It’s hard to believe that almost six years have passed since Ducati released the original Hypermotard, and even more difficult to believe that our test riders have managed to keep their motorcycle licenses for the same amount of time. If ever there was a bike that threatened to put our editors in jail, it was the Hypermotard — in either its 796 or 1100 variants. The only thing that saved our duo was the fact that both models were drastically less fun the further you rode them, thus the keys were generally hung up after just a few days of misbehaving. But now there’s the 2013 Hypermotard and Hypermotard SP, both of which benefit from relaxed geometry, more permissive ergonomics and an all-new engine that Ducati feels will better suit the supermoto segment’s needs. And so the threat of community service returns…
Ducati's secondary air system,...
Ducati's secondary air system, a technology introduced last year on the 1199 Panigale, takes cool, fresh air from the airbox and injects it into the exhaust port to help burn leftover fuel that slips past the exhaust valve. A primary benefit of this system is increased engine smoothness, claims Ducati.
A Less Hectic Hyper
Ducati refers to the Hypermotards’ new liquid-cooled powerplant as a second-generation Testastretta 11°, an engine option similar to what the company introduced earlier this year on the larger-displacement Multistrada. Notable changes include repositioned fuel injectors and a secondary air system, which takes cool, fresh air from the airbox and injects it into the exhaust ports to help burn leftover fuel that slips past the exhaust valves. Said system “increases engine smoothness,” says Marco Sairu, Ducati Hypermotard Project Manager.
Changes further down are seen in the form of a 1.5mm-longer stroke, a new cylinder head and retooled valves. The engine’s bore is 88mm, which is identical to the measurement on the outgoing Hypermotard 796. Ducati claims that the water-cooled powerplant produces 110 horsepower at 9250 rpm and 66 foot-pounds of torque at 7750 rpm, which gives the new bike a 15-horsepower advantage over the outgoing 1078cc version, but also a 10 foot-pound torque disadvantage. Perhaps more important than this is the fact that service intervals are dramatically larger; valve clearances don’t need to be checked until the odometer climbs past the 30,000 kilometer mark, or until you’ve spent roughly 18,641 miles in the Hyper’s reworked saddle.
New, 52mm ride-by-wire throttle bodies feed fuel to the engine and have opened the door for separate riding modes, which are different between the standard and SP models. The standard model’s ultimate setting is Sport, which provides 110 horsepower and an immediate throttle response in addition to reduced traction control settings and smaller amounts of ABS intervention. A less-aggressive Touring mode provides 110 horsepower but with a softer throttle response and increased traction control settings, whereas Urban mode provides just 75 horsepower, a significantly softer throttle response, increased traction control intervention and even more ABS intervention.
A modestly sized LCD panel...
A modestly sized LCD panel provides plenty of information and in a well-laid-out manner. The bike’s three riding modes (Sport, Touring and Urban on the standard model/ Race, Sport and Wet on the SP variant), ABS and DTC can all be manipulated via a streamlined switch on the left end of the handlebar. Riding modes can be selected on the fly.
The SP model, opposite the standard Hypermotard, has Race, Sport and Wet riding modes. Biggest news is that in Race mode, the ABS is deactivated in the rear, which allows the rider to smoke the rear tire in true supermoto fashion. Power delivery in each mode tapers off identically to how it does in the standard model’s modes, with Race providing all 110 horsepower in an aggressive manner and Sport that same 110 horsepower but in a smoother demeanor.
Traction control, ABS and power delivery settings can all be customized based on rider preference, and changes should cause less headache than in years past thanks in part to a noticeably more organized LCD screen, which is manipulated via a streamlined switch on the left end of the bike’s taller handlebar. Riding modes can be switched on the fly, although the rider must come to a stop to customize individual settings.
Changes for 2013 extend to the chassis, which is characterized by an all-new steel trellis frame that’s intended to provide added stability. Rake has been increased to 25.5 degrees and both models offer 4.1 inches of trail. The wheelbase varies between the two Hypers, with the standard model measuring 59 inches and the SP model 59.2 inches. Compare that to the twitchy Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP, which had 24.0 degrees of rake and a 57.7-inch wheelbase. All this is intended to provide a “sure-footed, stable feel without compromising the Hypermotard’s character-forming agility,” says Ducati. The Hypers’ new frame has made way for a larger, 4.2-gallon fuel tank that’ll ideally allow owners to get outside the confines of the city without having to stop for fuel.
The Hypermotard’s Sachs rear...
The Hypermotard’s Sachs rear shock is adjustable for rebound and spring preload. Performance on the street was nothing to scoff at.
The SP model’s Ohlins rear...
The SP model’s Ohlins rear shock felt soft when ridden aggressively, but its wide range of adjustment allows track-day junkies to fine-tune the settings. Time constraints at the track unfortunately meant we were unable to adjust the setup.
The Hypermotard’s 10-spoke...
The Hypermotard’s 10-spoke Panigale-style cast aluminum wheels are replaced by forged aluminum Marchesini hoops on the SP model. Tires are an upgrade too, with the standard bike rolling on Pirelli Diablo Rosso II and the SP on sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP rubber. Notice the new low-mount muffler.
The 43mm Kayaba front fork...
The 43mm Kayaba front fork on the standard model felt stiff, but performance was likely affected by cold conditions. Brakes on both Hyper models are finished off by Brembo M4-32 front calipers. The SP takes things a step further by way of a radial-pump Brembo master cylinder with larger piston.
The Hypermotard and Hypermotard SP differ in terms of suspension. The standard model gets a non-adjustable 43mm Kayaba front fork with 6.7 inches of travel in addition to a rebound- and preload-adjustable Sachs shock with 5.9 inches of travel. The track-biased SP, for comparison, gets a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock with 6.9 inches of travel and an equally adjustable 50mm fork with 7.3 inches of travel and hard-anodized aluminum tubes identical to what you find on the high-dollar Panigale.
Both Hypermotard models sport Brembo M4-32 monobloc front brake calipers in addition to 320mm semi-floating discs. Brake performance is enhanced on the SP model by way of a Brembo radial master cylinder that sports a 2mm-larger piston, claims Ducati. Both the SP and standard are equipped with Bosch’s 9MP ABS unit, and as mentioned earlier, ABS settings can be customized based on rider preference.
Differences between the two Hypermotard models are as great as the price difference between the two bikes suggests; the $14,695 SP gets a carbon fiber front mudguard and cam-belt covers, a specially textured seat, a tapered aluminum handlebar and forged aluminum Marchesini wheels. Compare that to the $11,995 standard model, which rolls on 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels and the aforementioned, non-adjustable suspension. The Hypermotard is available in Ducati red or dark stealth, whereas the SP is sold in a special Ducati Corse livery.
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.
Temperatures climbed throughout our time in Ronda, Spain, and were plenty manageable by the time we rolled the Hypermotard SP out onto the Ascari Race Resort for the second part of our Hyper-filled day. Situated in the hills of southern Spain, this one-of-a-kind track, complete with chicanes, elevation changes and bowl turns, would provide the perfect opportunity to put the up-spec SP model to the test.
Important to mention is that all Hypermotard SP test models were fitted with a Termignoni high-mount exhaust system, a Ducati catalog accessory item that quickly brought the 821cc engine to life. Fueling was smooth with this exhaust and each twist of the throttle was met by an unmistakable bark out back, a welcomed change considering the stock, low-mount muffler has a forgettable exhaust note at best.
The SP model’s livelier nature at a standstill translates into a more inspiring ride at speed. If you were questioning whether the SP is worth the $2700 more then we’ll go ahead and say this now: it is! Ducati has always put performance before cost, and the 2013 Hypermotard SP is no exception to the rule.
The higher-spec Hyper’s benefits start at its front fork and extend to the matching end’s brakes. The first-mentioned component is well-damped and feels much more composed than the non-adjustable unit on the standard model, which provided a better sense of grip as we tipped the narrow-waisted twin into a corner. The SP model’s forged aluminum Marchesini wheels are wrapped in sticky Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires which provide an extra dose of front-end feel. Out back, the conservatively damped Öhlins rear shock allowed the SP to squat more than we’d have liked when hard on the gas, ultimately compromising front-end feel through the middle and exit of faster corners. Zero suspension changes were made based on time constraints, but would likely have cured the problem.
The Hypermotard SP’s brakes are only a slight step above the standard model’s setup, but feel from the lever is significantly improved and the initial bite is stronger. The ABS plumbing robs you of some feedback through the initial and middle part of the pull, but overall performance was brilliant even as we began to push our brake markers further toward the entrance of the corner. Brembo pieces rarely disappoint, and the SP’s stoppers certainly don’t leave much to be desired.
The Ascari Race Resort’s layout leaves you off the throttle for only split seconds during the course of a lap, thus our track sessions weren’t hindered by the bike’s abrupt on/off throttle — even in Race mode. We did get to put the Hypermotard’s new DTC system to the test. For 2013 it cuts ignition timing only, claims Ducati. And while the intervention isn’t completely seamless, we’ll say that the system hardly put an end to our fun. More frustrating is the fact that the DTC intervention light is in the same location as the rev limiter light, which caused some confusion when driving out of corners and nearing the bike’s 10,500 rpm rev limiter.
The Hypermotard SP’s low-mounted kickstand and footpegs touch down regularly at speed, which widened our eyes through a few of the Ascari circuit’s faster corners. Interestingly enough, the 2013 model doesn’t come with footpeg sliders like the 1100 EVO SP did a few years back.
Ducati engineers wanted the...
Ducati engineers wanted the Hypermotard to have the same hooligan look but more broadbased performance, thus the new model sports a reworked rider triangle, larger fuel tank for increased range, less-aggressive geometry numbers, and an engine with added midrange performance.
And So the Threat Looms
It started off as nothing more than a concept, but the Hypermotard’s six years atop the supermoto segment are proof that there are indeed a need for bikes with such character. The 821cc Hypermotard and Hypermotard SP are even better motorcycles than their predecessors too, with a more user-friendly engine, improved electronics, and a less, well, hyper, feel from the perch. At the end of the day you’re still paying more than $11,000 for a dirtbike-inspired bike (more than $14,000 for the SP model), but can you really put a cost on fun? Well, a police officer can, but that’s a story we hope to not be telling any time soon. Wish us — and our licenses — luck.
2013 Ducati Hypermotard/SP
|Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC V-twin four-stroke, 4 valves/cyl.
|Bore x stroke: 88.0 x 67.5mm
|Compression ratio: 12.8:1
|Induction: Magneti Marelli EFI, 52mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
|Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II/Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
|Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II/Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
|Rake/trail: 25.5 degrees/4.1 in. (104mm)
|Wheelbase: 59.0 in. (1500mm)/59.2 in. (1505mm)
|Seat height: 34.2 in. (870mm)/35.0 in. (890mm)
|Fuel capacity: 4.2 gal. (16L)
|Claimed wet weight: 437 lb. (198kg)/428 lb. (194kg)