There is no slowing down when it comes to the big bore adventure bike market. Everyone wants a piece of the pie when it comes to a motorcycle that almost does it all. While KTM and BMW are considered leaders in the field, Ducati is no stranger to performance, class-leading design and engineering. And for 2019, the Italian marque has upgraded the Multistrada 1200 Enduro to the Multistrada 1260 Enduro. I flew over to Italy to put the new Multistrada 1260 Enduro through its paces both on road and off to see if the improvements Ducati has made the engine, rider-focused technology, and ergonomics improve upon the outgoing 1200 Enduro.

The day began at Nipozzano Castle in the rolling hillside roads of Tuscany. The same place where Ducati hosts its Ducati Rider Experience (DRE) Academy for those who wish to learn how to ride these big bikes off-road.

On road, the Multistrada 1260 Enduro holds true to Ducati’s performance DNA. It is plush and tempered in Touring mode and a voracious beast in sport mode. In conjunction with a new lower center of gravity, refined power delivery and a bevy of customization parameters within the pre-programmed ride modes, the 1260 Enduro leaves you wanting for very little else whether you are commuting, tearing up the canyons or riding from Los Angeles to Portland. It’s a bike built for the open and twisting road, especially when fitted with a pair of road tires.

I cannot sing the praises of the 1260 Enduro enough in terms of on-road riding. It’s perfectly capable and a terrifying adrenaline pumping machine if wielded recklessly, but it has the moniker Enduro there at the end of its title. And if it’s going to tout that title, it needs to be formidable in the dirt.

When it was introduced in 2016, the 1200 Enduro was plagued by a number of factors that made it not so great. It was extremely top-heavy, the tank was cumbersome, it was too tall for most riders and the torque curve dipped in the low to mid range. The people spoke loudly, they all said the same thing. Ducati listened and went back to the drawing board.

The fix entailed lowering the bike in both saddle and suspension height. The 1260 Enduro now sports a standard saddle that is 0.3 inches shorter and both the front and rear suspension lowered to 7.3 inches from 7.9 inches.

Adventure bike and dual sport enthusiasts will shout from the hilltops, “I need and want more suspension travel on my adventure bike!” However, some sacrifices were necessary: by lowering overall ride height, Ducati was able to greatly decrease the 1260 Enduro’s center of gravity. This coupled with a semi-active suspension, Bosch 6-axis IMU, and dual rate spring system, the mighty Multi is now capable of devouring sections of dirt with aplomb. I found myself tearing through the woods with a newfound confidence while whipping the bike around at a decent quip. Saddle time with the 1200 Enduro felt more like wrangling a pissed off bronco.

Next, let’s talk power. The 1260 Enduro gets a new ticker, and this heart beats strong. The 1262cc Testrastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) engine produces a massive 158hp and 94 ft-lbs of torque and does it more efficiently than its predecessor. With variable timing, the engine profile is able to change the timing profile of the camshafts that control the intake and exhaust valves, resulting in great performance and maximum power at high revs while boosting torque and delivering smooth, linear power in the low to mid range.

The 1260 Enduro gets a new ticker, and this heart beats strong.

Out on the various trails surrounding Nipozzano, throttle delivery was butter smooth and never once did I feel like the bike would get away from me. Nor was I lacking for power when I needed it.

Enduro Mode, which is suited for the dirt, also activates the DSS (Ducati Skyhook System) Evolution for off-road. When that mode is engaged, DTC (Ducati Traction Control) and DWC (Ducati Wheelie Control) intervention levels are ratcheted down to Level 1 and ABS is set to Level 1, which enables front wheel intervention but allows the rider to lock the rear.

After spending 20 minutes in Enduro Mode, which limits the engine power output to 100 hp, I jumped into the custom setting to allow ‘full power’ to the engine along with the ‘smooth throttle’ option. With a few clicks through the rather intuitive human-machine interface (HMI) the engine came alive with an added extra punch but with all the smoothness from before.

Rock after rock, rut after rut, not much could phase the mighty Multi. Ground clearance never presented an issue but I am sure hardcore riders and rally enthusiasts will use every inch. Every time we stopped I would look around at my fellow journalists and could see the smiles within their helmets.

And that’s the beauty behind the new 1260 Enduro. Ducati not only altered a slew of physical and ergonomic elements of the bike to make it more accessible across the board, but also added a level of customization and immersive technology found on their flagship Panigale V4 into the mix.

The 2019 Multistrada 1260 Enduro is a leap forward for Ducati in the Adventure motorcycle segment. It will be available beginning in February 2019 at a starting price of $21,995, available only in the color Desert Sand.

Ducati hosted us in Italy and provide the Multistrada 1260 for review.