Ducati Multistrada S vs BMW S1000XR vs Aprilia Caponord – Sports Adventure Comparo

If you want to go on a long range ride in comfort with the occasional blast down dirt track but without sacrificing copious amounts of power and razor sharp handling then there’s never been a better time to own a motorcycle. The ‘sports adventure’ segment as it has become known has exploded in recent years and the bikes represented here actually at times compete with superbikes when it comes to technological prowess. We’re taking a look at what we think is the cream of the crop in the form of the Ducati’s top of the line Multistrada S, BMW’s brand new S 1000 XR and Aprilia’s severely underrated Caponord.

You might be wondering why we didn’t include the brilliant KTM 1290 Super Adventure in this comparison. The only reason it’s not here is that despite it’s absurdly powerful engine and huge size, it’s actually more off-road focused than the three bikes we’re looking at here. This comparison is more about sportsbikes with upright ergonomics than ADV bikes with sportsbike features and performance. There’s of course quite a lot of cross-over between the the bikes and you could easily mount an argument for the KTM’s inclusion, but perhaps the soon to be released 1290 Super Duke GT is more in line with our focus here.

Our comparison will use the base Multistrada S, the base Caponord 1200 Touring and for the BMW, it will include both the touring package and dynamic package – which is pretty much the main configuration BMW sells this bike in anyway.

While these three bikes roughly inhabit the same market, they do approach it slightly differently. Out of the three, the BMW is the least tourer and most sporty. In fact as we stated in our review, it’s virtually a superbike with an upright riding position and a more comfy seat. At the other end is the Aprilia Caponord. It’s the least powerful of the three bikes here and definitely looks the least aggressive, but it’s looks don’t tell the full picture. The Multistrada sits in between – it’s still got that Ducati aggressiveness about it, is powerful and agile but at the same time has more touring qualities than the BMW with longer travel suspension.

Performance

Both the Multistrada S and S 1000 XR put out 160hp, the Italian using a L-twin while the German uses an in-line four but of the two, the BMW feels faster – quite a bit actually. We’re not sure why that is given the power to weight ratios are so similar, but perhaps it’s because the S 1000 XR’s engine is plucked from the incredible S 1000 RR whereas the Multistrada’s new engine was purpose built for this machine.

That’s not to say the Ducati is a slouch by any means, but it feels less manic. That’s no doubt thanks to the use of variable valve timing which transforms the previous Multistrada engine into a thing of beauty. It’s smooth, the power is linear and it saves on fuel consumption. But for all that, it does feel sedate in comparison to the BMW. Ironically, it produces more torque than the BMW so you’d expect it to feel quick down low, but this is a case where numbers on paper just don’t tell the full story.

To us, this was a surprise. The styles of engine here – an L-twin and an in-line four – should have made for the opposite. The Ducati should have roared from low speed and tapered off slightly while the BMW should have felt more controlled down low before exploding at higher RPM’s. There just feels like a dull point at the bottom end of the Ducati’s motor. Whether this was done on purpose to make the Multistrada feel more refined we’re not sure, but it means it falls second to the S 1000 XR – but only just – when it comes to the smile it puts on your face.

BMW S 1000 XR

The S 1000 XR’s engine is amazing. No wonder, seeing as it’s a detuned version of what’s found in the S 1000 RR rocket ship.

The Caponord trails by a significant margin when looking at the spec sheets, putting out (only) 125 hp from its V-twin engine. Yes, it does feel slower than the other two bikes tested here, but even so the V-twin is perhaps one of our favorite motorcycle engines around today. It just hauls no matter what gear you’re in or what speed you’re going. That’s is probably helped by the fact it produces 115 Nm of torque at 6,800 rpm – and actually makes the majority of that 115 Nm below 3,000 rpm – this bike is ballistic from a standing start and loves overtaking.

Then there’s the sound. We’re pretty sure Aprilia has an entire team whose sole job is to ensure their bikes sound incredible and they’ve done a wonderful job on the Caponord. No adventure bike – even a sports focused one – should sounds this good.

But it’s still not enough to dethrone the BMW S 1000 XR here. That extra bit of grunt coming out of what is essentially a tamed superbike engine is really a special thing.

winner bmw s 1000 xr

Handling

All three bikes perform beautifully and pretty much will handle anything you throw at them that you can realistically achieve on the open road. Take them to a racetrack and the very sporty S 1000 XR would reign supreme, but we’re only interested in what you can do on the street for this comparison.

Being ‘sports adventure’ bikes, there is a compromise to be made between razor sharp handling and comfort – although all three bikes make use of the latest in semi-active suspension technology to blur the lines as much as possible. The BMW S 1000 XR takes the most aggressive approach, with front and rear suspension travel closer to a sportsbike or a roadster than an adventure bike – 150 mm at the front and 140 mm at the rear. It therefore handles aggressively, sharply and quickly. It loves corners and combined with its gearing and engine characteristics, would probably be quicker in tight twisty terrain in comparison the S 1000 RR.

3-21 MULTISTRADA 1200S

The Multistrada S handles beautifully and is probably the best compromise between sportsbike tracking and long range comfort.

The Multistrada S goes the other way and while not offering true ADV levels of suspension travel, is close to knocking on the door with 170 mm of movement both front and rear. Despite this longer stroke, you’d be hard pressed to say the Multistrada doesn’t handle as well as the BMW. In fact, one could argue that the BMW’s suspension is a little too firm – yes, this is a ‘sports adventure’ comparison but when you’re doing an all day stint, most are willing to sacrifice a few percentages of handling points to keep their bottom end from going numb.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Caponord is perhaps a little too soft. Suspension travel sits in between the German and the other Italian with 167mm travel in the forks and 150mm travel at the rear shock. It feels wonderful on the straight stuff but slightly floaty when pushed really hard in the corners.

In the end though, the BMW gave us the most confidence. We’d love to take it on a racetrack as it would no doubt put some supersports machines to shame.

winner bmw s 1000 xr

Comfort

The Multistrada S’ comfort is really going to come down to your height. The taller you are, the more cramped and uncomfortable you’re going to feel. Ducati has placed the pegs closer to the seat than the other bikes here and in fact has the most aggressive seating position of all sports adventure bikes on the market. That means that those over six feet in height will begin to feel sore after a long day of riding – or even a few hours On the flipside, those a few inches shorter will feel right at home and have the advantage of great ground clearance when in the corners.

Unfortunately for BMW, they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory here – their seating and ergonomics are overall more relaxed than the Ducati’s, but this is a machine that suffers from vibrations. It’s most notable around the 7,000 to 9,000 rpm range and depending on your particular bike, you’ll feel it through the bars, the seat or the pegs – or all three if you’re really unlucky. It’s fine when you’re only riding for an hour or two but if you’re travelling all day it’s really going to fatigue you.

cap 1200 002

The Caponord has none of these problems. It’s virtually vibration free (though you’ll notice slight vibrations at higher rpm), its ergonomics offer a great compromise between tall and shorter riders, the seat is very comfortable and the suspension is the softest of the three bikes here. While the riding position is definitely the least sporty in our comparison, those wide bars still give great leverage to turn in hard when riding through the twisties.

winner aprilia caponord

Farkles

Does he or she with the most toys win? If gadgets and the latest in technology are what you’re after it’s hard to go past the Multistrada S. If you want, it has it. Cornering ABS, a colour TFT display, an app that links your bike to your iPhone, the Ducati Multimedia System, 5D inertial measurement unit, cornering lights, hands free ignition, cruise control and more. It has more features than most family cars have. A lot it is unnecessary but at the same time, you won’t complain that you’ve got it.

BMW S 1000 XR

Heated grips, cruise control, cornering ABS, quick shifter for both up and down shifts – the S 1000 XR is a technological tour de force if you’re willing to pay for it.

The BMW comes close gadgets wise but does miss out on a number of fancy bits the Italian gets – such as no interface to your phone and hands free ignition. But it has a trump card – a brilliant Gear Shift Assist system that allows for both clutch-less upshifts and downshifts. It’s an electronic system as used by MV Agusta and it’s brilliant – you’ll grow to love it. It also gets heated grips which are great for cooler climates.

The Caponord is hardly a simple machine with the tech is features; it’s just not quite as cutting-edge as its competitors. It critically misses out on cornering ABS which the other two get and there’s no quickshifter or slipper clutch as found on the BMW either. It does get a fancy phone interface, a selection of engine modes and traction control settings, but in the end the BMW comes out on top.

winner bmw s 1000 xr

Interface

If it seems like Aprilia dedicates an entire team to create the most intoxicating exhaust note from their bikes, they must then use a single person to design the interfaces for their bikes. Quite frankly, changing settings, modes and even engaging the cruise control is all frustrating and cumbersome on the Caponord.

Cruise control is especially annoying, as you have to try and engage it with your thumb while holding the throttle still – not an easy task. There’s also no button to change the speed up or down – you instead have to get the the speed manually and reset it – not precise and not user friendly.

That’s in direct contrast to the Multistrada S, which despite having more settings and options than the Caponord, is much easier to manage. The S 1000 XR isn’t far behind, though it’s dash is now looking quite dated and is just that little bit harder to learn than the Ducati’s.

winner ducati hyperstrada

Off-road

We ummed and ahhed about whether to put this category in or not. Let’s be honest, these aren’t true off-road machines. They all use sportsbike sized cast wheels, the suspension travel while not superbike short isn’t made for tackling big ruts and rocks and despite their numerous engine modes on offer, don’t come with settings for the dirt.

But despite that, the three manufacturers do like to show pictures of their bikes off road and given that they are sports adventure bikes, it seemed fitting to at least look at their capabilities in passing. Are they capable off road? Yes, just like any motorcycle with road tires are. That means they’re fine on hard packed dirt roads and a small bit of gravel. They can handle slipperier stuff as long as you’ve got the skills to manage it.

1-24 MULTISTRADA 1200S

Should you decide to get your wheels dirty, the Multistrada S with its decent suspension travel will do the job respectably.

Oddly, despite having the least adventure bike like geometry of the three machines, the BMW performed quite well when we took it off-road, as did the Multistrada S. The Caponord probably was the least happy when not on the bitumen, which is probably due to its weight – at 247 kg without fuel, it’s the heaviest here by a good margin. The Multistrada S weighs 212 kg sans fuel while the BMW S 1000 XR comes in just below that at 208 kg. The Caponord is a big bike and it feels it at times.

The extra suspension travel on the Multistrada S, coupled with the wonderful skyhook suspension means that it feels most at home when not on the black stuff and it’s more refined engine helps too.

winner ducati hyperstrada

Value

There’s really not a contest here – the Aprilia is just incredibly good value. At $15,695 you get an incredibly well put together machine with a wonderful engine, fantastic handling and semi-active suspension. Yes, it’s not as fast as its European counterparts here, doesn’t have quite as many features and the dash is a pain in the neck to navigate but you still get a lot of bang for your buck.

The S 1000 XR starts at $16,350 but when you add the touring and dynamic packages on top as tested here, it blows out to over $18,000. That might sound expensive, but the Ducati creates an even larger dent in your mortgage at $19,695. There’s definitely some cheeky badge pricing going on there as there’s no real justification for the price premium over the S 1000 XR.

winner aprilia caponord

Overall

From a straight points perspective, the S 1000 XR is our winner. Its performance, technology, handling and features are all first class, with the Multistrada S close behind. But it’s hard to give the win to the BMW that easily. Despite all its wonderful qualities, those engine vibrations are an issue.

While the S 1000 XR feels much more exhilarating to ride, if you’re out on the road for days at a time, the refinement of the Multistrada S is hard to get past – if you’re the right height for it. If you’re too tall, it’s not going to be a pleasant place to be.

The Caponord avoids these issues. It’s not as quick as the other two bikes, nor does it have quite the same number of features but almost everything it does it does very well – save for changing modes and engaging cruise control. And despite that, the money you save in comparison to the Ducati and BMW is really impossible to ignore.

For outright performance, the BMW wins, but for a bike you need to live with every day, the Aprilia gets our vote.

cap 1200 001

Is the Caponord the best bike here? No, but for the price it’s very, very difficult to overlook.

2016 Ducati Mulistrada Enduro Can go Off-Road

One of the more interesting releases from Ducati today is the 2016 Ducati Multistrada Enduro – a modified version of the standard Multistrada that is much more off-road focused. This isn’t just a new name and a bash plate though, Ducati have made some extra modifications that actually mean this is a machine that many a KTM and BMW rider may look at seriously.

Spoked wheels are now present, and the front wheel has been increased to 19 inches in diameter. The fuel tank is now a massive 30 litres in size which Ducati says is good for a range of over 450 kilometres (about 280 miles). A double-sided swingarm replaces the single sided unit which is a fairly big departure for Ducati but obviously improves the strengh of the bike for off-road  adventures.

Engine output remains an impressive 160 hp and includes all the bells and whistles of the standard model. Ducati have also included and ‘Enduro’ riding mode where engine power is reduced to 100 hp and traction control and other rider aids have been tailored to looser grip surfacs. The ABS system is also modified so that rear wheel lift detection is deactivated, as are the cornering and ABS functions on the rear wheel so that it can be locked.

The biggest and most important change however is that suspension travel is increased to 200 mm both front and back. This, coupled with the fact that Ducati’s incredibly impressive semi-electronic suspension system is standard on the Multistrada Enduro means that this will be a truly wonderful machine to operate off-road. Standard tires are the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail II or, Scorpion Rally’s which are show in the images below.

 

2016 Ducati Multistrada Enduro Specifications

EngineDucati Testastretta DVT with Desmodromic Variable Timing, L-Twin
cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Dual Spark, liquid cooled
Capacity1,198.4 cc
Power117,7 kW (160 hp) @ 9,500 rpm
Torque136 Nm (100,3 lb-ft) @ 7,500 rpm
Gear Box6 gears
Front Brakes2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted monoblocco Brembo
callipers, 4-piston, 2-pad, with cornering ABS as standard equipment
Rear Brakes265 mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, with cornering ABS as standard
equipment
Front SuspensionSachs 48 mm fully adjustable usd forks. Electronic compression and
rebound damping adjustment with Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS), 200mm travel
Rear SuspensionFully adjustable Sachs unit. Electronic compression & rebound damping
adjustment. Electronic spring pre-load adjustment with Ducati Skyhook
Suspension (DSS). Aluminium double-sided swingarm, 200mm travel
Front TireTubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 3" x 19"
Rear TireTubeless spoked wheel in light alloy 4.50" x 17"
WetWeight254 kg
Tank Capacity30 litres

SW-Motech Introduces Broad Accessory Selection for Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Adventure Tourer

SW-MOTECH, provider of premium motorcycle accessories, is expanding its product range for the 2015 model of the Ducati Multistrada 1200. The company’s current luggage system portfolio for the dual-sports motorcycle already contains tail bags and QUICK-LOCK EVO tank bags for nearly any requirement imaginable. Footrest kit and GPS mount also are available as of now.

In addition SW-MOTECH in a few weeks will present the removable QUICK-LOCK EVO side carrier, ALU-RACK, centerstand and crash bar for the current model generation of the Ducati Multistrada 1200. From this point on AERO and TRAX ADVENTURE case systems will also be available for the Italian top-of-the-range dual-sports motorcycle.

Available for Ducati Multistrada 1200:

  • QUICK-LOCK EVO tank ring    $33.50
  • Waterproof tank bag Yukon 90    $134.00
  • Tank bag QUICK-LOCK EVO Trial 15 – 22 l    $190.00
  • Tank bag QUICK-LOCK EVO City 11 – 15 l    $167.00
  • Tank bag QUICK-LOCK EVO Engage 7 l    $145.00
  • Tank bag QUICK-LOCK EVO Daypack 5 – 9 l    $111.00
  • Tank bag QUICK-LOCK EVO Micro 2.5 – 5 l    $69.95
  • Strap tank bag Enduro 13 – 22 l    $129.95
  • Tail bag Speedpack 75 – 90 l    $299.95
  • Tail bag Racepack 50 – 65 l        $229.95
  • Tail bag Jetpack 20 – 33 l    $179.95
  • Tail bag Rearbag 24 – 36 l    $169.95
  •  Tail bag Rackpack 36 – 45 l    $149.95
  • Tail bag Cargobag 50 l    $159.95
  • Tail bag Slipstream 13 l    $99.95
  • Tail bag Drybag 620    $149.95
  • QUICK-LOCK GPS mount    $59.95
  • Footrest kit    $99.95
  • Mirror extension    $49.95
  • Front axle slider kit    $59.95

See SW-Motech for more information.

 

The Ducati “Ride a Song” Contest Takes Off

Ducati launches its Ride a Song contest and asks competition participants to propose the ideal motorcycle vacation paired with great music. The best “road trip” wins a Multistrada Experience, an exclusive opportunity to ride the new Multistrada 1200, and the chance to share this exciting experience with two friends.
The Ride a Song contest arises from the partnership between Ducati and Spotify, the on-demand music streaming service, where the Italian manufacturer is the first motorcycle brand to open an account. On-air from July to the end of September 2015, Ride a Song asks participants to choose the perfect song for their dream motorcycle ride and add it to the Ducati playlist already on the musical platform. Participants are then asked to describe their dream motorcycle vacation, share the song they have chosen on Facebook and tag two friends they would like to take on their Multistrada Experience if they win.
All of the songs nominated in the Ride a Song contest will become part of the Spotify Ducati playlist, which can be found at play.spotify.com/user/ducati_motor/; a fun and innovative way to listen to Ducati riders’ favourite music.
Full details regarding Ride a Song contest participation can be found at rideasong.ducati.com.
Ducati Announce New Multistrada Pricing for Australia

Ducati Sales Up 22% In First Half 2015 Thanks To Scrambler

Ducati has announced a massive increase in sales for the first half of 2015 of 22%, leading to all-time record sales of 32,600 bikes worldwide. The biggest contributor to that figure is unsurprisingly the success of the all new Ducati Scrambler – over 9,000 units of the retro bike were sold in the first six months of 2015.

That accounts for over 25% of total sales by Ducati – a staggering amount for a machine that didn’t exist last year. Other models making up the bulk of the sales figures included 4,700 of the Multistrada 1200, 3,700 Monster 821 and over 3,000 Panigale, not to mention good sales figures for the Diavel, 899 Panigale, Hypermotard and Monster 1200.

Growth was observed in all countries. Performance during the first six months of 2015 confirms the USA as Ducati’s leading market with sales rising about 10%. The biggest percentage increase was recorded in Italy (+51%), followed by Spain (+38%), the UK (+36%), Germany (+24%) and France (+23%).

There would appear to be a bit of sales cannibalization happening with the Scrambler because if its figures were removed, total sales for Ducati would have been down for the year to date. It’s likely that some buyers are choosing the new Scrambler over perhaps the 821 Monster.

But the Scrambler is here to stay and it will continue to be a massive driving force for Ducati. Just this week, Ducati opened a dedicated showroom for the Scrambler in Padua, Italy. All four versions of the bike, along with accessories and apparel from the wide Ducati Scrambler range are available.

 

2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 Full Specifications and Pricing

Today Ducati officially released the all new 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200 which not only gets a pretty decent makeover visually, but features the brand new Testaretta DVT engine with variable valve timing – a first in a motorcycle.

It also receives some major ECU upgrades by way of Bosch with it’s ‘cornering ABS’ as now available for the BMW S1000RR and KTM’s Superdukes. Ducati has also installed what it calls ‘Inertial Measurement Unit’ (I’m guessing it’s similar to a gyroscope) that assists in braking by detecting lean angles, but also provides cornering headlights through it’s new LED front unit.

There’s three models, the standard 1200, the 1200 S and the 1200 S D|Air, which integrates with the Dainese air bag system electronically. See the full press release with specifications below.

 

DUCATI MULTISTRADA 1200: SETTING A NEW STANDARD

As soon as it was launched back in 2010, the Multistrada 1200 revolutionised the motorcycling world by offering, for the very first time, nothing less than four bikes in one: from super sport to long-distance tourer, from everyday runabout to enduro. Now, Ducati’s technological expertise has produced a new generation

of Multistradas, bikes featuring the latest Ducati Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) engine and a state-of-the-art technological package that sets a whole new standard in its product segment. The new Multistrada 1200 is the “multibike” par excellence, with cutting-edge technology making it far more than just the 4-bikes-in-1 offered by its Riding Modes.

In what is a first for the motorcycle industry, the DVT engine features a variable valve timing system with independent control of both the intake and exhaust camshafts. This optimises engine performance throughout the power range in all riding conditions, thus ensuring maximum power at high rpm, fluid delivery, punchy low-rpm torque and low fuel consumption in full compliance with the latest Euro 4 regulations.

The new Multistrada 1200 also sets a new electronics benchmark thanks to the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which dynamically measures roll, yaw and pitch angles as well as the rate of their change; with this information, the IMU enhances both performance and safety. For example, the presence of the IMU enables the ABS to include a Cornering system capable of controlling braking even on bends where wheel lock could otherwise cause skidding. On the Multistrada 1200 S it also enables control the Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL) in its full LED headlamp. Moreover, the IMU has allowed the introduction of Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC): this detects and corrects any front wheel lift to ensure maximum acceleration in complete safety. Like Ducati Traction Control (DTC), DWC features rider-settable 8-level sensitivity. Lastly, the IMU inertial platform also interacts with the semi-active Ducati Skyhook Suspension (DSS) Evolution (DSS) control system featured on the Multistrada 1200 S.

All models now feature Electronic Cruise Control, which the rider can set as desired using controls incorporated in the switchgear on the left handlebar. On the S version a Bluetooth module is included as standard: this activates the Ducati Multimedia System and can connect the bike to a smartphone for user- friendly control of basic functions such as receiving incoming calls, notification of text messages, or playing music via the handlebar controls and on-dash info. Thanks to an iOS/Android app, the Bluetooth connection lets riders use bike data to activate other functions which enhance, extend or let them share their everyday riding or touring experiences; the app even allows interaction with the ducati.com website and social networks.

Main standard features on the Multistrada family Multistrada 1200

  • Colour
  1. Ducati Red with black wheels rims
  • Features
    o New Ducati Testastretta DVT engine
    o IMU: Inertial Measurement Unit
    o Bosch-Brembo ABS 9.1ME Cornering braking system o Electronic cruise control
    o Riding Modes
    o Ride-by-Wire Power Modes (PM)
    o Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC)
    o Ducati Traction Control (DTC)
    o Height-adjustable seat
    o LCD instrument panel

Multistrada 1200 S (and Multistrada 1200 S D|air®) · Colours

  1. Ducati Red with black wheels rims (1200 S and 1200 S D|air®)
  2. Iceberg White with black wheels rims (1200 S only)
  • Features
    o New Ducati Testastretta DVT engine
    o IMU: Inertial Measurement Unit
    o Bosch-Brembo ABS 9.1ME Cornering braking system
    o Front brake discs with diameter of 330 mm, Brembo M504 4-piston radial calipers o Electronic cruise control
    o Ducati Multimedia System (DMS)
    o Lightweight machine-finished forged wheels
    o Riding Modes
    o Ride-by-Wire Power Modes (PM)
    o Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC)
    o Ducati Traction Control (DTC)
    o Height-adjustable seat
    o Electronic Sachs suspension (front and back) with the semi-active Ducati Skyhook
Suspension (DSS) Evolution system
o Full LED headlamp with Ducati Cornering Lights (DCL) o Instrument panel with 5” full colour TFT screen
o D|air system (Multistrada 1200 S D|air® only)
Personalisation Packs

  •  Touring Pack: heated grips, panniers and center stand
  •  Sport Pack: road-legal exhaust (homologated only for EU) Ducati Performance by Termignoni and

carbon fibre front mudguard, machined-from-billet aluminium brake and clutch reservoir caps

  • Urban Pack: top case, tank bag with lock and USB hub
    · Enduro Pack: supplementary lights and Ducati Performance components by Touratech: engine

protection bars, radiator guard, oil sump guard, bigger kickstand base and off-road footpegs

The launch of the new Multistrada is enriched also by the Multistrada Link App: a smartphone app, available for iOS and Android, that further explains all content and new features of the bike. Through the app it‘s possible to rate individual aspects of the bike, and submit ideas and comments directly to Ducati. Further, it will deliver easily accessible weekly updates of a variety of content.