‘It’s more prac­ti­cal than be­fore – but ev­ery bit as he­do­nis­tic’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Jon Urry MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

o many, mo­tor­cy­cles rep­re­sent more of a leisure pur­suit than a day-to­day trans­port Ð and thereõs noth­ing wrong with that. You donõt have steak ev­ery day, you savour it on spe­cial oc­ca­sions. It is mainly this type of per­son that Du­catiõs Hypermotard 939 SP will ap­peal to as, letõs face facts, the SP is an ex­pen­sive in­dul­gence, not a com­muter hack. But none of that di­min­ishes the fact itõs bril­liant fun and of­fers huge smiles-per-mile.

As its name sug­gests, itõs a big ca­pac­ity bike with its roots firmly in the su­per­moto world. What that means is a pushed-for­ward mo­tocross-style

Trid­ing po­si­tion, low pegs and an inherent abil­ity to mis­be­have thanks to a thump­ing en­gine that started its life as air-cooled, but for the last three years has been wrapped in a wa­ter jacket due to ever-tight­en­ing emis­sions laws. And it is th­ese same laws that have forced Du­cati to im­ple­ment a whole host of changes to the Hypermotard for 2016.

The 821cc mo­tor has grown to 937cc, bring­ing with it a boost in power to 111.5bhp with over­all torque up by a claimed 10%. Why the change in en­gine size? Euro 4 emis­sions-com­pli­ance in­her­ently robs power, and you sim­ply canõt re­lease a new bike that is less pow­er­ful than the ma­chine it re­places.

While you may think a big­ger mo­tor would mean even more ag­gres­sion, the re­al­ity is that Du­cati have con­cen­trated on boost­ing the im­pres­sive midrange and from 6000rpm it drives for­ward with 18% more grunt. On the road and track this equates to strong drive out of bends and while it can feel a lit­tle flat as it does­nõt have a par­tic­u­larly vo­ra­cious top-end kick, itõs a lovely lazy L-twin with typ­i­cal Du­cati charm and good pace.

Hyper­mo­tards should­nõt re­ally han­dle as well as they do, but Du­cati have waved their sporty wand over the bike and cre­ated an ex­tremely ca­pa­ble track bike Ð just so long as the track is tight and twisty. On a faster cir­cuit the SP would feel lost, but when you are at­tack­ing third and fourth-gear bends and ex­ploit­ing the ex­cel­lent ABS en­abled Brembo an­chors into hair­pins, itõs great fun. The …hlins sus­pen­sion (helped by the light­weight wheels the SP boasts over the stock bike) is plush, deal­ing with un­du­la­tions with­out be­ing too firm and also in­creas­ing the ground clear­ance slightly.

Up the pace on track and the su­per­moto her­itage starts to limit the fun. The rid­ing po­si­tion can make hang­ing off feel alien and if you donõt get your weight to the in­side of a bend, ground clear­ance be­comes an is­sue. You need a mas­sive stack of toe slid­ers when tak­ing a Hypermotard on track. Also, as stiff as the chas­sis is, if you are used to a sports­bike, the Hypermotard can feel a bit loose. Itõs more a case of trust­ing that the im­mense grip of the Pirelli Su­per­corsa SP tyres is be­ing max­imiszed by the …hlins sus­pen­sion than ac­tu­ally feel­ing for any tyre move­ment. The safety net of eight-stage trac­tion con­trol is wel­come, al­though prob­a­bly not overly nec­es­sary, while the ABS is ex­cel­lent even un­der hard track use.

The Hypermotard SP wonõt ap­peal to many, but thatõs just the kind of bike it is. The larger ca­pac­ity en­gine is not only more pow­er­ful than be­fore, it is eas­ier to live with, and the chas­sis up­grades give an en­hanced ride when com­pared to the stock model. But, at the end of the day it all boils down to price.

It is very hard to jus­tify £12,595 on what is ef­fec­tively a week­end toy, es­pe­cially when you con­sider the ver­sa­til­ity of many of the naked roadster al­ter­na­tives. But the Hyper­mo­tardõs su­perbly cool looks, sin­gle-sided swingarm and ad­vanced elec­tron­ics pack­age go some way to soft­en­ing the blow. And there is no deny­ing its fun fac­tor.

This is a bike that sits out­side of the main­stream and if it does ap­peal to you, you will ab­so­lutely love it.

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