by B.P. Goebel
Bikes have been getting more powerful for many years now. When will it stop? Never, hopefully.
But do you really use much of that 170hp in your commute to work? And, along with that power, do you want that weight and bloated dimensional bulk to go against cross-town traffic or for a spin in the country?
Much to my chagrin, the 750cc class has mostly disappeared. Why? Because you thought your friends would think you were a pussy if you ‘only’ got a 750 and so you bought the 1000. Right? And so did everybody else. And then they stopped making them because nobody bought them. If you have never tried one, the ¾-liter class machine combines more than ample power with light, fantastic handling.
Welcome to the Ducati Hyperstrada ($13,295), Ducati’s answer to the mid-size touring question.
With a lower seat and higher handlebars than the Hypermotard, the ‘Strada gives what Ducati calls the “upright and in control position of a dirt bike.” It’s a Hypercomfortable seating position that most cruiser riders would kill for.
Up front, all controls are of current Ducati nature; hair-trigger precise with easy, light action. A semi-wide bar confers quick, effortless steering and the mirrors are of a design that thoughtfully allows them to be useable. Oh, and the missile launcher style shrouded kill/start button still is pretty cool.
Like most Italian things, the Hyperstrada is not grossly oversized and there is a neat integrated look to the bike. From the wrist-sized header pipes to the sensible and attractive single sided swingarm to the Panigale inspired cast 10-spoke wheels, the Hyperstrada is molto stylie.
Believers, what blasphemy do I see under the swingarm pivot? A centerstand! The super light effort centerstand is cake to use and checks off a mandatory box in the required items list for many touring riders.
The 50-liter saddlebags combined with the optional top case provide a very acceptable amount of luggage capacity for touring. The lockable quick release mount system is easy to use and doesn’t look unattractive when running naked. Packing lighter than heavier will be the best bet, but then you wouldn’t be looking at this bike in the first place if you felt the need to always bring the kitchen sink with you.
The windscreen has just the right mix of deflection and admission of airflow – certainly enough to take the edge off of high-speed touring – and the 4.2-gal. fuel tank offers a range that’s acceptable albeit not exactly supertankerish.
“Touring on a Duc?” An 18,500-mile recommended valve service interval eliminates the old argument against Desmo motors versus conventional Japanese designs, and the bike comes with a two-year unlimited mile warranty.
As for motivation, the over-square design, liquid cooled, Desmodronically controlled 4 valve, L-twin 821cc Testastretta 11° motor is much smoother and not as pulse-y as traditional Ducati motors. It’s rev happy and smooth – even at 70mph in fourth.
The still powerful, but smaller engine is refreshing for a touring bike, and included as standard (!) is the Ducati Safety Pack featuring Ducati Traction Control (DTC), ABS, and the ability to switch between three engine maps – Urban, Touring and Sport – whenever you want to.
Urban offers a reduced power (75hp) and torque setting. And why not? Sometimes you don’t want all the concentration and responsibility that riding a highly-strung, high power machine requires. It’s way more than enough to deal with in city traffic but it will still straighten the bend in your arms with a blip.
The difference between Touring (110hp) and Sport (110hp) is available torque, with Touring requiring less attention to throttle control and translating into less effort in the long haul.
The first time I switched from Urban to Sport, I did so at a stoplight while making other changes (that I was equally excited about) to the DTC and ABS settings. By the time the light changed I wasn’t thinking about the engine map change anymore. As I let the clutch out to leave the stoplight and felt the first power pulse, I was startled by the striking transformation in engine character. The motor was no longer docile and muted but instead, snarling and seemingly clawing for revs. My burden on the bike became almost nonexistent. At highway speeds, sixth gear in Sport mode still pulls very hard and near literbike-like acceleration is a just a downshift away.
Ride As You Like
The Hyperstrada can be ridden any way you would like. While it loves to be braked hard into the corner, squared off and blasted out motocross style, it can just as easily be used to precisely carve corners at speed. Or, forget about input and just torque around while leisurely sight seeing.
The anti-wheelie component of the DTC is very valuable if you don’t want to be lofting the front tire ALL the time. It can be disabled if you want to be riding a unicycle most of the time. If you disable it, make sure your right foot is covering the brake pedal at all times.
In the most torturous of suspension tests I could throw at it, I blasted the ‘Strada through one of my favorite left-right-left curves in Afton. With its taut but amazingly supple and reactive suspension, the ‘Strada remained perfectly poised during the massive compression and rebound action and tracked straight as a laser.
Shifts on the Hyperstrada are effortless and Hyperfast, with the transmission feeling like it has a power upshift feature. The transmission seemed to already be in the next gear with the slightest touch of the lever.
The braking is massive. The ‘Strada is spec’d with top-shelf brake components and endowed with performance that was not very long ago unimaginable. And they aren’t stopping much weight. Crushingly powerful and checked by the seamless and adjustable performance of the standard ABS system, they can dislodge your eyes from their sockets.
If you are serious about your motorcycle riding, you know light is always right. A wet weight of 450 lbs. for a touring bike is light. The motor is plenty for just about anything you will encounter and the ability to comfortably absorb almost any terrain from potholed urban environments to the track will let you do whatever you want with the Hyperstrada.
By Guido Ebert
Ducati delivered the 2013 Hyperstrada (MSRP: $13,295) to U.S. retailers during the last week of April, and MMM was lucky enough to snag the new bike from Ducati Minneapolis last month for this ride report.
Calling the Hyperstrada a Hypermotard with extra rider amenities wouldn’t be off base. But, at the same time, calling the Hyperstrada a downsized Multistrada wouldn’t be wrong, either. The magic is that Ducati recognized the Hypermotard, while a powerful yet nimble Fun Machine, in its original guise provides very little real world usefulness while the Multistrada, with its 1200cc engine and high seating arrangement, is perhaps a bit too much bike for some riders. The Hyperstrada fills a middle role, combining the exciting ride of the Hypermotard with the comfort and utility of the Multistrada in a relatively light 450-lb. package.
Lets take a quick glimpse at the Hyperstrada’s specs to get you up to speed. Acceleration comes from an 821cc liquid-cooled 4-valve per cylinder L-Twin producing 110hp @ 9,250 rpm and 65.8 lb.-ft. @ 7,750 rpm, stopping power comes from two ABS-equipped 320mm semi-floating discs with four-pot Brembo Monobloc calipers in front and an ABS-equipped 245mm disc with twin-pot caliper in the rear, and suspension is supplied by a 43mm upside-down fork and single-sided swingarm equipped with a fully adjustable remote reservoir monoshock.
High-Tech Rider Aids
Like the Hypermotard, the ‘Strada is equipped with the Ducati Safety Pack (DSP) which includes the Brembo braking system with Bosch ABS and Ducati Traction Control (DTC).
DTC functions by processing the input from the wheel speed sensors to control rear wheel slip. If skidding is detected, DTC delays ignition and cuts off the fuel injection to reduce torque until rear-wheel grip is re-established. It works, as I experienced while carving up an open-sided, greasy concrete parking ramp covered in early morning dew.
In addition to the DSP, the ‘Strada features three riding modes programmed to instantly change engine output and the intervention levels of the ABS and DTC:
– “Sport” mode provides 110hp with a direct response in acceleration and reduced intervention from the DTC and ABS.
– “Touring” mode provides 110hp with a more gradual response in acceleration, greater intervention from the DTC system and maximum stability on braking and front wheel lift control.
– “Urban” mode provides 75hp with gradual response in acceleration and an even greater intervention from the DTC system and ABS.
Rather than give you a full run down of how I felt the bike performed in each mode, I’ll just summarize by telling you that the system works as stated. Another nice benefit for the rider: Toggling through the computer doesn’t require the mind of a Millennial.
With the bike’s output potential mated to its electric rider safety measures, I continuously thought of Mike Tyson’s infamous line “I take Zoloft to keep from killing you all.”
Turn the key, enjoy the “Ducati Hyperstrada” light show on the dash, slide the “On” lever upward, pull the clutch and finger the “Start” button. Barooom! The bike starts up like an airborne chopper, sounds perfectly docile under normal operating conditions, then when called upon produces a bark that’s hard to ignore. I can only wish my liter-sized V-twin Suzuki had an exhaust note this brilliant.
Click into 1st gear and you immediately feel the precision in the 6-speed gearbox.
The bike offers point and squirt performance when you’re “on it,” but atop 30mph surface streets (in an “Urban” environment) I often found myself trying to decide whether I should run 1st high or lug a bit in 2nd.
That question of gearing disappears at other speeds and the engine, no matter what mode you’re in, turns at 4,000rpm when traveling at 60 mph in top gear. Although you could, there’s no need to shift down for a pass – the mid-range grunt, from 4,000 to 8,000 rpm, will push you through the gap.
When it comes time to scrub speed, the slipper clutch works like a dream, doing most of the work as you’re setting up for a corner by escorting you cleanly down through the gears as revs are matched and the exhaust pops and gurgles to warn those behind you that you’re altering your pace and/or course.
The ‘Strada’s compact chassis design translates into the ergos. The bike felt perfectly comfortable to my 5’9” frame, but my 6’4” brother looked like a bear on a bicycle in a Russian circus.
The seat is compliant and, while angled forward a bit, offers the operator the choice of riding high toward the gas tank of sitting snug in the saddle’s cradle; the nearly 34-inch-wide handlebars are placed high and confidence inspiring; rubber-topped pegs for operator and passenger increase long-haul (and standing) comfort; and a useful wrap-around passenger grab-rail integrated into the saddlebag carrier can handle the addition of a top-case from the Ducati accessories department.
The windscreen, large enough to protect my head and chest yet small enough to not grab a crosswind, did its job quite well for me. As for the saddlebags, they each hold a full-face helmet and gloves – or a 12-pack of Peroni. The bags are easily removable via the twist of a key and a lift upward; installation is in reverse, hooking on three connection points.
Further, for those of you with heated gear, a communications system or navigation aids, the ‘Strada has two 12V power outlets, one on each side just below the rider’s seat.
The Hyperstrada’s aforementioned seating position, lightweight package, and smooth shifting transmission ultimately work together to provide a confidence inspiring experience. Well, that’s a bit of a misnomer. In all honesty, together with hair-trigger output, the package makes a rider want to do bad things – things likely frowned upon by the more decent citizens of our communities.
The one thing I truly dislike on the ‘Strada: The fuel cap, utilizing a mechanical design from 50 years ago, absolutely sucks to deal with – and, because the bike is otherwise such a hoot to operate, you’ll probably deal with it quite often.
Think you want to own a Hyperstrada? Make sure you’re the correct size, take the bike’s name seriously, and expect riding with a little angel on one shoulder and a lil’ devil on the other.