RideApart Review: 2013 Ducati Hypermotard SPS

The 2013 Ducati Hypermotard is all new; smaller, lighter and more powerful than the air-cooled model it replaces. This SP version adds fancy Ohlins shock and Marzocchi forks for even better handling.

Photos by: Boosti

What’s New
Tons! Ducati ditched the previous 1078cc and 803cc, air cooled engines for an all-new 821cc, liquid cooled V-Twin engine. I was on the Hypermotard SP which meant getting to choose between the same riding modes shared with the Panigale. Race: 110 HP, high throttle response, and level 1 ABS on the front wheel only and traction control off. Sport: 110 HP, medium throttle response, and level 2 ABS to both breakes with some traction control. Wet: 75 HP, low throttle response, and level 3 ABS with full traction control.

The new Hyper’s bars are higher and further forward, the mirrors moved to the top of the bars, and the footpegs have been moved forwards creating a much more comfortable riding position. The frame is also new, with tricks taken from the Mutlistrada, and is now a 34mm diameter tubular steel Trellis with 25.5 degrees of rake. The wheelbase has been extended to 59 inches to help enhance the Hyper’s stability at higher speeds and the gas tank increased by 0.9 gallons to improve range.

The SP, over the regular Hypermotard, also gets Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa “SP” tires and Panigale S-type three spoke Marchesini aluminum wheels. The SP’s cam covers are magnesium, the mudguard and cam-belt covers are carbon fiber. It has a seat height of 35 inches, compared to the regular Hyper that comes in at 34.2.

RideApart Review: 2013 Ducati Hypermotard SPS

The Ride
Four days of camping in Big Sur for Memorial Day with 20 of my closest friends. We’d planned it months ago, just days after discovering an amazing camp site that was often passed by most people, and we’d even gotten the girlfriends to agree to drive up separately and to bring most of the gear with them so we could ride and really enjoy the road. As the trip got closer, I started to look at what bikes we’d have around when I got an email saying that Ducati had a Hypermotard SP that would be available. I never get this lucky. Dream trip and dream bike, but would it live up to my expectations?

I picked it up in the middle of the week before the trip and spent the following few days commuting to and from LA on it, as well as a fair amount of around town riding.

In town? Fantastic. After a fair amount of urban riding, I was convinced the riding position and bike dimensions had been designed with lane splitting in mind. The mirrors, which have been moved to on top of the bars, offer a surprising amount of real estate despite their small size, and their new location greatly reduces handlebar width. The suspension ate up potholes and rain grooves, but still provided plenty of firmness when someone cut me off and I had to grab a handlful of front brake. Then there’s the engine. After recently riding the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, the Hypermotard felt a little underpowered (as well as just tiny in general) and it took me an afternoon to get used to the engine profile. A day later, I was in love with the new 821cc, liquid-cooled motor. Plenty of power to get up and hustle to get through an opening in traffic, enough torque to keep a shit eating grin on my face while still managing to return 52mpg. Then came Big Sur.

Highway 1, through Big Sur, is often cited as one of the best roads in the world. Normally, it is too packed with dudes on Goldwings (yes, like me a few weeks ago) or families in mini vans to really enjoy, but I was determined to not blow this opportunity. The campsite was first come, first serve, so my two buddies and I stayed in San Luis Obispo Thursday night and then got an early start Friday morning so we could reserve a site early for our large party. The other guys were riding a Bonneville and GSX-R750 and we got on the road mid morning and kept a brisk, yet comfortable pace since one of the guys had crashed the last time we went on a bike trip and I was still acclimating to the Hyper. We spent most of the weekend hiking, but got a few chances to ride throughout the weekend and when it came time to head home, we were ready to have some fun.

Now, I’m the James May of RideApart. I have never been, and probably will never be, very fast. I understand the concepts of what it takes to go fast and consider myself a very competent motorcyclist and I love the idea of dragging my knee and having the ability to really hustle on a bike….until I get moving decently fast, which is when I begin to re-evaluate if it’s really worth it to push much harder and I think about how much I like my knees intact. After spending a day on a track, the idea of trying to really push it while leaving room to react to debris in the turns, traffic coming the opposite direction, and whatever is around that next corner I can’t see around just stresses me out.

Unless, I’m on the Hypermotard SP that is. It’s that good. I’ve never been on a bike where I had that much control or that kind of ability to adapt that quickly to the road. The fueling is fantastic, the suspension felt perfect up into the triple digits, and the brakes….oh how I love brakes. It just makes you better.

I had an appointment in Long Beach fairly early Monday afternoon, so my buddy on the GSX-R750 and I got on the road at 6:30am to a completely empty coastline. We let our tires warm for the first mile or two and then I rode better and faster than I’ve ever ridden for the following 50 or so. Our camp site was in one of the tighter sections of road but the bike just ate each hairpin, instilling more and more confidence as I took each turn faster and faster. By the time we hit the south side of Big Sur, I felt completely comfortable at speeds double those I had previously ridden on that same road and, by San Simeon, we were cruising in triple digits for miles on end.

RideApart Review: 2013 Ducati Hypermotard SPS

The Good
Pretty much everything. They’ve taken a great bike and made it lighter, narrower, and more powerful. It handles beautifully, is unbelievable amounts of fun to ride, and all while returning decent gas mileage (I averaged 52mpg the days in and around LA and 48 for my trip to Big Sur and back). The engine is great, the ergonomics are spot on, and, aesthetically, the bike is simply gorgeous.

The Bad
My only issues with the Hypermotard SP were when I used it in ways it wasn’t intended. The seating position, and lack of any kind of wind protection, made the freeway leg of our trip pretty brutal above 70mph. The way up was particularly windy and I was getting blown around quite a bit, the weather was better the day we rode home and I wasn’t nearly as bummed.

My other issue was with the seat. The slope of it made it nice for riding fast, but for around town or freeway riding it pushed you forward and forced me to continually re-adjust. I found myself scooting my butt all the way forward to sit in the only area that was flat, but this greatly decreased my leverage over the motorcycle. I would much prefer a flat seat like on the DR-Z400SM or Dorsoduro 1200 as I’ve never really found myself worried about sliding off the back and because, let’s face it, most of us commute or ride around town far more than we are able to get out and play in the canyons.

The Price:
At $14,695, this isn’t a cheap motorcycle. That’s $2,700 more than both the base Hypermotard and the more powerful, but heavier Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200. Having said that, this is one of the most fun-to-ride, capable packages currently on the market. Which, combined with its comfortable, upright seating position, commanding view of traffic and sharp brakes and motor makes it versatile enough to handle both urban commuting and weekend trips to good roads. Unlike the $8,999 KTM 690 Duke, it’s also capable of longer trips, so long as you’re prepared to put up with the wind blast. The Hypermotard SP isn’t a bargain, but it’s totally unique in the market.

RideApart Review: 2013 Ducati Hypermotard SPS

The Verdict

I’m putting my Monster 696 up for sale as soon as possible (lemme know if you’re interested!). We are supposed to get the Hyperstrada in any day now one of the two will be my next bike, depending on how much better the Strada would do on trips and how much motard it gives up. The Hypermotard SP is the first bike we’ve ridden to bring a real supermoto feel to a larger, more practical bike.