Multistrada V4 test ride - first impressions. V4S or BMW GS?

As some readers of this forum know I took the new 2021 V4 Multi for a test ride yesterday. Now for me that is no simple 'pop around to your local dealer' feat. There is only one dealer in the ROI and that's in Dublin, 354.5Km away from where I live :( , (this is one of the reasons that over the past few years I've had to learn to do everything necessary to service and maintain my own bikes myself) so a 709Km round trip was the order of the day. For anyone who's not aware I've decided I really ought to change some of the bikes I ride because, if truth be known, whilst they are beautiful to look at e.g. my yellow 748 and the 998S they are not the most comfortable of bikes for a 6'2", 97Kg man of advancing years to ride.

cue gratuitous photos of the bikes in question.



In fact whilst on recent day out on the 998S it really came home to me that something more suitable might be better for me, which, coupled with plans to put in a number of European tours in the coming years (probably just a reaction to be being cooped up like everyone else over the past 15 months thanks to the Pandemic), plus I wish to persuade Mrs P to accompany me (when it's not a boys only tour😁) so we may share the experience together, my thoughts turned towards something like a GS 😮. Shock. Horror. I hear you say. Yes, well we've covered that in this thread here.

So I first took a 2007 R1200GSA out for a test ride which you read about here and then a brand new 2021 R1250GS for a test ride which you can read about here.

I'd never ridden one before, never even sat on one, always thought them far too big (same thoughts applied to the MultiStrada) but suffice to say I was impressed (y), more so by the most recent reincarnation with it's 'ShiftCam' engine.

However, as I've been loyal to Ducati for the past 25 years or so, even though the dealer is bloody miles away I felt it only fair to give Ducati a shot and see if I could get a test ride. I didn't really hold out much hope as the dealer is, IMO, primarily a Hardly Ableson dealer (thanks to @Don Kiddick for that wonderfully succint and apt nomeclature) and 60% of their showroom space is given over to HD's front and centre with very much smaller rooms to the right and left that house Triumph and Ducati. In fact the last time I ever called in there whilst they had over 25 HDs on display and 10 Triumphs they had 3 Ducatis in the bare and forelorn looking space, so I didn't really expect them to have a demo bike.


However, before I even had chance to call them they called me 😮 . I'd been looking at the site and playing around on the configurator there and the configuration I'd created had been sent on to my 'local' dealer. Spooky but impressive. It turned out they had a V4S demo bike and yes I could take it out for a test ride, so..........


Yes, coming from where I've been it's a physically big bike; GS big, so after a brief familiarisation intro and with some trepidation on my part I climb aboard and point it towards the exit to the car park. As soon as it starts moving though it seems to miraculously shed both size and weight, even more so than a GS appears to do once on the move, and now feels small and nimble like my Monster.

Fair play to the dealer he's given me a route that takes in urban (to get out of the Dublin outskirts), motorway and then twisty N roads (A roads for GB readers) and told me to bring it back in about an hour and half. The BMW dealer gave me 30 mins :(.

Moving with and through the traffic, around various industrial estates, it's so easy. It's in Urban (riding modes are new to me until I test rode the GS) and the pick up and throttle response is very smooth, no snatchiness or transmission jerk at all. Approach the motorway junction, put it into Touring mode (I'll leave Sport mode for now until I'm a little more used to it) and descend down the slip road. M-way is clear, open the throttle and the thing takes off like a scalded cat 😁, especially once it hits about 5k revs. What an engine.

The M-way is just the one short junction before I'm off and onto the N81 and out of town - although this is Dublin suburbs so there's still plenty of traffic unfortunately. This is not like riding a tourer at all. This thing flies. It's so nimble and agile as well. The GS has a slightly 'vague' feel from the front end - probably something to do with the telelever suspension - this is so planted and secure in feeling. Despite having a 19" front wheel (you'd never know that unless told or you looked at the tyre) it tips into corners with the slightest bit of countersteer and goes around bends as if it's on rails. And, that engine, oh my, what a beauty - I can only imagine what the full power version in the SF and Panigale must be like. This thing is like a sports bike, albeit one where you're sitting upright and are fully comfortable.

This thing is packed with technology as well and everything fully adjustable whilst on the move, rider modes, suspension settings, heated grips and seat pad settings, adaptive cruise control etc etc etc. On the subject of the last one, the adaptive cruise control, that is a complete and utter revelation. A bizarre sensation at first but once used to it it's very very impressive. As an example I set it to 100kmh and then set how close I wanted to get to a vehicle in front - all really easy to do whilst riding. As I close in on some cars behind a van in front it automatically slows the bike down and maintains the gap I've set. The van pulls off the road, the cars speed up and I speed up as well - without any throttle input from me. The lead car brakes to turn right, the following cars brake, the bike slows then brakes all of its own we're now down to 30kmh. Two cars left, the front one speeds off the one in front of me is doing about 60kmh, so am I. That car then moves to the left as they approcah a left hand junction and before I realise it, as they are no longer in the radar's beam the bike senses there's an open road in front and accelerates away until it reaches 100kmh and then just sits at that speed. I'm now sitting there whilst the bike does virtually everything for me and as it's so smooth and comfortable I start thinking, 'If i had a kettle here, I could plug it into the power socket up front and make myself a cup of tea whilst this thing just drives on', it is that good.

The ACC even works just as well when in town in slow moving urban traffic. Want to make sure you don't get busted by a speed camera? Just set the max speed and let the bike do the rest.

Linked to the ACC is the blind spot radar to the rear. That is an absolute life saver and should be on every single bike in the future. The mirrors are good, really good by past standards, but several times the warning light in the mirror, within your peripheral vision but not obtrusive, would light up. I'd look in the mirror and it appears there's nothing there at all. Nothing in the mirror that's for sure but a look over my shoulder reveals there's a vehicle sitting just on my shoulder 😮. In town, even ****s undertaking. Getting the radar technology package is worth it just for this IMO.

The other thing that's a revelation is the almost complete lack of wind blast. I mean there is nothing. Absolutely nothing on my legs, my body, my arms or anywhere other than a slight wind noise around the very top of my helmet and even that only really becomes noticeable at >80kmh. I'm 6'2" and I reckon that anyone 3-4 inches shorter, with the screen on max extension would experience no buffeting at all. The work they've done in the wind tunnel clearly shows and pays off - hence my earlier comment about sitting there and making a cup of tea.

90 minutes later, having got a bit lost on the way back I finally get back and return the bike. I had to stop to put some fuel in. Not the bike's fault necessarily although it is quite thirsty but it only had 70Km of range left when I took it out.


How's it compare to the GS I recently rode?

If the GS scores 10/10 for saddle comfort then this scores 9/10. I know many don't like the GSs suspension but I liked it. I like the way there's no dive when braking and I'd say it's very slightly a plusher ride. However, there are so many other attributes this wins on that that single point difference is the only thing I can think off that is in the GS's favour hence I got it out of the way.

I know it's different horses for different courses and I know its all very subjective and there will always be a sub-concious personal bias in any such comparisons but IMO the Multistrada wins on real world performance, not just numbers but what it feels like on the road. It wins on handling. It wins on the fact there's no wind blast. It wins on it's Jeckyll & Hyde nature, one moment you can be pootling around at 50kmh in 6th with no wind, warm hands, warm bum, ACC on, making a cup of tea; the next you can be Jack Miller and I reckon on the road a good rider who's got balls I don't have could ride this bike as quick A to B as they could ride a Panigale. I reckon this bike could be ridden as quickly around a track as a lot of other 'sports' bikes.

Where does it figure price wise compared to a GS? Well, due to their basic offerings and the various ‘option’ packages each manufacturer offers not being on a like for like basis it’s difficult to do a direct apples for apples comparison. However, at the base bike level the BMW is slightly cheaper. Spec them up similarly, GS TE and V4S so they both have the full electronics package and the BMW is still cheaper by about by about €2k. However, by the time you’ve added the colour most people would select for the GS ie not the base ‘ice grey’ or whatever it is and add the seat heating which is standard on the V4S then the differential drops to the V4S being ‘just’ €500 more expensive. Add in the luggage option for each and they’re as near as makes no difference the same price. Add the radar €850 which is not an option on the GS and the Duc is more expensive again. Is the radar worth it? IMO yes. I reckon that in a few years time there will be a big enough differential in used prices between those with and without that you’ll recoup the €850 spent now.

edit: The Ducati V4S (but not the base V4 afaik) comes with navigation built into its dash, on the GS that’s an €800 additional cost for the BMW navigation device. Therefore at the end of the day their more or less the same price.

What's the differences between the models?

V4 is the basic 'entry' model and doesn't have all the electronic wizardry of the V4S
V4S has the full electronics - bar the radar which is an €850 option - and improved front brakes
V4S Sport has the above plus an Akrapovic end can and a carbon fibre front mudguard.

The Akrapovic end can can be added by the dealer to the V4 and the V4S. I wouldn't bother. It's €1350 and apart from a little more noise I can't see much point. I think you'd be better waiting until the bike is out of warranty and then adding a full system and removing the cat in the process. That is if you really really need to get more than 170bhp.

Now, here's another jaw dropper. Service intervals. The 'big' valve service is now only every 60,000km. But wait, there's more. The oil & fluid service is now every 15,000kms or 2 years (although I think I'd still be inclined to get the oil changed annually). In addition there's a 4 year warranty.

Now the million dollar question. Would I buy one? Yes. It is a very very impressive bike. It's not a GS. It's a sports bike for touring. I was seriously considering a GS but I always had a little nagging feeling in the back of my head. That feeling was based upon two things.

1. When I was much much younger and started out on bikes, BMW's were always ridden by old men with grey beards and I can't get that image out of my head. (Errr, have you looked in the mirror lately? I say to myself. I know, I'm at that stage but just don't want to admit it).

2. Kerb appeal. I mentioned in my initial review of the GS that although it is very Germanic and clinically efficient in everything it is supposed to do it just doesn't, in my mind, have that kerb appeal. Small boys and grown men don't turn their heads to look as you ride by - they do when you ride a Ducati. Crowds don't flock around a BMW GS (unless they're old men with grey beards :ROFLMAO:); they do around a Ducati.

So, in conclusion, I'm sorry Mr BMW Salesman, but IF I were to buy new its going to be the Ducati (y).

A quick update. Ducati provide 4 years warranty and 4 years pan European breakdown cover.

Owners manual can be found here if anyone’s interested.

Also, I found this guy on YT, he bought one earlier this year, is covering around 2000 miles/month on it and is posting up his feedback if anyone is interested.

That’s the 5000 mile review but he’s done them at 6 & 8k. All good, no issues, just add fuel & go.
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Don Kiddick

Well-known member
No, I really don’t like the headlight on them, looks like a giant bluebottle’s head. Mind you I never used to like the beaks on MultiStradas or GSs but a I’ve come round to accepting them.
You cant see ‘em when you're sat on it.
Is there a KTM dealer within striking distance from your base?
They’re not for me, but they leant me one when my Multi was in for it’s new clocks; I was glad to get my bike back, but worth a test ride I would have thought, it’s a couple of hours out on a bike if nothing else.

West Cork Paul

Elite Member
You cant see ‘em when you're sat on it.
Is there a KTM dealer within striking distance from your base?
They’re not for me, but they leant me one when my Multi was in for it’s new clocks; I was glad to get my bike back, but worth a test ride I would have thought, it’s a couple of hours out on a bike if nothing else.
The nearest one is a Honda dealer in Dublin again, another 350+ Km each way 😕

West Cork Paul

Elite Member
New multi v4 in the offing? from a few days ago

It’s for the 2022 MY apparently. Also, I can’t see it having the electronic auto levelling suspension with Ohlins unless they want to burst through the 30k list price ceiling. Mind you Ducatis do look nice with a bit of gold front & back 👍