ADV Routes & DestinationsAdvrider Older MagazinesADV ReviewADV NewsADV Riding Skills & SafetyAdventure Rider Magazine CongregationADV BikesEventsADV Gear & AccessoriesADV Products

The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro hits the desert dust

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #23

Adventure Rider Magazine’s editor stole away for couple of days on Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro. A valuable lesson was learned on how different riding modes can turn a great ride into a sensational one.

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro

Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro

Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro is a pleasure to ride in just about any situation, especially if a rider takes the time to learn the menu options.

I make no secret of my deep awe where the long-term Ducati’s concerned, and it’s a source of some irritation to me that I’ve been gifted access to what I believe to be a truly exceptional and exotic motor-cycle, and I spend all my time at my desk wishing I could be out riding it.

Facing a very tight schedule – there were new bikes needed riding all over creation and a deadline looming – I saw a few consecutive days on the year planner that, with a little firm insistence on my part, could be blocked out as
‘Ducati Days’.

The designated dates arrived long before I was ready, and with a pounding heart I climbed on board the idling beast and snicked it into gear.

I had no real plan, no GPS and no map.

For a few days I’d live the adventure-riding dream.

Red desert dust is a challenge on a bike as big as this one, but it’s a rewarding exercise to make it through.

Trust the bike

Heading west is always a good option for me.

I live on the coast, so east is pretty much out of the question.

North is fine but it takes a long time to get anywhere. South is the same. West means I’m on the dirt within a few kilometres of the front gate and the bitumen I do strike is the kind Ducati dreams are made of.

I had my swag strapped to the back and, thanks to the panniers seeming to hold impossible amounts of gear, an amazing amount of luggage that included plenty of coffee and sugar, tools, camera gear, some magazines, a change of undies and a few bits and pieces of warm clothing.

Even then the panniers weren’t full.

Curious to see what I could get away with, I chucked in some chain lube, a selfie-stick, a jumper, a few spare straps, a towel, a ground sheet and a chair(!), and it still seemed there was room for more.


Of course, all that weight over the rear meant there was a bit of a pendulum feeling about the back end of the bike,and it was especially noticeable on the first set of bitumen mountain bends.

I was a little disappointed. I enjoy a good scratch on the tar and I knew the Ducati excelled in that environment, so although I was looking forward to lots of comfort when I stopped, the weight of the luggage made the bike a bit swishy and to some extent took the shine off my fun.

Then I remembered how much tuning was available on this particular bike.

I’m not a fan of lots of fiddling about, but I thought I may as well give it a try. If there was an improvement to be made I’d be a goose to not take advantage of it.

I pulled over and started working through the menu options until I found a graphic that showed helmets – one, two or three of them.

I selected the two-helmet option and instantly had the strange sensation of feeling the height of the rear adjust as I sat there.

I took off and enjoyed all the refine-ment the Ducati heritage had built into that bike’s ability to carve up a mountain road. It’s not easy to describe the way the 1200 scalpels its way along winding bitumen. It’s built to do it, and the only way to appreciate how good it is is to experience it.

Even some rain couldn’t take the shine off things. The traction control and ABS dealt with the hairy moments. All I had to do was pick lines and enjoy. The bike made sure I stayed smooth, and I bet I looked damn good, too.

It was one of those rides where the stopping was as good as the riding.

Stop and think

Looping around some Secret Squirrel dirt roads had me quickly reaching for the menu button again.

I’d ridden the first part of the journey in Sport mode and had a ball, but the safety margin offered by the electronics on the asphalt was soon frustrating on the dirt.

The traction control would get fussy on even small corrugations and the ABS was making things just plain boring.

I dived into the menu again. Almost literally, as it happened.

I knew the menu could be changed on the fly so I didn’t bother pulling up.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t know the menu all that well, I was squinting down at the dash watching the graphics change when a situation that needed my input caught my attention just a little later than was comfortable. The ensuing emergency stop and straight-line panic run into an empty paddock meant I ended up stationary anyway, thanks to the electronics still upright, so I flicked through the menu, selected Enduro and headed off, once again thoroughly enjoying the exceptional performance of a bike built for exceptional performance.

Having shown its obvious prowess on the road it proceeded to demonstrate just how lively and exciting it could be off the road as well.

We’ve loved the dashboard display on this bike since the very first time we saw it. Everything’s easy to see and in plain English. In the red square it says ‘SIDE STAND’ and the bike’s clearly in Sport mode. It’s 1.30pm, there’s about two-thirds of a tank of fuel and the preload on the shock is set for a single rider. There’s heaps more info available, but that’s good to have at glance.

Doesn’t matter

The rest of the day went pretty much like that. I stopped at places that caught my eye for coffee or even just for the plea-sure of being there and soaking up some free time in a fabulous location.

When interesting bits of road presented themselves I switched to Sport mode and let the bike have its head. On long dirt sections I discovered the Touring mode gave a brilliant, no-fuss compromise that seemed to give the bike a lazy attitude that meant no stress on bike or rider. Naturally, on the extended bitumen straight sections – and they don’t get much longer than some those west of Walgett – it did the same, except I had the added luxury of cruise control.

Speaking of Walgett, I ended up on the Kamilaroi Highway for the run into that town because I couldn’t find the dirt road through Come By Chance. I’ve ridden it often enough, but I’m terrible at remembering routes and landmarks at the best of times.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so clever heading off without a map.

Then I remembered what I was doing and I really didn’t care. A couple of hundred kilometres on the highway was a gift on a bike like this one.

I settled back into the incredibly comfortable seat, moved the screen up to its highest position, punched a good speed into the cruise control and sat back to enjoy the desert rolling by.

It could’ve been 60kph for all the difference it made to the bike.

It grumbled along, seemingly living and loving the adventure every bit as much as I was.

The tufts of cotton made blurred lines on the edge of the road, eagles swooped and screeched and emus ran around in circles out on the flat, harsh ground.

Soon enough I found myself in Bourke with an effortless 900km or so behind me and some decisions to make.

Sand is one of the few times it becomes necessary to override the electronics. The Enduro setting will have the bike performing well in most off-road situations, but the traction control needs to be off to cope with this kind of running.

Where to?

Bourke is an exciting place for an adventure rider.

From Bourke a rider can keep heading west through Wanaaring, Tibooburra, Cameron Corner and The Strzelecki. To the south-west is Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia, White Cliffs, Broken Hill and the Flinders. To the north-west is Innaminka, Hungerford, Birdsville and The Simpson.

Another great feature of the Ducati presented itself as I fuelled up and considered my options. The 30-litre tank and excellent fuel efficiency meant I was enjoying around 450km range from each tank.

What a gift!

Without carrying any extra, bulky fuel cells or bladders all of those destinations I’d considered were within reach.

But it was late afternoon and kangaroos and pigs had started to appear on the roadside. It was time for sensible riders to bunk down and get some rest.

Bourke is pretty much the edge of civilisation heading west, and the red desert surrounds the town. With the Ducati running in Enduro mode the size and weight of the bike soon made itself felt. The 19-inch front wheel is a little prone digging in when the surface gets loose, and for a while the riding became very hard work indeed.

But by this stage I’d learned the lesson.

I pulled up, sinking deep into the dust, switched off the traction control and pushed on.

It was as though the bike had been set free. It was still big and heavy, and the panniers gave a solid biff here and there as legs were ripped back off the ’pegs, but at least the whole show kept going forward, and that’s a big plus in the sand.

The panniers will take a big load. No red dust or rain made it’s way in either side. They’re great units.

An old chip off the block

After some spirited riding and maybe even a few harsh words shouted inside the helmet, I somehow found myself back on the road just a few kilometres from Bourke town centre.

I’m not sure how I managed it, but there it is.

And it was just getting to the point where it’d change from ‘late afternoon’ to ‘dusk’.

I considered my options, my solo status, and how much I’d enjoy a hot shower, and then made my way to a low-bag motel on the edge of town.

With a sigh of contentment after a longish day I parked up for the night and considered my dining preferences.

I needn’t have bothered. The bain marie at the servo across the road had a few leathery chips in a large clump and a warm liquid which showed up on the docket as ‘coffee’, and that was that.

The bug splatter gives an idea how far the panniers stick out into the breeze. Even with the extra drag, and some reasonably long sections at high speed, range was still around 450km per tank.

Back to work

The next morning was a little sad because I knew my very brief time was up. I had to be back at my desk the following day, and that meant this day had to be given over to a run east. Another 900km, and no time for exploring or daydreaming.

But still, it meant another full day on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and any day I can get with that bike is a very, very good day.

Gotta love riding east as the sun rises. It was just about time to drop the tinted visor on the Nexx.

For more stories, check out:

Follow our social media:

Series Navigation<< Bright Sparks – Thrills and spills in the Victorian hillsTech – Pinlock >>

BMW GS Safari Enduro: Cape York – motorbike trip, australian motorcycle tour

Previous article

Bali Tour 2019 – Perth Adventure Riders

Next article

You may also like


Comments are closed.