THE VERSATILE HYPERMOTARD
AMIR HAMZAH HASHIM cbt@nst. com. my
WALK into a Ducati showroom and chances are you will pass by the Hypermotard 939 with barely a glance. Sportsbiketypes go over the Panigale (of course) and the Monster and the touring-types will have a gander at the MultiStradas. Don’t get me started on the people that look at the Diavels. “Me, on that wild dirt-bike type thing? It looks mental, just sitting there”, start ringing in the Ducati salesman’s ears every time. A shame, because the Hyper is more than the sum of its parts.
The Hypermotard 939 is actually 937cc and bestowed with the Testastretta 11 degree L-Twin. It makes 113hp @9,000rpm and 72.2 lb-ft of torque @7,500rpm. Not a lot, especially compared to sportsbikes, but it makes full use of the ponies it has. It weighs a scant 181kg. The traditional steel trellis frame is wrapped with long-travel 43mm upside-down Marzocchi front fork (7.3in) and a Sachs rear monoshock (6.9in) at the rear, both fully adjustable. It looks and feels like a big dirtbike. Except the front and rear light-alloy wheels are shod in Pirelli Diablo Rossos. So that makes it a “motard”.
First impressions of a tall seat height (34.2in) is then confirmed by a decidedly motocross-like riding position. But the seat is definitely not the usual rock-hard MX seat but a rounded, wide affair. The wide handlebars and tiny digital display heighten the impression that this is a no-nonsense supermotard bike. Like most other high-end Ducatis, the Hyper is outfitted with an array of adjustable electronics. There are three ride modes: Sport, Touring and Urban. Each of these come preset for ABS, TC and engine output, but you can also adjust them to personal preferences. So, it’s a supermotard with bells on?
The brakes are radial Brembo monoblocks and clamp down on 320mm semi-floating discs with a 245mm disc on the rear, both equipped with Bosch ABS. I never noticed the ABS intervening, which either says a lot about its efficiency or says a little bit about the quality of my riding, I don’t know which. The gearshift is precise and I never missed a single shift. No surprises here.
The Hyper looks like an insect Transformers but the looks draw nothing but praise. Ducati have been building the Hyper since 2005 and have hardly tweaked the design but it was almost perfect anyway. The only changes from last year are the new exhaust and the new 939 engine. This was mainly to comply with the new Euro4 emissions regulations with which the previous 821 engine was probably harder to comply with without losing power and torque. It says a lot for the Hyper’s design that Ducati saw fit to keep the looks another year or two.
It comes as no surprise that the Hyper is super agile and flickable. The riding position, wide handlebars and flexible power allows you to point and steer with total authority, the Diablos allowing you such liberties. But it is also stable and reassuring if you point it down wide sweeping corners, too. It does prefer the inside foot off the peg in slow and sharp 90-degree corners, just like a proper dirtbike. The suspension is also quite firm and welldamped, further helping in those fast sweepers. It also allows you to ride or corner over surface irregularities without worry.
The Hyper will wheelie at will, but yours truly will not (or could not, more precisely). The power is by no means as hyper as the name implies, but the Hyper will impress any sportbike rider with its acceleration. The delivery is completely at your right wrists’ command and linear as well. In both Sport and Touring modes, the full 113hp is available, with the delivery damped down in Touring mode. Sport mode is useful in the twisties, keeping the Hyper in attack mode all the time. Touring mode allows a smoother ride, especially when you are riding the fat mid-range on the highway. In Urban mode, only 75hp is available and it is further damped down. Needless to say, the most underutilised mode, due to the inspiring delivery in the more powerful modes. It may be useful when it rains, though.
There are many accessories for the Hyper, like saddlebags, a windshield, touring seat, centrestand etc. Which may surprise many, as the overall impression it gives is a powerful motard-style city bike with the ability to handle occasional forays into the twisties. But the Hyper is well-suited to touring, even without these accessories. The handlebars, though wide, are close to your body, allowing you to lean into a 160kmh headwind easily and maintain a fairly high average touring speed. With a windshield, the Hyper extends this ability but the only concession is, you must have a very good, aerodynamically stable helmet.
So don’t just pass by the Hyper in the Ducati showroom. This is a bike with a multiple personality complex. Not only do you get a superfast steering motard, but a canyoncarver, a commuter and a touring bike as well. There just aren’t many other motorcycles like it, and the fun factor is off the charts. The Hyper is perhaps most surprisingly, the most versatile Ducati. Slap some knobbies on it and you have a dirtbike, too.
The Hypermotard 939 is available at Ducati Malaysia in Naza, Jalan 225. Get yourself a test ride and be prepared for a surprise. Test ride days are Sundays 10am to 3pm.