Easy handling and a stealthy look mark the Ducati Hypermotard

The Ducati Hypermotard is a rocket. Weighing in at just under 400 pounds dry, the 90 horsepower dirt bike/sports bike combo flies off the line with enough torque to pull the front wheel off the ground in three gears. That fact alone means this hand-built Italian motorcycle is not a mode of transportation for the inexperienced rider.

The heart of Ducati’s newest addition is the L-Twin, dual-valved 1100cc Desmodromic engine that is a perfect match for the highly responsive motorcycle. Strangled under the weight of the larger Multistrada, the engine comes to life in the Hypermotard as it no longer has to push along excess weight and gets to finally show off it’s superior ability. Fuel is fed into the aggressive motor through the Marelli electronic fuel injection system and is squeezed through the cylinder at a 10.5-to-1 compression ratio that puts 76-foot pounds of torque to the street through the 120/70 ZR 17 front and 180/55 ZR17 rear Perelli tires.

While Ducati is not the only manufacturer sticking its toe into the hybrid motorcycle market, the Hypermotard is more pleasing to the eye than many of its competitors like the BMW R1200GS or the KTM 950 Supermoto with which the Hypermotard was specifically designed to compete. Because of their dual-use designs, hybrid motorcycles often look misshapen as they don’t comfortably fit into any one category. Ducati solved this problem by creating a body style that appears to be specifically designed instead of just pulling together parts from other models.

Critics agree as the Hypermotard was given the Best Overall Motorcycle Design trophy by the Motorcycle Design Association in February 2006. This followed the bike’s Best-of-Show award at the Eicma Show in Milan three months earlier.

The Hypermotard’s lightweight 2-1-2 exhaust is tucked under the seat and does more than reduce weight and keep the hot parts away from bare skin. The design also adds to the aesthetic quality of the bike by giving the tail section the look of a jet fighter that is matched by the arrow-shaped taillight casing that glows red above the exhaust.

Unlike many such hybrids, the Hypermotard actually has a seat you and your passengers will want to sit on. The contoured saddle helps to keep the driver’s legs against the frame of the bike, which provides ergonomic comfort and greater control of the vehicle, and the wide rear portion means no more complaints of backside bruising by your passenger. The 33-inch seat height allows you see over the traffic and also helps when diving into turns – something you’ll be doing a lot of since this bike just cries for the quick changes of direction en route to Sandy Beach or, even better, the road to Hana. Of course, a throne of this type does come with drawbacks. While its paltry weight means the bike is a breeze to handle for anyone of almost any size, the seat height does require an appropriate inseam to ensure the rider can sit comfortably on the bike at a stop with both feet firmly on the ground.

A unique feature of the Hypermotard is the mirrors that fold back to ensure proper fit in tight spaces. Mounted on the outsides of the handlebars, the mirrors do make the bars appear unusually wide, but once you observe the generous field of vision they offer and adjustments that require no tools, you’ll soon forget about any perceived design quirk. Besides, many riders will just simply fold them back because it looks good. The bike’s hand guard-mounted forward blinkers also make the Hypermotard more visible to others on the road.

One of the bike’s biggest disadvantages is one that is of little concern to Hawaii riders. The small 3.2-gallon gas tank limits long road trips, but on an island where 30 miles takes you from one side to the other, worries about running low on fuel are nonexistent. So, really, the only actual problem you’ll have with the bike is not its $15,000 price tag. The hard part is just getting your hands on one.

Ducati limits the production of the Hypermotard to a small number. Hawaii’s allotment for 2008 was in the neighborhood of just 10 bikes with only one dealer, (South Seas Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Ducati on Nimitz Highway) authorized to sell the light, ground-clearing performance motorcycle.