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Article posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hypermotard SP Review

Meet your next new Track Bike…

Flowy – probably not the first word that comes to mind when you hear the words 2018 Hypermotard SP however I am here to share with you that is exactly what it felt like riding the new thrill machine capable of off-road and on-road fun. In short, the SP is solidly a toy that is so wraps complexity and sophistication in a very easy to digest and very well put together package.

As always, I’ll begin the quips just to get them out of the way. I have developed this habit where seemingly subconsciously I continuously push the turn signal cancel button. Not sure why I do this however during my rides I keep pressing the turn signal kill button subconsciously. I suppose that this is because during the many years of riding I have found myself realizing after many miles of making a turn I left my turn signals on and therefore compensated that embarrassing situation with constantly turning off the turn signal even if I haven’t turned for miles. So, why would you say that is an issue? Well – on most bikes this isn’t a big deal and frankly on every Ducati I have owned or ridden to date it doesn’t – except for on the SP. Why does this matter you say? Well, it’s because the way you toggle between the engine mapping modes is my pressing the turn signal ‘cancel’ button. When you do this the engine modes comes up on the screen and replaces what little information you already get on the very small instrument cluster. The only way you get back to the ‘main screen’ is to select the engine mode that you want and then hold the cancel button for a few seconds. After you select the engine mode you must release the throttle (even if you select the same engine mode) to get back to the main screen – QUE?? After doing that about 20 times on my four-hour ride on the SP you can imagine I was more than just a little annoyed. Speaking of the instrument cluster – this is also a very weak point on the bike. Perhaps I am ‘spoiled’ by my multi however Ducati really needs to step their game up on instrument clusters on the SP. My 2012 1100 EVO had a more intuitive and informative cluster.

With that aside let me know share everything else about this bike. OH MY GOD I love this bike. I have a lot to share so I’ll try to break it up into smaller chunks.

Ergonomics: I am 5 ft 9 inches and although the bike does sit a little tall it is absolutely a dream to ride. Incredibly comfortable and confidence inspiring seating position. I love the dirt bike style seat and I was able to log both highway and curvy miles feeling incredibly planted the whole time. Arm, feet and seating position is absolutely spot on for my height. At stop lights I can easily balance the bike on one foot without having to ‘Captain Jack’ it.

Engine Performance: I LOVE THE ENGINE. Wonderfully torquey, very accessible and usable powerband. The reason why I am in so love with this engine is because in my experience with Ducati’s I always felt that the almost all bikes are geared way too high (primarily to pass the strict emissions standards for the US). I almost thought that again when I first got on the SP however at full pull the SP is solid at almost any gear going into just about every corner. You can get on it and expect a very smooth delivery of power that comes on gradually and without any unexpected jerks of power – beautiful. I would say it’s probably comparable to the power delivery of a Kawasaki 636 if I can make that comparison. In short – a mountain of fun and when paired with the incredibly light frame of the bike has a lot of get up and go.

Suspension \ Handling: I picture that when the engineers at Ohlin were first looking to design their iconic front and rear suspension I am convinced that God himself descended from the heavens and then turned to the engineers and said, ‘let’s do this’. The Ohlin’s on the SP and OUT OF THIS WORLD. I am confident that there isn’t a turn in the world that the SP can’t master. Every turn is an exploration in your own ability to push the limit and the SP shows up in spades. It really does feel effortless taking just about any turn you can throw the bike into.

In closing:

Put all these elements together (including the points about the instrument cluster) and I believe you have the makings of an incredibly easy to ride and enjoyable track bike. The Hypermotard mixes a myriad of very well-made components (engine, chassis, suspensions and even riding position) to pull together what I though isn’t possible in an upright almost dirt bike like motorcycle; an exhilarating, torque filled, brutish, fun and deep corner taking machine. Hats off Ducati – you’ve stunned me once again.

Priced at $16,300 you might cringe a bit given perhaps some other bikes in this category however all you need to do is throw your leg over one and find out where that money is going. A complete experience demands fine tuning, precision and a clear vision of what you are building towards. The SP is a masterpiece of Italian engineering and ingenuity and although you mind find other bikes with perhaps more updated components I don’t think you’ll find one that is as solid and perfectly woven together as the SP. Frankly, I wouldn’t even waste your time with the more inexpensive standard version – just focus on the SP. See you guys at the track…

Credit- Jamal Malik

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