In Sardinia we finally got the chance to ride the Hypermotard 1100. Is this the perfect motorcycle?
The trend that Ducati is about to define as Hypermotard started with KTM's 950 SM. It's a simple recipe really, take an existing 1000cc V-twin engine and add Supermoto styling and manoeuvrability to it!
Buell did it with their SuperTT and BMW came to the party, both with air-cooled versions like the Megamoto Ducati. But the daddy itself, KTM 950 SM is liquid cooled.
Whilst KTM's 950 SM and BMW's HP2 SM (conversion kit with the Enduro) really are big supermoto's true down to long suspension travel, racy seats and foot-controls made for cross boots, Ducati have gone streetwise with the Hypermotard 1100.
'Street' in Ducati terms also means sport, but the Hyper have got more in common with a roadbike than Supermoto in the handling department. Basically it's a naked street bike disguised as a king-size supermoto and it's hypercool.
New parts make up the bulk
Many of the parts in the engine and chassis department are shared with the Multistrada 1100. Whilst another manufacturer might have kept the rear end design to save cost and just designed a new front end, Ducati have gone all out in the design of the Hypermotard.
Everything is new from the genius headlight/front fender section, instruments, hand guard/mirror/blinker, fuel tank, seat and rear section with underseat double exhaust.
It's all very true to South African born Pierre Terblanche?s original drawings and the Hypermotard won the award for best design after the 2005 EICMA show in Milan.
The only changes since the concept model are an additional brake disc up front, blinkers moved from the foldable mirrors to the hand guards and the dual silencers have shrunk.
To save weight at the back Ducati has made the silencers as small as they could possibly get away with under current noise regulations. At the back Ducati has also designed the LED-light holder to double as pillion grab handles.
Wide handlebars, smooth handling
On the beautiful Sardinian roads I tackled bend after bend using two different riding styles: The supermotard style with my leg out to maximise front wheel traction and allow for maximum lean angles, and normal road riding style with both feet placed on the footrests.
Due to the wide handlebar and brilliant seat I found it best to use the supermotard style when going fast - I found it better for me and I didn't have to hang out as much in the hairpin corners.
The seat allows for good movement both forwards and backwards depending on whether you are entering or exiting a corner.
Entering a tight hair bend corner is the single most fun thing about the Hypermotard. It just doesn't matter at which speed you enter.
You can either brush off all the speed with the mega powerful double Brembo radial mounted brake callipers or just carry it through most bends.
There are limits off course to what speed can be carried through any given corner, but the Hypermotard eats corners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The steering is extremely precise and forgiving.
The leverage the wide bars give put the rider in absolute control anywhere in the corners. With heavy components over the front like double steel discs, double Brembo radial struts and a magnum 50mm USD fork from suspension specialist Marzocchi it's a good thing you have that leverage too.
More muscle needed
Low speed handling through town was good but the Hyper needs more muscle than a single cylinder supermoto. The Hypermotard weighs in at a claimed 179 kg (dry) and the engineering team told us that it was a great effort to achieve this. At 79kg it is light, but not lighter than the competition.
For filtering past cars in town those foldable mirrors stick really far out, but it's in the word, foldable. So when filtering past the three or four cars we encountered on our route (not much traffic in Sardinia...) I just folded the mirrors in whilst riding.
After passing obstacles I just unfolded the mirrors again and they are really easy to adjust whilst on the move.
Firm but adjustable suspension
The suspension is on the firm side, but fully adjustable. The main issue is that Ducati have opted for normal street bike suspension and there is no travel available compared to KTM 950 SM.
For city kerbs, stairs (well, you're not allowed to anyway?) and speed bumps the same care has to be taken as on any average roadbike.
The Marzocchi/Sachs combination is otherwise superb for the faster stuff on A and B roads. The Hypermotard is so much more stable at high speed than the traditional single cylinder 650cc supermoto.
The 50mm USD front fork is rock solid and really allows full usage of the powerful Brembo brakes. Only the front tyre limits what you can do entering a corner really.
On the Hypermotard 1100 Ducati have opted for Bridgestone BT014's in 120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17. These tyres are good enough for litre class superbikes, so expect some serious longevity from the 90r/min Hypermotard.
All faults forgiven
My expectations for the Hypermotard were sky high. It's a bike close to my heart in concept and Ducati did such a great design job on it. You just have to put a Ducati Hypermotard next to a KTM 950 SM and you?ll soon see where all the dribble goes...
So although it's not perfect at slow speed city handling andhas a heavy throttle and road suspension I forgive it completely.
Hypermotard has got more street cred than Ducati's own Monster. Better slow down the Monster line in Bologna to make way for more Hypers. I love it and yes, I would buy one tomorrow.