Is the new Ducati Hypermotard everything it's been cracked up to be? World Superbike's Ruben Xaus seems to think so!
Is Ducati's new Hypermotard
the perfect supermoto?
MCN's photographer, Howard Boylan, isn't easily impressed. For someone who's snapped the likes of everyone from Schwantz to Rossi slugging it out at GPs, and every single new motorcycle MCN's tested for the last ten years, it takes a special kind of two-wheeler to make him sit up and take notice.
So when he saw Ducati's new Hypermotard sitting pretty in the reception of our hotel at the world launch in Sardinia last weekend and said, "I'd kill for one of those", we knew we were onto something special. And you know what? After a day riding both the stock version on Sardinia's twisty roads, plus the hotted up 'S' version on the track, he's right.
The Hypermotard is Ducati's V-Twin, 1100cc take on the supermoto concept. As such it's been designed to offer all the excitement of a conventional supermoto, but with added style, practicality and usability. Bold claims, maybe, but in the flesh it's all this and more. The first time you clap eyes on it, it simply stops you in your tracks.
Up close, the Hypermotard is more muscular and purposeful than it seems in pictures. It's also much smaller, more compact and has many more beautifully-detailed touches than you expect, too; things like dinky lever span adjusters, an LED-encrusted rear spoiler-cum-grabrail and 1098-style radial Brembo brake calipers. Two-wheeled jewelry of the highest order, the lot of it. Even the Hypermotard's color (you can have any you want as long as it's red) seems even more blood red than you expect.
The total effect of all this is to imbue the Hypermotard with a classy, expensive, even exotic air that stablemates such as the Monster or Multistrada have never quite managed. But here's the best bit: the Hypermotard is also an affordable Ducati. It'll cost a quite mouth-watering €7750 ($11,495 U.S.) when it hits showrooms in June. While the 'S' version is here at the end of the month and is €8999 ($13,995 U.S.).
The Hypermotard has a triangulated Trellis frame and track-tested chassis geometry to go with a 50mm Marzocchi fork and a fully adjustable ZF Sachs shock.
Ok, that may sound a lot for a supermoto, but the Ducati is much more than just a cut-and-shut. If it's fun, style and attitude you're after, the Hypermotard will keep you amused long after you've got tired of that single-cylinder supermoto gathering dust in your garage.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday morning we set off on what turned out to be the ultimate Sunday ride-out: an epic 60-mile route winding through glorious Sardinian mountain roads, and an afternoon at the track messing about with World Superbike nutter Ruben Xaus on the 'S' version. As if this wasn't enough, Ducati insisted we first sit down to watch the MotoGP from China before we set off! Lucky for all of us Casey won and all at Ducati were beaming all day.
That said, the first few miles on board the Hypermotard are an alien experience. You sit very tall and are perched well forward. Aside from the LCD multi-functional racing dash, there's very little bike in your peripheral vision. It's like you're looking down from a window ledge on top of a skyscraper and initially it freezes you in the same way - you daren't brake or corner too hard for fear that you might fall over the edge. But that feeling soon goes away as you start to get to grips with what is the most exciting Ducati this side of a 1098S.
Around town the Hypermotard is a joy, mainly due to the how incredibly smooth the big V-Twin engine is. The throttle response is peachy too, the gearbox slick and just like a supermoto it's super-agile.
Best of all are the mirrors that fold out from the end of the handlebars. Although when extended they make the bars seem really wide (look at the pictures to see what I mean) - like those cow-horns you used to see on pushbikes as a kid - they work brilliantly and don't vibrate. Alternatively, you can tuck them right out of the way when playing at being a dispatch rider through the traffic or when visiting the track. Ok, it's a bit gimmicky, but it is a really good idea, too. If you're not keen, you can buy a pair of stalks and mount the mirrors in a more conventional way.
The 2008 Ducati Hypermotard combines the aggressive stance of a motard and mixes it with Ducati sportbike technology in one street-shredding supermoto
The Hypermotord also has a decently-proportioned seat, which is comfy for all day riding, while rubber-topped pegs and rubber handlebar mounts keep vibes away from the rider. The clutch action has been lightened by 30% compared to the 1100 Mutistrada, which makes life easier, too.
Ducati chose this air-cooled twin-spark, two-valve 1078cc V-Twin engine compared to say, the old 999 lump, for a number of reasons. The 'DS' motor is light to begin with, and thanks to a number of tweaks, including a dry clutch it's another 1.6 kg (3.58 lbs) lighter. It produces a whole heap of torque at just 4750 rpm too. But there is a fine line between this 90-hp DS engine being a smile-igniter and a disappointment, and that's all down to how much weight it has to push along.
In the relatively heavy Multistrada 1100 it never really delivers - there's a blast of low-down stomp then it fizzles out and fun-time is over. But as we discovered last year, when fitted in something super-light, such as the BMX-like Bimota DB6, it is truly electrifying. I'm pleased to say the Hypermotard is light enough to take full advantage of this burbling V-Twin engine.
So the Hypermotard certainly isn't just a Multistrada with different clothes. It weighs a full 17 kg (37.48 lbs) less thanks to many of its components being honed, tweaked and lightened. At just 179 kg (394.62 lbs), the tank-empty weight is less than a road-going Supersport 600.
The Hypermotard has creative folding mirrors at the end of off-road style handguards that flip out for high visibility street mode and easily fold in for a quick change to what Ducati calls 'Hypermode.'
But there's no point in revving this engine, instead you need to ride the torque. Once you've scrubbed off speed with the Ducati's incredibly powerful twin radial Brembo set-up, the trick is to tip into the corners with around 4000 rpm showing on the digital display.
From there it's just a case of working the firm suspension hard, leaning to the edge of the Bridgestone BT-014 tires, completing the turn, and ripping out the other side. In the first three gears the Hypermotard will wheelie with all the urgency of a wild, smaller, single-cylinder supermoto. But with both wheels on the ground it is very stable in a straight line, too. The force of acceleration does diminish in the taller gears, but it's still deceptively quick. The combination of the low-revving smooth engine and the small headlight surround somehow shielding you from much of the windblast, allows the Hypermotard to creep into three-figure speeds without you really noticing.
And here's the real beauty of the Hypermotard. While conventional single-cylinder supermotos were never designed for the road, revving their bolts off at anything past 80 mph and slicing you in half with razor thin seats, the Ducati is happy cruising at fast A-road speeds. It sounds great too, is comfortable and its high level of finish makes it more stand in the garage and stare at it over a cup of tea once you've polished it-able than a supermoto.
But although Ducati has managed to deliver all the benefits of a fun and lightweight supermoto and mixed it with some Bologna style, the Hypermotard still suffers from a typical supermoto downside: fuel range. Sporting a 12.4-liter (3.28 gallons) tank you're going to be lucky to squeeze over 100-miles from a tank, which is why if you want a Ducati to do distance on, the Multistrada is still going to be more practical.
The Ducati's 1078cc V-Twin has a 98mm bore with a short 71.5mm stroke that produces a claimed 90 hp with plenty of low-end torque.
But who cares if that makes the Hypermotard just a back-road-blasting toy? I love it. And so does Howard.
Put simply the Hypermotard is for those who love the idea of conventional supermoto but don't want to put up with a razor-sharp seat, big vibes, manic agility, flighty handling and an impractical engine. This could finally be the supermoto that finally tempts you away from your sportbike.
Of course Ducati aren't the first to come up with this idea; KTM did it first a couple of years ago with their big, bonkers V-Twin 950cc Supermoto and this year we have the BMW HP2 Megamoto. Although the Ducati loses out on outright straight-line performance against its European competition, it is less of a handful.
The KTM is physically very big, and although extremely capable and very fast is not as nimble, stiff or confidence inspiring to chuck around as the Hypermotard. Then there's the BMW, which is just over the top in every way - it too is very, very big; but it's heavy and pretty intimidating for anyone other than the very experienced to get the most out of.
Seriously, if you're frustrated having a sportbike you can't fully exploit on the road, go book a test ride on a Hypermotard.
The nimble Hypermotard exhibits its Italian charms over Sardinian mountain roads. The new design should be gracing American backroads by mid-summer.
We got our chance to ride the 'S' version at the track with World Superbike supremo Ruben Xaus
. The sight of him overtaking me into the first gear hairpin of the Mores circuit in Sardinia, sideways, rear wheel smoking, one-handed is something that'll stay with me for the rest of my life.
If you've ever wondered how to ride a supermoto on the road - knee down, or full-slide - Ruben has the answer. "I try to keep everyone happy by doing both. I slide into the turns to keep the motocross guys happy but have my knee down for the road racers!" We'll leave that to him, eh?
Back to the 'S'. It costs €8999 ($13,995 U.S) and should be in showrooms by the end of the month. It's 2-kg (4.4 lbs) lighter than the standard model thanks to the forged alloy Marchesini wheels shod with sticky Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tires. It also comes with an Ohlins rear shock, reworked 50mm Marzocchi forks and Brembo Monobloc radial calipers from the 1098. You'll also get carbon fiber fork protectors, timing belt covers, side tail covers and front mudguard.
On track our Hypermotard 1100S was fitted with a lightweight Termignoli race exhaust with a single can, boosting power up to 95 hp. The exhaust really sharpens up the power delivery, making the Ducati really fly off the turns, and the lack of weight is noticeable when hacking through flip-flop chicanes. All this is complimented by the extra feel and control afforded by the higher spec suspension.
It's a surprisingly good track bike and the confidence it gives you matched to its agility, grunt, and brakes will really surprise you, and others, and will be perfect for trackdays around the UK (and we assume the States - ed), but if you can't stretch the extra for the 'S', for the road the standard bike is every bit as good.
Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Product Director:
Mr. Neeves wasn't backing it in with the knee down like Senor Xaus, but he did sample the "S" model, which features lighter Marchesini wheels.
"With our Multistrada already people said it was a type of motard, but it is a bit too big and wide. So the inspiration was to try to take the motard spirit and show it in a design that is typical motard. That was the point of the design a couple of years ago when we first showed the bike at the Milan show.
"What followed from this idea was to have under the skin a bike with real motard behavior, by reducing the weight as much as possible. We worked incredibly hard to take the weight from the chassis and engine and have saved nearly 20 kg (44.09 lbs) from the Mulitstrada, which is a big amount because this bike is already very light. So then if you package the Multistrada engine with a very light chassis and a motard design you end up with the Hypermotard.
"What we had to think about the ergonomics and the comfort of the bike to be really something different than what you would expect, by paying a lot of attention to the seat and the weight of the clutch action."
Fedirico Sabbimi, Project Engineer
The 2008 Ducati Hypermotard 1100S comes with an Ohlins shock out back, one of the reasons why its MSRP is $1500 more than the non-"S" version.
"The short time for developing this project from the style brief and concept from when we showed the Hypermotard in Milan in 2005, to production now has been the biggest challenge for us. We have worked hard to integrate all of the components of the bike together at a high level because the space available on this bike was very tight.
"We choose the two-valve air-cooled engine gives you a lot of advantages in terms of layout and integration with the rest of the bike and so it was an obvious choice for this family of engines and of course the 1100 was chosen as it's the latest development."
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