First Ride: 2008 Ducati Hypermotard

Ducati enters the supermoto scene with a bang. That'll be the mirror on a car's door then...

You hear stories about soldiers who, in the heat of battle, commit acts of either unbelievable bravery, or just plain insanity, depending on your point of view. Going above and beyond the call of duty, they often get a medal to honour their bravado.

I would like to nominate Ducati's photographer for such a medal. Anyone who is prepared to stand in direct line of fire of Ruben Xaus and 177kg of sideways Hypermotard barrelling towards him at 50mph just to get 'that' photo is made of sterner stuff than me.

Aggressive, minimalist, exciting and thrilling to ride is how Ducati is billing the Hypermotard. It may have essentially the same chassis and engine as the Multistrada but that's where the similarities end. The Hypermotard is the Mr Hyde to the Multi's Dr Jekyll and when it sipped the magic potion in Ducati's lair the Multistrada shed 17kg, gained some extra power through lightened engine internals, a new dry clutch, new brakes, data logging system, a lap timer and a look not entirely unlike a pterodactyl.

In a radical move for Ducati the Hypermotard has mirrors that actually work. The two dinky bar end jobbies fold out, giving the rider a perfect view of the road - and create a ten-foot 'wingspan' for the bike. Thankfully for filtering they also fold out of the way easily.

But practicalities don't end there. It also comes with a comfy seat (good enough for the claimed 125 mile range) and a 30% lighter clutch action compared to other Ducatis using the 1100 air-cooled engine.

But who cares about such matters? This is a niche bike aimed at people who want to go screaming bonkers on a Sunday afternooon. And despite the Sardinian roads being a bit damp the bike was a riot. As you would expect from such a stripped down machine the Hypermotard is very light and nimble. For the first few miles the front end feels quite odd, but this is just a case of getting dialled into the supermoto geometry, and you soon get used to it. Rather than just lean you have to steer the bike, or at least put more input into the mix than you expect, for the initial turn-in. But it's no big issue and once you get used to it the Hypermotard handles very well.

The motor is mint. It's not that fast, although I did see 125mph, but it is beautifully responsive. And the tweaks Ducati have given the 1100 make it even better. The heavy clutch is all but gone while the virtually faultless fuel injection and sweet gearbox remain unchanged. The mods are fairly minimal inside the motor, but it has shed 1.6kg, which makes it feel punchier. Accelerating in the higher gears this new motor feels responsive and eager to rev.

For UK roads this combination is just about perfect; rev the engine and you get enough speed and thrills to excite without running the risk of a ban. Provided you can keep the front wheel down that is.

To emphasise this isn't just a road bike Ducati let us loose on track with the S version. With suspension and brake mods and lightweight wheels the changes aren't actually that noticeable between the two bikes. Until you touch the front brake that is. The S comes with the same mono-block calipers as the 1098 which, on the Hypermotard feels like someone has shoved a stick in the spokes! Almost too much of a good thing, they require respect especially in the wet.

Big supermotos typically don't like being on track, their long suspension usually makes them a bit big and wobbly. The Hypermotard is different. Although hampered by the usual supermoto lack of ground clearance, the chassis and suspension can handle the job. I was honestly surprised how good it was and Ruben seemed to be enjoying himself well enough!

The Hypermotard is a niche bike. In the UK Ducati expect to sell just 250. It is pricey but you get a lot for your money and although I can't see many owners taking one on track it can handle it well enough. And for destroying your favourite back road it is the perfect weapon. Better than a KTM 950SM? We shall see...


It's an expensive weekend toy, but a brilliant one at that




PRICE NEW - £7750


POWER - 90bhp@7750rpm

TORQUE - 76lb.ft@4750rpm

WEIGHT - 179kg



TOP SPEED - 130mph

0-60 - n/a