- It’s what we do
- Arnhem Land – A very rare opportunity
- TBC – The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro gets a weekend away
- Hassans Walls – Bob Wozga scratches a Lithgow itch
- Four elements – Earth, wind, rain and fire from Andrew Bicknell
- Rod Faggotter – Back from Dakar and as cheerful as ever
- Mount Augustus – Mike Treloar goes it alone
- Overseas crash – Ian Macartney crash tests Aussie hospitals
- Triumph Explorer 1200 – Yee-hah!
- South Island, NZ – Ian Bowden loves his home
- Tech Tip – Tube tyre repair
- Across Aus – A DRZ to ride from coast to coast
- All class with Karen Ramsay
- How To Ride with Miles Davis
- Out with the old – A touch of Touratech magic
- Fit out
A weekend of slidin’, ridin’ and taking a hidin’. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro kicked off its time with Adventure Rider Magazine and we’re packing a high-tech, super comfort grin.
The Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro was a perfect choice for a strop along some backroads, a fang down the asphalt and some superb sightseeing.
The brand-spanking-new Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro was begging to be ridden and the Troy Bayliss Classic, a flat-track event on one of the few oiled surfaces left in Australia, offered a great opportunity to give the new bike a settling-in run. With a couple of mates, a few routes from Marty HC at DualSport Australia and hardly a care in the world, we set off from the Pub With No Beer at Taylors Arm and headed for what promised to be an excellent couple of days.
This grand old girl was propped on a stand in the spectator area.We’re not sure why, but it was getting plenty of attention. It sure looked horn.
Not paying attention
According to Marty HC it was about three-and-a-half leisurely hours to Taree on the route he’d planned.
In fact, he’d planned the route and a dozen or so alternatives and cut outs, some interesting possibilities (if anyone got bored) and a heap of get-out-of-trouble shortcuts in case of flooded rivers, closed tracks and other unforseen obstacles. He laid out each of these sections neatly on Google Maps in a different colour so even Adventure Rider Magazine’s editor – not known for his navigational prowess – could get out of trouble if need be. The editor thought it looked like a dozen schoolkids had gone crazy-ape bonkers on the map with a packet of coloured crayons and promptly deleted everything except the direct route.
“They’ve got what in the back room?” gaped Dino (left). Darren’s description was detailed.
Easy does it
The spirit of the ride was relaxed.
The short riding time allowed a civilised 10:00am departure, and Darren AC on his DR650 and Dino Fizzywater on his new KTM 1290 rolled in right on time, just as a council worker pulled up for a bit of a yarn. That passed an amiable 15 minutes or so and set the tone before the three riders hit the trail, following the pink line through some crazy-fast dirt roads with much-appreciated bends and sweeping curves. In a masterpiece of planning and execution they arrived bang on coffee o’clock at the Willawarrin store.
While waiting for the other two to shrug off helmets and jackets and make their way inside, the editor offered to shout coffee. The lads put in their orders, but when the shopkeeper was asked if he had available, a ‘half-shot skim latte’ he shook his head in confusion. The ed instructed, “Just make a regular one, and when she comes in we’ll tell her it’s a half-shot skim.”
A leathery old bloke at the counter looked on with interest as the two riders came in and collected their coffees. “Which one’s the girl with the latte?” he asked toothlessly.
The ed pointed at Dino and said, “That’s her there.”
The old bloke was still giggling when the riders left 40 minutes later.
We’ve mentioned the Willawarrin store and its pornucopia of special-interest items kept behind a locked door, but it was new to Dino. His eyes grew to the size of dinner plates at Darren’s detailed and lurid descriptions.
It was interesting to note just how much Darren did know about the contents of that room.
The editor, meanwhile, was riffling through the old magazines always on display in the G-rated front room of the store. He let out a cry of delight and purchased some rare examples of Australian motorcycling journalism from a couple of decades ago.
A council worker pulled up for a yarn. He had a TDM900 and was interested in opinions on the new bikes.
Despite the holiday atmosphere the whole ride was to get a feel for the Ducati. It was a work trip, after all.
The bike was collected from Ducati in Sydney and ridden up the coast to Coffs Harbour where it was entrusted to the Coffs Ducati dealership, North Coast V-Twins. The road tyres were swapped for Pirelli Scorpion knobbies, and it was surprising what a difference it made to the feel of the bike. It should’ve been expected, but the gentle movement of the knobby tyres in corners brought on a loss of cornering precision that had bottom lips trembling and eyes moistened with regret. But of course, off-road, there was suddenly grip where none had been before, so it was a justifiable compromise.
The next thing to attract attention was just how easy it is to ride the big Ducati smoothly.
This is probably a result of some excellent electronics, because there’s no doubt the bike, like all 1200s, is heavy and physically large. Even so, on those sweeping corners though the loose dirt, and on the throttle over rocky and choppy sections, the bike just felt incredibly easy to handle. It’s almost as though it’s smoothing out any erratic input from the rider. The bike tends to swoop and glide in situations where it’d be reasonable to expect a nasty jolt or perhaps a struggle to hold a line. Previous experience had shown the bike allowed riding at a faster pace than usual, but on this trip there wasn’t any push for any pace, and it was the smoothness that was in evidence.
The further the Ducati travelled, the more comfortable it felt. The more comfortable it felt, the more the bike won approval.
It’s really an incredible dualsporter.
The only factor needing attention on this trip was the flexible mount of the front master cylinder allowing the master cylinder itself to rattle against the right-hand-side rear-vision mirror stem.
It was annoying and over time would’ve knocked around the finish of the mirror stem and/or the master-cylinder top, so loosening the mounting bolt allowed the master cylinder to pivot forward a few millimetres and the problem was solved.
The editor was excited to find a couple of copies of his past work at the Willawarrin store.
As the riders headed south the temperature and humidity climbed, and by the time Dino’s 1290 clobbered a rock, dinging the front rim and rapidly deflating the tubeless front tyre, everyone was well ready for a break.
Darren sized up the situation quickly and suggested fitting a tube and to keep moving. Dino, however, is one of those blokes who doesn’t like to be beaten by a problem. He likes to figure things out and come up with a solution.
A passing forestry worker happened to have a hammer, so, with eyes shining happiness, Dino set about wailing on the rim to try and bend it back into shape.
Around an hour or so later the editor thrust his jaw forward, offered a tube, and suggested Dino fit it and they get moving.
Pulling the front wheel out the KTM was a bit of a horse’s arse and meant removing the brake callipers, but Dino’s pretty handy, and between them Dino and Darren had enough tools to all but disassemble and rebuild the entire bike.
Soon enough the situation was in hand…except the tube the editor supplied turned out to be a second-handy. A punctured second-handy, actually.
He wandered off, red-faced, to sulk in the bush as the insults flew.
Darren produced a new, heavy-duty tube, it was fitted, and the show was on the road again.
It was a relaxed ride. Darren AC and his DR650 (left) and Dino Fizzywater on his new KTM 1290 were great blokes to have along.
Part of the supplied route was from the upcoming Disc Four of the DualSport Australia series, and it’s a closely guarded secret that can’t be revealed.
That, plus the editor deleted everything except the direct route, so when the trail was blocked with a hefty sized fallen tree, nobody really knew where they were.
This was the only time the weight of the Ducati was an issue. Turning the big girl around on that narrow, damp trail took two blokes. It’s just too heavy a bike for a single rider to manhandle in a narrow space on wet ground.
Dino did a very impressive spin-turn on the big KTM, and Darren stood there shaking his head. He was happy to pick up the DR650 and toss it over, and wondered out loud what was the advantage in the big bikes.
A dinged front rim on the KTM gave everyone a break.
Backtracking and looping around had all three riders on the Oxley Highway. When they left Taylors Arm they expected to be in Taree at around 2:00pm, but it was already 5:00pm when the crew rolled into the roadhouse south of Port Macquarie.
After several litres each of rehydration, the advantage of the big bikes was soon made very obvious. It was raining, the light was fading and it was decided to head down the highway to Taree. High-tech lighting, adjustable screens, big cover for the riders and cruise control made the next 45 minutes or so a very pleasant dawdle through the light
except, not so much for Darren on the DR.
Ah. The big bikes come into their own when there’s distance to be covered and cruising to be done, on- or off-road.
The Ducati loved it, destroying the 70km or so in a smooth, fairly dry, hazy comfort.
The racing at the Troy Bayliss Classic was bril-liant and the riders all went like the clappers.
After a snug motel night, Dino discovered the 21-inch tube he’d put in the 19-inch front wheel had chafed its way to another flat. He also discovered an engineer’s shop and in no time had his wheel pressed back into really excellent shape. Seriously, there was no visible ripple or wobble in the wheel as he smooved along the freeway later that day.
The plan had always been to watch the racing then ride home up the freeway on Saturday night. Darren decided he’d rather give the Classic a miss and ride home through the bush.
Unfortunately, a rock threw the back of his DR sideways and it came down hard, smack on the oil-filter cover, which smashed, destroying the cover and the filter.
Fortunately, Darren’s a very capable sort of bloke. He managed to gum the pieces of the oil-filter cover together with Knead It. Even without the filter and showing no oil in the sight glass, the DR650 got him home, no problem.
A fallen tree meant backtracking and running down the bitumen.
The Taree track hosted a huge line-up of big names, some from the past and some from the present, and the racing spectacle was excellent. The whole track can be viewed from just about every-where and the ’bar-banging was serious racing at it’s best. Names like Sean Giles, Vaughan Style, Stephen Gall, Phil Lovett, Troy Herfoss and of course, Troy Bayliss slid and roosted their way around the oiled track with incredible ferocity. It was fabulous to see.
In the mid-afternoon with the temperature once again in the low 30s and the humidity high, the Ducati and KTM took to the highway for a glorious, sunny, lazy run home. There were stops for frozen Cokes and coffees and a trouble-free, under-the-speed-limit snort through sub-tropical heat capped an excellent couple of days.
This trip really did suit these two bikes.
Some long, off-road rorting on open, flowing dirt, some freeway travel and the occasional slippery mud and tight forest section suited them down to the ground.
The Ducati wasn’t pushing any of its limits at any time. It was glorious.
Now we’re more confident than ever with the bike and we’re looking forward to hitting some tougher terrain and seeing how the bike handles it.
We’re backing it’ll love it.
We’ll let you know.
The DR took a pounding but couldn’t be stopped. With some good thinking and fast innovation bike and rider made it home.