First Ride Review
Three new-for-2013 Ducatis have strada, the Italian word for “road,” in their model names, each offering a different take on high-performance touring. The Multistrada 1200 adventure tourer, the Diavel Strada muscle cruiser and the Hyperstrada, a new touring version of the Hypermotard supermoto, differ in style and intent. But all have torquey engines, riding modes, traction control and ABS, as well as touring seats, windscreens, upright seating positions and—depending on the model—saddlebags, centerstands and heated grips.
Ducati completely revamped the Hypermotard platform for 2013, replacing the Hypermotard 796, 1100EVO and 1100EVO SP with three new models—the Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP and Hyperstrada—all powered by a scaled-down version of the liquid-cooled, four-valve 1,198cc Testastretta 11° L-twin found in the Multistrada and Diavel. Its smaller displacement of 821cc was achieved with a much narrower bore (88mm vs. 106mm) and a fractionally shorter stroke (67.5mm vs. 67.9mm). The smaller engine makes do with a single spark plug per cylinder instead of two, and has a higher compression ratio (12.8:1 vs. 11.5:1), but it uses the same repositioned fuel injectors and secondary air system that help the 2013 Multistrada 1200 run more smoothly and efficiently. Claimed output is 110 horsepower at 9,250 rpm and 65.8 lb-ft of torque at 7,750 rpm, with power sent to the rear wheel via APTC wet slipper clutch, 6-speed transmission and chain final drive.
Compared to the sharp-edged Hypermotard/SP, the touring-oriented Hyperstrada’s handlebar is 0.8-inch taller, its seat is thicker and wider, and it has a windscreen, saddlebags and dual 12V outlets. Underscoring their differences, Ducati introduced the Hypermotard/SP at a knees-down road-and-track event in Spain, but launched the Hyperstrada in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, Italy, a green-hilled paradise that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our day-long test ride took us from the ancient village of Bagno Vignoni to the medieval town of Montepulciano and back again, on narrow two-lane roads that wound their way through the rolling countryside.
Before traveling to Italy, I spent several weeks testing the Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo, giving me an intimate understanding of its prodigious horsepower, 4-bikes-in-1 riding modes and semi-active Ducati Skyhook Suspension. The Hyperstrada is like a smaller, simpler version of the Multistrada. Both have adventure-bike styling with prominent air-intake beaks, hand guards with built-in turn signals and Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires. But the lower-priced Hyperstrada has only three riding modes and two ABS modes, foregoing the Multistrada’s Enduro and ABS1 modes for off-road riding. And it has more basic suspension, with a non-adjustable, male-slider Kayaba fork and a Sachs shock with preload (via remote knob) and rebound adjustability. At 5.9 inches front and rear, the Hyperstrada has 0.8-inch less suspension travel than the Multistrada, yet both have tall 33.5-inch seat heights. To accommodate shorter riders, the Hyperstrada is available, at no extra cost, in a low version that reduces front/rear suspension travel to 5.2 inches and seat height to 32.7 inches. An accessory low seat reduces seat height by another 0.8 inch, to 31.9 inches.
Though tall, the Hyperstrada is a narrow, compact machine, with a claimed wet weight of just 450 pounds. It offers plenty of leg room and a relaxed reach to the handlebar but not much wind protection (the windscreen is not adjustable). Starting off in Touring mode, which cues up 110 horsepower with medium throttle response, Ducati Traction Control level 4 (out of 8), and maximum ABS intervention and rear wheel lift prevention, the Hyperstrada was easy to ride, with good throttle response, light handling and strong brakes. Within the first hour of our ride, a spring storm brought on a sudden downpour and some hail—the perfect opportunity to test Urban mode, which reduces power to 75 horsepower, softens throttle response, ramps DTC up to level 6 and maintains maximum ABS intervention. Photo passes in the rain around tight, slippery curves were child’s play. As the road dried out, I switched to Sport mode, which delivers full power with aggressive throttle response, DTC level 3 and less ABS intervention. Hooligan-on-demand mode was fun for a while, but throttle response was too abrupt and I soon switched back to the more user-friendly Touring mode. Changing modes can be done on the fly; just push a button, close the throttle and off you go.
There is much to like about the Hyperstrada. It’s exciting to ride, it shifts well and it has good suspension compliance. Its well-padded seat is comfortable, though there isn’t a lot of room to move around. Its pushbutton-tunable engine makes good power and torque without excessive vibration, and its 2-into-1 exhaust emits a call-of-the-wild sound that ranges from a loping rumble at idle to an angry bark at full throttle. Its Brembo brakes, triple discs with dual radial-mount, 4-piston Monobloc calipers up front, are strong and precise. Its tubular steel trellis frame, single-sided aluminum swingarm and 10-spoke 1199 Panigale-style cast aluminum wheels are stout, lightweight and stylish. And its semi-rigid, 25-liter saddlebags, made of fabric-covered ABS plastic with clamshell openings and zippered closures, work well and complement the look of the bike. They’re not waterproof but they include dry bag liners. A 31-liter top trunk and a tankbag are available as accessories. The 4.2-gallon fuel tank is covered in plastic, so a magnetic tankbag cannot be used. But the large, wrap-around passenger grab handle provides a good attachment point for a seatbag.
Part supermoto, part sport tourer and part adventure bike, the Hyperstrada defies easy categorization. Like the best-selling Multistrada 1200, its hybrid nature delivers a potent blend of excitement, versatility and comfort but at a more manageable middleweight size and price.