Ducati explores niche-within-a-niche
DUCATI has got to be applauded for its unflinching bravery when it comes to exploring new niches. With the likes of the Diavel and Multistrada 1200, the strategy pays off – creating unique machines that buyers queue up for. But just as often the same out-of-the-box thinking can lead to less success.
The Hypermotard hasn't fallen completely flat on its face, but sales haven't been earth-shattering, with government figures showing less than 1000 have been registered in the UK during the five years its been on sale. That compares to more than 500 Diavels in a single year.
But far from giving up on the Hypermotard it seems Ducati is preparing a totally new version, ditching the air-cooled motor for a water-cooled Testastretta unit. Spy shots clearly show the engine – which looks like the 848 motor rather than the 1198 unit – and a new chassis to fit around it.
At the moment, it's the entry-level Hypermotard 796 that's bolstering sales, accounting for more than half of the UK bikes since its introduction, so if Ducati is ditching the air-cooled version entirely the smaller engine makes sense. However, it would likely be significantly pricier than the existing machine (a Hypermotard 796 costs around £7800, a Streetfighter 848 is nearly £10k).
It would also ask some serious questions of the firm's positioning, or even continuation, of the Streetfighter. Looking at UK sales, it has been significantly weaker than the Hypermotard so once its performance advantage, created by the water-cooled superbike engine, is removed it could be facing an even tougher time.
If Ducati can add an extra layer of practicality to the new Hypermotard to go along with the water-cooled engine, it could become a bike more along the lines of the imaginary Multistrada 848 that many have speculated about since the Multistrada 1200 was first launched – offering much of the Multi's appeal but at a lower price. But that begs the question: why develop an all-new water-cooled Hypermotard if simply bolting a smaller motor to the existing Multistrada would do the same job?
Pic via Il Ducatista
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I too have "explored a few niches" in my time. Still visiting the STD clinic.
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