Multistrada – take the long road home

It started pretty early on day one with a 7am flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, then a bus ride up to Caloundra, the start of the Sunshine Coast in sunny Queensland, to pick up my new (s/h) Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, a 2011 model with 6,000kays on the clock.

I got to Motolife around midday and found my bike and contact and within the hour I had strapped on my luggage and was out on the Bruce Highway on my way down to Ocean Shores and my sisters place.

First mistake; brining a backpack. Despite my best intentions of packing light and not being bothered by the backpack I failed to take into consideration things like books and extra crap to go with the Multi that would pad out my backpack into a 8-10kgs brick strapped to my back.

The Kriega US-30 was jammed to almost full capacity too so after that was strapped to the tail piece, the bag was fairly extended down towards my seat and as soon as I was on the bike the two were jammed up against one another pushing me (and my ghoulies) up onto the tank pretty hard into a forced upright position. Rather than stop the bike and adjust all of this, being self conscious enough of my first minutes on the new bike, I just jutted out of there like a loopy languid lunatic and lunged toward the freeway. I realised within about 30 mins of this, that it was foolish and got off (oh look a MacDonalds!) at the next convenient stop and sorted my shit out.

Kriega US-30 straps on perfectly to the tail piece

That was when I realised I had been missing out for the past few years not getting a Kriega roll up sooner. Those things are the bomb diggity! It’s basically a bit waterproof lined pillow case that you can stuff full of everything and then easily strap it down onto your pillion/luggage rack/anywhere very simply with it’s groovy click strap set up. Big fan. Will be adding components like a smaller easier to access bag to it for my next trip for sure. Gone are ideas of expensive touratech panniers for now.

It’s about 3hrs ride heading south down the Coast to NSW and my sisters place and although I was in no hurry I was keen to get off the freeways after an hour in the saddle. Not used to the stock seat (or in this case the supposed ‘DP Comfort Seat’) my butt was aching and my back was breaking from the new riding position.

Luckily I had a stop over to see my niece in her new place complete with boyfriend in Nerang which was the perfect two-thirds point to take a short break. Nice young couple, mid twenties, first house together, Boston Terrier and perfect matrimony in a little treehouse out there. Made me feel good.

Love this road sign just out of Mullumbimby.

Biker friendly is good

Back on the bike about 4:30 and down to Ocean Shores just as dark broke, for a few days chill time with my sister. I always think of visits to Jackie’s place as healing time in a slightly cosmic sense. It’s just so peaceful and quiet and her energy is completely chilled out that I recharge from it and it was just what the doctor ordered as they say.

Friday came around real quick and before I knew it I was loaded up on bacon and eggs, bike was ready to go and I was off heading to Melbourne and back home. It all went too quick in hindsight but don’t these things always?


Jackie and I had visited the NRMA and picked up a free map and I decided at that point to send the aforementioned backpack home stuffed full of uneccessary shit for the ride, and we plotted out in highlighter several different options right the way home.

That made it really easy to just pick major towns as refuelling points and decision making time for the next stop. I started by heading to Ballina and sadly almost the entire freeway was under some sort of repair and 80km speed limited. I had good advice that both points inland – either to Tenterfield or Glen Innes were nice but Jackie convinced me to take the Glen Innes route and check out the spectacular mountain view, so a short  ride down the freeway and into Grafton for my first fuel stop.

I had done 283kays and it took 16.5L and $25 to fill the Multi and I was already thinking to myself just how amazingly comfortable this new bike felt over the Hyper not to mention the fuel range.

The road from Grafton to Glen Innes was worth taking even though it got pretty damn fresh pretty damn quick. Much like the Snowy Mountain roads back in Victoria this stretch of road is roughly115km long and winds its way up and back down around some spectacular Australian countryside.

Glen Innes halfway point

Frozen and keen for a cuppa I pushed on at Glen Innes headed for Armidale and found a roadhouse basking in the sun calling my name at Guyra and decided it was time to truly frock up before kicking on. A sausage roll and large cuppa tea later and I was wearing just about every item of clothing packed including my wet pants as wind breakers and I felt decidely better prepared for the next leg. Don’t underestimate Aldi specials for Motorcycle gear ladies and gentleman. At less than a hundred dollars I had top and bottom thermals and plastic overall pants keeping me warm with no regrets.

Into Armidale without much fuss and my second fuel stop. This time around she only took 14L for $25 and a read out of 257kms. I was keen to see just how far it would go but that happened later on. I will share a little hydration secret that I think is a winner at this point called Hydralyte. It’s meant for gastro, which is how I discovered it, and is an excellent hydration drink that isn’t hard to carry – it comes in the same form as Berocca and you can just break a tablet in half and chuck it in a water bottle, job done. Needless to say it’s also pretty good if you’ve had a few bevvies the night before *ahem*

The bike was a dream the whole day and I pushed right on through just chewing up the kays for about ten hours before retiring in a little country town called Scone, quite famous for horses I discovered by hanging out in the front bar with the locals. Quite a lot of horse jokes were told, none of them which I got.

I like country towns, I grew up in them and so I picked one on the main street and decided to just go with it, at $30 a night for a bed and plenty of country pub tucker on offer it was an easy choice. Plush it was not, but it suited the purpose just fine and I’ll leave it at that.

No expense was spared.

Day two after a shitful nights rest I was up and out the door at 7:30am and headed further inland to take in some more back roads and stay off the freeways headed for Bathurst. This is where I had my first close encounter on the MTS all for the photo opportunity. I mistakenly read my map as needing to travel to the small town of Cassilis, rather than through it, and before I knew it I was in Enduro mode and riding up a winding rutted dirt road into farming territory. I was thinking about Wolf Creek and what would happen if I were to come afoul when I came across this innocent looking creek bed.

WARNING: SLIPPERY. Note to self: read signs.

Forgetting that DTC (traction control) was switched off in Enduro mode, I took this snap then jumped back on the bike in a fit on enthusiasm and blasted through it idly forgetting the sign I had just read previously ‘WARNING: SLIPPPERY”.
Too late. As soon as I entered that deceptive little slippery bit of running water I had too much power down and the back end violently fished out. These things happen so quickly I can vaguely remember panicking, over correcting, screaming WHOA in my lid, slamming a foot down, jumping off, and back on the gas before miraculously, and I mean MIRACULOUSLY, straightening up and pulling out of there. I swear John Jarrat flashed through my mind, coming to assist with his ute and offering a drink of water, it was a random moment but real enough to slap me upside the head and calm down a bit on this still-new-to-me motorcycle of awesome power.

Credit to it though, if I had been on the Hyper I swear it would’ve been down in a flash. The MTS feels bigger obviously, but lower to the ground and so much more stable. I should add I have never owned a motorcycle with so much technology, let alone ABS or Traction Control so it’s all pretty new to me. So far I really like it.

I had been keeping it in Touring mode with a single passenger and one bag load setting (amazing stuff this technology) and everything felt good. I did make a point at one stage of trying out the two passenger twin bag setting and it really does stiffen up the preload, rebound and overall height of the bike to the point where you can physically tell it is happening. Cool I tell you.

Back out of Enduro into Touring mode again and onto the right road to Bathurst and my next stop at Mudgee for a refuel. A mere 13.4L for $22 (fuel prices range dramatically out here) and back on the road. It stayed pretty cold for that whole day, hovering between 10- 12 degrees and just started raining lightly as I hit Bathurst.

As anyone who has ridden with me will tell you, I get pretty manic on the road, not as in speeding or crazy behaviour, but driven to keep going and going without taking anything in, just get to the end destination. I don’t know what it is and I try to curb it but it’s part of my DNA. Hauling arse through Bathurst in the rain with every intention to do a lap of Mount Panorama, this once again took over and I barely blinked on my way through headed for Cowra and my next fuel stop. I can be quite deranged doing long haul rides like that.

A man with a sign is a man to be obeyed

I also hate being cold. With little body fat and a completely busted Thyroid gland I just can’t keep the heat in my bones and I had started violently shaking to the point where I could see the handlebars moving. Not a good sign and probably a bit hypothermic, I stopped for more tea and ran my hands under hot water in the facilities for an eternity before I felt the blood returning to my digits. At 6’2″ and 78kgs there really is nothing of me.

The rest of the trip from here became just routine, chewing up kilometres from Cowra down to Yass and onto the Hume Highway to Albury for the night where I truly found the distance capacity of a single tank. It’s 330kms, with maybe another 10-20 to go if you are lucky. That refill took 17.96L for $29.61 and I was really happy with that. The Hyper chugged out absolutely dry at 230kms on the open road.

All up I travelled just over 2,500kms to get the bike back home and I highly recommend every bit of it. I am thoroughly chuffed with my purchase and think the bike is everything I hoped for. What do I want to change? First up, heated grips and another Sargent Sport Performance Seat. Both of those things are absolute necessities for me and my skinny arse.

I like the Pirelli Scorpions, I remember wanting to put a set on my Hyper before being talked out of it, but these ones have done 6,000kms of freeway riding and are well and truly square. Tipping in is scary when you can physically feel the bike rolling off the flat bit and throwing down into corners. So some new rubber is in order.

Apart from that I have scored the bike I wanted really, the guy has tastefully done the full Termi system, added an aftermarket oil cooler guard, tail tidy, tank guard and black short screen – all of which I would’ve done myself so for now I’m just going to live with it and do some riding, see what unfolds from there