After a false start my long term 2010 Multistrada has been given the 2011 model engine and ABS map, as well as some other upgrades.
I‘ve covered plenty of miles since it was done, and there‘s no question, it definitely does its primary job of eliminating the small surges which could sometimes irritate on the original version. It used to be difficult to hold a steady speed as the bike would either accelerate gently or slow slightly when trying to maintain a consistent pace on a motorway. This demanded constant small throttle adjustments or just an acceptance that it would slow and speed up.
Bear in mind this was almost imperceptible and at worst an irritation rather than a major issue, but anyway, it‘s no longer the case, the bike simply obeys the twistgrip as it should, which means searing acceleration when you want it or steady cruising when you‘re more relaxed.
There‘s a perception though that fuel economy is worse, so I repeated a standard steady speed economy run, exactly as I‘d carried out on the 2010 map: an indicated 85mph (137kph), no panniers, Touring mode selected. The sat nav suggested I was travelling slightly faster than before, showing 80mph (129kph) more often than 79mph, where previously it was pretty much a steady 79mph. This is probably due to the Dunlop Sportmax tyres now fitted having a slightly larger rolling diameter (the previous test was carried out on original fitment Pirellis).
The result? Near-identical economy, with the bike achieving 45.1mpg (16.0km/l, 6.3l/100km, 37.6mpg US) against 45.5mpg the previous time. As before too the bike‘s computer was over-reading, suggesting 49.7mpg (17.6km/l, 5.7l/100km, 41.4mpg US) (49.9mpg on the 2010 map).
So that‘s it, test done, there‘s no story... Only it‘s not quite that simple. Before the test I had no doubt the economy had worsened, so this was something of a surprise, although I did already have a suspicion the new test wouldn‘t tell the whole story. So I also went out on a regular test route involving a lot of speed variation, which meant, crucially, accelerating. This is where I believe Ducati has ‘thrown fuel‘ at the issues of running lean and hot, by enrichening the mixture when the twistgrip is turned, and sure enough the average mpg worsened to 38mpg (13.4km/l, 7.4l/100km, 31.6mpg US) where it was around 42mpg (14.9km/l, 6.7l/100km, 35.0mpg US) on the 2010 map. This was a less rigorously executed test in scientific terms but it does confirm what I‘ve been feeling in general use, that the bike‘s thirst has increased.
I wasn‘t thrashing it, just varying speed a lot, and I suspect that harder use will show up a bigger discrepancy. With fuel as costly as it is this is annoying, but the knock-on effect on fuel range is at least as much of an issue. In mixed riding previously I‘d reckon on 190 miles (305km) to empty, now this is down to 170 miles (275km), little more than a level I heavily criticised Honda‘s VFR1200F for.
And it‘s not good enough. The Multistrada is an all-rounder with very real touring pretensions just as much as the Honda, so with the low fuel warning coming on in what I think is relatively restrained riding at 135 miles (220km) or so, its touring ability is severely compromised. It still beats the VFR at a steady speed, which saves the Ducati from a bigger kicking as this is when you‘re more likely to want a longer range, but that doesn‘t make its general economy and range acceptable. It needs to cover 200 miles (320km) to empty without the rider having to try.
If it was my own bike I would avoid upgrading the engine map and put up with the imperfect fuelling. I would also enjoy the more hard-edged power delivery it used to have in Sport mode, which now feels softer.
I‘ll be reporting soon on the upgrade options, whether or not it‘s possible to have the other changes without renewing the engine map.
Kevin's funeral was held on Thursday 28th February 2013 and was well attended by family, friends and colleagues.
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