Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My first impressions of the 2013 Hypermotard

I've had so many different thoughts about this new model, just like everyone else who has been a fan of the Hyper since its first release, and I was really keen to chuck a leg over one and see how it compared, but hadn't the chance. Then the guys at Ducati City chucked the keys to their demonstrator at me. Quivering with anticipation I punched the button and did just that. Here are my first thoughts of this exciting new baby hyper.

Immediately I'm thinking, shit it's short, and fairly tall too, which for me is a great thing, at just a smidge under 6'2" I'm sitting atop the little pocket rocket flat-footed, bollocks bashed up against the tank and looking out at fresh air. It feels perfectly normal to me. Let's go!

Actually firstly, few things I notice have changed quite a bit. Let's get the obvious out the way for the sake of completeness. Yes it's now a water/oil cooled four valve wet clutch 821cc 11 degree L Twin. Just take that all in. I immediately think 'Jap bike' and throw my nose up at emissions with a pining for louder pipes, bigger induction holes and juicier, rattlier, noisier machines.

But alas, this is how the bike world is going as a whole I guess. You can't keep on cranking out air-cooled noisy monsters anymore, so it's just a twist of fate (not the throttle kind, the emissions kind) that makes this reality. It's time to get over it.

 


 I crack the throttle to be greeted by a lack of feel or feedback or something and immediately assume one of two things; it's broken or I'm doing something wrong. Hmm no throttle cable connected… hang on a minute, it's ride by wire! There is nothing connecting your throttle wrist to your engine, it's just a spring that makes it snap back to zero. Everything about this new Hyper is electronically controlled. That throttle feels weird and continued to spook me during my short-lived test ride (I need a week at least to really decide).

It feels like it needs more feedback when returning somehow, maybe some stronger springs as one of the boys at DC suggested. You crack it on and it springs back to zero but when you are teasing the power out of it and trying to be accurate it is going to take some getting used to just how the electronics apply that twist of the wrist. It also appears that this 'feel' changes quite noticeably throughput the different ride modes which I have come to terms with now being a feature of the Multi also.

 I started to get used to it by the end of the hour, but I felt it almost at all times, mostly particularly as I would come rapidly down through the gears, trying to get that slipper clutch to earn its keep, hard on the pins and the decel would seem to be doing something altogether disconnected from the action I was applying at the throttle. Strange, but I am sure I could get used to it.

It's a pretty great view from on board, and a new dash with lots of bits to play with!



Although, I just have to say right here that this is where motorcycling is headed and you are either gonna love or hate it but have to deal with it at some point. At least you can turn the back wheel traction control off manually. Next thing I notice is no hydraulic clutch. This thing has a cable! Technology moves forward a step in one control hand, and then takes a step back in the other? Strange me thinks.

 But it is very light, does what it is supposed to and I guess makes little difference to the overall feel of the bike. It's hooked up to a slipper clutch as well which is a blessing in disguise as I managed to activate it going for a gear that was probably too low for the corner I was trying to dry hump, normally the back would have locked up and shit could have got messy (or fun) on the old Hyper, but on this one, it just sort of clicked and clunked and kept the back wheel spinning as it was supposed to,  saving me from any potentially embarrassing moments.

 Next up I see we now have mirrors! Mirrors that modestly display more than just my elbows. And have a distinctly Batman feel to the lower edges that I can only assume are the grabby bits for adjustment. I don't like them, period. They look stupid on those thin storks and they really aren't a massive improvement - thery're just stork mirrors. I liked the old flip-outs, they added a huge amount of character to my Hyper. Mirrors, pfft. Maybe a set off the Multi would improve things (they are the best mirrors period)

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 Bars. They feel narrower by a good margin, but I had just ridden my Multi in with it's pushed forward bars, then spent an hour playing tail-charlie on a Streetfighter 848, which feels like being strapped to a dragon fly that is high on crystal meth, to then jump on this so my point of reference was kind of confused. I do think they are narrower than before though but still have a nice wide-ish grip and you are still sitting bolt upright.

 It's a commanding confident position and you can see clearly over the top of all the cars in front of you, and if you aren't tempted to just rip past every stationery car on the back wheel on board the Hyper, you're doing it wrong. The electroniic ignition system kicks everything in the guts and the 11 degree L snarls to life. It's quite a beefy note compared to the 848 streetfighter say, which sounds significantly harder and toppy, the Hyper sounds quite throaty - perfect for a nice chubby single can later on - and in the company of bigger louder bikes (the Multi with its full Termi system included) for a stock pipe on a stock bike I am well impressed with the sound.

 I like the down low single sided can on this strangely enough. I'm casually coasting through the city centre to get out onto the Highway and I feel pretty damn good. It's a great familiar position, has a great note, that unabashed Ducati red appeal that makes boys and girls look twice and it's dead easy to ride. So easy to ride. Such a great commuting machine immediately, waste no time if you need to get from Melton to Melbourne every day and maybe want to crank it up passing sports bikes on the Reefton on weekends, this machine will not disappoint. I break free of the city and its cages at the entry to the Eastern Freeway, a break from 60km to 100km zone allows me to wind it on with some gusto.

Third gear wind and brraaaaap up comes the front wheel Wheeeeee! This thing just REVS. Revs and revs and revs, something I am totally not used to out of a Hyper, but apparently thats what two extra valves do for you. Crack it on anywhere near the sweet point (I'd say somewhere between 6 - 9rpm) and she just powers the front wheel up without so much as a gentle yank of the bars, it just powers up.

It doesnt feel out of control at all, quite the opposite, it feels really tight and controlled and I just continue riding through the gears up to a bit more than the speed limit and it gently comes down and continues on it' merry way. Lurvely. I want to do that more. Lots more. But for now, let's back it off a notch and get that front wheel back down. [GARD align="center"] Back off the freeway and up the infamous Yarra Boulevard and you can start to see where the new Hyper improvements have really come to their own.

 This thing handles beautifully. It dips and tucks into corners effortlessly and it almost doesn't matter what gear you are in, she just pulls right out again. It's hard for me to explain with my lack of knowledge of proper riding terminology (and skills lol) but it is inspiring riding. I started to feel more and more confident and wanted to approach each 45km bend faster and faster all the while being acutely aware of the local speed zones (and Saturday cyclists). I'm completely surprised by the power that is hidden in those sweet spots at times but not able to ride at 'balls deep' speed levels I am not about to investigate much further today. Winding and swooping, slaloming like a hopped up galah I sweep my way back up the boulevard and feel some of the little rockets torque as it pulls me up hills and around sharp corners. It's a great feeling and makes me miss the hooliganism of my own Hyper already. Damn it, as well as a Diavel,

 I need one of these now too! Coming back to civilisation I test out the breaks with some go to whoa style stops and yup, they're all there and working really well. The whole front end feels miles ahead of where the old model was, I don't know what has happened whether it is rake, forks, something inexplicable has happened and it feels much more stable going faster into corners and just completely flickable while riding through traffic. I squirted and flicked and playfully made my way back to DC to chuck the keys back to Jamie with a stupid grin beaming on my dial, all I could say as he nodded knowingly at me was 'well, they got that right'.

 I can still only pine for an 1198 big brother though, just imagine it…. but alas, that doesn't look very probable at this point so the 821 will have to do for now, and let me tell you if you are looking for a fun bike to ride while also being mildly practical (16L tank now and touring accessories to bolt on from the Hyperstrada) then look no further than the new Hypermotard. It's a completely awesome package.