Throughout my time spent riding various motorcycles over the past 3 decades, I have come across various makes of supermotard or enduro-based motorcycles ranging from Honda, Kawasaki, KTM and Husqvarna, as well as those from Ducati. I find these bikes to be agile particularly at twisty roads where they could be as fast as the more powerful naked sports and sportsbikes of 600cc and above despite having less outright horsepower.

Their ability to keep up with the more powerful bikes come from their lighter chassis and compact design, providing an advantage in terms of power-to-weight ratio in performance overall. While naked sports and sportsbikes have better acceleration and top-speed on highways and tracks, old twisty roads with short-range S-curves give those Hypermotard bikes, as they are popularly called, the edge over the former two types.

I have seen a few examples of riders on 800cc/1,000cc naked sports and sportsbikes being humbled or trying to keep up with their counterparts riding those Hypermotard machines during weekend rides on twisty tarmacs. This doesn’t mean the naked/sportsbikes aren’t able to best the Hypermotard bikes as riding skill (or lack of) plays an important part too.

I had my first experience riding a Supermotard-level motorcycle back in 2013 with the Ducati Hyperstrada 821, which is the tourer version of the then Ducati Hypermotard 821, both of which shared the same engine and chassis design, with the former having the advantage of being fitted with its exclusively-designed soft panniers. But the opportunity to review the Hypermotard 821 was dashed as the bike sprung a massive oil leakage and had to be sent back to Bologna to rectify.

With my schedule mostly full for reviewing other makes of motorcycles most of the time, I didn’t check back on the availability of the Hypermotard 821 thereafter, and it was pretty much “outdated” by the time Ducati had announced the successor siblings – Hyperstrada 939 and Hypermotard 939 during EICMA Show 2015 in Milan, updated with increased engine capacity and Euro4 specifications.

I had the Hyperstrada 939 for 4-1/2 days, and the first 3 days were mostly spent carving out ¾ of the known twisty roads I am familiar with, located in the state of Selangor and northeast of Negeri Sembilan. By the late afternoon in the 3rd day, I had the opportunity of riding the Hypermotard 939 in the rain within the city.

The Hypermotard 939 is absolutely perfect for the situation as its lightweight and compact design means lane filtering wasn’t an issue during traffic congestion in the dry or wet weather condition. Riding mode set to “RAIN” means the powerband is made smoother and less aggressive for the slippery tarmac, with the default Pirelli Diablo Rosso II pretty much takes cares of any tendency to slip with the assistance of the TC.

Powered by the new Testastretta 11° V-Twin engine with 110 hp available, the standard Hypermotard 939 comes with electronic aids like Riding Mode technology, Power Modes and the Ducati Safety Pack with ABS and Traction Control, the Ducati makes riding in every city, town and twisty road a real delight to ride. The seat height is 870mm, which is not tall for a rider with my 180cm height, and the overall wet weight is only 204kg on a tank load of fuel.

There is one feature “missing” from this Hypermotard 939 – quickshifter. The unit released to the motorcycling media for review ride is the standard version, which lacks the feature. It is available for Hypermotard 939 SP model, which I won’t be reviewing here. My style of riding, I prefer the manual way of changing gears as opposed to having a quickshifter (QS). That’s me. I am not against quickshifting as it is definitely an advantage the Hypermotard 939 should have but I am just the type of rider that usually relied on the traditional style of downshifting the gears using the clutch although I like how it can be done seamlessly for shifting forward.

However, agile as it is, the excitement turned a little lackluster the moment I rode the Hypermotard 939 out of the city/twisty tarmacs into a 3-lane highway as the lack of outright acceleration could immediately be felt lacking. This is not to say the bike couldn’t accelerate fast – it can but having just completed several review rides on bikes from Team Green the previous weeks, the difference on acceleration are immediately obvious.

And it is also quite obvious for the Hypermotard 939’s lackluster acceleration when trying to overtake either a 10-wheeler truck or an express bus doing above 90km/h on the straights of a single lane road. An inline four naked/sportsbike would have no issue doing that in a breeze. That aside, the Hypermotard 939 returns to its agility and nimble performance once it is back on twisty segments.

Riding up to the top of Genting Highlands Resort as opposed to the usual big bikers’ current preferred stopover at the midway point of Goh Tong Jaya township, I find the winding and steeper ascent didn’t slow the Hypermotard 939 at all. In fact, its acceleration, while not that amazing for the highway, is torquey and splendid for the task of bringing me up to the said resort area. And riding back to the midway point of Goh Tong Jaya was just a matter of engaging either 2nd or 3rd gear, permitting me to reach the destination without resorting to any form of braking, something all cars did for the same downward flow, making the air on the hilly atmosphere smelling of burned/overheating brake pads all the time.

Another surprise from the Hypermotard 939, being a V-Twin, is its fuel consumption – approximately the same as an inline four 1,000cc sportsbike. It is one litre short of the common 17-litre capacity found in most sportsbikes, which is 16-litre but the amount of fuel load permits a mileage of approximately 260km or less when it is utilized on high torque, aggressive motard-style riding, and up to 300km in cruising mode.

I think the fuel consumption is fair, given the superb performance on twisty roads and city traffic maneuvering. After all, majority of riding is accomplished in such conditions as there’s very few riders enjoy enduring long straights like PLUS Highway for hundreds of kilometres with no twisty segments.

You can’t go wrong with choosing the Hypermotard 939 as your weekend riding pleasure. Or as a daily comminuting motorcycle.

Posted by Philip Chong

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