Just a few yards in front of me, Varad rides the BMW F 900 XR. We are in the winding Lavasa, going as fast as possible. I’m all dodged and leaning into the corners of the Ducati Multistrada 950S to the best of my ability. There is a constant temptation to open the throttle more and brake a little later to close the gap, but in these pins it takes precision and commitment, and I know my competition is strong. So the plan is to wait for an open patch, put the throttle wide open, then dive hard on the front brakes to go forward. Apt, for a pair of bikes that are middleweight competitors in the world of sports tourism.
OK, BUT WHY THESE TWO?
It’s a confrontation you just can’t run away from in today’s world. Imagine having a bag of money and wanting to spend it before someone knows it. The two bikes here are almost similar in terms of displacement and power, the Multistrada 950S and F 900 XR have both coexisted, going about their own business, until now. You see, the price difference on these two bikes is around 4.5 lakh, but if you leave that aside, they’re just fierce boxers in the ring wanting to knock themselves out. Is the BMW with its German engineered finesse and smaller sticker price the one that makes the most sense, then? Or is it the Ducati, the Italian exotic, which is worth the extra money?
ROAD AND LAND
You have seen the BMW F 900 XR before on these pages and you probably know what it is. It’s fast, extremely nimble, and capable enough to make you hold the tank firmly and latch onto the bar when the throttle is twisted. It’s like an adrenaline-charged naked bike on stilts that likes to weave its way through canyons for breakfast. Once you get used to its dynamics, the F 900 XR is an absolute pleasure to ride hard. Plus, despite having 17-inch wheels at both ends, the F 900 XR is good enough even for trail fun.
The Ducati Multistrada 950S, on the other hand, has been around for a while and has been recently updated, and it continues to be one of the most sought-after sports touring cars in the world. And the reason is not that she’s Italian and red, but that she’s well-rounded, fantastic in her agility and quick to sprint from the start, doing full justice to her sport-tourer genes. Once astride, you sit inside the bike, and the fuel tank and passenger seat are high. Although this position may seem a little intimidating at first, you quickly feel at home. The body is larger than that of the F 900 XR, but it’s never too difficult to manage. And all of this before you even start using it. The unusual styling of the Multistrada can be confusing to the F 900 XR’s crisp, well-defined lines, but in the sports world, it’s not looks that count, it’s capabilities that count. . Right?
It is time for the fight. The one where the Italian clings to the German. But this is not a roadside brawl; both represent prestigious brands with a long line of achievement in technology and racing, which is why we can let the numbers speak. Let’s start with the Ducati first. A liquid-cooled L-twin engine displacing 937cc is tethered in the tubular steel trellis chassis of the Multistrada 950S and it is capable of developing an impressive 113bhp at 9,000rpm. The torque produced is also important – a good 9.58 kgm at 6,750 rpm. And sending all that power and torque to the rear wheel is a super smooth 6-speed gearbox assisted by a quick two-way shifter. Refueling is provided by Bosch electronic fuel injection with 53 mm throttle bodies and a ride-by-wire system that allows the intervention of different driving modes with customization.
The F 900 XR is obviously also fuel injected, but this is equipped with a parallel twin engine which is also liquid cooled and has dry sump lubrication. With a smaller displacement of 895 cc, the BMW engine produces 103 hp a little earlier at 8,500 rpm and torque of 9.38 mkg at 6,500 rpm. With this, the BMW is exactly 10 hp less than the Ducati. Critically, but then again the German has a slightly higher compression ratio and weighs 10kg less, which translates into more growl and acceleration. The transmission here is also a 6-speed affair, and is assisted by a quick two-way shifter, but operation is not as smooth as that of the Multistrada.
NEED OF SPEED
In the real world, the overall performance of the two bikes is surprisingly identical. While the Multistrada is engaging, the F 900 XR’s lack of effort masks its potential in terms of feel. Until now, the Multistrada has been considered the sportiest, but with the F 900 XR pictured the sportier references go to the latter mainly due to its shorter wheelbase and more focused wheel setup. the road. A good throttle action will cause the front wheel to float off the tarmac as you shift through the first three gears, and that feeling can get addicting very quickly. The BMW, when driven at a boil, is very smooth and relaxed, and the overall setup is so forgiving that it becomes easy to forget that this is a 100 hp motorcycle.
On the Multistrada, although the driving position is comfortable, you have to get used to the aggressive power of the L-twin engine a bit. You need more courage to drive the Multistrada all the way because you are sitting close to it. an upright position most of the time and the high handlebars tend to shift the weight back, threatening to lift the front. Either bike will easily take you past the 200 km / h mark, but the short windshield and rougher exhaust note of the F 900 XR adds to the feeling of speed. You have to be a seasoned pilot in sync with the F 900 XR to give the Multistrada a hard time when attacking a set of turns.
Agility is one of the most important reasons these mid-weight sports touring cars exist. And in the case of these motorcycles, the confrontation only becomes fierce. Between the Multistrada 950S and the F 900 XR, the former wins here, at least on paper. The rear suspension of the F 900 XR has hydraulic adjustment of the preload and rebound damping, which can be adjusted via the drive modes. As for the front, it gets a non-adjustable 43mm USD setup.
Upgrading to the Multistrada 950S, Ducati fitted the bike with a fully adjustable suspension at both ends with electronic compression and rebound. He also gets the Ducati ‘skyhook suspension evo’ which works wonderfully with the performance of the bike on a variety of surfaces and ripples. It’s a computer that constantly takes information from the front suspension and prepares the rear in advance. Cool stuff, indeed.
After riding the bikes back to back, it’s clear that the Multistrada is winning in this department. But the F 900 XR is nothing less than a die-hard carving bike. The stiff overall setup allows for aggressive play and is more difficult because it requires a certain level of engagement which is ultimately rewarding.
Who dare win !
As far as comparisons go, it’s definitely difficult, and I’m sure you would agree as well. It is quite rare for two motorcycles to blow each other in the neck with so much intensity and determination. In fact, while the Multistrada 950S and F 900 XR are tied, it takes two very different and very conscious drivers to make the right decision. The sporty and aggressive character of the F 900 XR calls for a more skilled and mature rider, while the well-rounded and forgiving nature of the Multistrada 950S allows a less experienced person a reassuring upgrade, albeit when it comes to of a smaller class motorcycle. So in the end, it doesn’t matter if you ride an Italian or a German bike, but it’s more to do with making you have more fun riding by putting a big smile under that helmet.
Ducati Multistrada 950S
Shifting: 937 cc, L-twin
Maximum energy: 113 hp @ 9000 rpm
Max torque: 9.58 kgm @ 6750 rpm
Transmission: 6 speed
Type: Tubular steel trellis
A / A: Twin 320mm discs / 265mm disc
A / A: 120/70 R19 / 170/60 R17
L / l / h (mm): 2280/995/1470
Wheelbase: 1594 mm
Ground clearance : 184 mm
Seat height : 840 mm
Unloaded weight: 229 kilograms
Fuel Capacity: 20 liters
THE PRICE: Rs 15.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
BMW F 900 XR
Shifting: 895cc, parallel twin
Maximum energy: 103 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Max torque: 9.38 kgm @ 6500 rpm
Transmission: 6 speed
Type: Steel bridge frame
A / A: Twin 320mm discs / 265mm disc
A / A: 120/70 R17 / 180/55 R17
L / l / h (mm): 2160/860/1320
Wheelbase: 1521 mm
Ground clearance : N / A
Seat height : 825 mm
Unloaded weight: 219 kg
Fuel Capacity: 15.5 liters
THE PRICE: Rs 10.95 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)