Ducati hypermotard 1100: Strictly for kicks

Don't even think of commuting on Ducati's snarling, lightweight wild child, says Tim Luckhurst
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The Independent Online

Specifications

Engine: 1,098cc air-cooled L-Twin.

Maximum power: 90bhp (66kW) @ 7,750 rpm

Maximum torque: 76 lb-ft (102Nm) @ 4,750 rpm

Transmission: six-speed gearbox, chain final drive

Brakes: Front twin semi-floating 305mmdiscs, rear single 245mm disc.

Seat height: 845 mm

Dry weight: 179 kg

Price: £7,750

'Whoopee! Yes! Oh this is magic! Expletive! Another expletive! Whoaaaaaaa! Thank you." There may have been another obscenity, actually probably six, but that is essentially what I said in the 10 seconds after I first opened the throttle on Ducati's ultra-aggressive lightweight wild-child.

The Hypermotard 1100 is a motorcycle for kicks alone. I was going to say "pure kicks" but there is nothing pure about it. This is a wanton and provocative plaything, more bondage queen than catwalk model but still a stunner beneath its snarling, tempestuous manner.

The look - a mix of Ducati's established L-twin format, ultra-minimalist racing lines and off-road styling – won high praise when it was first revealed to the press at the Milan show in 2005. As a stationary design concept, it bellowed non-conformist attitude. The reality is just as distinctive.

To traditionalists, the super motard concept produces machines that look like off-roaders. Some, including the BMW HP2 and KTM 950 really do have the talent to go where the asphalt ends. This Ducati does not. It is a street bike that feels equally at home on a race track, not a mud-plugger.

With 90bhp of air-cooled grunt and a dry weight of only 179kg, it looks light enough to wrestle through the sharpest bends. Just grab the wide,tapered handlebars and the impression becomes reality.

This is a bike to thrash up Alpine switchbacks, race through city congestion and pelt down country lanes. It swoops and twists dashes and roars, turning-in at lightning pace and kicking out again faster than a hare pursued by hounds.

Pure sports machines are quicker but, for the on-road thrill-seeker, this Italian stallion sets a new standard in pleasure riding. It is the apotheosis of the motorcycle as a recreational device, a fashion statement with formidable performance in every category, except the purely functional.

It is as nimble as a gazelle, but you would have to be deluded to buy one as a commuting tool. It is capable of 125mph, but extended motorway journeys are inconceivable. It delivers tremendous torque, but you should no more think of it as a load carrier than use a silk shirt to clean shoes. Fun is the Hypermotard's sole purpose.

It delivers. The assertive, upright riding position, gossamer weight and maximum-leverage handlebars make cornering a complete blast. There are limits to everything but you can push into bends at frankly insane speeds and rely on a combination of huge, 50mm Marzocchi forks, radially mounted Brembo brakes and limpet-like Bridgestone tyres to get you round.

The 1,098cc engine is arefinement of the unit fitted in Ducati's Multistrada 1100 model. Here it is instantly responsive, pulsing out power at the twist of a wrist and going on doing it at both extremes of the rev band. The Bologna factory has had more than 30 years to perfect the lightweight twin-cylinder technology. That time has not been wasted.

So, should you sell the car,remortgage the children and buy one today? It is the sort of motorcycle that will have that effect on some riders. Ducati has gone all-out here.

Everything is new from the sharp, Woody-Woodpecker lookalike headlight and front mudguard to the charismatic twin underseat exhaust.

Designer Pierre Terblanche was given free rein and took it. The only compromises introduced between his drawings and the finished product are that an additional brake disc has been added, the silencers have shrunk and the indicators have migrated from the foldable mirrors to the hand guards.

A word about those foldable mirrors: they are extensions of the handlebars that flip out from the hand guards on each grip. They prove that some concepts make more sense on the drawing board than the road. At motorway speeds these devices fold back unbidden. In town they make the handlebars too wide for filtering between cars. At all other times they afford a rear view so limited as to be practically worthless.

A gadget too far? The Hypermotard's fundamentally frolicsome personality is adorned with technology for the Playstation generation. Most notable is the digital instrumentation. It presents rpm as a bar graph and speed numerically with a panoply of extra data available via switches on the left handlebar.

If motorcycling is your hobby, not your means of transport, and you relish belting round corners while screeching gleefully to yourself inside your helmet, you might like to check this machine out. Ducati has given new glamour to the notion of the motorcycle as a lifestyle accessory.

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