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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, folks.

I joined recently and put most of this in my intro post but figured it'll get more eyes in the actual MTS forum... :smile2:

I spent ~2 weeks riding a Multistrada 1260S Touring up the west coast of Norway in July/August this year, and I'm considering a switch from my FJR next year, but I have a couple of niggling concerns (see later). My wife and I were on the "Adventure North Cape" tour run by Edelweiss. The bike had only been used on 3 prior tours and had about 12,000k on the clock. New tyres, new oil, with the 3-piece luggage and engine bars added.

In 12 riding days we covered 4000km of some of Norway's most scenic roads, many of 'em twisty coastal Fjord-huggers, some of 'em fast sweepers, the occasional long straight and pretty varied road surfaces: from smooth new asphalt to rutted old more-pothole-than-road (like the north end of #87) and occasional gravel patches.

I had an SV1000 for a while years ago but now I usually ride 4-cylinder bikes (I have an FJR1300 & VFR800), so I wasn't quite tuned-in to engine characteristics or the right rev range for low speed riding and made it lug a bit too much for the first few days, before adjusting to the bike.

I loved the amazing pull-your-arms-off grunt and excellent comfort - I have a 30-31" inside leg and was easily flat-footing with the lowered seat (which was stock but comfy enough for >8-hr riding days), and the grip warmers and windshield did a great job. My wife found the passenger seat better than the FJR - more knee room and visibility as the seat's higher. My FJR is a heavy bike, which is my main downside to it, but I found the Multi to be more comparable to the VFR - not that I'm a racer boy, but to it me felt really light and flickable, easy to maneuver at low speed or on a squirrely surface. The FJR is soooo comfortable (I call it the Silver Sofa) and can eat miles effortlessly, but it's a barge in slow speed maneuvering.

The Multi performed awesomely on the twisties, with handling capabilities obviously well above my skill level. I could breeze past slow moving cars with no effort at all, and I'm pretty sure the anti-wheelie control and rev limiter both kicked in a couple of times when I was a bit too aggressive overtaking in 2nd gear early on. It cruised comfortably at highway speeds and I didn't notice too much vibration.

It rained a couple of days but was otherwise unseasonably warm at ~30c a lot of the time. I didn't notice excessive heat on my legs on the hot days, but it seemed to suck up and retain water, as it steamed like crazy every time we stopped and when we parked-up for a break on the worst rainy day it sent up clouds of the stuff and dropped so much water from the fairing onto the ground under the bike that I was worried we'd overheated and sprung a leak... Is that normal?

I got a handful of false neutrals, usually only on upshifts, even when changing assertively, not teasing the gearbox. Not sure if it's the quickshifter because I didn't use it much but on the first day I did, one time it failed to get into 6th from 5th three times in a row before I kicked it back down (using the clutch) to 4th and went back up using the clutch again. Kinda dangerous! :frown2:

I didn't have a problem finding neutral when parking it up, but it happened too many times when riding at highway speed for me not to be wondering if it's a wider problem or was just a thing on the specific bike we had... like maybe it's missing a software update or something...

Together, we probably weigh ~360lb in our bike clothes, so we're not the biggest but we're not tiny Italians, either. The bike was in Touring mode, and we had the suspension set to 2-up with bags (empty - they had a van for our luggage), and I ground the pegs a bit in the coastal twisties one day which was cool, but it bottomed out a few times on some of the bumpier surfaces. We were just going straight, but it gave us a few spine-jarring clunks - worse for her! It felt like it couldn't handle landing after launching over some bumps, or like the centrestand was whacking the road. We were riding in a group so just keeping pace, and no-one else (most on BMW 700/1200 GSs) complained as much... I dialed-up the stiffness on the rear after that, but the other roads on subsequent days weren't as bad.

So here's my thoughts:
  1. I loved the bright dash and menu system; the cruise control; the weight, ergonomics and comfort; the handling and power; the sound and feel. Well, the bike, really! The upsides of this bike are intoxicating... :laugh:
  2. The FJR screams like a banshee when you crank it, but this beast roars like a lion. :grin2:
  3. Is the radiator steam & gushing water from the fairing when it rains normal? :wink2:
  4. About the false neutrals - was this bike-specific or is it a widespread issue? :frown2:
  5. About the suspension for 2-up touring - was this a one-off issue or is it a bit weak? :surprise:

The tour was a great way to have a real workout on the bike, and I'm deeply tempted to get one for myself, but it left a few questions I'm struggling with.

Any thoughts, folks?
 

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Glad you enjoyed it, I've had the same bike since April and like it more every time I ride it.

Yes, they squirrel away a disconcerting amount of water when they get wet. It's all in the plastics, though, and it does drain out once you stop.

False neutrals are a well known issue on Ducatis. Some bikes are better than others, few are intolerably bad. You learn after awhile to really boot that shifter into 2nd, but 6th is harder to remember. There are aftermarket solutions. Some swear by them, others say they don't work.

There has been tons written already about how the Skyhook suspension handles heavier loads, I'd recommend a forum search and some light reading. It's an important issue and one you'll want a good understanding of for a purchase decision. If you like the MTS, but are concerned Skyhook may not meet your needs, consider either the base model or Pikes Peak. Both can be re-sprung for heavier loads, unlike Skyhook.
 

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Great write up! I bought my 1260 last week and so far, it has been the best overall bike I have ever owned...the combination of comfort and agility is astounding on this bike and the motor pulls hard when you need it. Did you try it in sport mode? The damping would not be as soft and might have prevented the bottoming/wallowing. As for false nuetral's, I had it happen once on me in 5th and it was because I light tapped the shifter. Otherwise all perfect! Good luck!
 

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A couple of notes. We have about 12K miles on a '17 1200 S, most of those miles 2-up. Combined we're about 310 lbs. I have only owned one i4 bike (many years ago), prefer triples and big twins so I'm more used to the engine feel. In fact I had an '05 Multi that was a great bike until a coyote took us out.

Finding neutral - I usually put it into neutral while still rolling, and it is easy. Fully stopped it can be a bit of a challenge, but my KTM is the same way, even my old GS could be a bit fiddly. At a slow roll coming to a stop, no problem. The Duc got much better as the miles went on. New it was far trickier.

False neutrals - usually get them between 5-6, and often because I'm limp ankling the bike. Not a constant problem on my bike, but ymmv.

Bottoming out - first thing to check is the front preload. It is manual, and from the factory they are full-soft. Seems many shops don't adjust them. That will help. Also, if we're riding spirited, I always switch to Sport over Touring as Touring is just too soft when you're compressing in turns. Even in Sport the stand can drag but it is much stiffer.

My usual process is to have the bike in Touring when we're getting to the fun parts of the ride (though I set the engine map high in Touring as well so I have consistently throttle response), then switch to Sport once we hit the twisties. It is so easy and seamless with the bike. Also you can tweak some of the individual setting for each mode as well (which you can't do with KTM or BWM).

My wife finds the Multi to be the most comfortable of any bike we've had over the past 10 years. While I went through a period where I was switching bikes like underwear, the Multi has stuck and even now when I need to drop down to one bike in the garage, the Multi stays. Brilliant bike. Only weakness is when you hit the dirt, but frankly any big adventure bike with road-biased tires is going to struggle in parts of the dirt.
 

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Bottoming out - first thing to check is the front preload. It is manual, and from the factory they are full-soft. Seems many shops don't adjust them. That will help. Also, if we're riding spirited, I always switch to Sport over Touring as Touring is just too soft when you're compressing in turns. Even in Sport the stand can drag but it is much stiffer.
I've had multiple techs tell me that the front preload is just there for show, the range of setting is super narrow and won't make a big difference. I forget where I saw it but, there was a page/video/something talking through the full range of front preload settings saying that some number of turns out, the spring is fully uncompressed.

YMMV but, mechanics I trust said not to bother.
 

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I've had multiple techs tell me that the front preload is just there for show, the range of setting is super narrow and won't make a big difference. I forget where I saw it but, there was a page/video/something talking through the full range of front preload settings saying that some number of turns out, the spring is fully uncompressed.

YMMV but, mechanics I trust said not to bother.

" 'tis better to have adjusted and not had an effect, than to never had adjusted at all..."

- Guiseppe Shakespeare
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Yes, they squirrel away a disconcerting amount of water when they get wet. It's all in the plastics, though, and it does drain out once you stop.
Ah, good to know. There was so much flow that I was worried it was the contents of the radiator gushing out until my wife dipped a finger in it and tasted it then said it was just rainwater... :surprise:

I'm usually a fair-weather pleasure rider only, so tend not to go out in the rain unless we get caught out on a road trip. Not a major concern anyway! :wink2:

False neutrals are a well known issue on Ducatis. Some bikes are better than others, few are intolerably bad. You learn after awhile to really boot that shifter into 2nd, but 6th is harder to remember. There are aftermarket solutions. Some swear by them, others say they don't work.
Hm, bummer it's a known thing... I'm not used to being harsh with my shifting, and I adjusted to get over any 1st to 2nd issues so it wasn't as noticeable, but the FJR doesn't even have a 6th gear so that particular transition stood out!

There has been tons written already about how the Skyhook suspension handles heavier loads, I'd recommend a forum search and some light reading. It's an important issue and one you'll want a good understanding of for a purchase decision. If you like the MTS, but are concerned Skyhook may not meet your needs, consider either the base model or Pikes Peak. Both can be re-sprung for heavier loads, unlike Skyhook.
I'll try that, but my search-fu may be weak, I haven't found much discussion of 2-up riding suspension feedback with the search terms I was using!

<Edit>I found this thread and this one after actually searching using Skyhook, looks like these could be just the discussions I need to start with, so I'll read 'em through.

I was wondering if the Enduro, with its higher ground clearance and travel, would be better for heavier loads, but I'm thinking the effect of that plus the bigger tyres, etc. would compromise the overall street riding/touring experience compared to the S model... Just to handle occasional super-crappy roads better. Trade-offs, I guess...

Thanks for the feedback!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great write up! I bought my 1260 last week and so far, it has been the best overall bike I have ever owned...the combination of comfort and agility is astounding on this bike and the motor pulls hard when you need it. Did you try it in sport mode? The damping would not be as soft and might have prevented the bottoming/wallowing. As for false nuetral's, I had it happen once on me in 5th and it was because I light tapped the shifter. Otherwise all perfect! Good luck!
Thanks! I didn't think to even try it in Sport mode, actually. I also never really just took it out and rode it solo - a great opportunity lost! D'oh! :wink2:

I stiffened up the rear a couple of notches after the worst day, but we didn't really experience the same surface issues again so I wasn't able to work through it in full "debug" mode to do a proper test. Too many distractions with the tour group and scenery! :wink2:

I'm glad to hear your gearbox is behaving so far - enjoy your new beast!
 

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I've had multiple techs tell me that the front preload is just there for show, the range of setting is super narrow and won't make a big difference. I forget where I saw it but, there was a page/video/something talking through the full range of front preload settings saying that some number of turns out, the spring is fully uncompressed.

YMMV but, mechanics I trust said not to bother.
Having heard this multiple times, but never seen it tested, I wanted some data. Suffice it to say, @EvilSteve is 100% right. I performed the same test three times for both full out and full in preload, and the results were effectively identical. Using a zip-tie to mark the testing, I got 1 9/16th inch of remaining tube travel (assuming the fork can travel the entire distance, which is doubtful) on all six bounce tests, to within 1/16th of an inch. Yea, metric, whatever, I was using what I had on hand.

If you want to test this yourself, keep in mind you have to power cycle between tests, then test immediately after startup, otherwise the Skyhook system intervenes and ruins the results. The bike does have to be powered on to perform the test, since the suspension is effectively locked out when it's off.

So I'm convinced now: The front preload on even a brand new MTS is basically a useless knob. I think I'll call it Cal Crutchlow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A couple of notes. We have about 12K miles on a '17 1200 S, most of those miles 2-up. Combined we're about 310 lbs. I have only owned one i4 bike (many years ago), prefer triples and big twins so I'm more used to the engine feel. In fact I had an '05 Multi that was a great bike until a coyote took us out.

Finding neutral - I usually put it into neutral while still rolling, and it is easy. Fully stopped it can be a bit of a challenge, but my KTM is the same way, even my old GS could be a bit fiddly. At a slow roll coming to a stop, no problem. The Duc got much better as the miles went on. New it was far trickier.

False neutrals - usually get them between 5-6, and often because I'm limp ankling the bike. Not a constant problem on my bike, but ymmv.
Thanks for your notes - much appreciated! :smile2:

When I was looking for neutral it was generally OK - the worrying part was when it happened when I didn't expect it! I certainly noticed it in the 5-6 transition mostly, which I guess isn't really a safety issue as you're probably not in your most involved riding mode when clicking up to top gear.

Bottoming out - first thing to check is the front preload. It is manual, and from the factory they are full-soft. Seems many shops don't adjust them. That will help. Also, if we're riding spirited, I always switch to Sport over Touring as Touring is just too soft when you're compressing in turns. Even in Sport the stand can drag but it is much stiffer.

My usual process is to have the bike in Touring when we're getting to the fun parts of the ride (though I set the engine map high in Touring as well so I have consistently throttle response), then switch to Sport once we hit the twisties. It is so easy and seamless with the bike. Also you can tweak some of the individual setting for each mode as well (which you can't do with KTM or BWM).
I didn't even think to check the front on the tour, but if I do get one I'll definitely have to check that out, and thanks for the tip on Sport mode - I wasn't adventurous enough experimenting with the settings to even try that. D'oh! I guess the great thing about the Skyhook system is the tweak-ability of it as you change riding context, whereas my other bikes are set-n-forget, so it's another thing I'd have to learn to use properly! Well, it's great in principle, if it's not overloaded... :wink2:

My wife finds the Multi to be the most comfortable of any bike we've had over the past 10 years. While I went through a period where I was switching bikes like underwear, the Multi has stuck and even now when I need to drop down to one bike in the garage, the Multi stays. Brilliant bike. Only weakness is when you hit the dirt, but frankly any big adventure bike with road-biased tires is going to struggle in parts of the dirt.
I was surprised by how positive she was about it, actually! She was pretty glowing in her review of how it felt back there on a stock bike, better even than our farkled FJR with custom seats, peg-lowering brackets, back-rest, etc... We currently have 3 bikes in the garage (her CBR500R, my VFR and FJR) but if I was getting a Multistrada we'd probably be going down to one. We'd need to sell 'em all off to afford it! :wink2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've had multiple techs tell me that the front preload is just there for show, the range of setting is super narrow and won't make a big difference. I forget where I saw it but, there was a page/video/something talking through the full range of front preload settings saying that some number of turns out, the spring is fully uncompressed.

YMMV but, mechanics I trust said not to bother.
Huh! Interesting, thanks. :smile2: I usually focus all my attention on the rear anyway, guess that's just my thing. :wink2:
 

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I also just spend 16 days in the Alls with the 1260S ridding two up. At home had a 2014 FJR ES and it was a big adjustment to the power band on the Multistrada you really have to crank it compared to the FJR. Took me a couple of day before I realized really had a lot more power just had to crank it. We rode in sport with two up and our combined weight also 300+ and no problem. The seat slides me forward and would like the risers to be higher and a little more back. Sold my FJR to my friend when we got back and picked up a 2018 1260 S last week and just put on the 600 mile break-in. Now for a new seat and risers love the bike.
Marty
 

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My inexpert opinion is that the Multi is a bit undersprung (in the rear primarily, but you notice it in the front 2up also), and sadly there are still no dual rate replacements that I've found.

Even if you're the spec 175lbs or whatever they call out... if you're 2 up with luggage you're probably going to find the rear suspension overwhelmed (IMO) on some roads that the Multi should be able to handle with ease.

Having said that... I tour the multi a lot (nearly 50% of the 50k miles on the bike) and we ride moderately hard even with luggage (not dropping knees or other squid level shenanigans... but passing a lot of traffic). On very rough roads I tend to back off a bit but I think the Multi is at it's best on backroad 2 lane 'slightly old and uneven' pavement. The stuff the sportbike crowd wouldn't like because of all the dental bills... it just eats that stuff up and as long as there aren't big surface disruptions will stick like glue.

Interestingly - if I rode 2up a lot I'd probably lean toward an FJR or something a bit bigger/more comfortable for pillion (we're not getting any younger)... but the few times my wife had ridden on the back she's commented that it's comfortable, so maybe it's just my impression of the rear riding position.
 
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Finding Neutral and False Neutrals

I have a 2016 MTS 1200 bought in 2017 as a left over. 7,000 miles now on the bike.

Finding neutral:
Probably a widespread issue since when I picked up the bike one of the things that they suggested was to adjust the clutch lever to its maximum reach during the break-in period to make sure that the clutch is fully engaged. Never had an issue finding neutral at a stop or rolling and have never adjusted the lever any closer to the bar.

False neutrals:
I had read this in many reviews and experienced it many times in the early miles on the bike, but I don't think it has happened more than a couple times this season and I knew that it was going to happen since I wasn't very firm with my up-shift. Some suggestions to lower the shift lever a notch so that you have to lift your foot a little less to engage the gear, but I haven't changed anything to date.
 

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Interestingly - if I rode 2up a lot I'd probably lean toward an FJR or something a bit bigger/more comfortable for pillion (we're not getting any younger)... but the few times my wife had ridden on the back she's commented that it's comfortable, so maybe it's just my impression of the rear riding position.
fwiw, We've had GS, Tiger, Caponord, Turismo Veloce, 1290 Super Adventure S, and Multi in the garage over the past few years. Out of all of the my wife says the Multi is the most comfortable.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I also just spend 16 days in the Alls with the 1260S ridding two up. At home had a 2014 FJR ES and it was a big adjustment to the power band on the Multistrada you really have to crank it compared to the FJR. Took me a couple of day before I realized really had a lot more power just had to crank it. We rode in sport with two up and our combined weight also 300+ and no problem. The seat slides me forward and would like the risers to be higher and a little more back. Sold my FJR to my friend when we got back and picked up a 2018 1260 S last week and just put on the 600 mile break-in. Now for a new seat and risers love the bike.
Marty
Very interesting to hear from a former FJR owner - thanks!

I took my FJR out this afternoon for a short local circuit (solo) and I can't fault how smoothly it rides, but I have farkled the sh*t out of it over the years to make it fit like a glove (except obviously I can't make it drop 200lbs). The power delivery is much more pedestrian: the throttle response is much less aggressive, you really have to drop a couple of cogs to get any sort of jump out of it. But hey, a ~700lbs bike with ~145hp will move quite differently to a ~500lbs one with ~160hp. :wink2:

Thanks again for sharing your experience, and congrats on your new beast! I'm sure you'll love it. :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Trying multiquote to trim down the postcount. :wink2:
My inexpert opinion is that the Multi is a bit undersprung (in the rear primarily, but you notice it in the front 2up also), and sadly there are still no dual rate replacements that I've found.
The jbmadness route of getting RaceTech (or similar) to find a suitable beefier single-rate spring seems to be the way to go at this time, though his is a 2013, so no idea how that would translate to the 2018. Anyway, it would be a route to investigate if I did go with a 1260 and find it to be too softly sprung.

Even if you're the spec 175lbs or whatever they call out... if you're 2 up with luggage you're probably going to find the rear suspension overwhelmed (IMO) on some roads that the Multi should be able to handle with ease.
That certainly seems to be the prevailing opinion - not a pervasive problem that hits you everywhere, but one that's an unpleasant surprise when it shows up! :|

Having said that... I tour the multi a lot (nearly 50% of the 50k miles on the bike) and we ride moderately hard even with luggage (not dropping knees or other squid level shenanigans... but passing a lot of traffic). On very rough roads I tend to back off a bit but I think the Multi is at it's best on backroad 2 lane 'slightly old and uneven' pavement. The stuff the sportbike crowd wouldn't like because of all the dental bills... it just eats that stuff up and as long as there aren't big surface disruptions will stick like glue.
Interesting, thanks for that feedback!

Interestingly - if I rode 2up a lot I'd probably lean toward an FJR or something a bit bigger/more comfortable for pillion (we're not getting any younger)... but the few times my wife had ridden on the back she's commented that it's comfortable, so maybe it's just my impression of the rear riding position.
Hah! That's funny. Makes me wonder if I might eventually regret switching from the FJR...

I have a 2016 MTS 1200 bought in 2017 as a left over. 7,000 miles now on the bike.

Finding neutral:
Probably a widespread issue since when I picked up the bike one of the things that they suggested was to adjust the clutch lever to its maximum reach during the break-in period to make sure that the clutch is fully engaged. Never had an issue finding neutral at a stop or rolling and have never adjusted the lever any closer to the bar.

False neutrals:
I had read this in many reviews and experienced it many times in the early miles on the bike, but I don't think it has happened more than a couple times this season and I knew that it was going to happen since I wasn't very firm with my up-shift. Some suggestions to lower the shift lever a notch so that you have to lift your foot a little less to engage the gear, but I haven't changed anything to date.
Thanks for your feedback!

It sounds like it maybe gets to be less of an issue over time with one of two things: (1) the bike behavior smooths out as it breaks in or (2) you adapt your shifting style. I don't suppose there are any reports of anyone crashing as a result of a false neutral on a Duc?

fwiw, We've had GS, Tiger, Caponord, Turismo Veloce, 1290 Super Adventure S, and Multi in the garage over the past few years. Out of all of the my wife says the Multi is the most comfortable.
Wow, what an assortment of bikes! I always thought the GS was supposed to be super-comfy, so yeah that's quite high praise! Thanks.
 

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Lowering the shifter a bit fixed false neutrals for me. I found this solution on this forum.
 

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Lowering the shifter a bit fixed false neutrals for me. I found this solution on this forum.
Same for me, when i first got the Multi, i got false neutrals, i lowered the gear leaver about 10mm at the rubber, and no more falsies.
 
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