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2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796 Launch

Hyperactive inner city killer

By Tor Sagen, Oct. 14, 2009, Photography by Milagro

Our intrepid road tester Pete Brissette is currently flying back from Bologna, Italy, after riding Ducati's newest street hooligan. But our Euro correspondent has already ridden the Hypermotard 796, so here's a brief taste of what it is like from his perspective. Stay tuned for Pete's full report later this week.

Only two years has passed since Ducati launched the original production Hypermotard, and Ducati is ready with a new 803cc addition to the Hypermotard family.

Ducati told us not to mistake the new 803cc Desmo for just a large-bore 696, emphasising that the Hypermotard 796 powerplant is all new. The Hyper 796 feels a lot more potent than the Monster 696, and with its claimed 81 hp at 8000 rpm and 56.8 ft-lbs of torque at 6250 rpm, it pulls strongly as speeds approach 125 mph. The midrange is what should attract us to the Hyper 796, though, and the acceleration is especially strong from 4000 and up past 6500 rpm. If the front wheel doesnít point sky high at 8000 rpm in first gear, then thatís only due to a careful throttle hand.

Ducati's new Hypermotard 796.

The 796 engine features crankcases that hug the internals closer, saving weight (a full 2.6 pounds compared to the 696) and a high 11:1 compression ratio. Ducati has added a second Lambda probe for finer analysis of the exhaust fumes, providing Ducatiís most fuel-efficient engine to date. To top it all off, the result is also a 7500-mile service interval.

Smaller riders will appreciate the 20mm lower seat on the Hyper 796.

Back on the roads thereís one thing in particular that I like and thatís the feel of the double 305mm Brembo brakes. The 368-lb dry weight contributes, the new 43mm Marzocchi fork contributes, but most of all itís the upright riding position and the opportunity to slide forward in the seat whilst braking for the tightest corners.

The new seat is 20mm lower than on the 1100, and since itís only a re-profiling of the 1100 seat they are interchangeable should you wish a taller seat and visa versa. Ducatiís trademark trellis frame is once again in place, but a re-design of the rear top part of the subframe has resulted in another small weight saving. The chassis that also includes the same single-sided swingarm as the 1100 is as stable and rigid as ever.

My only complaint is that the slightly heavy steering-feel of the front and big-bike turn radius at crawling speed is further away from a supermoto than anything else. The suspension both front and back felt a little soft for my 200 pounds, but only the adjustable Sachs monoshock lost it a couple of times over bumpy surfaces.

The Hyper 796 lives for corners. The front wheel is eager to rise.

The Hyper 796 is a serious riding machine both on corner entry, mid corner and corner exits. The 796 lives for corners and it seems while riding that every single corner was designed for the Hypermotard. The new engine with its smooth power delivery enables a rider to get on the throttle hard very early from great lean angles. Thereís never too much power, and in these tight corners never too little either. The 796 just feels right and itís very easy to get up to speed.

The switchgear and minimalist instrument panel (but with plenty of functions) comes partly from the new Ducati Streetfighter and everything from laptime counter to a handy clock is easily available using only my thumbs.


I always had a soft spot for the Hypermotard since the concept bike of 2005. I canít imagine many bikes more suitable for thrill seekers and urban hell raisers, apart from perhaps the 1100 version. But the fact is that I always thought that the Hypermotard would suit a smaller engine just fine, too, and with the 796 Ducati has done just that.

It did actually surprise me a great deal that Ducati had opted for an all-new engine rather than using the 696, but weíre all better off for it. The 796 has got that not-only-so-little extra over the 696 needed for the baby hooligans out there. If you were one of those people thinking that the Monster 696 was a little on the soft side for an entry-level motorcycle, then the Hyper 796 could well be it. Itís not comfortable, but itís 100% fun.

Highs:    Lows:
  • The 796 engine has got that little extra needed to go ďHyperĒ
  • Lightweight chassis and nearly perfect handling
  • Love it or hate it, but in my book the styling is a plus and also provides that great action riding position
  • A 20mm lower seat height is far from comfortable
  • A slight limitation as the Hyper 796 is only as fun as it is on slower roads

Related Reading
2007 Ducati Hypermotard 1100S
2009 Ducati Streetfighter Review
2009 Ducati Monster 696 Review
All things Ducati on

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