First Ride: 2010 Ducati Hypermotard 1100 Evo

Ben Cope pushes Ducati's new Hypermotard to the limit in Sardinia track test

DUCATI HAS chosen a remote track in Sardinia to launch two of the company's 2010 machines: the Hypermotard 1100 Evo and the steroid-induced Hypermotard 1100 Evo SP. We're riding the standard Evo first.

Ducati Hypermotard EVO SP onboard video lap

40 mins later:

Just got back from a session on the new Evo. What's to say? In line with the current, never-ending fashion of 'more power and less weight', Ducati has knocked 7kg off the all-up weight of the new bike; 5kg alone has been sent marching from just the engine. There's a boost in power, too. Ducati have coaxed 5bhp from the new motor; so now the new Evo's capable of pulling even Gazza out of his local Newcastle boozer.

The result? The Evo feels light, very light, when you rock it from side-to-side at a standstill. It also feels small, nimble, taut and rather sexy. A bit like Kate Moss, just without the traces of white powder over the front end. But even though it's slender, the new Evo is roomy; there's ample space for my six-foot frame with plenty to spare, so swinging around like a gibbon between corners isn't a problem. Not sure how well shorter riders (sub 5ft 8ish) will get on with the bike's lofty perch, but it's nothing a set of Gary Glitter platforms won't sort.

On the move the new bike's immense fun, as you might expect from an unfaired, firmly sprung Ducati, whacking out the thick end of 100bhp. The new motor is a grunty, urgent beast. Remember that 5kg weight loss? Well that's responsible for the way the new engine revs with such eagerness. Much of the V-twin's internals have been given the Atkins treatment, meaning everything's lighter and therefore moves quicker. Pity the no-carb diet didn't do the same for yours truly.

On track the Evo's a cracking bit of kit, let down only by a lack of ground clearance (memories of Ducati's Monster come flooding back) and the road-orientated Pirelli Diablo tyres. Turn-in is positive and precise. It's only when you're nudging into the 80% plus zone that things start feeling a little vague. A set of sticky track rubber would inspire more confidence, which is why I can't wait to test the Evo SP, complete with sticky tyres, top-notch suspension and 30mm extra ground clearance. I'll be caning that bad boy straight after I've prized my slightly numb butt cheeks off this saddle.

Check our full report on both bikes in Issue 6 of Visordown Magazine.