Mountain Wheels: Ducati’s tech-heavy Multistrada V4 Rally provides ultimate adaptability
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct price of the 2023 Multistrada V4 Rally.
We haven’t spent much time focusing on two-wheeled vehicles in this column over the years, but for those who appreciate getting out on trails and still having a comfortable, long-distance road bike, a once-exotic Italian brand might be the solution.
Ducati, an aspirational brand long known for race bikes, has been producing the dual purpose Multistrada for two decades. The newest version, the $29,995 2023 Multistrada V4 Rally, is a 170-horsepower on- and off-road machine that offers a wide range of car-derived tech you might not know they had on motorcycles.
The Bologna-based company, owned by Audi, offers radar cruise control, Brembo brakes, LED lighting, blind spot warning systems and even engine cylinder deactivation on the V4 Rally, as well as an innovative, electronic preload system to better handle luggage and a rear-seat passenger, especially on a tallish machine.
I recently got to spend time with Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati’s North American division, a Colorado-based enthusiast and advocate for the no-longer obscure brand. Ducati sold more than 60,000 motorcycles last year, worldwide, and has captured most of the top categories in MotoGP racing.
Chinnock absolutely lives the life, and he’s made an effort to host as many events for new bikes as he can in Colorado. He recently logged 13 hours a day in the saddle of the new Multistrada on a grueling off-road trip through the San Juans.
“We hosted a three-day ride and gave media some real-life experiences with the bike, which it delivered in spades,” he says. “I got to lead the ride, through snow drifts. The bike is absolutely greater than the sum of its parts. I did another group ride earlier this spring and I didn’t even introduce myself until half way through the trip. If you love what you do, it’s great to share it with other people.”
The Multistrada V4 Rally offers both dirt and pavement riding adaptability, with an inch and a half of extra clearance and standard skid plates – as well as high-capacity aluminum pannier boxes. The bike has a variety of riding modes that allow it to better adapt to terrain, and a thumb controller allows riders to automatically adjust the damping so they’re at a more comfortable height while riding in civilization.
“All of that tech means that wherever I want to go, it’s going to enable me, not limit me,” Chinnock says. “It has a soul, it’s not just a sewing machine. It’s got the same DNA as the Monster.”
A nearly 8-gallon, all-aluminum tank means the V4 Rally can get between 300 and 400 miles of range, and niceties such as heated grips and seat and a fully adjustable windscreen and cool air vents can help with longer rides, early and late in the season. The foot pegs and brake pedal can also be adjusted for an upright, off-road riding stance.
Like many modern bikes, it’s got a full, tilting display screen, which in the Multistrada’s case outlines the bike’s four riding modes, its adaptive cruise control and even linked navigation, plus a phone slot with USB connections.
A graduate of CSU and an Army vet, Chinnock climbed the Ducati corporate ladder after working at parts counters at dealers in Fort Collins.
“I had put myself through school doing music and running sound at shows, and I was considering moving to Summit County and becoming a ski bum — I still have lots of friends there that are doing that — but I decided to shift into motorcycles,” he says.
As he learned, Ducati enthusiasts weren’t necessarily an exclusive club, and once he got to experience the enthusiasm surrounding the bikes, he felt like there ought to be more opportunities to share the motorcycles with other rides.
Nowadays, with five dealers in the state, including sales and service in Grand Junction, Chinnock says the Multistrada V4 rally represents an ideal, specialized motorcycle for the High Country. “What has always attracted me to Ducati is the technology. We’ve really cemented our position as an aspirational brand — it’s not necessarily going to be your first bike, but we absolutely deliver. It’s a mixture of style, sophisticated technology and real world performance. We’ve also got incredible reliability and accessibility nowadays, with pricing that is pretty reasonable compared to the competition.”
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Golden. Contact him at email@example.com.
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