Ducati’s Gentleman Thug
New Ducati Hypermotard 950 is like a football hooligan in a sharp Italian suit – it looks amazing, and is a proper wild ride
If normal superbikes aren’t bonkers enough for you, maybe you need a Hypermotard. Launched in 2007, it was Ducati’s take on the ‘supermotard’ – putting sticky road tyres and brakes on a high-powered dirtbike. The long-travel suspension, light weight and punchy engines of these customised supermotards made them perfect hooligan stunt bikes – and massive fun on a race track.
This latest version of the Hypermotard uses an updated 937cc V-twin engine that puts out 114bhp, and weighs just 176kg dry. And on the Maspalomas go-kart track in Gran Canaria, it was as mad as a box of frogs.
The SP version we rode on circuit has top-spec Öhlins suspension front and rear, Brembo superbike brakes, and Pirelli Supercorsa track rubber. It goes, grips and stops better than just about anything else out there. Wide bars give loads of control and the upright riding position puts you right in control. The suspension is racetrack-firm, but fully adjustable, so you can set it up exactly how you like it.
Part of that is down to the new onboard electronics. The 2019 Hypermotard has a brain the size of a planet, with superb wheelie, traction and slide control setups. You can dial in as much madness as you want – and the computer will deliver. Bit of a stunting newbie? Crank the controls up and let the computer look after you. Wheelie hero? Turn everything off, and you’ll be in the lap of the stunt gods.
We also rode the base version of the Hypermotard 950 on the roads around Gran Canaria. This version has lower-spec suspension and wheels, but all the power, braking and tech of the SP. It looks a bit more sensible – but is just as barmy.
On twisty mountain roads, the low-down punch from the engine, strong brakes and quick steering are spot-on. But when we rode on some dual carriageway later in the day, the Hypermotard is hard work. Like a bored toddler, it needs to be kept occupied – and riding long distances on straight, wide roads show up the poor wind protection, low gearing and small fuel tank. Keep it in the twisties though, and the Hypermotard – and you – will be much happier…