If you apply the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) V, the Ducati Hyperstrada fits the bill for Multiple Personality Disorder almost perfectly.
Its V-twin engine and larger size and weight make it a far cry from the 450 cc thumpers most people call a supermoto. Its beak and tall, upright seating position mean the other nakeds won't let it sit with them in the cafeteria. Its small size and relatively small engine mean the other touring bikes will point and laugh when you pull into rest stops.
Is Ducati's Frankenstein bike the perfect all-rounder or does it make too many sacrifices to be good enough at anything?
The 2015 Ducati Hyperstrada is the touring version of the Ducati Hypermotard. As such, it features the same 821 cc, liquid-cooled V-twin found in both the Hypermotard and the Monster 821. This second-generation, 11-degree Testastretta engine produces 110 horsepower at 9,250 rpm and 65.8 foot-pounds of torque at 7,750 rpm.
The Hyperstrada features the Ducati Safety Pack, which is made up of the eight-level Ducati Traction Control and three-level ABS braking system. The Hyper also comes with three riding modes: Sport, Touring, and Urban. Sport and Touring both access the full 110 horsepower, while Sport sharpens throttle response for a perceived bump in torque. Urban limits power to 75 horsepower and slows throttle response. Each of the riding modes comes with varied preset levels for DTC and ABS, which can also be modified through the bike's computer system accessed through the menu display.
All of the bikes in the Hyper line feature a tubular steel trellis frame married to a die-cast rear sub frame and single-sided swingarm. The Strada's bars have been raised 0.78 inches and now sit behind a little windscreen to help improve comfort on longer rides. The standard seat has been swapped out for Ducati's touring seat, which widens and slopes up at the rear to provide more support. Despite sitting a little lower and flatter, the seat's extra padding means the bike still has a fairly tall 33.5-inch seat height.
Suspension duties are handled by a 43 mm Kayaba inverted fork in front. Out back, the single Sachs shock of the Strada adds spring preload adjustment to the regular Hyper's rebound damping adjustment to help when loaded with a passenger or gear. Front wheel travel has also been reduced from 6.7 inches to 5.9 inches on the Strada to help reduce brake dive, giving the bike a slightly shorter wheelbase of 58.6 inches, compared to the stock 59 inches.
In the braking department, twin 320 mm discs bit by radial-mount, four-piston Brembo Monobloc calipers are fitted up front while a single 245 mm disc and single Brembo caliper grab the rear. The Hyper gets Bosch's ABS 9 system.
The Strada swaps the stock Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires for Pirelli Scorpion Trails. The 180/55-R17 rear and 120/70-R17 front wrap around 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels.
To make the bike more appropriate for touring, the Strada also gets two, 25-liter semi-rigid panniers, a center stand, two 12-volt power outlets, passenger grab handles, an engine sump guard, and extended front and rear mudguards. With a 4.2-gallon fuel capacity, the Ducati Hyperstrada has a wet weight of 419 pounds. It retails for $13,795.
Testing the Hyperstrada
The Hyperstrada found its way into my garage as a last-minute transport option to ride to Monterey, Calif., for the World Superbike round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Long story short, we were supposed to do a different trip with the race as our destination, but fate had other plans and Ducati was kind enough to get me something to ride ASAP, with the added benefit that I was able to use the Ducati Island parking.
I picked up the bike a day before I was set to leave and barely had time to check the tire pressure and toss my RAM iPhone mount on the bars before packing the bike for the ride. The next morning, armed in full leathers and a belly full of bulletproof coffee, I set out on the 5 freeway with the plan of picking up the good stuff on the Grapevine. At Southern California freeway speeds, the Hyper is surprisingly comfortable. It feels tiny compared to the FJ-09 (the one I rode later to Monterey for that other article), but the tiny windscreen does an admirable job at taking the brunt of wind from your chest while letting your helmet sit in clean air. At 85 mph or so, I was surprised how many times I kept searching for an additional gear, especially after how many times the Monster, with the same engine, surprised me by still having one more gear to click into.
I'd heard rumors of a road I hadn't ridden branching out from Gorman (the stop with the cheap gas on top of the Grapevine), and cut morning traffic in no time to gas up before hitting Cuddy Valley road. I was surprised that, after filling up near my house in Santa Ana, the gas light came on at 110 miles on the tank and was downright relieved when I made it to my exit at 130 miles on the tank. Cuddy Valley road cuts up into the Alpine, before dropping you down the backside of the mountains, through the foothills and almost onto desert floor. The pavement up top isn't great, but the banked turns and views they provide are incredible. The lower half opens up as the pavement improves, making way for some really long and fast sweepers. The Hyper in stock form has decent suspension for smooth roads, but the rough stuff on top of the hill was a little confidence-jarring.
I never ride up the coast without a stop at San Luis Obispo's High Street Deli, which meant sitting on the 166 for the better part of an hour trying to make time. You would think an upright, supermoto-style bike would make high-speed riding miserable but, while it's no sport bike with a fairing, I did a little "straight-line top-speed testing" and the Hyper pulled nicely up until 120 mph or so, with the wind only really getting bad above 105 mph.
Since I'd left a day earlier than most for the race, I'd hoped to get a clear run at Highway 1 through Big Sur and into Monterey. While I was right about not many motorcyclists making the trek that day, I was very, very wrong about thinking 2 p.m. was a good time to have some fun on one of the prettiest stretches of road in the country. With limited passing opportunities, I spent most of my afternoon looking at the spinning wheels of tourists' upside down suitcases, seat belted like children in the back of rented Mustang convertibles, rather than corner apexes. The southernmost section is the tightest and I pulled over many times to try to give myself a gap to ride, but after an hour or so I gave up and fell in line.
For the ride home from Monterey, I rode my route in reverse so I could stop and shoot some pictures. With the Big Sur coastline to myself, the Hyperstrada was quite possibly the perfect machine for a route of this length with this many twists and turns. Overall handling actually feels a little too sharp, which was also my complaint with the Monster 796 before Ducati lengthened the bike slightly for the Monster 821. I haven't ridden the regular Hypermotard in years (though I have plans to fix that post-haste), but I don't remember that being an issue with the regular Hyper and I'm fairly certain it's due to the slightly shorter wheelbase.
I know I just got done singing its praises in the Monster 821 review, but this motor is simply wonderful and it's worth repeating. A lot of the forums had complaints about really twitchy clutches making it difficult to get out of first, but the unit I rode was simply flawless. The Touring riding mode is perfect for daily use, while Sport is stupid amounts of fun. There isn't as much low-end torque as a real supermoto, but once you hit 3,000 revs or so, the mid-range powerband is beautiful.
All of the added touring bits do their job far better than expected. The screen went from "you call that a touring screen?" to "why don't more bikes come with a screen like this?" almost immediately. The seat is near perfection, allowing you to move on the bike when hanging off, scoot forward for riding supermoto style, or sit comfortably for hours on end.
The panniers are sort of a hybrid between hard, locking luggage and soft, throw-over saddlebags. The side facing the bike is a rigid plastic while the other half of the clam-shell design is reinforced fabric. Like hard bags, they mount and remove easily, and the Hyperstrada looks clean with the bags removed, with no unsightly brackets. Like soft bags, they close with a zipper, not a latch, and considering some of the latches I've fumbled with lately, I didn't mind that kind of closure at all.
The panniers hold an incredible amount of stuff, engulfing far more than I ever expected, including a full-face helmet. They are stiff enough to stand up to the weight, too, without sagging or making me worry they would break. Of course you don't get the waterproofness of plastic or aluminum panniers, and security is nothing more than putting a small lock on the zipper. But overall, they work well and look good.
The entire braking system is spot on for this bike, when you consider the non-adjustable suspension. The ABS system is one of the least intrusive ones I've ridden and the initial bite and overall stopping power are perfectly capable of slowing the Hyperstrada down quickly. Improving the suspension will help keep the tire on the road better, and allow for more grip as the brakes are applied.
I'm a big fan of the stock exhaust, even if the can looks a little bizarre. I know many people don't care about the exhaust note, but it adds a lot to the experience of ripping around on this machine.
It's a Ducati, so I know someone's going to bring up maintenance, so: 18,641-mile (30,000-kilometer) service interval. Enough said.
There is little wrong with the Hyperstrada. The suspension is the only thing that really keeps this bike from properly eating winding roads for breakfast, but its fork and shock are far better than a lot of other stock bikes. That said, it's still a machine that is purchased with the intent of being ridden hard and fast. Riding is as such will likely require some aftermarket suspension work.
At $13,795, the price also seems a bit high, when you consider possibly upgrading the suspension, but Ducati is known for charging a bit of a premium for their products.
There really isn't much competition for a bike like the Ducati Hyperstrada. The 509-pound, $11,999 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 doesn't feel comparable, but neither does the $10,399, 66-horsepower Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure. The closest competitor is probably the Yamaha FJ-09, which makes similar power, at 115 horsepower and 65 foot-pounds of torque, but weighs 462 pounds before you factor in luggage and rides like a much bigger bike. It retails for $10,490, but you'll have to spend an extra grand if you want the panniers.
Ducati is the only company crazy enough thus far to put touring bits on a lightweight, upright sport bike — which makes them just my kind of crazy.
While it isn't quite the street destroyer that the Hyper SP is, there really isn't much sacrificed by the addition of all the touring amenities — all of which are well thought out and serve their purposes well. At an MSRP of $13,795, the Strada costs $1,600 more than the regular Hyper, which saves you at least $400 over buying the parts and adding them yourself.
Earlier, I pegged the question: Is this a do-it-all bike or will it fail at everything in its attempts to be too much?
Overall, I think the Hyperstrada does an incredible job of delivering on all that's asked from it. It isn't a supermoto, naked, or touring bike, yet it really does excel at all three, as long as your standards aren't too strict. Is it going to crush the competition at the supermoto track? Nope. Will it be the talk of the town in touring forums, where shaft drives reign king? Nuh uh.
However, if you like to ride supermotos but want something that can do a ton of highway miles and you don't mind a little extra fairly well suspended weight, or you want to take the "sport" in sport-touring to the next level, it's just about perfect. My actual ideal would be a Ducati Hyperstrada SP, but I think adding the Strada's panniers, seat, and windscreen to the SP will suffice quite nicely.