6-speed manual
- Horsepower 170
- Torque 92 lb.-ft.
- Fuel capacity 5.8 gal.
- Possibly the best one-bike solution ever
- Comfortable enough for long rides
- Sporty suspension and brakes borrowed from Panigale
- All the tech features including ride modes and adaptive cruise
- Serious sticker shock, even for a special-edition Ducati
- Transmission and clutch occasionally balk at worst moments
- Saddlebags adds significant width, reducing the sporty factor
2023 Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak Review
The Multistrada Pikes Peak takes its name from America’s most famous hill climb race, which formerly paired high-speed asphalt twisties with a significant portion of dirt at the top of the 14,115-foot mountain. Fittingly, Ducati created this special edition of the upright Multistrada tourer by borrowing suspension and braking components from the Panigale V4 sport bike, while also revising ergonomics and geometry to highlight handling prowess when the roads get tight.
The Multistrada’s “Granturismo” V4 engine receives no changes. It still displaces 1,160ccc and is rated for peaks of 170 horsepower and 92 pound-feet of torque.
But, the Pikes Peak package swaps on a 17-inch front wheel, down from a 19-incher on the base bike. The bike also gets electronically adjustable Öhlins dampers and beefed-up Brembo brakes.
Forged aluminum Marchesini wheels shod in Pirelli Diablo Rosso road tires contribute 5.95 pounds of weight savings in the most important place. A single-sided swingarm and an Akrapovic titanium and carbon exhaust system round out a total of 8.81 pounds shaved off a Multistrada V4.
Climb Aboard the Multi Pikes Peak
Even just swinging a leg over the Multistrada Pikes Peak before a first ride, the revised ergonomics and geometry stand out immediately. Footpegs moved higher and farther back allow for more lean angle. Lower and narrower handlebars create a sporty sensation without sacrificing comfort.
The Pikes Peak also gets a slightly longer wheelbase courtesy of a less acute steering rake. And somehow, the 472-pound dry weight feels like less even while straddling the relatively high 33.07-inch seat height of this tester.
Firing up the Granturismo V4 unleashes a quick bark through the Akrapovic exhaust, which quickly settles into a mellow idle. The point here isn’t so much to wow anybody with a deep grumble at low revs, though the mill definitely wakes up nearer to the 10,000-rpm redline.
Tooling around town headed out to the hills in Touring mode, mild throttle modulation, and the softest suspension firmness simply iron out road feedback and gobble up speed bumps with ease. The Pikes Peak then begins to shine on highways and at freeway speeds as the engine winds up into the power band, and the adjustable windscreen prevents excessive wind buffeting.
Fiddling through high-tech features via left-grip buttons that control menus on the 6.5-inch digital screen, the various suspension pre-load modes for passengers and baggage noticeably affect the ride. Adaptive cruise control even works well for cars, though less so picking up other motorcycles while riding with friends.
Canyon Riding on an Upright Tourer
As comfortable as the Multistrada Pikes Peak makes highway cruising, though, the dual natures that Ducati managed to cram into one package come to the fore as soon as the roads get tighter. Switching into Sport adjusts the engine tuning to make each throttle input much more responsive, while the suspension automatically firms up to medium.
No bike this upright and heavy should corner with so much confidence. And yet, a bit of countersteer and lean allows those Pirellis to set an edge and hustle through turns at much higher speeds than imaginable. The V4 engine can then power out onto straights. With Ducati Wheelie Control and traction control, there are no worries about slipping the rear tire, either.
That edgier throttle response becomes all the more important, however, because if the Pikes Peak has one weak point, it’s the transmission and clutch lever. Short gear ratios help the V4 wake up nice and quickly. But an interminably long throw for the shift lever makes nailing up and downshifts a challenge.
The clutch only seems to start slipping at about 95% of the total lever travel. A friend who owns a Pikes Peak thought this bike, basically brand-new with 280 miles on the clock, might need to break in — but the clutch cable might well need an adjustment, since the bike lurches when firing up (with the clutch pulled in) and the quickshifter regularly shifted from first into neutral at the worst possible times.
The sensation becomes downright strange while trying to push the Multistrada Pikes Peak hard. Luckily, the rest of the bike exudes confidence and manages to absorb the lurchy shifting with aplomb. Still, more sensitive riders accustomed to Ducati’s intuitive shifting on other models will probably want to dial in the gearbox a bit better.
Multistrada Pikes Peak: Comparisons & Competitors
The fact that a balky transmission still can’t take away from the Multistrada Pikes Peak’s eminent capability says a lot about Ducati’s wizardry marrying the performance goodies from the Panigale onto a more traditional touring chassis. The easily adjustable windscreen, adjustable seat height, and optional saddlebags all carry over, too. Though with luggage mounted, lane splitting in traffic might get sketchy.
The magic harkens to a similarly impressive feat that Ducati managed on the DesertX. It’s an ADV bike that also somehow handles far better than its 21-inch front wheel and Dakar-inspired design might suggest. Basing the Pikes Peak on the Multistrada platform, however, allows for that V4 power to make cruising at (or above) 80 miles an hour for long stretches completely bearable.
The multifaceted nature of the Multistrada Pikes Peak means that finding a direct competitor is somewhat challenging. Probably BMW’s R 1250 GS comes closest, while leaning toward the ADV segment (especially as equipped with the Adventure package).
But, the GS stickers for $22,165 fully loaded. It has a larger 1,254cc Boxer motor that produces less power (136 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque). It also weighs more (548 pounds dry) and has a slightly smaller (5.0 gallons) gas tank.
2023 Ducati Multistrada Pikes Peak Review: Conclusions
With an MSRP of $28,995 to start, the Multistrada Pikes Peak legitimately contends for a true one-bike solution. The math at that price point might be cause for pause, though, since the money can also legitimately buy two excellent bikes more dedicated to each purpose. For example, that could be an Aprilia RS660 at around $12,000 and a Ducati DesertX at around $17,000. Or even an RS660 and a BMW GS Adventure at around $20,000.
But for those Ducati fans with the cash to spend or minimal storage space, the Pikes Peak package leaves no doubt that no other bike on the market can match the all-rounder sport and touring capabilities baked into the Multistrada.