Say the word supermotard, and my thoughts are far from all-day ergonomics and manageable power. I think power wheelies. Backing it in. Sacrificing comfort to satisfy a hooligan need.The first two generations of Ducati Hypermotards—the 1100 and 821/939—are ultimate hooligan bikes. The third generation begins with the 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950. It retains the hooligan soul, but with some much-needed elements for the everyday rider.
I headed to the Spanish tourist town of Maspalomas on the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands off Africa’s northwest coast to test the new Hypermotard 950 on the streets, and the higher-spec Hypermotard 950 SP on the short and tight Circuito Maspalomas. 1. This is not a slightly tweaked 939—the 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 is all-new, and feels it in every way on both the track and the street. The only thing Ducati retained was the trellis frame, which was slightly tapered up front to save some weight. All else, from the engine to suspension to ergonomics, is new and vastly improved from both a comfort and performance perspective.2. The Hypermotard’s revised 937cc Testastretta 11° L-twin engine has a new torque curve that makes all the difference. Over 80 percent of the torque is available from 3000 to 9500 rpm (torque peaks at 71 ft/lbs at 7250 rpm). Breaking it down further, 82 percent of the torque is available at 3000 rpm, and 88 percent from 5500 to 9500 rpm. It’s all about smoothness for optimal throttle control, and the Hypermotard 950’s smooth powerband is ideal for tight tracks and street riding. You don’t have to do much shifting; just let the engine do its thing. This linear torque curve also provides snappy power when needed in sport mode, where the throttle response is highest.3. When in sport mode and wanting to truly get up to speed, this smaller L-twin enjoys quickly revving to 9000 rpm redline. This became my go-to shift point on the track. On the street, I did the same when waiting to ride quickly, though I was completely lazy during the slower rides. You can shift gears as low as 2500 rpm and not feel the engine drag, which is due to the wide and linear powerband.4. There is a noticeable softening of throttle response when switching to Touring mode. Due to the softer throttle response that keeps the bike chassis from jerking, Touring was ideal for the street ride. I tried Urban in a few slower sections, and the mode’s factory setup is easily my choice for in-town riding where stop-and-go traffic is endless. The Touring mode puts out the full 114 horsepower, while the Urban mode restricts the Testastretta 11° motor to 75 horsepower.5. You can change modes while riding, and it requires only a few pushes of a button on the left handlebar cluster. However, altering the parameters of each mode is simple, though you need to be stopped.6. Our 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 First Look provides all the technical details, but it is worth noting a few significant upgrades. There are new pistons with a 13.3:1 compression ratio higher than the 939’s 12.6:1, updated exhaust cam profile, aluminum chain tensioner vs. steel on the 939, and a lighter gear-shift drum. Also, the Hypermotards return to the iconic twin underseat muffler styling from the 916 and the original Hypermotard. The test SP in this review was accessorized with a Termignoni muffler, which sounded awesome, though I wish the Termis featured two underseat mufflers rather than a single right-side can.7. The lighter clutch feel will ease the pain of riding previous-generation Hypermotards in urban situations. Gone is the clutch cable. In its place is a hydraulic assist-and-slip setup that reduces the tension at the lever and has a slipper function. Both handlebar levers are fully adjustable.8. Once you go quickshift, it’s hard to go back. The 950 SP arrives from the factory with the clutchless up-and-down quickshifter—one of the best clutch-free shifters around. I admit I got extremely spoiled with these over the past few years. After riding the SP all morning on the track, though I only used three gears due to the layout, when I got on the base model I thought for a few seconds my bike couldn’t engage second gear. Once I was in normal clutch-using mode, the base model’s transmission worked like it should—there were no botched shifts. Ducati does offer the clutchless system on the base, thought the exact price wasn’t available.9. Other than the quickshifter all other electronics are the same between both the SP and base bikes. The electronics worked flawlessly throughout the hardcore track riding, and extensive street riding. I’ll say again that the electronic aids are simply magical nowadays and keep riders safe. For skilled riders, these electronics make modern motorcycles nearly foolproof.10. The 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 is equipped with the latest in foolproof electronics due to the use of a 6-axis Bosch IMU:
ABS Cornering Bosch (with Ducati Slide by Brake)
Ducati Traction Control Evo
Ducati Wheelie Control Evo
Ducati Quick Shift up/down Evo (accessory for Hypermotard 950)
All electronics work exactly as they should, though I was thankful for being able to shut off the traction and wheelie control when the true on-track playing began. 11. The Ducati Slide by Brake function comes from the Panigale V4 S. I first tested this feature on the Panigale V4 S that I tested in Valencia last year, and didn’t see a need for it on a superbike. It makes more sense for the supermoto style of riding. When the ABS is on level 1—you can’t disable ABS—you can slam on the rear brake while turning, and the bike will slide the tire out 10 degrees. Basically, the electronics provide controlled sliding. I would much rather the old way of doing it by radically downshifting and letting engine braking toss out the back tire.12. Speaking of backing it in, I rode most of my first session in supermoto style, and the 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP is more than capable. Later, I switched to traditional road-racing style of leaning off because the grip at Circuito Maspalomas is high. I simply felt more trusting of the bike and pavement in traditional style. I also preferred the traditional road-race style while riding on the street. Like its trellis-framed brothers, the Multistrada and Monster, you don’t have to lean off much; these motorcycles have endless grip at massive corning angles.13. The 2019 Hypermotard 950 turns in much quicker than the 939, especially on the SP. This is due to a slightly tighter rake—25 degrees, compared to a half-degree more on the 939—lighter forged Marchesini three-spoke wheels, and the revised handlebar (more below). Overall weight is also a contributing factor. Because of the lighter wheels and use of carbon-fiber timing cover and front mudguard pieces, the SP is just under 437 pounds wet, whereas the 939 weighed 441 pounds wet (the base 950 is also 441 wet).14. Typical of a Ducati with a trellis frame, both Hypermotard 950s remained stable during cornering, offering a stream of feedback of pavement conditions. I expected the street version to offer added stability due to its shorter wheel travel, and the SP a bit nervous. However, the SP was just as stable, which I attribute to the Öhlins suspension. Trellis frames offer the perfect amount of flex and rigidity, and this is immediately evident on the new Hypermotard15. Like the previous generation Hypermotards, wheelies are not a problem. The balance point on this platform is high—like a stunter would say, 11 o’clock. A good wheelier can control this thing for as long as needed.16. The SP arrives shod with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP v3 tires, which were warmed up and sticky within a half-lap of Circuito Maspalomas. The base model has Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires, which have never presented any traction or feeling issues on my personal motorcycle.17. Although Ducati increased the cornering clearance, I still scraped the SP’s accessory pegs on the bumpier parts of the track. I had zero problems while riding Supermotard style, but when I switched back to my usual track style, I kept slamming toes. Once I moved my foot position as high as possible, nothing obstructed the heels of my size 12 boots, though the pegs began scraping as I got faster. I don’t believe in leaning off sportbikes more than is needed, but on this motorcycle, you have to hang off more than usual if you want to keep the pegs from scraping at steep lean angles.18. The SP’s Öhlins suspension provided unexpected smoothness on the bumpier sections of the circuit. In typical Ducati fashion, the 950 SP arrives with a fully adjustable Öhlins suspension. A bonus is the extended wheel travel. Ducati extended the suspension travel on the SP to 7.3 inches front and 6.9 inches rear, compared the base model’s 6.7-inch front/5.9-inch rear. It makes a significant difference on the track, though I could have used some added stiffness in the front. The base 950’s shorter wheel travel presented zero complications on the extremely smooth Gran Canarian roads.19. The base Hypermotard 950’s Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock are fully adjustable, with plenty of feeling on the street. The suspension was soft and comfortable while riding through the quiet towns on Gran Canaria. There is just enough feeling for pushing it on the roads that were tight with endless decreasing-radius curves. I also never scraped a peg on the street.20. The Hypermotards’ Brembo brakes, in both track and street situations, were perfect. Both models are equipped with Brembo M4.32 four-piston radial monoblock calipers that squeeze 320mm discs up front; out back a two-piston Brembo caliper grasps a 245mm disc. The brake lever has a progressive pull and release that provides the optimal feeling for trail braking to the apex. During a few staged emergency stops using both front and rear brakes on the track and the street, getting to zero quickly was no problem. Of course, the ABS helps.21. Ergonomics were tweaked, highlighted by a handlebar bend that opens up seven degrees compared to the Hypermotard 939, making it much flatter. The Hypermotard 950 handlebar is reminiscent of more reminiscent of dirt bikes than ever, providing much quicker steering inputs with less effort. This added to overall more comfortable ergonomics, as did the revised seat and a slimmer gas-tank/seat junction.22. The Hypermotard 950 is upgraded with a 4.3-inch TFT dash that is intuitively easy to navigate. Ducati dashes were always one of the weak points, but that changed with the Panigale V4’s new dash. The V4’s dash design has been carried over to the Hypermotard 950 and the all-new Multistrada 1260 Enduro. The TFT dash can be accessorized with the Ducati Multimedia System (DMS), which connects the dash to your phone via Bluetooth. The DMS will display incoming calls, music tracks, or text messages.23. On the street, the base 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 is a better deal than the SP. The base Ducati Hypermotard 950 provided impressive comfort during the street ride. It has just enough strong and sustained mid-range torque and precise handling for serious sport riding, especially on tight canyon roads. Plus, it leaves you with $3400 more in your bank account, or you can personalize it to taste.24. Although a totally new bike, the distinctive Hypermotard styling remains. A functional and stylish update is the distinctive LED daytime running light.25. If your planning on frequenting the track—especially a tighter one like Circuito Maspalomas—and want more cornering clearance and sharper handling, the Hypermotard 950 SP is the only choice. Remember that this type of mid-range V-twin engine can run out of snot quickly in sixth gear on longer straights. I didn’t truly test top speed, but saw around 215 km/h (about 135 mph) on one straightaway while riding the base model. That’s fine for a short track, and this is a supermoto motorcycle.26. For Hypermotard fans, the third-generation 950 delivers on the promise of hooligan fun and is now a much more capable bike in all riding situations—especially in urban situations. The 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 is a win/win for the brand fans, whether for daily commuting, hooliganism, or some supermoto racing on shorter tracks. All you have to do is pick the right flavor.Photography by MilagroRiding Style:Street