Ducati Hypermotard First Ride – Believe the Hype!

Ducati Hypermotard First Ride

On a bright sunny Saturday morning the MotorcycleSmack.com editors got
to sample the new Ducati Hypermotard.  The Hypermotard either creates
a new genre of streetbikes, or redefines the word "sportbike", depending
on your point of view.

At a shade over 33 inches, this new Ducati has a rather tall seat height
that short riders won’t enjoy.  Other than the seat height, tho, the
bike looks and feels very small.  It makes you think you’re on a dirt
bike, albeit one with sticky street tires and a throbbing twin cylinder
Desmo motor under you.  

The riding position is unlike any streetbike you’ve ridden.  You’re
way up front, close to the bars, nearly on top of the gas tank.  You’re
so far forward that its impossible to see the instruments at a glance, you
must look downward.  You quickly get used to this position, and it even
adds to the thrill of riding this bike.  While looking ahead you can’t
see the bike underneath you, and you get a sense of flying along the
road.  It’s a little unnerving at first, but exhilarating.

The instrument panel is small and tidy, with LCD digital guages, the tach
a bar graph at the top.  We’d prefer traditional analog guages, but this
is a minor complaint.

We rode an S-spec version, with Ohlins suspension front and rear, and
Brembo monoblock calipers up front.  The monoblock Brembos offer amazing
stopping ability and excellent feel.  One finger stoppies are easy.  The
base Hypermotard also has radial mount Brembo brakes, but doesn’t feature
the monoblock design calipers.  Tho we didn’t ride this version, we’d
be surprised if most people would notice the difference in braking.

The Hypermotard is a streetbike, first and foremost, and not a race bike. 
We had it up to about 90 miles per hour on a deserted road, and the front end
seems to get a little light as you get near 100 mph.  When you also
consider the wind blast at high speed, this is not the bike we’d choose for a
track day at, say, California Speedway, with speeds of 150 mph possible. 
For a tight, twisty road, tho, this bike would be unbeatable under a good

Hypermotard ergonomics are a little weird at first, but quickly become
natural feeling.  The bars are well placed, wide and comfortable.  The mirrors,
attached to the ends of the bars, offer excellent rearward vision with little
vibration.  The mirrors make the bike quite wide, but they fold in for
tight work such as splitting lanes.  Despite how well they work, we’re a little
worried about the width of the mirrors.  We’d swap them out for bar-end mirrors
that aren’t quite so wide.  Ducati thoughtfully provides mounting locations for
more traditional mirrors to attach.

The seat is good, but not great.  It looks like a big gray blob on the bike, but
has a noticeable step that discourages taller riders from moving backward.
We suspect the seat would limit how long you’d want to ride the Hypermotard.
But let’s face it, this ain’t no touring bike, its a "sport" bike!

The tractable Desmo twin spark air-cooled motor is excellent.  Despite putting
out only a claimed 90 HP, this motor provides more than ample power.  You must
be judicious when opening the throttle in first gear, the Hypermotard loves
to wheelie.  Your drivers license may be in extreme danger.

Fit and finish is excellent, continuing Ducati’s tradition of making their
bikes (with a few exceptions) rolling art.  There are so many beautiful little
details, you can just park the Hypermotard and stare for a while.

But this latest Ducati isn’t happy being parked, it’s meant to be ridden fast.
It’s not for those of us who want one bike for multiple missions.  It’s not a
Honda VFR.  Hypermotard is singularly focused to provide maximum fun on
minimal motorcycle.  We expect Hypermotard buyers, like most Ducati owners,
will  have other bikes for other missions.  But for sheer fun factor,
Hypermotard can’t be beat.

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