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A little over 10 months ago, we brought you the first news about KTM’s planned mid-sized lineup, with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer spilling the beans that his company was working on a new 500cc twin-cylinder platform.

Now it seems, the first of these “490” models is getting close to prime time, and we can expect five motorcycles in total to come from this new parallel-twin lineup.

If you are a loyal reader of Asphalt & Rubber, then you know that we love us some supermoto motorcycles. As such, we bring you today the only factory-built race-ready supermoto for the next model year. Say hello to the 2020 Husqvarna FS 450.

Before you put your 2019 model up for sale, we should note that the changes for the 2020 model year aren’t terribly large.

The Husqvarna FS 450 got a pretty good update last year, with more torque and less weight (thanks to the changes made to Husqvarna’s 450cc motocross bike), so the 2020 machine remains at a claimed 63hp and 220 lbs without fuel.

We knew it was coming, a supermoto version of KTM’s 790 platform. The KTM 790 Duke filled the streetfighter niche quite well, and the KTM 790 Adventure has similarly blown the doors off the ADV market, and now the Austrian brand is looking to give hooligan riders something fun for the street.

As such, spy photos have spotted what is being called the KTM 790 SMC in action, likely testing outside the city limits of Salzburg, Austria.

Readers should remember that the maxi-motard segment isn’t a large one, with the Ducati Hypermotard 950 being really the main player in the space.

The Italian bike has long been a niche machine in Borgo Panigale’s lineup, but this latest edition has been a strong seller for Ducati, which shows the changing tastes of motorcyclists.

When it comes to attractive motorbikes, we have devoted some critical pixels towards the folks at Zero Motorcycles. Let’s be frank, the design side of the equation hasn’t historically been the brand’s strong suit. The company is making progress, however.

Now, when it comes to custom motorcycles, there has been a quiet resistance to using electric models as starting points for creation, though occasionally we see an electron-powered machine at a bike show that captures our attention.

Today though, we see the happy merger of those two thoughts, with this Zero FX custom supermoto by Huge Design, which debuted this weekend at the The One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon, and was easily our favorite bike at the show. 

It was 12 years ago that Ruben Xaus became internet-famous for a photo that depicted him sliding a Ducati Hypermotard 1100 into a turn, thumb up in the air triumphantly…like a boss. It was an unbelievable sight, both figuratively and literally.

Back in the day, I would often see comments on the photo that speculated what the next shot looked like. Bike tumbling through the gravel, a yard sale of parts? The rider in a stretcher on the way to the hospital, after it all went horribly wrong?

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.

Since 2008, there has been a unique motorcycle nestled into Ducati’s lineup, and it is called the Hypermotard.

Too big and heavy to be considered a proper supermoto, too tall to be considered a true sport bike, and too on-road focused to be considered a capable adventure-tourer, the Ducati Hypermotard has resided in its own category, with few direct competitors.

Instead, the Hypermotard gets compared to a large range of motorcycle models, likely because the Italians have positioned this maxi-moto to have attributes from a large cross-section of two-wheeled fun….and having fun is what the Hypermotard is all about.

The Hypermotard is a two-wheeled hooligan machine that was born to wheelie, jump, and slide, and throughout the model’s history, one maxim has remained true: if you are not having fun a Hypermotard, then you are probably doing it wrong.

And now, 2019 sees Ducati bringing a new iteration to the lineup, the Hypermotard 950. A clean-slate machine, virtually every part of the new Hypermotard has been changed from the pervious 939 model, making this the third generation of the Hypermotard line.

That being said though, the ethos of the Hypermotard 950 is an evolution, not a revolution over the outgoing Hypermotard 939. This is because Borgo Panigale has listened to its customer base while designing the Ducati Hypermotard 950, but also wisely kept the bike close to its roots.

The design is a modern riff on the original Terblanche design for the Hypermotard 1100; the package shares many attributes first seen on the 821/939 generation; and the overall fit and feel has been brought inline with the rest of the Ducati lineup.

All-in-all, when it comes to big liquid-cooled supermotos for the road, the Ducati Hypermotard 950 is at the top of the heap. In fact, it might just be the most fun you can have on the street with two wheels. Let me explain.

Hello from from the Canary Islands, where we have the curious reality of being in both Europe and Africa at the exact same time (the islands are politically part of Spain, and thus the European Union, but sit on the African continental shelf).

A winter retreat for Europeans, the archipelago provides a temperate climate for the elderly, and year-round riding for motorcyclists. As such, we are here to shred some tires, and we will be doing that the press launch for the new Ducati Hypermotard 950.

Ducati has for us a two-part program: a street ride and a half-day of riding on the track, which should help us to evaluate both the base model Hypermotard 950, as well as the up-spec Hypermotard 950 SP.

A motorcycle that is near and dear to this author’s heart, as the two previous models ended up in my garage as personal bikes, bought with my hard-earned blogging dollars, we will be especially keen to see if Ducati has retained the unique character of this plus-sized supermoto, while also refining some of its gremlins.

I would hate to work in KTM’s press department back in Austria, mostly because KTM CEO Stefan Pierer seems to be quite difficult to corral – he always seems to be spilling company secrets.

This reality is great for us, however, as there is never a shortage of juicy gossip to report from the “Ready to Race” brand, and this week has been no exception.

We already reported on Pierer’s vocalization about his desires to own the Ducati brand, which certainly caused a stir in the motorcycle industry these past few days.

Now we have more news from Pierer’s interview with Germany’s Speedweek magazine, with the CEO dishing details on the company’s plans in the middleweight categories.