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"Fast Bikes", May 1, 2013

DUCATI HYPERMOTARD

HAVING SURVIVED A YEAR ON A DUCATI HYPERMOTARD (WITHOUT LANDING HIMSELF IN JAIL) ROOTSY HEADS TO SPAIN TO PUT THE 2013 VERSION THROUGH ITS PACES

WORDS: SIMON ‘ROOTSY’ ROOTS

PIC: MILAGRO

Mental isn’t a very politically correct term these days, but that was really the only way to describe the various incarnations of the Ducati Hypermotard. So aggressively designed it looked like it could start a fight at any point, Pierre Terblanche’s sketches were easily converted into one of the most entertaining rides you could dare to imagine. 26,000 people bought into the Hyper’s angry charms, and I’d wager that most of them have had at least one brush with the Police, Polizia or Gendarmerie at some point – you couldn’t fail to behave appallingly on it.

So in that respect not very much has changed with this 2013 version. But there are a stack of reasons why you should read on. In a world ever ready to turn to Ritalin-like sedatives to calm things down, Ducati has stuck to the original Hypermotard formula, creating a bike that lures you into a world of illicit activities, forever tip-toeing along a thin blue line. It’s basically a big ‘fuck you’ to every authority we have to abide by these days, and as such it should be rapturously applauded.

But as with almost every radical bike on the planet, there is the ever present danger that the outlandish madness of the original bike could be polished out by progress. Be it the original Fireblade, the first R1 or 2004’s ZX-10R, subsequent bikes have had their loose screw tightened over time. That’s what engineers do. They apply reason and learning to the first bike’s supposed problems, and in the process iron out some of the crazy character that found friends in the first place.

So that’s Ducati’s dilemma here. Clearly, the original Hypermotard was the most radical machine ever to emerge from the Bolognian factory’s gates. It gave the bike motard looks, fearsome design and a pounding motor – but in dynamic terms it was all a bit rough around the edges. But this is a bike that needs that intrinsic edge, so any polish applied must be used sparingly. In throwing the kitchen sink at the bike, and effectively only retaining the bike’s looks, the 2013 bike could lose the very essence of its success.

We’d find out in and around the Ascari Race Resort in Southern Spain. With a road ride planned on the stock machine and then an afternoon on track on the tricked up SP version, this should have provided the ultimate test for both machines. And then it rained. The morning ride was confined to a few kilometres to get some photos and the afternoon track session was canned completely. But a stiff breeze and some late afternoon blue skies were enough to get a wicked (in every sense) 70km ride on the stock bike – and it wasn’t just the sun that shone...

Yes, the bike is far more refined. And by that I mean the motor, the ergonomics and the brakes are simply less brutal. The biggest change of all is to the engine. The old lump was exactly that, a lump. The Desmo headed air-cooled 1,078cc engine had bags of character and a gutsy midrange, but was hardly what you’d call smooth. Ducati wanted to keep the ultimate power and torque figures of the old bike, but make them in a completely new way. To do that they donated two extra valves per cylinder, upped compression, stuck

bigger 52mm throttle bodies on it, added liquid cooling and cut the motor’s bore and stroke to reduce the engine’s size to just 821cc. From learnings elsewhere in the range, the valve overlap was cut to 11-degrees (giving the Testastretta motor its suffix and smoother combustion), and the Multistrada’s secondary air system was employed to reduce emissions and enhance fuel burn. A now fashionable side-mounted exhaust system, wet APTC clutch with slipper function and the new cooling system are all new and enhance performance and control – but not to the same extent as the new electronics package.

Born from the new ride-by-wire throttle, the Hyper offers three riding modes – Sport (full power, sharp throttle response), Touring (full power, tempered throttle response) and Urban (75bhp, low throttle response) – and the eight level DTC traction control system. Each mode operates a pre-programmed DTC level, but this is all customizable, enabling you to run Sport and DTC level 8 if you so wish.

Combined, these huge changes have had a dramatic effect on delivery. No longer is the bike able to be hoisted in the first three gears with barely a whiff of clutch thanks to a wave of torque crashing down in the midrange, but rather this motor offers far more linearity and, dare I say, sense.

It’s all very civilised, really. Indeed, it will fit the Monster much better than the Hyper in time. Feed it 4,000rpm and the motor will pull willingly up to its peak power at 9,250rpm. The air-cooled motor was always so flat at the top, but this machine enjoys being revved hard and offers plenty of bang beyond 7,000rpm. Feed it gears through the hot-knife-through-butter gearbox and it buzzes along with some serious intent. I couldn’t see the point in sticking the riding mode in anything other than Touring because the Sport mode was unnecessarily sharp for a road bike and the Urban mode too neutered. It’s much more flexible, better behaved and more efficient – and I can’t help feeling a little disappointed. The march of progress has indeed polished over some imperfections that gave the original bike much of its character, leaving the 2013 machine a tougher task to impress.

But impress it still does. Much of the credit here simply lies with the bike’s design. It’s a stunning looking machine, its lines clearing aping its predecessor, but looking every inch a grade A nutter. It looks like a design sketch that we’d coo over, its amalgamation of sharp lines and cool curves sit perfectly balanced.

The ergonomics have changed, too. Using a new chassis featuring more relaxed geometry, Ducati’s engineers have shifted the rider back 80mm and the pegs are flung forward 70mm. No longer is your head over the bike’s snout and your feet too far back. With an extra 40mm added to the wheelbase and the geometry relaxed, there is a natural tendency to slower steering, but given the knife-edge ability of the old bike, this is no bad thing. Weighing in at 175kg, the extra elements of the bike (radiator, hoses, coolant, and electronics) are countered by weight savings elsewhere to be only 3kg heavier than its lightweight ancestor – some achievement. The result is a bike that feels better balanced; essentially more conventional. There remains, however, the bike’s towering height. A key part of the concept, it’s a climb to get on board the 870mm high seat, but you get a commanding view of the road ahead, and the design also helps to pitch weight back and forth.

Thanks to better controlled suspension – Kayaba at the front and a side mounted cantilever Sachs at the rear – the ride is more compliant that before. Both damping and spring rates feel more apt, but you have to work them hard to get everything working right. Because the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIs are at the end of a lot of suspension travel you need to load them to get anything to communicate back to you. So forget smooth lines and gentle throttle application, to get the best out of this bike you need to brake as late as you dare, pitch the bike on its nose and then fire the bike out relying on the DTC to tidy anything up over the damp patches on show today. Like any naked, lean it too far and the lack of weight over the front requires you to put all your faith in the tyres. Using the excellent and almost undetectable Bosch 9MP ABS system, the Brembo M4-32 calipers have a more progressive feeling than before, but still get the job done thanks to 25mm larger discs.

70km on roads made for this machine weren’t going to test the bike’s new bigger 16 litre fuel tank, but they were enough to see a rude glint in the Hypermotard’s eye. Dynamically it’s a purer ride, maybe less engaging, but certainly more compliant. I’d take issue with this, but most will be happier that the bike is easier to ride. Mental it may still be, but the pills Ducati has fed it seem to be working...

MOTOR

This is the second generation Testastretta 11-degree motor. At 821cc, displacement has been cut significantly, this is done by using a 88mm bore and 67.5mm stroke to give a bore/stroke ratio of 1.3 – Ducati’s initial target. Service intervals have been extended to 15,000km

HYPERMOTARD SP

This is the upgraded model with Marzocchi USD 50 LIGHT forks using the same technology as the Panigale (using aluminium sliders to save 2kg versus steel), an Öhlins rear shock with integrated piggyback, radial front brake, tapered aluminum bars and Marchesini forged wheels.

CHASSIS

The chassis changes the geometry and wheelbase of the Hyper, as well as changing the riding position and incorporating a new 16 litre fuel tank. The rider is placed in a more relaxed position, eschewing the radical stance of old. Seat height (870mm) could be a problem.

BRAKING

Both bikes are blessed with the Bosch 9MP ABS system. This box of tricks is tiny and weighs in at just 0.8kg (Honda’s C-ABS is 11kg in comparison). The system is programmed to three levels on the SP and two as standard, and these control how high the rear can be lifted under heavy braking.

ENGINE Analysis of bore/stroke ratio led engineers to the 821cc Testastretta motor, with a new four valve head, liquid cooling and a 12.8:1 compression ratio. Borrowing technology from the Multistrada, combustion and emissions are enhanced with a repositioning of the injector spray targets and a secondary air system. The 11-degree valve overlap is adopted from previous models. A new exhaust system uses 50mm headers and finishes to a single side-mounted silencer. The ride-by-wire system is the key to the riding modes.

CHASSIS The Hyper uses a new 34mm tubular steel trellis frame, die-cast subframe and techno-polymer mid-section to house much of the electronics. Another key change is the move to a 16 litre tank. The riding position is changed within a longer wheelbase, with the rider moving further back and the pegs moved forward. Suspension is Kayaba units at the front and a cantilever Sachs shock at the rear on the standard bike. A Bosch 9MP ABS system links up with larger 320mm discs and Brembo M4-32 calipers.

TECHNICAL DUCATI HYPERMOTARD

ENGINE

Type | 821cc, l/c, 8v, Desmodromic L-twin

Bore x Stroke | 88 x 67.5mm

Compression | 12.8:1

Fuelling | Marelli EFI, 52mm throttle bodies, RBW

Claimed Power | 110bhp @ 9,250rpm

Claimed Torque | 98Nm @ 7,750rpm

CHASSIS

Frame | Tubular steel trellis

F Suspension | 43mm Kayaba USD forks, fully adjustable

R Suspension | Sachs monoshock, fully adjustable

Front Brakes | Brembo M4-32 calipers, 320mm discs, ABS

Rear Brakes | Two piston caliper, 245mm disc

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase | 1,500mm

Seat Height | 870mm

Dry Weight | 175kg

Fuel Capacity | 16 litres

PRICE

Price | £9,550

From | Ducati UK www.ducatiuk.com 08456 718500

Highlights

New four valve motor

New chassis

Ride by wire throttle

DTC traction control

110bhp (claimed)

175kg (dry)

£9,550 (SP £11,850)

TRACK 7

Suffers at the edge, a bit

FAST ROAD 8

Better as it gets tighter

HOOLIGAN 8

A point off the last one

NEW RIDER 5

Stick the electronics on

DESIRABILITY 9

Best looking bike about?

Verdict 8/10

Yes, it’s a better bike, but its sane side is starting to shine through. More time on it will tell whether this is for the better...

+ AMAZING DESIGN, SWISH SUSPENSION, SMOOTH MOTOR

- SMOOTH MOTOR, FEEL AT THE EDGE, PRICE

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