By Marissa Baecker
Walking out into the afternoon sun with my suitcase and bags, I headed straight for the signature red compact sport touring machine with the unmistakable front-end beak that only Ducati is known for.
Right there on the sidewalk of West Hollywood, I unzipped the two semi-stiff side-panniers fully expecting to play a game of Tetris trying to fit the contents of my suitcase within their unique shape but was surprised instead to be loading miniature waterproof sailor sacks, that when sealed, form handles for carrying.
With 50 litres of space, I managed to pack clothing, toiletries, hair appliances and even three pairs of shoes and with the addition of a cargo net easily fixed on to the rear grab bars, my camera bag became my passenger. A top pannier is an available accessory if you are riding two-up.
Once seated on the 33.5” – 32.7” adjustable touring saddle, I turned the key and began to navigate my way around the digital dash. Across the top of the white-lit screen, and below the analog warning lights, numbers 0 through 12 marking RPM. Other display items included ABS, gears, speedometer, time and riding modes all scanned through while stationary or on the fly with a push of a button, as well as Trip 1 and Trip 2, engine temperature, fuel consumption, journey time and traction control.
Even though this was my first experience on the Ducati Hyperstrada, under the tour package of ABS brakes, Ducati Traction Control and windshield was the pocket rocket of the Hypermotard I had ridden a few years back. As familiar as this dirt bike inspired ride with extended ground clearance was, it is packing new heat. Housed in the tubular steel trellis frame stood an 821 cc Testastretta 11° water-cooled, L-Twin, 4-valve engine producing 110HP at 9,250 rpm – translation – a lot of power for a compact ride that weighs in wet at 450 lb. (204kg).
Upside down 43mm front forks and adjustable spring preload and rebound damping monoshock rear absorb those bumps. Beefy Pirrelli Scorpion Trail 120/70 ZR17 tyre set on 10-spoke light alloy 3.5” x 17” in the front and 180/55 ZR17 tyre on 5.5” x 17” 10-spoke light alloy in the rear. This speed demon comes to a halt with two 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo calipers.
After a quick peak into the 16l (4.2 gallon) fuel tank (a fuel guage is noticeably absent on the digital dash although an analog warning light does appear) and then a quick helmet and glove adjustment, I exited the side street into mid afternoon traffic like a hare in a sea of turtles with that distinct Ducati braaaaap from the exhaust.
Re-acquainting myself with the now Hyperstrada, I recalled jokes about buck teeth and whiplash when referencing torque and compression. Thoughts I entertained off the lights before stopping at the next block and barely into second gear.
This bike was built for sweeping bends, tight hairpins and roads you visualize in the countryside of Tuscany, not the gridlock of Beverly Hills and Hollywood traffic heading for the freeway at the end of a working afternoon. Here is where the separate riding modes come in handy to adjust the bike to its present conditions.
The Ride-by-Wire system offers three separate engine mappings to adjust torque and power – Sport mode offers 110 hp with high torque, Touring offers 110 HP with medium torque or you can tone it down for the city with Urban at 75 hp and low torque. Eight levels of adjustable Ducati Traction Control, three of which are integrated into each of the separate riding modes, will fine tune this ride to its rider.
By the time I reached the not so beaten path, I was making my way through the six-speed transmission and had settled into touring mode having managed to find those sweeping curves as I ascended and descended the multiple hillsides eventually settling in the ‘zone’ as the sun projected that evening glow.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, so did the temperature and despite hard grip shields on the bars, I found myself scanning the buttons and dash for heated grips (an available option) or seat which have previously spoiled me, but they were no where to be found. There is, however, two 12V power outlets below the rider’s seat for heated riding gear, intercom, mobile battery charger or GPS and as I had none of the above – I called it a day, checked into a hotel, and ate pizza in a hot bath. Talk about living!
The size and ease of operation make the Hyperstrada a desireable bike for the ladies but with all that power and agility, it is a hot ticket item for the men as well and comes in at about $14,000, with an unlimited mileage, 24 month guarantee.