2011 Ducati Hypermotard
Ducati’s Hypermotard 796 is about serious riding. It takes about a nanosecond after sliding a leg over the 32.5-inch high seat and reaching for the controls to tell what this bike is about; something so light, well-balanced and comfortably arranged could not be built for anything other than a throttle twisting good time.
Fire up the 803cc Desmodue engine, click into gear and – mindful of the late-engaging clutch – you’re off to adventure. It is easy to find oneself riding fast very quickly on the 796, as the engine feels lumpy in response to short-shifting.
At 366 pounds (claimed dry), the Ducati Hypermotard feels ridiculously light and easy to handle. With a 24-degree rake and 57.3-inch wheelbase, the 796 eagerly turns as soon as the thought crosses your mind, making a romp on twisting roads a complete blast.
Pirelli Diablo Rosso tires keep the Hypermotard asphalt-connected during those turn-ins, so scraping a footpeg is in the picture despite the Ducati’s tall stance. Suspension by Marzocchi (front) and Sachs (rear) is racing-firm, dealing with the rough-and-tumble real-world conditions at speed without much finesse.
In tight quarters on urban byways, the Hypermotard is a real show off. Tuck in the bar end-mounted mirrors and slip through the narrowest gaps with a shift of your hips. The bike’s slender physique and agile handling make it a commuter’s BFF-even the steering stops allow tighter low-speed turns than you can usually accomplish on a Ducati.
Though the initial bite on the dual 305mm front discs is mild, there is plenty of stopping power available in the radially mounted Brembos to slow this featherweight as you add pressure. The single rear rotor is similarly laid back at first actuation, but shows little aptitude even with the coaxing of a firm boot.
Relative to its beefier classmate, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 750, there is a somewhat insubstantial feel to the Ducati Hypermotard 796, and a nervousness that comes from the steep forks and shorter wheelbase.
Interestingly, it never occurred to me to slow down or not aggressively attack turns-the willowy feel does not translate into an insecure ride, the Ducati Hypermotard 796 just feels rather toy-like, and who doesn’t know how to have fun with toys?
- Helmet: Arai RX-Q Urban
- Eyewear: TAG Heuer Curve 7
- Jacket: Ducati Women’s Meccanica 11
- Gloves: Alpinestars Stella SP-8
- Pants: Dainese SF Pelle Lady
- Boots: Alpinestars Stella S-MX 5
Photography by Don Williams