There’s no hiding from the fact that the Hypermotard is a very tall bike and this has previously been a strong deterrent for the vertically challenged.
While the seat height remains at a lofty 870mm, the seat width has been trimmed by a significant 52mm (partly thanks to a new trellis subframe), which gives a much narrower standover – and for the first time in a while, I was able to place both feet firmly on the floor (I’m 5ft11in, 6ft in my boots).
Numbers aside, the seat is also flatter and comfier than the old 939’s, which makes everyday chores and moving around the bike far easier.
Major emphasis was put on the new 950’s weight loss, shedding a little over 4kg compared to the hardly-lardy 939. It’s been achieved via a host of nips and nucks, including the trellis frame tubing thickness being reduced from 3mm to 2.5mm, which alone shaves off 1kg, while new magnesium engine cases lose another 1.5kg.
I’m not going to pretend that a 4kg weight loss is particularly noticeable, because it isn’t – but there’s no doubt the 950 corners better at committed speeds and feels less awkward mid-corner.
The chassis geometry is identical to the 939’s, so we can only assume the culmination of a diet, softer suspension (with new aluminium fork tubes) and improved ergonomics are collectively responsible.
The Hypermotard still requires an idiosyncratic riding style and prefers standard supermotard techniques; braking hard, scrubbing off speed at the apex, and firing out using its insane grunt on tap.
Some bemoaned the lack of brake feel but that’s just a by-product of soft suspension and more-than-decent stopping power overloading the front-end. That said, the 950 lapped up some rear brake to help the bike turn, especially attacking downhill corners.
In an archetypal Ducati move, the Hypermotard gets fresh digits in its title (950 rather than 939) but the engine capacity remains the same at 937cc.
Headline figures emphasise a 4bhp increase over the 939 thanks to new pistons, a higher compression ratio, new cam profiling and larger 53mm throttle bodies – but it’s the way in which it makes its power that’s so arousing.
Ducati claim the 950 delivers 82% of its torque at 3000rpm, so no wonder the revised Testastretta feels so lively at the bottom-end and tangibly more responsive than the 939.
It’s actually lost a little peak torque, sacrificing it for a flatter and earlier-starting torque curve. It’s so punchy that the top-end rarely needs exploiting thanks to the pandemonium that’s unleashed beneath. You also have to praise the electronic lords for anti-wheelie, as – ridden aggressively – you’d be looping it or resting in a jail cell by teatime otherwise.
The internet is awash with claims of electrical gremlins apparently haunting the previous incarnation – but Ducati engineers told me the new ECU has solved these calibration issues.
The Hypermotard 950 is an expensive machine that isn’t overly practical, however it never pretends to be. The SP’s £3300 extra wedge is an even harder cost to justify, however
You’re instantly greeted with a new Panigale V4-inspired TFT dash that certainly adds some glamour to the 950’s cockpit. And, as well as de rigueur Ducati Traction Control, Wheelie Control and Bosch Cornering ABS, the 950 now features the same Slide by Brake technology previously reserved for the Panigale V4.
The system essentially allows the use of an overeager rear brake by permitting 10° of slide before electronic intervention – via the Bosch IMU – brings the slide back under control. Sounds great for motard madness, right?
Maybe, but more experienced riders will prefer the conventional method of backing it in using engine braking, as the tech often intrudes and disrupts your fluidity. Also worth noting is that the ABS cannot be disabled in any mode.
All is controlled via the switchgear and full-colour 4.3in TFT dash, through which you can also select from three rider modes.