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Motoring: Twist the throttle

Test driving the new Ducati Hypermotard for the ultimate riding experience.

Sunday 16 August 2015, 08:00AM


Mention Ducati to your wife and she will say, “Oh, that’s the new dark gourmet chocolate isn’t it? Or is it a new premium Italian spaghetti?”

But for bikers, Ducati is the high-performance cum racing motorbike marques, par excellence.

In 1926 Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his three sons, Adriano, Marcello, and Bruno Cavalieri Ducati; founded Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati. The company produced radio components.

In the 1940s the Ducati brothers started manufacturing a bicycle-like moped, the Cucciolo (Italian for “puppy”), powered by a dinky 48 cc engine.

Through the decades Ducati ownership changed hands many times. Today the brand is part of the premium automotive Volkswagen Group that builds and sells coveted passenger and sports car brands such as Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda, and Volkswagen.

In Thailand, Ducatisti Co., Ltd., is the authorised distributor of Ducati motorcycles, founded in 2002 by Apichat Leenutaphong. Ducatisti offers a full range of services for Ducati aficionados across the Kingdom, including sales, service, accessories and apparel, spare parts, plus Ducati-certified pre-owned motorcycles, as well as comprehensive rider training
through the “Ducati Riding Experience”.

Currently, Ducati boasts three showrooms in Bangkok: Thong Lor, Rama III, and the flagship showroom, Ducati Vibhavadi, the biggest Ducati outlet in Asia. To cope with recent demand in high-performance motorbikes, Ducati showroom and service centres are now in Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Phuket and Pattaya. The Ducati Phuket showroom is at 51/23 Moo 2 Chaofa West Road in Vichit. Tel. 076 524-633.

The current Ducati model line-up consists of Diavel, Superbike, Streetfighter, Monster, Multistrada, and Hypermotard.

We recently took the Ducati Hypermotard for a city and weekend-leisure test ride.

First the look. The Ducati Hypermotard styling is aggressive, the attitude, the stance. Just look at the tough tubular steel trellis frame, the eye-piercing Ducati metallic red tank, and the oversized exhaust pipes.

The original dirt bike-inspired styling has become even more daring thanks to the visibly higher ground clearance, the high and tapered tail, and the narrow sides. Although maintaining the typical hand protectors of off-road models, the new Hypermotard offers redesigned rear-view mirrors in order to blend in perfectly with the model’s new clean design and the need to use it in the city.

The Ducati Hypermotard is powered by an 821-cc, liquid-cooled Testastretta V-twin engine mated to a 6-speed gearbox. The bike comes with high-performance Brembo brakes. There are three riding modes (Race, Sport, and Wet) and ride-by-wire throttle control. Safety comes with ABS brakes and Ducati Traction Control. The bike is mounted on 10-spoke wheels and Italian cool 17-inch Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres.

Our test rider, Yaser Farook, is an experienced biker and owner of several big motorcycles including a Kawasaki Z 1000. He was impressed as we entered the showroom at the Thailand Ducati HQ on Vibhavadi Rangsit, between Suthisan intersection and the Thai Airways skyscraper. “This is trendy, concept driven. Totally superbike ambience. Lots of branding. I have never seen a bike showroom like this in Thailand,” says Farook.

Phuket Property

Here all the cool Ducatis are displayed, from the evil-looking Diavel Dark to the superbike 1199 Panigale R (Racing). But, first we need a coffee, a cappuccino and a double espresso, served in the bespoke Ducati cafeteria.

Outside the Ducati Hypermotard, the bike is tanked up and ready. First an in-depth briefing by one of the showroom technicians and ignition on. “Listen. Isn’t that awesome?” says Farook. The unmistakable sound of Ducati is a symphony of internal combustion. Our test rider puts on his gloves and helmet. Visor down. He throttles, up shifts to 1st and 2nd gear, and disappears into the dense Bangkok traffic.

Circa 45 minutes later at the Ducati showroom in Thong Lor, Sukhumvit 55, the new Hypermotard arrives. “All the way from Vibhavadi Rangsit. A lot of zig-zagging in the chock-a-bloc Friday traffic. This is not for novice riders. But for the experienced biker the Ducati is easy to handle in spite of the massive torque, and the stopping power is awesome, brembo power,” says Farook with a big smile.

Me the ghost writer, I am off in my Japanese city car as the ghost rider Farook exits the service centre out to Phetchaburi road.

The next day, Farook at the handlebars and his wife riding pillion, went for a road trip down to Samut Sakhon and Phetchaburi. Weekend touring, perfect Ducati riding environment.

Conclusion:

“My expectations were sky high for the Hypermotard. The 821-cc engine is amazing. It’s a bike close to my heart in concept, and Ducati did such a great job on the design and the engineering. So even though it’s demanding at slow speed city handling, it is still manageable, provided you have some big bike experience. But the real thrill is out on the high-speed stretches outside Bangkok.

More throttle, less brake plus that spine-tingling exhaust,” explains Farook.

“Furthermore, Ducati Hypermotard has got tons of street credibility. It oozes of Italian superbike DNA. I love it and yes, I would buy one tomorrow! Trust me.”

“Yes, Ducati’s new Hypermotard passed the test on the provincial highways and even the crowded Bangkok streets with flying colours,” says Yaser Farook big bike test rider, who is now back riding his green, mean Kawasaki Z 1000 killer machine – but he seriously considers buying a Ducati Hypermotard and his wife, she knows, Ducati is Italian. Chocolate No! Superbike Yes!

Ducati Hypermotard
Engine: Liquid-cooled 821cc L-twin Testastretta
Output: 110 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Brakes: ABS equipped, 4-piston Brembo monobloc calipers
Kerb weight: 175 kg
Price: B499,900

                                                                                   

                                                                                                   John Lindgren
                                                                                                   john@carsanook.com

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