Review: Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP induces grins, wheelspin and wheelies
We're going to get ahead of ourselves a little bit with our review of the new Ducati Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP. We spend lots of time riding various two- and four-wheeled vehicles, and very few – indeed, possibly none at all – garner the same kind of ear-to-ear grins as Ducati's oversized supermoto. It's totally ridiculous and absolutely wonderful.
Sure, it's fast. Yes, it's beautiful. But what is this bike's mission in life? Is it meant solely as a hooligan machine with either the front or rear wheel aloft at any given moment? Is the temptation to leave black stripes and huge plumes of white smoke in your wake from every single stop too much to overcome? We spent 10 days using the latest edition of Bologna's finest all-road rocket for everything from runs to the grocery store to riding two-up for a leisurely Sunday morning ride to an out-and-out battle with the local twisty roads strewn about with pebbles and potholes. Read on to find out what we found.
Photos by Jeremy Korzeniewski / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
First, let's take a look at this little bundle of joy. It's not exactly beautiful or sexy like Ducati's fully-faired superbikes or as polished looking as the current Monster range. What it is, though, is angry. From the beak-like front fender to the minimal rear fender overhang, the Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP just looks mean... like it'll kick you off mechanical bull-style at the first opportunity.
There's no mistaking the familiar Hypermotard family tree, but there's something distinctly different about the new 1100 EVO SP's stance. That's because Ducati saw fit to add a couple of inches of suspension travel while also altering the rider triangle with a unique set of handlebar mounts that were designed in cooperation with Marzocchi.
Speaking of which, the suspension geniuses at Marzhocchi also tuned the SP's upside-down forks specifically for this application. The newly blackened front tubes measure 50 millimeters in diameter, are treated to a Diamond-Like Coating and are adjustable for spring preload, compression and damping. The rear shock comes courtesy of Ohlins, and it adds separate high- and low-speed compression damping to the fork's stable of adjustability. Looking good so far.
Braking is equally well-suited to the task, with dual radial-mount Brembo Monobloc four-piston calipers clamping down hard on twin 305mm discs up front and a twin-piston Brembo with 245mm disc at the rear. Suffice it to say that the brakes have absolutely no trouble slowing the lithe Duc down from ludicrous speed, and they offer almost unparalleled levels of feel before reaching their prodigious limits. With 7.7-inches of front suspension travel on tap, there's naturally a bit of nose dive when clamping down hard on the binders, but it's easily dealt with. The rear unit felt a tad bit too touchy at first, but we quickly found our right ankle adjusting to the strong initial bite. No complaints about the binders, then.
Grip? The Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsa SP tires offer plenty of it. In fact, they generate the kind of sticking force usually reserved for the likes of Jerry Rice's fingers. Those tires also emit a very nice gray shade of smoke when overwhelmed... not that we recommend finding out about that little tidbit yourselves.
Power from the 1100cc air-cooled V-twin comes on a tad bit slowly before the engine works itself into a frenzy in the higher stretches of the tach and then falls off a bit short before a shift light flashes on the dash. Sadly, it's more than a wee bit unhappy below 4,000 RPM or so, and it shakes exactly the same way as every other large-bore air-cooled Ducati mill we've ever tested. Some may call it character, and we're not exactly complaining ourselves. But as we said in our review of the Ducati Sport 1000, you sometimes feel like you're sitting atop an L-twin-powered paint shaker from Home Depot at low revs and large throttle openings. The good news, though, is that the engine feels so great about halfway through its rev range that you soon learn to subconsciously keep it in its sweet spot. Problem solved, then, right? Plus, there's one more intoxicating payoff for keeping the engine on the boil.
We can't say with any degree of certainty what a damned bat sounds like as it retches its way from the grips of hell, but we imagine it must sound something akin to running through the gears of Ducati's EVO SP when equipped with the optional Termignoni exhaust system. Fortunately, the Hypermotard 1100 has acceleration that matches the shrieking wail of that aforementioned bat out of hell. Despite the fact that the rider very nearly sits on top of the 17-inch front wheel, it's darn near impossible to keep the front tire on the ground when accelerating with maximum force through the first two gears. Heck, the front end will even get a tad bit light after the shift to third. If 95 horsepower (at 7500 RPM) and 75-pound feet of torque (at 5750 RPM) don't initially sound world conquering, please believe us when we tell you that you certainly won't find yourself lacking for power.
Though the term is overused to the point that it's firmly filed away in cliche-land, handling can best be described as telepathic. There's scant distance between the two sticky black rubber contact patches and the bike weighs just 377 pounds (claimed, dry). Add in a wide handlebar for maximum leverage and a slim profile that allows the rider plenty of body motion and lean angles limited only by the little red plastic peg scrapers so thoughtfully provided by our Italian friends and all you have to do is think about turning in the direction you want to go. It just kinda happens from there.
So, here we have a bike can simultaneously earn both our kudos and bewilder our senses. Perhaps this is because Ducati's latest hooligan machine does exactly what it was designed to do, which is to say it wheelies, power-slides and smokes its tires with reckless abandon whenever the urge arises. All it takes is a rider willing to twist his or her right wrist and hang on tight. The amount of fun you have riding this machine is very likely directly proportionate to how willing you are to push its limits.
By now, you probably have a pretty good idea about what kind of bike the Hypermotard is trying to be. Well then, while it may not exactly be an "OMG, Bruce Willis' character is dead and only the little kid can see him!" level moment of magic, please allow us to interject a little plot twist of our own now that you're 90 percent through our review of the bike. In addition to being a near-perfect machine with which to terrorize unsuspecting women, children and small dogs, the 2010 Hypermotard 1100 EVO SP is actually a perfectly acceptable around-town mount. The riding position is all-day comfortable, with the rider's legs at a completely reasonable angle directly below the bum and the handlebars an easy reach out front. Wind blast is just about as present as you would expect given the lack of a fairing, but that pointy headlight module and jutting front fender did much better than we expected in directing the onrushing flow away from our chest and face.
We put a passenger on back in an effort to find a glaring weakness, but besides some insurmountable helmet-butting due to the close confines of the Hyper's saddle we got no complaints from our significant others. Further, besides the aforementioned rough patch below 4K RPM, the engine is perfectly manageable at normal traffic speeds as long as you have some measure of right wrist restraint. Perhaps the lone issue some riders will face is the 34.5-inch seat height, which barely allowed our six-foot, one-inch frame to find firm footing for both feet. Shorter riders will need to master the art of the side-slump with just one heel firmly on terra firma, but it certainly can be done. Usability is also somewhat hampered by the minimal 3.3 gallons of fuel carried onboard. For what it's worth, aftermarket solutions are available that allow much longer-range tanks, if that kind of thing is your bag.
Remember the questions posed at the very beginning of our review? Their answers are a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. The Hyper is completely capable of fulfilling its role as a maniacal supersize supermoto, there's no doubt about that. But it can also function perfectly well as a method of getting you from point A to point B with reasonable comfort and refinement. Well, maybe not refinement, especially not with that Termognini exhaust -- it's not exactly good etiquette to roll into work setting off car alarms... but at least comfort. So, in closing, what we have here is a $14,995 motorcycle with multiple personality disorder. And we mean that in the best way possible.
Photos by Jeremy Korzeniewski / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
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