2008 Hypermotard

MD First Ride: 2008 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 & 1100S
By Tor Sagen
Photography: Stefano Taglioni & Marco Campelli

Since Ducati showed us the Hypermotard concept in Milan 2005 we
have been very eager for a ride. Early May in Sardinia and we are finally
in the seat of the latest motard designed fun-bike to enter the market. In
hyper mode we rode the Hypermotard both on the road and on track. 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 flickability to it! That's what the
new trend is all about, big displacement street supermotards. Like the
Buell SuperTT and BMW HP2 Megamoto, Ducati have gone air-cooled.
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 with long suspension travel, racy
seats and foot-controls made for cross boots, Ducati have gone street
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. The Hypermotard is basically a
naked street bike disguised as a king sized supermoto. Hypercool!

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 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.

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. There was not much in it speed
wise on the road, but I found it better for me and I didn't have to hang
out as much in the hair bend 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's 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.

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 kilo (dry) (394 lbs.) and the engineering
team told us that it was a great effort to achieve this. 179 kilo is light
weight, 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. One journalist
reported that his mirrors kept folding in when doing motorway speeds,
but the mirrors have a knob to tighten them. I found that there was a lot
of vibration at speed and the mirrors become pretty useless on the
motorway. The handlebar is rubber mounted, but still some vibration
comes through to the exposed mirrors. The foldable option is pure
genius, but both the hand guards and mirrors should be more solidly
mounted to minimise vibration. Nevertheless, the vibrations are
nothing compared to that of most single cylinder machine.

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 little 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.

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. 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 90bhp

Hypermotard 1100 S and track version
For our two-session ride on the Mores circuit in Sardinia, Ducati had
prepared some very special Hypermotard versions for us. The track kit
version is based on the 1100 S that differs from the standard in having
lightweight forged Marchesini wheels (this is where the 2kg weight
reduction comes from) fitted with Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tyres, higher
spec Marzocchi 50mm USD fork (TiN treated), Ohlins rear shock and
Monoblock Brembo radial callipers. But that was not enough; we were
also treated to a 2-1 race exhaust (standard 2-1-2) that releases
around 5bhp, and 100 octane Shell V-power fuel. Basically,
modifications to make the Hypermotard 1100S a better track bike. The
single-sided exhaust was from Termignoni, of course. Termignoni also
have got a 2-1-2 race exhaust replacement ready.

After watching Ruben Xaus do a couple of laps it was my time to go out
and ride with the fast Spaniard. Remember, Xaus won World
Superbike Race 1 in Valencia just one month ago on last year's Ducati
999. How many times is he going to pass me, I ask myself. After a
while I hoped he would pass me more so that I could watch those crazy
slides into turn one! Anyway, the Hypermotard sounds great on full
throttle with free exhaust. It accelerates considerably better than the
standard Hyper, too.

By my third lap around the 1-minute-per-lap Mores circuit, I was ready
to start pushing it a bit. Full speed down the start/finish straight into a
sharp left hander. Left foot out, feed the throttle more aggressively and I
felt that great sensation of leaning a supermoto-style bike. Sitting
almost straight upright leaning a bike onto its very limit is just great! I
was starting to trust the front Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tyre more, and it
had no problems in the left hander.

Full throttle up to a left/right chicane and over the hill into a blind double
right hair bend corner. Halfway in the front wheel started sliding
sideways pushing me wide. Bloody hell, that right hand side of the front
is neither warm enough nor scrubbed in properly yet, I thought. So it put
me off for a lap, but now the tyres really were warm enough. After the
double right and a short straight I could chuck the Hyper down on its left
ear and open the throttle early. It surprised me that the rear wheel never
spun properly up with the early throttle from full lean.

Ok, I thought, I'm not going to try to be Xaus just yet and make a fool of
myself sliding into the gravel trap trying an assisted power slide. Using
the throttle on full lean along with some clutch and rear brake to spin
out of a corner takes every brain cell available. And I was at the Mores
circuit to ride and test, not race. I could keep up with Ruben for one-and-
a-half corners before he disappeared. He actually lapped me about two
times every 10 minutes. After this left hander, I accelerated on full
throttle down a longer short straight for a fast left hander followed by the
back straight onto a long and very fast left hander that led me back onto
the start/finish straight. I could see about 180km/h (112 mph) briefly on
the speedo before braking hard for the first left hander again.

The suspension and chassis felt great on the Mores circuit. It's by no
mistake as Vittoriano Guareschi tested the final suspension set-up on
the Hypermotard on this very circuit. The Hypermotard can be ridden in
so many different ways around a circuit and still be fast. Supermoto
style carrying a lot of corner speed sliding in, roadracing style with knee
down hanging out or like Ruben Xaus that mixed the supermotard style
with his own spectacular roadracing style (See picture above).

I couldn't help but think that it was boring revving the tits out of the
Hypermotard down the straights. The Hypermotard is all about
cornering, fast cornering. The power band works in similar ways to a
single in terms of where the action is. At 4,750rpm the torque curve
peaks at 103Nm (76 lbs/ft), which is very impressive and then there's a
few thousand rpm's wait for the maximum power output of around
95bhp at 7,750rpm. The 2-valve L-twin goes really flat on top and it's
best to just short shift up into the next gear in the six speed gearbox.
The gearbox felt precise enough both on the road and on track, but
there would be no need for top speed ratios at the Mores circuit.

The dry clutch and throttle have traditionally been quite heavy to
operate. The new dry clutch have one extra plate that has enabled
softer springs and hence a lighter pull. But the throttle is way too heavy
for my taste. My right hand tired much quicker than it should. The foot
controls are not really designed for offroad boots either, even though I
didn't suffer any clumsy mistakes due to my boots. I would have wanted
the gear pedal higher up and further away with my Tech 10's on. In
Ducati's accessories list are grippy foot rests rather than the rubber
covered standard ones.

The fun part of riding the Hypermotard is the most important part. The
1100DS 2-valve, air-cooled L-twin has got a beautiful torque curve. This
enables effortless low speed acceleration and wheelies. The turn-in is
so precise and steering so easy to adjust mid-corner that anything
goes. Hypermotard is forgiving enough for the new rider and fun
enough for the experienced rider. The perfect motorcycle!

My expectations were sky high for the Hypermotard. It's a bike close to
my heart in concept and Ducati did such a great job on the design (just
put a Ducati Hypermotard next to a KTM 950 SM and you'll soon see
where all the dribble goes…) So even though it's not perfect at slow
speed city handling, has got a heavy throttle and road suspension, I
forgive it completely! Hypermotard has got more street credibility 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!