About a week or so ago, I spent an afternoon with the Ducati UK team, checking out its Multistrada 1200 Enduro Experience. On that same day, just because I was there, I also got a chance to spend a little time tearing around Brecon Beacons roads on the utterly batshit Multistrada 1260.
That bike is amazing. Maybe even a little too amazing for mere mortals. But for the task of screaming up one of the world’s most challenging mountain courses – Pikes Peak – it makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. And that’s exactly what Ducati intends to do.
The Italian brand announced this week that it will be returning to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 24 June. Ducati team record holder, Carlin Dunne, and current middleweight record holder, Codie Vahsholtz, will both be taking part in the 2018 “Race to the Clouds.” Dunne was the first motorcyclist ever to traverse the 4,720-foot Pikes Peak race course in less than 10 minutes (9:52.819). His record – set in 2012 astride a Multistrada 1200 S – stood until 2017.
“When Dunne’s record was finally broken by a small margin, it inspired us to race again with the goal of reclaiming the title,” said Jason Chinnock, chief executive officer of Ducati North America. “The riders, team and new Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak are destined to be a force on the mountain.”
Vahsholtz, meanwhile, is a Colorado native who comes from a family of Pikes Peak champions. He picked up the record time in 2017 for the Middleweight Division, the record time in 2015 for the Lightweight Division, and in 2013 for the 250 Pro Class. He still has a way to go if he wants to beat the records of his father, Clint (23 Pikes Peak victories), or grandfather, Leonard (19 victories). Needless to say, the Vahsholtz clan is revered in Pikes Peak circles.
First held in 1916 – with a few years off here and there – the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place on a 12.42-mile stretch of road that sees racers tackle 156 turns before arriving at the 15,115-foot summit. The race is notoriously challenging in part because the dramatic elevation change dramatically affects the performance of an internal combustion engine.
Ducati says the 1262cc L-twin-driven Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak delivers 18 percent more torque in the mid-range than its predecessor – useful when rocketing up a mountain. The motorcycle is fitted with an electronics package with distinct riding modes (something tells me Dunne and Vahsholtz won’t be clicking it into “Urban,” though), cornering ABS, traction control, and wheelie control.