Up-Close with the Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

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The Ducati Hypermotard 950 is the third generation of this street-sized supermoto, and in its design, Ducati borrowed heavily from the previous iterations.

As you can see, the mechanics of the 950 machine don’t wander far from the 939 that came before it, and the styling is a modern homage to the lines found on the original 1100 model.

As such, consider the 950 like a greatest hits album from the Hypermotard lineup.

For good measure too, Ducati has included a link between the Hypermotard 950 and the current Multistrada 1260, most notably in the shape of the front “beak” of the motorcycle.

Other touches are familiar to anyone who has spent time with the Ducati motorcycle lineup. The dash is shared with the Monster 821, its interface first debuted on the Panigale V4, and the switches can be found on several other Ducati bikes.

Don’t take this to mean anything negative, I just bring it up to say that the Ducati Hypermotard 950 feels very familiar when you walk up to it. Once you are in motion though, you can tell that this is a Hypermotard that is nothing like its predecessors…or anything else in the Ducati lineup, for that matter.

For our on-track portion of the Ducati Hypermotard 950 review, we were given an SP model with a number of Ducati Performance parts. The Italians clearly wanted us to see what was available in the parts catalog.

This is generally frowned upon by moto-journalists, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t exactly pleased with Ducati’s choice to put a full-system exhaust (and presumably an ECU flash) on a bike for review, but I will give them a tiny sliver of merit to the move.

For example, what became readily apparent on the full-system equipped Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP was that Borgo Panigale was very clever in how it designed the bike’s tail section, especially when it comes to having foresight for what customers would do with the machine.

I am not a huge fan of how the dual-undertail exhaust pipes sit in stock form on this motorcycle, and I was equally unimpressed with the Termignoni slip-on units in the DP catalog, but the single-can high-mount full exhaust looked quite good on the Hypermotard 950.

This is because the tail section was clearly designed to look clean, even when exposed, which isn’t always the case with other brands.

Visually the exhaust works near the swingarm pivot as well, which normally would hold the lunchbox-sized catalytic converter. But instead of a gaping hole, as was the case on the second-generation machines, the Hypermotard 950 fills the space more aptly. It is a little detail, but a relevant one for future buyers.

An element I have less affinity for is the rear tail light assembly, which just sort of dangles off the back of the seat like an afterthought. While it makes a visual link back to the Hypermotard 1100, which anyone steeped in Ducati history will recognize, on its own merits it looks out of place and catches the eye.

I will take the tail section from the Hypermotard 939 SP any day over this, though I imagine if Ducati kept that line from the outgoing model, it would be difficult to visually discern between the two.

Of course, riding the bikes is like a night-and-day difference, thanks primarily to Ducati’s work on the electronics and the revised sitting position. That is perhaps what matters most, on this evolution not revolution model.

That being said though, I am beginning to wonder what Ducati has in store for its fourth-generation Hypermotard. Work on a such a bike has surely already begun back in Bologna on the next machine’s initial brainstorming phase.

Will the Italian brand take a bold new step with this street-hooligan’s design? While I have no issue with the recycled looks of the Ducati Hypermotard 950 – I think it is a very appealing machine visually, and it is a super-fun bike to ride in anger – I long to see Ducati’s designers take some risks again.

I have made before the lament that I wanted a bigger visual change from the Panigale V4 when it debuted, and I think I make it again today.

This iconic company continues to make gorgeous motorcycles, but none of them run the risk of actually having the gravitas of the bikes that made Ducati such an icon. I worry that could become a trend that is unsustainable.

Photo: © 2019 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved