2015 Ducati Hyperstrada Review
By Kyle Carruthers
Every day it seems like it is getting harder and harder to find a place to ride during the week when it comes to motocross. Unless you’re one of the select few to own private property or live close to one of the dozen major public tracks in Canada, it makes it harder and harder to get out during the week after work and get that thrill of adrenaline you seek when you crack a throttle. Thanks to Ducati, we have a solution that makes getting that rush we all seek a lot easier. We introduce to you the new 2015 Ducati Hyperstrada. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this is a motocross website not some street bike cliché magazine to talk about the latest Harley Davidson to hit the market. Well, the truth is, when we hit the road on the new Ducati Hyperstrada, we couldn’t help but think we were on a dirt bike sometimes!
In fact, this particular machine was truly inspired by a dirt bike design and when the Ducati design and engineer team brought this family of motorcycles to life they focused on the concept which included a model with higher ground clearance, a taller tapered tail end and narrow sides to give it that dirt bike feel.
The Hyperstrada is more than just a good-looking toy and as Ducati dubs it, it is a unique crossover motorcycle that is perfect in our minds for the motocross racer to hit the street on. This idea only became more and more realistic thanks to the efforts of Chris Pearson of Ducati Canada when he gave us the chance to tour these bikes down to the Unadilla National last summer (Full tourism story coming up on DMX and Inside Motorcycles). The Hyperstrada balances the perfect mix between the street rider and the off-road rider.
We started off by picking up our bikes at GP Bikes in Whibty, Ontario. Not only was GP Bikes looking professional as always, but the staff was more than helpful in getting us set up on our new machines for the weekend of riding we were about to experience. Between the easy to use controls, the seating position, the relaxed bars and the easy start of the motor, I was already beginning to feel comfortable on the Hyperstrada.
Now let’s sum up some of the features in a nutshell that make this bike the beast it truly is:
Starting off with its slick body lines and in between its steel tube trellis frame sits a beautiful twin-cylinder 821cc engine pushing out a whopping 110 HP at 9250 RPM. Matched to a crisp-shifting 6-speed gearbox paired up with a fuel injection system connected to Ducati’s signature throttle bodies with the full ride-by-wire electronic mode system to give the Ducati the characteristics, you need to not only leave your buddies behind but to brag to them after about it when they finally catch up and meet you at the dinner stop. No, we aren’t talking about speed, but the fact that it corners better than almost any other bike we have ridden in the past in this category; you won’t have a problem leading the pack.
The tubular handlebar is raised by 20mm, and a much flatter and more supportive seat aids in relief for longer riding periods and those long distance trips. In fact, we put on over 3000 kilometres and felt this seat was one of the better ones we have sat on. A fairly tall wind screen sits atop the headlight assembly/instrument panel to help deflect some wind off the rider. Although it is not overly large, you can tell it does make a difference especially on those brisk mornings. The bike is also equipped with two 50-liter-capacity semi-hard saddlebags that easily attach to the rear sub-frame, with a wider grab rail for the passenger and two 12-volt outlets for accessories for all your toys. We couldn’t get over how easy these bags were to take on and off when we arrived at our destinations. Although, sometimes they can be hard to get your leg over them, the beauty is that you can easily remove them for a more sporty look if they aren’t needed. In our current situation, they were welcomed and well-received. A center stand is also included which was a welcome addition. And the 43mm inverted Showa fork on the Hyperstrada has reduced wheel travel (which is partially responsible for the slight decrease in wheelbase from the big brother of the Hyperstrda, the Hypermotard’s 59.1 inches to 58.7 inches on the Hyperstrada).
Getting all this power to ground is helped by a set of Pirelli tires connected to a 43mm fork set on the front and progressive linkage with adjustable spring pre-load and rebound damping monoshock in the back which features a remote hydraulic spring pre-load adjustment mounted to an aluminium single-sided swingarm. It works great and looks sexy. Pair all of this to fantastic Ducati dash system with the easy to use controls and Ducati really tied up that package nice. Now, it all looks good on paper but the truth was going to come out on the ride.
Between our weekend of riding we had a chance to test these machines on all roads and terrain possible. Between urban streets and highway traffic right to scenic back-country roads pulling into Unadilla out of Utica, New York, we really had a chance to get a feel for what the Hyperstrada was capable of. One thing that really stands out are the three modes you can select easily to use the Ducati Ride-By-Wire electronic system. Riding modes can be changed on the fly. Roll off the throttle, engage the turn signal cancel switch, scroll through the three modes, and make your selection. After several false starts, I discovered that taking my hand completely off the throttle grip was the most effective way for the Ride-By-Wire Hyperstrada to acknowledge that I wasn’t giving it any fuel. I was then able to easily switch between modes as the road conditions changed. When you select a different mode the bike characteristics will change things like the ABS, throttle control and power delivery as well as traction control and fuel consumption to adapt to the level of riding you want to do at that current moment.
For having non-adjustable suspension up front and just (remote) spring pre-load and rebound adjustment out back, the Hyperstrada handled the twisty stuff impressively well. With a wide handlebar offering plenty of leverage over an already nimble-steering chassis, the Hyperstrada can make shockingly good time anywhere you’re going. Thanks to the beautiful roads of Northwest New York State, we got a chance to do just that and witnessed all four of us really putting the bikes through its paces. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires offered good traction overall and never once made me feel uncomfortable as an intermediate-level rider on the road. Accompanied by the braking from the Brembo monoblock/radial-mount calipers and 320mm discs up front, you really couldn’t go wrong. The stopping power was as good as it gets, especially considering the non-adjustable front suspension and ABS being in the mix. Overall response was crisp without being too grabby, and when set on level 1, the Hyperstrada’s 4.2-gallon fuel tank got us about 150 miles per fill up on average.
Just hitting the throttle was a thrill, especially in the sport mode and the throttle response was always awesome paired with the 6-speed transmission. There is no way to describe this set-up other than to simply say it almost feels like it has two transmissions. Starting in the low range where you have an awesome torquey-feeling motor to right where the power band hits mid-RPM to start you off into what feels like a whole other bike, this bike felt like riding a 450 motocross machine on steroids!
What it comes down to is that there is simply too much to like about the Hyperstrada. It is easy to maneuver, even with two people on it and both luggage trunks loaded, and it always feels light on its feet. The question is, where do we place it? Between being part street bike, part dirt bike and part supermoto, you truly are getting the best all around motorcycle experience a motorcycle fanatic can handle.