Ducati’s Hypermotard has been a proper piece of nonsense since it first launched in 2007. But it’s always been a tiny bit hampered in the full-fat super-light ‘motard class by its engine: Ducati’s reliance on V-twin motors in the 2000s meant it came with first an 1100cc air-cooled desmodromic V-twin, with other engines following, of different capacities and tunes – but all with two cylinders.
But the launch of the firm’s first road-going single cylinder engine since the 1970s – the 659cc Superquadro Mono – means it can launch this; the Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono. It’s a no-holds-barred super-light super-grunty supermotard, set to take on the class champ 690 SMC R from KTM, and has some startling performance numbers.
First up is that engine: it’s essentially half a 1299 Panigale V-twin superbike engine, with the same 116mm bore (a record for a single cylinder motor) and teeny 62.4mm stroke, giving 659cc capacity. There’s titanium inlet valves and desmodromic cams, to help give a heady redline of 10,250rpm, and it makes peak power of 77.5bhp@9,750rpm in road trim.
Pop on the official Termignoni race pipe, and you’ll get 84.5bhp: a crazy number for a single, and one which makes it the most powerful single-cylinder production engine ever built. Two balancer shafts help cut the vibrations from a single piston to an acceptable level, and stuff like the conrod, piston, crank and transmission are all essentially race-ready, high-performance designs.
The ride-by-wire fuel injection also uses a massive 62mm throttle body, for optimum high-end output.
Worried that Ducati might put such a saucy motor in a dry, dull old chassis? Of course you weren’t, but you’ll be pleased to hear that the rest of the bike more than lives up to this record-breaking powertrain.
The headline is the weight: 151kg ready to ride with no fuel. Giving a figure with no petrol is a little bit of a cheat but still impressive – add in the 12 litre fuel capacity (this sounds miserably low for road use btw) and you’ll get to 161kg fully fuelled.
Ducati’s managed that weight figure with a steel trellis frame design that uses different wall thicknesses for each part, optimising the balance of weight, stiffness and strength needed so there’s no extra fat on the bones.
The suspension is premium but not insanely so: 45mm Marzocchi USD forks and a Sachs rear shock, both fully adjustable, and there’s a conventional dual-sided swingarm, again to save on weight compared with a fancier single-sided arm.
Wheels, tyres and brakes are pure sportsbike kit, with adjustments made for the light weight of the machine. Tyres are Pirelli Diablo Rosso IVs, in 120/70 17 front and 160/60 17 rear, on cast aluminium five-spoke rims, and the front brake uses a mighty 330mm disc – but only one of them – chomped on by a Brembo M4.32 radial-mount caliper operated by a radial master cylinder.
Away from the hardware, Ducati has of course provided top-level electronic spec for the new bike too, based on the Panigale V4 superbike’s suite of riding aids.
Cornering ABS and traction control is of course present and correct, alongside wheelie control (which will be working very hard…) launch control, engine brake control, four customisable riding power modes (Sport, Road, Urban and Wet), and up/down quickshifter.
The 698 Mono adds some new tricks though: the ABS has four settings, two of which integrate the slide-by-brake function that lets riders use the rear brake to drift the back end into corners on track.
A comprehensive set up then, and one which looks set to add a new string to Ducati’s bow in the single cylinder sector. You’d definitely expect this motor to appear in other bikes soon too – perhaps a beefy little single-cylinder Streetfighter, or a lightweight hardcore adventure/rally machine.
In the meantime, the Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono is available in standard trim, or as an RVE model with special paint and the quickshifter as standard. There’s stacks of accessories, including carbon parts, the race pipe, billet levers and much more.
The new bike will be in shops soon, priced at £10,995 for the Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono and £11,895 for the RVE model.