2013-2014 Ducati Hypermotard 821 SP
For many of us motorcycles are more of a hobby than a day-in, day-out form of transport. Two wheels are there for escapism, a blast away from the humdrum of modern life, enjoyed for relatively short periods on sunny days when time allows. Is there anything wrong with that? Not at all, if we are honest there is little enjoyment to be gained from slogging out miles in the pissing rain just wishing for the next coffee stop to dry off a soggy crotch. Riding a bike isn’t often the sensible option, but it is always the fun one – especially if you pick a bike whose sole role in life is to provide thrills. A bike such as the Ducati Hypermotard 821 SP.
Making no bones about it, the Hyper SP is a plaything. And a fairly expensive one at that. Where the two other Hyper models in the range have a touch more practicality about them, the SP has none of these limitations; it is a toy that Ducati have loaded up with top-rate running gear to ensure that every ride is as much of a blast as possible. Have they succeeded in this task? Oh yes, if you want a bike to put a smile on your face (and a sizable dent in your wallet...) the SP rules the roost.
Introduced in 2013, the Hyper SP is, as its name suggests, the all-singing Hypermotard model. In fine Ducati tradition they have taken the base model and armed it with a stack of performance enhancing chassis components to allow riders to, well, go bonkers on it far easier. Alongside higher-spec Marzocchi fully adjustable forks, the SP gains an Öhlins shock, forged alloy lightweight Marzocchi wheels, a ‘Race’ riding mode, tapered bars, a radial master cylinder and a dash of carbon here and there. Not to mention a new price tag that was a smidgen under £10,000 when it was launched, which was the issue.
Back in 2013 this kind of price was very hard to justify for a bike that was so limited in its appeal, especially considering its 821cc motor was unchanged and only made just over 100bhp. As a result of this the SP wasn’t a great seller and while a few dedicated fans snapped it up, dealers often found them sitting on showroom floors gathering dust. However, now in the used market and attainable for around the £7000 mark (and most look as fresh as the day they left the dealership, minus the dust...) the Hypermotard SP is approaching the kind of price tag that is justifiable for a weekend toy. But is it worth it?
Hop on the Hyper, or should that be climb on as it has a fairly stratospheric seat height of 890mm, and the first thing that strikes you is how narrow it is. A full-on supermoto style of bike, the 16-litre tank is positioned flat and level with the seat and you feel perched up on high with little between you and the road ahead. There are also minimal creature comforts, the seat is firm and you are placed in direct line of any windblast with no protection – this is most certainly not a bike for travelling long distances on, although the pegs are quite nice and low. Pull in the clutch (which has Ducati’s APTC system, making its action pleasingly light) and away you go...With a bit of a jerk.
Although light, the clutch is also grabby on the SP and quick getaways are tricky, meaning you tend to lurch forward if you try a speedy exit. That said, once you get rolling the 821cc V-twin is surprisingly perky and has a good spread of power and torque, making the SP ideal for back-road blasts. Thanks to three riding modes and a traction control and ABS system (not angle-sensitive) you can really thrash the Ducati and feel like you are making rapid progress, which is probably true as this supermoto can hit 140mph if required. Not that your shoulder/ neck will appreciate it. However as engaging as the engine is, the trump card in the SP’s arsenal is its chassis.
A slight lack of ground clearance means that while trackdays are possible they probably aren’t a great idea and instead the SP should be enjoyed on the roads. Thanks to some excellent suspension and the lightweight Marchesini wheels the Hyper flicks into bends and kneedown (or foot-down if that’s your thing) is certainly on the cards. Given a set of dry bends, warm tarmac, sticky tyres and the devil riding on your shoulder encouraging you on, the SP is an absolute hoot and it most certainly won’t leave you disappointed. The Brembo brakes, as you would expect, stop the 194kg SP in its tracks and if you want to play the fool, the DTC system can be switched off (if you can ever figure out the menu system) for the odd wheelie. So should you buy a Hypermotard SP?
Just as the day it was launched, the SP is a bike that you need to want to own. There is no denying it is compromised, uncomfortable, not that powerful and very expensive, however it is also real fun to ride with a high build quality and is festooned with top-rate components. If you ride purely for enjoyment and tend to favour short hops, it is a bundle of laughs. But for long rides it’s misery.
The Hypermotard 821 replaced the old 796 model, which came in only one version with a few different ‘packs’ to alter its ability more towards sport or touring and was released in 2009. Aimed more at newer riders, the 796 came with a low seat height, DDA and an APTC clutch but non-adjustable forks and shorter service intervals.
The third generation of Hypermotard arrived in 2015 and while it is called a 939 it is actually 937cc. It also came in three guises – Hyperstrada, SP and Hypermotard – and was replaced in 2019 by the 950 generation, which actually has the same 937cc capacity and came in SP or standard Hypermotard versions.
There are lots of reports of sensors failing on the Hyper, which can not only be frustrating but also potentially expensive to fix. Look for warning codes on the dash (you can download a manual from Ducati’s website to see what the codes mean) and always give the bike a reasonable test ride to see if any are thrown up when it gets warm.
Forums report that the digital dash on the Hyper is prone to failing, which is a very expensive fix. Always check that it is functioning correctly, has no signs of misting and also that the switchgear is operating as it should.
You can check if there are any safety or update campaigns by Ducati when you enter the bike’s VIN on www.ducati.com, which is worth doing. The Hyper has received a few safety updates, so ensure they have been completed.
As with any single-sided swingarm on a bike, check the adjuster for signs of it being forced (or an incorrect C-spanner being used) as that hints at it either being seized or the owner having little mechanical sympathy. Ask the owner what the correct torque settings are for the pinch bolts as over- or undertightening can harm the hub. It should be 31Nm.
The Hyper’s dash will (helpfully but distressingly for your wallet) alert you when a normal service or desmo service is due through a countdown, so check this. The intervals are every 9000 miles with the desmo at 18,000-mile intervals, which involves new belts and a valve clearance check. There is no set time, it is amileagebased service.
The SP is fairly well specified as standard but loads of owners add a Termi exhaust, which is well worth having as it both sounds and looks amazing – and costs a bloody fortune to buy new, so aim for a bike with it already fitted. A few bolt on new levers and pegs but there is little point as they are only visual trinkets.
The Hypermotard 821 came in Hypermotard, SP or Hyperstrada guises. The Hypermotard was the base model, the SP the sportier version and the Hyperstrada the touring option with a touring screen, seat, grab rails, luggage, remote shock preload adjuster and longer mudguards added to the stockmodel’s base. Most of the Strada’s add-ons could be bought as accessories and added to the stock Hyper.