The 2022 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP is a motorcycle that exists for no other reason than to impart unabashed joy, to the point of making you laugh—the kind of laugh you can feel in your legs. Sure, there are many bikes in the Ducati range that do a particular task better than a Hypermotard, such as the Multistrada for touring, the Diavel for cruising, the Panigale for blistering lap times and the Scrambler for, well, scrambling. But the Hypermotard is all about the pure fun you can have on a motorcycle, and it has that hooligan presence so many have tried to imitate, but none have been able to do with any great success.
Starting at $17,495, the new Hypermotard 950 SP represents a $3,500 price hike over the base model 950. For that money, you get the base model’s Testastretta L-twin pumping out 114 hp and 71 ft lbs of torque, an identical chassis and the same 440-pound weight (factoring in a 3.8-gallon tank topped with gas). The extras, however, include forged Marchesini aluminum wheels, an Öhlins 48 mm, fully adjustable fork and shock, a carbon-fiber front guard and timing-belt cover and the Ducati Quick Shift EVO system for clutch-less up-and-down gearshifts.
There’s also the usual menu of electronics that includes variable riding modes, a Bosch six-axis IMU, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Engine Brake Control EVO, Cornering ABS EVO and Ducati Wheelie Control EVO. And it should be noted that Ducati has come a very long way in the last couple of years with the throttle response of its L-twin motor. When this particular iteration was released in the Monster last year, we lauded it for being far more manageable and enjoyable to experience at low-rpm throttle openings, not to mention the extra top-end power output it offers.
In the context of the Hypermotard, the motor delivers superbly. When matched to the feisty chassis, you have a combination of excellent manners and unruly behavior at the flick of the right wrist. There’s ample power across the rev range, and the taller gearing means you don’t have to dance up and down on the gear lever too often to find the best performance.
The seat is set high at 35 inches, but with the dirt-bike ergonomics, you get a wide view of the road ahead and, given that you’re seated close to the front wheel, it allows you to really load up the front tire and make the 950 SP scythe through corners.
You really notice the lack of any wind protection on the freeway, though, and the stiff suspension doesn’t make for the most comfortable touring stance, but take the bike off that straight road and onto your favorite canyon routes and I promise you’ll want for no other. It’s a very one-dimensional bike, but, oddly, that’s not a bad thing. What the Hypermotard 950 SP does so well is give you the kind of thrill you got when new in the saddle, when all you wanted to do was ride; not ride to work, not tour or even race—just ride for the sake of it.