Ducati was among the first companies to introduce a twin-cylinder motard, first as a concept in 2005, then with a production model in 2007. Called the Hypermotard it originally had a two-valve, 1,078 cc air-cooled Desmo twin, with the smaller 803 cc Hypermotard 796 following in 2010.
For 2013, the Ducati Hypermotard gets a complete makeover, including an all-new engine. Ducati invited a bunch of hacks, including yours truly, to Ronda, Spain to ride the latest Hyper bike.
The new look still retains enough design elements to clearly identify this as a Hypermotard, though from the right-hand side, the biggest (and rather welcome) change is a lower muffler. Gone too are the folding bar-end mirrors, replaced by more traditional and functional rear-views mounted atop the handlebar controls.
Ergonomics have been reshuffled to place the rider more upright and farther back. Footpegs have moved forward 70 mm and the rider’s butt has been moved back 80 mm, while the handlebars have moved rearward to a position that falls between the previous Hypermotard and the Mutlistrada.
The Hypermotard’s new Testastretta 11° four-valve V-twin originated in the Multistrada, but at 821 cc, it’s down from the ’strada’s 1,198 cc. Despite this, it is the most powerful yet to propel a Hypermotard model; at 110 peak horsepower it produces 15 hp more than the 1100 and 29 more than the 796. However, the engine’s smaller displacement gives up a bit of peak torque, now at 65.8 lb-ft versus 75.9 lb-ft for the 1100 (albeit 10 lb-ft up on the 796).
Some really good news for potential Hypermotard owners is that the fuel tank, which on the previous Hypermotard was among the smallest on a full-sized street bike at 12.4 litres, has grown to 16 litres, meaning you can now make it between Tim Hortons without having to fill up.
The engine is wrapped in a new steel trellis frame and aluminum subframe, and steering geometry has been altered to improve stability,
A heap of new technology is now standard on the Hypermotard, whether you like it or not (I like it), including Ducati Safety Pack (DSP), which includes three ride modes, eight levels of traction control (DTC) and three levels of ABS. If you don’t like the electronic intervention, DTC and ABS can be turned off.
The liquid cooling and techno-gadgetry have added 3 kilos compared to the 1100, now at 175 kg (386 lb) dry for the standard model. The higher-spec Hypermotard SP weighs in at 171 kg (377 lb) dry thanks to some carbon fibre bits and lighter, forged Marchesini wheels.
The SP also gets a fully adjustable 50 mm Marzocchi inverted fork (43 mm non-adjustable Kayaba unit for the standard model), and a fully adjustable Ohlins shock (rebound damping and preload adjustable Sachs shock on the standard bike).
You can now rejoice if you’ve had enough of all this techno-talk because now we’re moving on to …
Ahhh, sweet Spanish sunshine greets us as we arrive at the Ascari Race Resort, where we begin the morning road portion of our test ride on standard Hypermotards before returning to the track in the afternoon for some hot lapping on SP models. Unfortunately, someone forgot to turn on the heat, and the in-dash thermometers of bikes parked under the sun read 2 degrees Celsius.
Sitting on the new Hypermotard, the first thing you notice is that the bike is tall. Seat height on the standard bike is 870 mm (34.2 in), which is 25 mm taller than the 1100 and 45 mm taller than the 796. The SP adds another 20 mm due to the taller suspension, making it 15 mm taller than the former SP model.
Even at six feet tall, I can’t get the heels of my feet flat on the ground on the standard bike unless I stretch my legs straight. The bike seems wider in the midsection than the previous model, probably due to the larger fuel tank, which is an elongated item that stretches from ahead of you, between your legs, to under the seat.
Another change when seated is that you can actually see the bike below you. On the original bike, you were perched so far forward that the bike would disappear from your view, hidden beneath the chin portion of your full-face helmet. Now, the fender peak, handlebar and tiny LCD gauge cluster are fully in view.
The seat is deeply sculpted and locks you into one position, though at least it’s not an excruciatingly painful supersport crouch. The riding position is quite relaxed and upright but I can’t really comment on how comfy the seat is because our road test lasts just 75 km, though we do ride a combination of both smooth, open stretches and super-tight twisty bits that were quite bumpy at times. My butt doesn’t complain, though I suspect that on a longer ride it might cry foul.
Ducati has three accessory exhaust systems, from a full race system to a slip-on muffler, but fortunately you won’t have to spend the extra dough to buy one if you want a rich, throaty sound; the Hypermotard’s standard exhaust emits a surprisingly pleasant and pleasantly audible rumble.
Clutch effort is light (a new APTC wet slipper clutch hides behind the right-hand engine cover) and gearbox action is precise. First gear is tall, so some clutch slippage is needed to get going from a stop.
One thing that’s gone on the new bike is the ground-quaking shudder of the 1100 when cruising in top gear at legal highway speeds (the 796 was smoother). The “wet” Hyper just chugs along smoothly, unless you deliberately lug the engine, in which case it still doesn’t shake as much as the older bike.
The Hypermotard may have lost the bottom-end grunt of the 1100, and although it’s still a torquey machine, tall overall gearing means a downshift or two is needed if you want to make a quick pass. The engine spins freely and readily, and if kept in the upper revs, is rewardingly fast.
The new Hypermotard is less twitchy than the older one, though the tall, wide handlebar is sensitive to rider input and a death grip and sloppy commands still result in exaggerated chassis movement.
But this means that it is also a quick-steering machine and really shines in an urban environment and in the twisties; it’s highly flickable and (mostly) stable through high-speed sweepers, though mid-turn bumps will cause a rider-induced twitch. Suspension is on the firm side and choppy over sharp bumps, though this can also be attributed to the cold temperatures and short ride time.
I sample the three ride modes – Sport, Touring and Urban. Sport and Touring modes offer maximum horsepower with respectively aggressive and more subtle throttle mapping, while Urban provides the softest throttle response and limits power to 75 hp.
Throttle response is too abrupt in Sport mode, exaggerated by an overly light return spring in the ride-by-wire throttle, so I settle on Touring mode. In town, I’d choose Urban mode readily – you don’t really need more than 75 hp to get to 50 km/h and the soft throttle will make negotiating tight traffic that much easier.
DTC and ABS settings are also preset in each ride mode, though each can be custom tailored or turned off, and entered into memory.
The temperature slowly creeps up and by the time we return to Ascari the digital dashboard display reads a more clement 8 degrees C. We swap our standard Hypermotards for SP models equipped with full Termignoni exhaust systems for what turns out to be some cool lapping.
The SP is taller and stiffer than the standard model, and with the accessory exhaust, a hell of a lot louder – but the sound is oh, so sweet.
Engine characteristics are identical between the standard model and the SP, though the ride modes are different. It has Race, Sport and Wet modes, the biggest difference being in Race mode, where the ABS only acts on the front wheel at a low level of intervention. This allows a rider to lock the rear wheel for backing it in to a turn or other such shenanigans. Rain mode also limits power to 75 hp.
It is also equipped with sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP radials (Diablo Rosso II on the standard bike), which provide enough grip in the cold temperatures to grind footpegs and the side stand foot despite the bike’s added cornering clearance due to the taller suspension.
I select Sport mode for the first session, which offers softer throttle response, and more ABS and DTC intervention (levels 2 and 3 respectively) than Race mode. The bike pulls hard enough to make lapping exciting, turning in quickly and transitioning through the track’s two chicanes effortlessly.
On the track, a 110-hp bike doesn’t really need traction control unless it’s wet, and the throttle could be almost whacked wide open at corner exit without much fear of losing the rear end.
It’s a long way up then down into a full lean through the esses, but the bike manages them with relative poise as long as I don’t manhandle the handlebar like a rodeo clown grabbing a bull by the horns. The wide handlebar means it requires a delicate hand or it’ll weave around a bit.
The front end also returned a slightly vague feeling when trail braking, though this would have been remedied if I’d bothered to dial in some rear preload.
This bike is better suited to tighter tracks like Shannonville or Calabogie than high-speed circuits like Mt. Tremblant and Mosport, though I suspect it will give full-on sport bikes a tough time even at those circuits.
Radial-mount, four-piston Brembos now grip larger 320 mm front discs and braking power is supersport-level, though initial bite is quite strong, demanding an experienced set of fingertips. Feedback is precise, however, and if a novice inadvertently hammers the brakes, ABS is there to save his ass. No discernible fade is felt after 15 minutes of hard lapping.
The new Hypermotard is an improvement over the old in almost all respects. It gets added performance for a negligible amount of added weight, and the new, larger gas tank resolves one of the biggest complaints riders had about the old model: limited range. Of course, if you resist technological advances and electronic rider intervention, you won’t like this bike.
Throttle response is a bit abrupt in the most aggressive ride modes, whether on the standard or SP models, but the beauty of Ducati’s ride modes is that you can custom tailor each one to suit your requirements. If I had the SP for example, I’d select Sport mode and program ABS and DTC to Race mode levels. Or maybe I’d just shut them off, since I can.
Despite the added performance and technology, pricing remains respectably competitive. The standard Hypermotard retails for $12,995, which is $1,500 more than the 796, however, it offers performance levels comparable to the 1100. The SP is $15,695, which represents a reduction of $1,800 over the outgoing 1100Evo SP, improving on its handling and top-end power, but losing some bottom-end torque.
No matter how you look at it, though, the new Hypermotard kicks ass, and is a fitting tribute to the machines that started the motard craze more than three decades ago.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.
|Bike||2013 Ducati Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP|
|MSRP||$12,995 SP: $15,695|
|Engine type||liquid-cooled Desmodronic V-twin, six-speed transmission|
|Power (crank)*||110hp (81kW) @ 9250rpm|
|Torque*||89 Nm (65.8 lb-ft) @ 7750 rpm|
|Tank Capacity||16 litres – 4.2 gallon|
|Carburetion||Magneti Marelli electronic fuel injection system|
|Final drive||chain drive|
|Tires, front||Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17 SP: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17|
|Tires, rear||Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 180/55 ZR17 SP: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 180/55 ZR17|
|B:rakes, front||dual 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo four-piston calipers, ABS|
|Brakes, rear||245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper, ABS|
|Seat height||870mm (34.2in) SP: 890mm (35.0in)|
|Wheelbase||1.500 mm (59.1 in)|
|Wet weight*||198 kg (436 lb) SP: 194 kg (428 lb)|
|Colours||black, red SP: white|
|Warranty||2 years unlimited mileage|