HYPERMOTARD 939 SP
‘It’s more practical than before – but every bit as hedonistic’
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.