At just 15 years old the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 is already considered an iconic motorcycle – particularly by those who owned one. Here, Kurt looks back at Ducati’s original Supermoto.
It’s the dawn of the 1980s.
Eddie Lawson is lining up on a two-stroke Yamaha 490 next to Bubba Shobert on a Harley Davidson XR750 dirt tracker.
They’re waiting for the flag to drop on a racetrack in Carlsbad, California that starts on clean pavement before quickly degrading into a full-on motocross track complete with tall jumps and high-speed berms.
Looking back from the present, our first thought is “What the hell am I about to witness?”
The straightforward answer is that you’re watching the final heat of a largely forgotten racing series called “The Superbikers” which pitted road racers, motocrossers, and flat trackers against one another in some of the most outrageous racing ever to grace television screens.
Organized chaos. Huge wheelies. Knobby tires chattering wildly as they’re backed into paved hairpin turns. Harley Davidsons in flight. Honestly, they need to bring it back.
The historically-significant answer, however, is that you’re watching the dawn of what would eventually become supermoto racing, and in a deeper sense, you’re also watching the conception of one of Ducati’s most beloved, thrilling models of all time: The Hypermotard 1100.
Unfortunately the racing series sputtered out in the US due to low ratings (HOW???), but those who had witnessed and ridden in “The Superbikers” knew there was something special there.
Pure thrills, just for the hell of it.
Eight words which also happen to sum up what the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 brought back to motorcycling at its launch in 2006.
Ducati Hypermotard History
Before Federico Minoli resigned as CEO of Ducati in 2007, he left the motorcycling world with a parting gift by signing off on the production of what we now know as the Hypermotard 1100.
The Ducati Hypermotard 1100 was designer Pierre Terblanche’s love letter to everything that an exhilarating motorcycle should be.
Tall seat. Wide bar. No wind protection. Big-honkin’-noisy-air-cooled V-Twin. Ducati red.
The Hypermotard 1100 was initially launched in two trim levels (the base 1100, and the higher-spec 1100 S), and took home the “best in show” award at its unveiling at the EICMA trade show in Milan.
While many of the core components of the two machines are identical, the 1100S received some premium performance upgrades including an Ohlins rear shock, forged Marchesini wheels, Brembo Monobloc brake calipers borrowed from the new 1098 superbike, and a smattering of carbon fiber parts from the fork guards to the timing belt covers.
Only minor updates were made to the Hypermotard until 2010, when the 1100 “EVO” was announced.
The new models (1100 EVO and 1100 EVO SP) both received updates to the engine and fuel injection systems, updated forks and rear shocks, and a more than 10-pound weight reduction thanks to vacuum-cast casings and lighter engine internals.
The rowdiest supermoto on the planet just kept getting rowdier.
Then, without warning, Ducati axed the 1100 in 2012 and announced it would be succeeded by a “new and improved” Hypermotard… 820?
Ducati promised huge leaps in technology, with ride-by-wire throttle, 8-stage traction control, and ABS.
…and a touring model?
The new bike was wheeled out to a crowd of shaking heads and disappointment.
Enthusiasts of the original Hypermotard 1100 threw their hands up in frustration, and even watching Nicky Hayden put the upmarket 820 SP model through its paces around the racetrack somehow wasn’t enough to soften the blow.
The 820 was too… modern.
Essentially everything that Ducati redesigned, replaced, or threw out completely were the parts that had made the original Hyper such a unique bike.
It had an oil-cooled motor for the fun of it.
It had a dry clutch for the fun of it (also to reduce weight, but still, ya know?).
It had dual underseat exhausts because dual underseat exhausts are cool.
It had Ducati character.
Which the 820, for all its research and development, just didn’t.
I know because I went and test rode one the month it was released.
Yes, it was fast (it’s a motorcycle), it was fun (still a motorcycle), and it was well-equipped… but it just didn’t do it for me.
And a bottomless pit of enthusiasts on forums like Ducati.ms all seem to agree. The new generation just didn’t deliver the thrills or the lovable quirks of the outgoing model.
The Ducati Hypermotard 1100 was gone, but far from forgotten.
Ducati Hypermotard 1100 Performance
With the exception of the sub-400-pound weight, the Hypermotard 1100 actually looks pretty mild on paper, especially compared with sportbikes of the same era.
Even the higher-performing EVO models were quoted at 95 horsepower and 76 ft-lbs of torque, nowhere near its 1098 stablemate’s 160 ponies, but sheer power just isn’t what the Hypermotard 1100 is all about.
The Hyper is just here for a good time. It may even take on a service road or two. And yea, it’ll wheelie there too, punk.
The secret sauce of the Hypermotard 1100 was largely the motor itself, which made torque everywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 RPM, and did it all without any serious rider aids (another feature that somehow adds to the fun of the bike and gives it an unapologetic hooligan feel).
Add to that fantastic V-Twin engine a wide handlebar, Brembo monobloc brakes, high seat height, and fantastic suspension on every trim level right out of the box, and you’re going to have a real problem on public roads keeping your driver’s license in good standing.
There’s really no way to properly ride this motorcycle that isn’t downright rowdy.
And that’s exactly what Ducati set out to accomplish.
Buying An Original Ducati Hypermotard 1100
Finding an original Hypermotard 1100 in good shape isn’t too terribly difficult, although they’re getting a lot less common than they used to be.
Good news for potential buyers, these bikes are well-loved and owners tend to take meticulous care of them even if they do beat them like rental cars on every backroad they can find.
I was able to find five available for purchase in the States at the time of this posting, and although none of them were within 500 miles of me, they were all exceptionally clean and up to date on their service, including the costly belt replacements (which are required every two years or 15,000 miles) and yearly valve services these bikes require.
Speaking of cost, the Hypermotard 1100 and 1100S models are both still great values for the money, with multiple examples well under the 20,000-mile mark ranging from $5,500 and $8,500 depending on just how clean and well-outfitted they are.
Occasionally, due to the “thrilling” nature of these bikes, you’ll likely come across an absolute steal on one that has been dropped and rashed up a bit, but otherwise is in great working order.
That’s because many second-hand owners can afford to buy a used Hypermotard 1100, and maybe even keep up with the factory service, but far fewer are willing to put their money down to replace plastics and other costly parts once they’ve been damaged. It can add up quick.
And that’s where our next topic comes in…
Restoring a Ducati Hypermotard 1100
While the Hypermotard 1100 is a strong contender for future classic, it really isn’t old enough at this point to have caught on as such.
Considering that the 1100 range ran from 2006 to 2012, even the oldest bikes are still comparatively modern, and parts interchangeability between all models is largely plug-and-play.
That means restoring one should be a breeze compared to your average classic, and the cost doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive either.
Just about every single OEM part can still be found and purchased new online, and there’s also a healthy second-hand market for Hypermotard 1100 parts on sites like eBay if you prefer not to pay brand-new prices.
Is The Hypermotard 1100 A Good Investment?
The Ducati Hypermotard 1100 is a great motorcycle from an enthusiast’s perspective, but it’s honestly tough to say whether they will ever be a good investment from a collector’s standpoint.
Ducati seems to have taken note of the sentiment of Hypermotard fans on how far the apple had fallen from the 1100 tree, and all the reviews of the latest 950 version say it rivals the rowdiness and aggressive character of the original.
But if the new 950 was built to chase the ongoing legacy of the Hypermotard 1100, I would argue that the original Hyper very well could become increasingly sought-after.
However if I were a betting man (which I am), I would put my money on market interest moving on to the newer, higher-performance models without doing much looking back, even if the 950 does have a few hangups that the original bike didn’t (like full-time ABS that can’t be switched off…on a Supermoto??? C’mon!!!).
I sincerely hope I’m wrong on the collector status of the original Hypermotard 1100.
If ever a Ducati has deserved classic status for all the right reasons, it’s the original air-cooled Hypermotard.
It does everything we want a firey-red Ducati to do, like making us giggle inside our helmets with every little wheelie and slide we’re able squeeze out on back roads and track days alike.
It’s downright angry, a bucking bronco and an absolute handful even for the most sophisticated handful-enthusiasts out there.
But hey, they’re still reasonably affordable and can be counted on to deliver the thrills for years to come, so betting on the Hypermotard 1100 to become a bonafide collector’s bike is a bet many of us would be willing to lose anyways.
So why not go buy one, if only for the thrill of it.