The Hypermotard’s ergonomics have always been its Achilles heel, thus it’s nice to see the rider triangle opened up for 2013. Biggest change is footrests that are 70mm further forward and a repositioned handlebar that keeps the rider from sitting atop the bike’s fuel cap. A retooled seat rises toward the rear and limits how far back you can slide on the saddle, but is narrow enough to provide a good sense of control.
The standard Hypermotard is tall, but the SP model is giraffe-like, with the former model sporting a 34.2-inch seat height and the latter a 35-inch figure. A low seat is available and has a 20mm-thinner piece of foam in the rider area, which reduces the seat height on both models by around .8 inches. Watching a pair of vertically challenged journalists try to climb atop the SP model’s perch leads us to believe that this will be a worthwhile purchase for anyone under the six-foot-mark. The stock saddle feels surprisingly compliant, although our street ride was relatively short and interrupted by photo stops, so we’re not sure how it’ll feel 80 miles down the road.
A cold front swept across southern Spain in the days leading up to our first ride aboard the Hypermotard, and while the rain managed to subside prior to our arrival, conditions were less than ideal for the street portion of the test. Naturally, we brought our warmest ventilated one-piece leather suit along for the ride. Perfect, especially considering it was just 32 degrees Fahrenheit as we headed out on the street portion of the test, which we’d do exclusively aboard the standard Hypermotard.
There was a silver lining to the situation though, at least from a testing point of view, as the low temps provided the perfect opportunity to test the Hyper’s less-aggressive Urban riding mode. Throttle response in said mode is smooth, but a light throttle return spring means you still need to be precise with your inputs into the twist grip. The less-aggressive mode is largely unexciting and makes the bike feel dull through the midrange, especially between 4000 and 6000 rpm.
We went straight from Urban mode to Sport mode, assuming that the change in pace would get our hearts beating again, but while the aggressive throttle delivery did wake us up, it was almost too abrupt for anyone without a surgeon’s touch. Transferring over to Touring mode settled things down. In said mode, the bike accelerated with a sense of maturity but felt like it still had plenty of power to entertain the masses. In any mode, the new 821cc engine doesn’t feel to have a lot of low-end grunt, but its midrange feels plenty wide and very user-friendly. We’d liken the new Hypermotard to a relaxed, grown-up version of its predecessor.
The Hypermotard’s Kayaba front fork feels stiff, although we’d bet money that the cold temperatures had something to do with that — pushing near-frozen oil through small piston orifices doesn’t exactly promote great front-end compliance. The Hypermotard doesn’t feel overly confident entering corners either, but that too could be a result of us riding timidly across the cold asphalt and not properly loading the front tire. We look forward to testing the standard model in warmer conditions back home and seeing if we can’t get a better feel for its performance in the tight stuff.
The SP’s fully adjustable...
The SP’s fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi fork is lightweight and benefits from aluminum sliders similar to what you’d find on the high-dollar Panigale. The fork’s performance alone is worth the price it costs to jump up to the SP model.
The new Hyper is light on its toes despite the bike’s longer wheelbase, and it takes no more than a nudge to the wide handlebar to initiate a turn. Getting slowed down is equally as easy thanks to the Brembo M4-32 brake calipers, which will quickly put the Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tire in the air if you so desire. Even sweeter is the bike’s wet, APTC clutch with slipper function, which uses a self-servo mechanism to enhance rear wheel control under deceleration. The clutch is cable operated, but the lever has an extremely light pull thanks to lighter springs on the clutch pack. Your left forearm will be pleased, we assure you.
We didn’t spend much time aboard the Hypermotard in stop-and-go situations, but the bike’s transmission is flawless and there’s very little vibration through handlebar, which leads us to believe that it should be a relatively easy bike to live with on a day-to-day basis. Mirrors are a bit smaller than we’d like and are perched atop the handlebar, but that aforementioned lack of vibes means they’re surprisingly useful.