1st Gen Hypermotard Hooligan
If you by chance visited my other thread regarding thoughts about trading my S for an EVO SP, this thread is a follow up to it with a review of the new bike as well as a comparison between my previous bike, an '08 S Hyper. Here is the other thread for reference: http://www.ducati.ms/forums/92-hypermotard/152216-considering-trading-my-s-sp-thoughts.html
As mentioned in the other thread, the owner was going to take care of the 7500 mile service and have a Ducati mechanic (a friend of his) do the service before I took delivery. The service included everything from a valve adjustment (they all were in check), flushing and replacing all of the fluids, oil change, adjustments to the timing belts and a general go over. She is already to go.
It was definitely sad to say goodbye to the S, especially after going through the effort of having it shipped and everything. I am very proud to have been able to experience owning it for a short while that I did and I'm confident that it went to a good home seeing where the SP came from. When we exchanged bikes, we both encountered a couple of little hick ups. When he delivered the bike to my place, it barely started and ran. Contrary to the fuel light being on (I believe that he was under the assumption it still had enough in it to run) he got the mechanic on the phone who mentioned that he splashed just a bit of gas in it as it was nearly out when he had it. After we put some fuel in it, all was good. About an hour later after the new owner arrived home with the S, I received a call stating it would barely crank over. The S has always been on the slow side to crank, but it seemed the battery decided that it was finally on its way out as it went to its new owner. I purchased a new battery for him.
I had already gone to see the SP in person but there were a couple of other things that I didn't already know about it until I got it. It has a PC 5 with Auto Tune installed and the other is that it has a 190/55 mounted on the rear. To me, the PC is a bonus as it will work great when I install a velocity stack kit some day in the future and either have the Wasp Works "Twin Tune" map installed or more preferably having it dyno tuned. I wasn't really sure what to think of the Auto Tune accessory and was a bit skeptical at first whether or not this thing was actually doing anything so I decided to unplug it to see what effects (if any) that it had. It turns out that it's not a marketing gimmick after all, I was surprised that it makes a quite a WORLD of difference down low. It is night and day in the way that it smooths things out, unbelievable the difference. The 190 rear is something that I apparently didn't notice the first time I had looked at the bike, maybe because it simply looks like it belongs on there so much! It's amazing how well the 190 fits the bike, there is plenty of clearance and it seems like you could even squeeze a 200/55 series in there... not that you would do that though. The bike is pretty much all setup, but I did replace the cheap plastic oil fill plug with an aluminum Corse Dynamics unit as the OEM plug is an embarrassment to Ducati. Next might be a black, powder-coated, skid plate.
Let's get down to it.
After swinging a leg over the SP, the first thing that I noticed other than the taller height is the much lighter steering. Turing the handle bar from side to side on the SP takes about half the effort as it did on the S. The second thing that I noticed right away was the difference in the ergonomics in the way each bike makes you feel, yes, believe it or not there is actually a difference. The increased height and taller handlebar of the SP gives it somewhat of a sensation that it is a bigger bike while the S feels more compact, smaller. To be more specific, on the S you feel as though you are sitting over it while on the SP with its increased height and handlebar, makes you feel placed more " in" the bike. Weight wise, the 15lb loss on the SP does actually feel noticeable but oddly enough, I noticed that it seems to require more effort to push around over the '08. One could argue however that the lower center of gravity on the standard Evo gives it a lighter feeling over the taller SP which I have compared side by side.
Control wise, it is completely different between the Magneti Marelli and Siemens electronics. I am in love with the new switch gear as it is not only easier to function, but there is a night and day difference in options and features. This combined with the display lights on top definitely give the Siemens electronics a more modern look and feel. The start flip switch is a really neat feature and adds to the whole character of the bike. My only gripe about these controls is the toggle for the high beam which is double the size of the one from the previous generation. It seems like something that can get in the way if you don't have your hand positioned just right on the lever in order to avoid it. Thank goodness it does not activate the horn!
Riding out of the neighborhood for the first time did not provide for any substantial differences. It wasn't until I got onto a twisty road that the distinct handling characteristics of the SP immediately became apparent. If you want to know what the biggest difference in feel between the S/Standard/Evo models compared to the SP is, than this is it. The taller forks and handlebar give the SP a unique feel, one that feels much the same as a true supermoto or dare I say, dirtbike. The increased leverage allows a more aggressive and light feeling when making side to side transitions, in other words making it even more flickable. My previous bike before the S was a KTM 690 SMC and as soon as I hit the twisties, it immediately reminded me of the Katoom in the way the front end felt and handled. Riding the S did not give me this same perception so much, or at least anything nearly as strong as the SP does. In the corners, the S felt more like a street bike in the way that it wanted to be ridden while the SP gives you the inclination that you're turning the handlebar more and riding a supermoto or dirtbike. I can't stress on this enough because this to me is the center piece that really separates the two bikes in terms of the way they ride and feel. In regards to suspension feedback, I was expecting the front end of the SP to feel quite stiff from what I've read but contrary to my beliefs, in my case, they're actually softer than the S forks! The settings may have been adjusted at one point on one or both of the bikes, but there is no doubt that I can feel the front end soaking up the bumps more on the SP.
"If you can't wheelie the SP, well, you probably can't wheelie anything."- MotoUSA
In terms of engine performance, both actually feel very similar when it comes to overall power. Going into it I will admit, I was expecting a bit more of a difference here from the Evolution motor. That said, the most noticeable difference is right off of the bottom end where there is no doubt the lighter 848 flywheel helps it to spin up quicker and mid range may be a little punchier too. In overall shear grunt though, they feel nearly identical to me. I think Steve Atlas from MotoUSA said it best "If you can't wheelie the SP, well, you probably can't wheelie anything." As much as the S was always ready to pull the front end up at will depending on your wrist, the SP is a step or two further in that department where it feels like it's telling you, "if you're not going to lift the front end up, then I will", and does. Pretty much think "wheelie" and nothing more than a quick, minor, twist of the throttle brings the front end up at what feels like it will do at any speed, in any gear, and absolutely begs you to do it in nearly every situation. The SP is more sensitive or precise to low throttle inputs over the S, but not to the point of being uncomfortable or jerky- that is with the Auto Tuner plugged in to correct it. Believe me, I know all about that having worked through the issue with the KTM! Anyway, when it comes to the brakes, both bikes have the same Brembo monoblocks so there is no comparison there. Each are fitted with the same 2-1 Termignoni systems and give off the same incredible sound.
I am head over heals for this bike and it's been a mind boggling experience owing both of them.
My Nikon and I had a field day taking photos as you'll see below.