American or Italian? The 2008 Buell Super TT and the 2008 Ducati Hypermotard may be like ying and yang, but both are capable of inspiring the inner-hooligan in you.
In this tale of two decidedly different approaches to the same end, the 2008 Buell Super TT and 2008 Ducati Hypermotard represent polar opposite solutions to the new wave of super motard-inspired motorcycles. Designed with the sole purpose of ascending to that fun-to-ride in grey area between race tracks and mountain roads, these two hardcore rides are the styling ying and yang of this class.
On one hand there’s the gritty Super TT with its unmistakably Buell frame and H-D powerplant tipping off an all-American heritage. The Buell’s industrial appearance is in stark contrast to the flowing, sexy lines of the Italian-built Hypermotard. Which of the two appeals to you is a matter of personal taste, but the question of how they stack up on the tight, twisty, dirty and dangerous pavements of our sick-and-twisted West Coast playground is one of the many answers you will find in the pages that follow.
Street Ride – Location: Oregon, Southern California
Our home state is riddled with obscure and oft-forgotten byways, rarely used, poorly-maintained mountain roads to go along with an endless supply of over used log-truck routes. These were all perfectly suited for evaluating the street-worthy function of the opposing Twins. In California, the roads are full of superbike-friendly sweepers and an assortment of lost highways left in shambles after years of neglect and treacherous stretches of even more abusive freeways.
The Desmo-driven 1078cc DS powerplant has a 98 x 71.5mm bore and stroke that is complemented by a Marelli EFI system with 45mm throttle bodies.
The first thing you notice when climbing back and forth from one motorcycle to the other is how similar they feel. Their towering seat heights, motocross-style handlebars and wide, comfortably-placed footpegs provide an aggressive attacking riding position true to their supermoto heritage. In fact, both bikes are well suited to riding supermoto-style with the leading foot forward and a peg grinding mercilessly into the asphalt or with a knee down or out while carrying insane lean angles with either technique.
Dodging commuters on Ortega Highway, there isn’t much separating these two bikes. But busting a half-day ride through Elderberry Flats will have your sphincter puckered onto the seat like a barnacle to a boat hull. If you take for granted that these bikes are serious sporting weapons you could end up on the pointy end of the spear, if you catch our drift. These two bikes are well suited for carving canyons, with wide bars and torquey Twins providing the oomph between the turns. Suspension is close on the street but when the pace is fast the Ducati holds a clear advantage on the Buell. The Hypermotard has a more familiar and more stable feel to it. The Buell tends to feel light on the front wheel and shakes its head more than the Ducati over the rough roads.
Most everything about the Hypermotard motor is smoother than the Super TT. The Buell is powered by a rumbly 45-degree 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin powerplant, so that will come as no surprise. What is a surprise is how much wider the spread of available power is on the smoother Desmo-driven 1078cc DS mill. A look at the accompanying dyno chart reveals that although the Buell nips the Ducati in peak power, it stops abruptly at 7000 rpm while the Italian powerband keeps on going for another 2000 rpm.
The Buell Super TT takes peak power honors, but the Ducati Hypermotard keeps on giving long after the Buell reaches redline.
The smaller DS motor features a 98 x 71.5mm bore and stroke at a 10.5:1 compression ratio and is fed by a Marelli EFI system with 45mm throttle bodies. Conversely, the bigger Buell lump utilizes a much smaller 89mm bore and longer 97mm stroke fed by 49mm throttle bodies. This combination results in an aggressive power delivery available in much-shorter bursts. Our first few hours with the Buell were spent bouncing the tach needle off the rev-limiter learning how not to ride it like the Ducati. Once you get used to short shifting through the first few gears of the 5-speed transmission, it turns out the Buell is quite capable of ripping off wheelies on demand and gives the Ducati a real run for its money. The Hyper gains the ground back thanks to the taller gears afforded by its 6-speed gearbox – which makes the motor feel more relaxed than the Buell mill.
Kicking the opposition’s ass on the dyno may look good on paper but it’s the act of riding from point to point that’s much more important. This will not come as a surprise to Buell owners when we say the Super TT is easier on the body than the Hyper. But that bit of relative comfort may not be a factor for everyone. If you are looking for wind protection and a plush seat, then these may not be the motorcycles for you in the first place, but between these two bikes the Buell gets the nod for creature comforts.
With its fuel-in-frame technology and 4.4-gallons of capacity, the Buell gives riders more time in the saddle between stops. It also won mpg honors.
Not only does the Super TT have a slightly wider and more-comfortable seat but it also offers both superior fuel capacity, courtesy of its 4.4 gallon fuel-in-frame technology, and better MPG. Those massive twin frame spars hold the key to getting away with the craziest ride ever – and waiting for your AAA to come save your ass in the middle of nowhere. Neither bike has a range worth writing home about, but you can expect the Buell to provide an easy 160-mile range even when ridden hard – but you can add about 20 mpg to top that if you ride it easy. We saw a 42 mpg average from the Super TT and a less eco-friendly 36 mpg from the Hypermotard. Add into the mix a 3.3-gallon form-follows-function byproduct fuel tank on the Ducati that offers a 120-130 mile range while pacing the Buell on the same rides. Refueling is easier on the Buell because you can see into the fuel cell while the black Ducati tank is all but impossible to see inside. Both caps are not attached to the bike and must be removed and placed on the bike, the gas pump or the ground while pumping petrol – irritating to say the least.