• Ducati Hypermotard 950 first ride review

Ducati’s street hooligan is back and is even more fun now!

Sportsbikes have a single-minded focus on going fast, setting lap times and all that. But supermotos are quite the antithesis. They were never meant to focus on one thing. Or anything for the matter and were always meant to have fun. Think supermotos and what come to mind are wheelies and stoppies, tyre-shredding burn-outs and massive slides. But few manufacturers have been able to crack the segment like Ducati has with its Hypermotard. And my first ever tryst with it was an interesting one.

Back in 2012, I was riding the Hypermotard 1100 SP from New Delhi to Srinagar and back. It was not only mind-numbingly quick and let me cover distances at a feverish pace, but was also letting me pull mad wheelies at will, and I was hooked instantly! My taste in motorcycles has evolved over the past decade, but I’m still attracted to supermotos like a moth to a flame. So when it came to reviewing the Hypermotard 950, there was no contest in the office!

This here is the updated 950 with a few tweaks and updates. Styling is typical of a supermoto with the trademark beak and knuckle guards that also integrate turn indicators. And what you see on these pages is the RVE variant. Ducati India has skipped the base variant so we only get the RVE and higher-specced SP. I like the paintjob – called ‘Graffiti’, the livery is inspired by street art and screams character. Some might find the decals too loud, but I like them. A 14.5-litre fuel tank sits above the trellis frame, a Ducati trademark that I am glad continues on the Hypermotard, unlike the Monster that has ditched the trellis.

The single-sided swingarm lets you see the rear alloy wheel in all its glory and the wheels also get cool-looking red highlights. The engine is the same 937cc, liquid-cooled L-twin as the Multistrada V2, Monster and SuperSport and offers 114PS and 98Nm. More importantly, 80 percent of peak torque is available from 3,000rpm, meaning you have 80Nm available from the word go! This ensures the Hypermotard is always up for mischief and also makes wheelies ridiculously easy. The torque curve is literally a flat line and tapers off only around 9,500rpm, so there’s ample shove at all times. But given the abundance of torque at low revs I did not need to cross 4,000rpm while pottering around town.

You can choose from three riding modes, Sport, Touring and Urban, but after just a few minutes in Touring I switched to Sport given the sharper responses and livelier power delivery. You can customise each mode but Ducati has done a good job with the presets.

Information is accessed via a Panigale-like colour TFT display. The Hypermotard’s electronics suite is not as exhaustive as the Panigale V4’s but I really like its precision and zero-lag responses. Operate any of the switches and you’ll see actions on the screen instantly. Also, every time you change a gear you can see the digit on the gear indicator change instantly, without delay!

The bike is equipped with a six-axis IMU and Ducati Safety Pack including cornering ABS, multiple traction and wheelie control levels, slide by brake and more. Its engine is the Hypermotard’s showstopper though. Getting to manic speeds and sustaining them is very easy and the bike also masks speeds well so you could be way faster than you think, given the engine’s performance and refinement. And now, let’s come to the wheelies. Default settings in Sport mode let you engage in all sorts of tomfoolery, which is a good thing!

Get to the powerband in first or second gear, chop the throttle and crack it open again and you have the front wheel pawing high up. Fuelling and throttle responses are crisp which makes modulating the throttle to keep the front wheel up for as long as you like a cinch. The quick shifter also feels smoother, especially at part throttle. Ducati has tweaked the gearbox so finding neutral is easier and part throttle shifts are better. I was even able to shift up on wheelies with ease, with the front high up! Effectively, you only need the hydraulically actuated clutch while taking off from standstill.

The RVE sits suspended on 45mm fully-adjustable upside down Marzocchi forks at the front and an adjustable Sachs monoshock with linkage at the rear. That’s not as high-spec at the SP’s Öhlins but the setup does a brilliant job. Wheels are a shade heavier than the SP’s Marchesinis too and are wrapped in Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs, unlike the SP that gets Supercorsas. The Rosso IIIs offer excellent grip though and there was nary a moment when I felt I was not in control, even when pulling wheelies, stoppies or locking the rear brake for slides.

Two 320mm discs are gripped by radially mounted Monobloc Brembo calipers with four pistons at the front and the brakes are excellent in terms of feel and progressiveness. Seat height is a lofty 870mm and might be a bit of a concern for shorter riders. The seat is long and narrow like a dirt bike which helps, but cushioning could have been softer. Ergonomics are akin to dirt bikes too, as the handlebar is wide and you sit close to the tank with your feet swept backwards.

There are bikes you know you could have fun on and then there are bikes that actually let you have fun. And the Hypermotard 950 belongs to the latter category. It is high on the fun factor, intuitive and easy to swing a leg over and start riding hard. In fact, the Hypermotard 950 can show a clean pair of heels to most middleweight streetbikes and also turn around and laugh in their faces to say so, before pulling away, on one wheel! The RVE retails at Rs 14 lakh while the SP is priced at Rs 17.07 lakh ex-showroom. The SP feels expensive thus and you could argue that the RVE is a little expensive too. But ride it and you’ll realise it is way more fun to ride than any motorcycle at its price point!

Bikes First rides

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