Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Launch


Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Launch Banner

The new 659cc single-cylinder motor powering Ducati’s latest incarnation of the Hypermotard is a hard-hitting, punchy, get-you-black-flagged-for-wheelies-at-every-trackday little thing, coupled to high tech electronics in a refreshingly low-tech chassis.

Images: Ducati

First Ride: Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono

“We want to attract a younger audience”.

How many times has that line been touted out by a motorcycle manufacturer, followed by an edgy video of moody, frankly unlikely new riders holding skateboards, slumped against some new budget bike to a backdrop of clichéd urban graffiti?

Not that I’m picking on Ducati for going after a younger audience, it makes sense, and I’m definitely not complaining that they’ve chosen to do it with a supermoto.

Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Front View

Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Rear View

Supermotos rock.

They’re twitchy, vibey, uncomfortable, impractical and all the better for it. In terms of attracting new riders, they’re definitely cool, great fun around town and easy to ride. For seasoned moto-heads, a supermoto is a great way to push your riding skills on a tight track and unlocks a whole new world of tiny single track lanes on the road. When supermoto was at its peak, we had a major race series in the UK, bike mags were full of the latest uncompromising race-bred exotica and as a teenage boy it was all I wanted. But the realities of the bikes back then fell into two categories - slow and heavy or fast but unreliable, not to mention uncomfortable.

As their popularity dwindled, manufacturers slowly dropped supermotos from their range, leaving only KTM and Ducati flying the flag. Ducati’s twin-cylinder Hypermotards have always been great fun road bikes, but their weight and size pushes them more into naked sportsbike territory than a pure supermoto.

KTM on the other hand kept on developing their big single cylinder engine, getting more power and more refinement out of it with each update. The latest KTM 690 SMCR makes 74hp, cruises respectably at 70mph on the motorway (aside from the wind protection) and a good day riding on Saturday doesn’t require an oil change on Sunday and a new top end every other month. And now the KTM (/GasGas/Husky) has a new sparring partner from Ducati.

With a superbike-derived motor that shares components with the 1299 Panigale engine, the new 698 Hypermotard is every bit the punchy, capable road going toy it claims to be. Using Ducati’s famed Desmodromic valve system to let the engine rev higher, the new motor has four horsepower over the KTM, despite giving away 10 Nm of torque. And with very similar figures for weight and geometry, you could be lulled into thinking the Hypermotard doesn’t have too much to shout about. But the ace in the Ducati’s hand is its electronics package.

Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono Engine

Nestled in among all the usual safety-conscious anti-lock brakes and traction control systems are a couple of very special features. First up is the brake slide control, as found on the top end Ducati superbikes. Never mind the clever 6-axis control unit nerdery, this is a system that actually helps you learn to drift a bike into corners, ‘backing it in’ as the cool kids say.

  • Will it improve your lap times? Er, no.
  • Will it get you to work safer? Definitely not.

But sliding a bike into a corner is one of the best feelings you can get and the Ducati slide control lets you shortcut the normal learning process that involves holes in your leathers and a collarbone or two. Simply brake for the corner as normal, but stand on the rear brake too - this initiates the slide and all you have to do then is enter the corner normally and the system will blend off the rear brake as you lean over. It takes a bit of commitment and trust in the electronics but once you get it right it feels amazing. And once you’re comfortable doing it with the assistance you’ll be able to switch it off and start experimenting with how far you can go.

Chris Northover knee down on track with a Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono

The second system of interest is the Ducati wheelie control system that lets the bike hold a decent wheelie while you rattle up through the gears looking like a pro. Obviously both of these hold little relevance to road riding, but on track they serve one purpose - helping you extract the maximum amount of fun out of the bike regardless of your skill level.

And that is the whole point of this bike, fun!

It’s not practical, it’s not for everybody but it is perfect for having a good time on two wheels. Just like the KTM. There are differences, but the overall result is the same - a big smile on your face and a sudden interest in where that tiny sketchy single track road leads.

Check out our recent Multi Bike Garage interview with Chris Northover to see what he has in his multi bike garage.

Chris Northover stand up wheelie on track with a Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono

Chris Northover sit down wheelie on track with a Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono

Want to see Chris in action on the Supermoto?

Well you're in luck as the video is below... Enjoy!