THE VER­SA­TILE HYPERMOTARD

New Straits Times - - Cars Bikes & Trucks -

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.

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