Generally speaking, supermoto (or supermotard) machines are an alternative to high-performance bikes, with a notable difference in rider position: in this case the rider is seated upright, instead of the forward-leaning posture that sport-bikes demand.
That, by itself, lends any supermotard to practical service as an urban performance bike, since it provides greater traffic visibility, in addition to the upright physical comfort. Supermotards also handle poor road conditions better than sportbikes, which further’s their practical application to taming city tarmac. Additionally, their light and nimble frame and handling characteristics not only works well in dense urban traffic, but in tight, twisty, mountain and canyon roads.
If you consider their resemblance to be a cross between a street and dirt bike, you’d be tapping into the supermoto basic lineage going back to 1970’s when the supermoto category was featured as part of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It lost its higher-profile status when that show went away in the mid 80’s. Supermoto racing combines roughly 70% tarmac with about 30% dirt, including small jumps, although the dirt section is not an actual requirement. Hence, the machines themselves have been traditionally customized creations combining both off-road and on-road features, including rims and tires.
Only in recent years have manufacturers begun to offer bikes targeted specifically at this supermoto niche. Ducati is certainly not among the first to capitalize on this trend, but they have forwarded the category with their very able Hypermotard.
Ducati featured its accolade-winning Hypermotard for demo rides at the 2008 Cycle World’s International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, CA and I took advantage of the opportunity.
My Italian Hypermotard engendered an immediate smile under my helmet. It was comfortable, confident, entertaining, enthusiastic and just plain fun.
Ducati’s Hypermotard comes in two flavors: the Hypermotard 1100 and, an advanced ‘S’ version (Hypermotard 1100 S) which is a little lighter (390 lbs dry weight compared to 395), and includes an enhanced suspension.
Those Italians seem to know a thing or two about making life more enjoyable….