Ducati Hyperstrada Review | Curious Crossover

Ducati looks to create another segment with its unique Hyperstrada

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada

Ducati has done well for itself by continually creating new models from existing platforms over the years. So when the latest-generation Hypermotard—in both standard and SP versions—debuted to rave reviews, including from SR 's own Bradley Adams ("Double Threat," June 2013), we expected that Ducati was going to figure out another way to utilize the new 821cc liquid-cooled desmo engine and steel-tube trellis frame with singlesided swingarm. But we have to admit we weren't expecting the Hyperstrada in 2013.

Billed by Ducati as “a unique and innovative motorbike, which represents a kind of ‘crossover’ between the Motard world and that of Touring,” the Hyperstrada attempts to straddle the gap between those two radically different motorcycling genres. The second-generation Testastretta 11° engine (with the eight-level DTC and three riding modes) and chassis (with adjustable ABS) from the Hypermotard transition to the Hyperstrada unchanged, with most of the differences centering on the ergonomics and extra touring-oriented accessories that come standard on the ’Strada.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada
Risers built into the mounts raise the tubular handlebar 20mm for better long-range comfort; ditto for the tall fly screen attached to the instrument panel/headlight assembly.

The tubular handlebar is raised by 20mm, and a much flatter and more supportive seat aids in longer riding stints (unfortunately the seat height still remains a rather lofty 33.5 inches due to the thicker foam). A fairly tall fly screen sits atop the headlight assembly/instrument panel to help deflect some wind off the rider, and two 50-liter-capacity semi-hard saddlebags attach to the rear subframe, with a wider grab rail for the passenger and two 12-volt outlets for accessories. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires of the Hypermotard get swapped for Scorpion Trail rubber on the Hyperstrada, plus a centerstand is added. And the 43mm inverted Showa fork on the Hyperstrada has reduced wheel travel (from 6.7 down to 5.9 inches, ostensibly to help lessen front-end dive), which is partially responsible for the slight decrease in wheelbase from the Hypermotard’s 59.1 inches to 58.7 inches on the Hyperstrada.

With the tall seat height and saddlebags on the rear, the centerstand is a nice aid to mounting the Hyperstrada; it’s embarrassingly easy to catch your foot on the outer saddlebag. Speaking of the saddlebags, they are semi-rigid (the fabric is reinforced with plastic) and hold more than they look; opening and closing is via a double zipper, and the attachment/detachment process takes a little practice.

Firing up the twin-cylinder engine reveals a somewhat muted rumble from the single exhaust, and both the throttle and clutch action are very light. In fact, the clutch turned out to be our biggest gripe with the Hyperstrada; when warmed up, the clutch action was extremely grabby—it would suddenly slip and then grab harshly enough when taking off from a stop that you were always dealing with either a stalled engine or unintentional wheelie. With the Sport mode’s aggressive early throttle opening parameters, it was nearly impossible to avoid this problem; in Touring mode, it was a bit easier but still a major annoyance. Ducati tried giving us another Hyperstrada test unit, and its clutch behaved the same way.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada
Semi-hard saddlebags (made from a reinforced textile fabric) have 50-liter capacity. Although the attachment system is keyed to the ignition key (attach/detach takes some practice), closure is by zipper.

Once underway, the Ducati’s engine is a joy to play with. There’s not a whole lot of low-end torque, but it swiftly picks up into a very wide and usable midrange that is surprisingly strong for an 821cc twin. In Sport mode the engine’s lower midrange livens up quite a bit though at the expense of fairly abrupt throttle response; Touring mode requires a bit more throttle turn but offers smoother response, allowing you to make better use of the revvy nature of the engine. The Ducati continues to make good power up to about 9,500 rpm where it starts to tail off before hitting the soft rev limiter at 10,500 rpm.

For having nonadjustable suspension up front and just (remote) spring preload and rebound adjustment out back, the Hyperstrada handled the twisty stuff impressively well in addition to maintaining a decent ride over straight-line superslab. With a wide handlebar offering plenty of leverage over an already nimble-steering chassis, the ’Strada can make shockingly good time up a tight and gnarled canyon road. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires offer decent traction overall, but when pushed, their edge grip is lacking—which is probably a good thing, as ground clearance on the Ducati is good but not great with pegs and centerstand grinding into the tarmac pretty quickly (and there are no peg feelers, so hard parts will soon follow if you’re not careful).

Braking from the Brembo monoblock/radial-mount calipers and 320mm discs up front was exemplary, especially considering the nonadjustable front suspension and ABS being in the mix. Overall response was crisp without being too grabby, and when set on level 1, the activation threshold was high enough that you can bleed off plenty of speed very quickly without ABS intervention. Even so, the ABS cycling is fairly quick once engaged, providing reasonably transparent action.

The tall fly screen keeps the windblast from being completely obtrusive at highway speeds, but you won’t be on the road for too long anyway with the Hyperstrada’s 4.2-gallon fuel tank, which limited us to about 140 miles per tankful on average. Also, while the seat provides decent comfort, its forward slope forces you into a particular position with very little fore/ aft movement options.

There’s no doubt the Ducati Hyperstrada is a fun bike, but the limitations forced by its basic platform mean it occupies a very narrow niche in the US market. Can the unique machine find its place in America? Time will tell.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada

Specifications

MSRP: $13,495
ENGINE
Type: Liquid-cooled, 90°, DOHC V-twin, 4 valves/cyl.
Displacement: **821cc
**Bore x stroke:
88.0 x 67.5mm
Compression ratio: 12.8:1
Induction: Magneti Marelli EFI, 52mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
CHASSIS
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail
Rake/trail: 25.5°/4.1 in. (104mm)
Wheelbase: 58.7 in. (1490mm)
Seat height: 33.5 in. (850mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.2 gal. (16L)
Weight: 445 lb. (202kg) wet; 419 lb. (190kg) dry

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