Some months ago I chose to change the rear Öhlins spring, on my Multistrada 1200S, to the stiffer 100Nm version. As I wrote on my previous article (https://desmotrack.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/ohlins-105nm-rear-spring-upgrade/) this helped to balance the bike especially when touring with pillion and luggage.
After the upgrade though, the front end wasn’t as well “planned” as before – when driving solo. The issue didn’t feel that bad, but I decided to fix it anyway. I’m not of the heavy type, so perhaps that’s why I notised the difference more. First I thought that I would need to change the Öhlins front end springs, but that would have a relatively high cost, plus I wouldn’t be able to revert to the original ones easily. So I did my research, and decided to I adjust the front end preload setting instead. Basically that’s the the only thing (!) which you can’t adjust easily via the Multistrada’s DES settings menu.
To do so, you need to visit your Ducati dealer (who has a special tool) and ask them kindly to modify the front fork preload setting. It takes 2-5 minutes to that. They need to turn the two large blue bolts clockwise. On mine they turned each 2 full turns This made the front end “stiffer” and thus compensated the loss (of balance) due to my stiffer rear end spring (100Nm vs 85Nm). Whether two turns are enough is up to your personal riding preferences.
Before adjusting this the bike would “dive” when passing over road bumps (the ones meant to slow you down, in the city) but not anymore. It’s more comfortable to ride. It feels more planned when accelerating. It doesn’ dive uncomfortably when braking down with a pillion. The bike also feels faster on corners e.g. on a track-day, as the ride is more controllable.
After this I became curious, and started to play with the other front end settings (compression/rebound). In the Urban Solo mode I made some adjustments between +10 and -10, but didn’t see a big difference after all. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend to change the factory settings, unless you know what you are doing. I’m planning to write a follow up on what-does-what in the near future.
To find the “ultimate” Öhlins suspension settings, on such a versatily bike as the Multistrada is, requires a lot of riding-and-adjusting. I have started this process by marking down my thoughts on paper after each ride. It will take some time until I can post these, and still there wont be a definity answer of which would work best for you. It’s a matter of personal taste.
What I can say for sure though is that adjusting the front preload improved my ride dramatically. Feel free to experiment with this!