Ducati Hypermotard 939, Yamaha MT-09 and Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 in comparison test

Arturo Rivas

Ducati Hypermotard 939, Yamaha MT-09 and Aprilia Dorsoduro 900

Funbikes in comparison test

Seriously: fun and common sense are often mutually exclusive. The two-cylinder supermotos Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 and Ducati Hypermotard 939 think it doesn’t have to be. They want to prove the opposite. And meet Yamaha’s MT-09, which calls out the same goal with one cylinder more.

F.let’s start with reason. She says: A lot of power is great, but it puts the driver’s license in danger. Between 90 and 120 hp are quickly identified as the ideal means. Such engines can be bravely squeezed out without overwhelming or calling the law enforcement officers on the scene. And they definitely offer enough horsepower for the brisk sprint between curves or when overtaking. More common sense? With pleasure. We come to the general seating arrangement. Of course, the deep stubs of common super sports bikes convey an inimitable feeling for the front wheel, providing endless feedback from the front. But in the thicket of fun curve routes they are also strenuous, putting a lot of weight on the hands. Then grab the handlebars upright and casually relaxed.

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Ducati Hypermotard 939, Yamaha MT-09 and Aprilia Dorsoduro 900
Funbikes in comparison test

Dorsoduro 900 competes. Expanded to almost 900 cubic meters thanks to more stroke, the Italian V2 should be good for 95 hp at 8750 revs, according to the factory. A little more potential lies dormant in the second V2, which also comes from Italy. We leave Noale and turn our gaze to Bologna, to the Hypermotard 939. They only honored them at Ducati last year, enlarged the bore to get to exactly 937 cm³. The also water-cooled V2 engine mobilizes 110 lively horses at 9000 revolutions. In terms of cubic capacity, the third candidate cannot quite keep up, after all, the MT-09 from Yamaha only has 847 cubic meters. On the other hand, the crossplane engine has one more cylinder, turns a little higher and, according to the data sheet, pushes 115 hp at 10,000 rpm. So the ingredients of the three match the profile initially expressed. And since they are also priced within a tight range, the Dorsoduro costs 9990 euros, the Hypermotard 12 295 euros and the Yamaha 9165 euros, everything is arranged for the fun exchange.

As the latest model, the Aprilia has priority. The V2 hangs gently and easily on the gas in the three driving modes Sport, Touring and Rain. The grip on the clutch, however, requires a trained left forearm. Aprilia claims to have reduced the operating force by 15 percent compared to its predecessor, but operating the Ducati and especially Yamaha models is much easier. Whereby the MT-09 with its sharp engagement behavior and controllability in need of improvement collects a few negative points.

But back to Aprilia. The engine pulsates smoothly through its speed range, convincing on a fun ride across the country. He picks up the gas steadily and without surprises. Disturbing load changes are alien to him, well-mannered and, in the best sense of the word, he works inconspicuously. Only when the knife flashes between the teeth of the hasty Dorsoduro rider does he try a little. In contrast to the Dorsoduro 750, the extra stroke has given it a more than eight Newton meters, but when it comes to revving, the 900 always makes an effort when it comes to fast cornering. In addition, the limiter slows down the vigor faster than one would like. At a little over 9000 revolutions is over. Then numerous lights flicker on the TFT display, warning of the next switching process. Ducati’s Hypermotard turns a good 1000 revs higher and accordingly asks for the next gear step later. And that’s not an issue on the Yamaha anyway. There, where the V2s brush the sails, they cheer even more loosely and flaky, saving one or the other grip on the clutch when turning before bends.

The Duc-Zweier is not quite as well behaved as the Aprilia copy. It only delivers usable concentricity from 3000 revolutions, in gears five and six even later. But then he starts with more verve, accompanied by acoustic presence in all three driving modes that a classy Italian twin hangs between the red-washed frame tubes. Subjectively, it simply has a strong character – even if that is not taken into account in the 1000 point rating.

The MT-09 has this firmly in its sights. At very low speeds, at which at least the Hypermotard is still trying to maintain composure, the three-of-a-kind purrs gently to itself, only to reveal its true nature a little later: As if stung by a tarantula, the MT rushes beyond 5000 revolutions, ignites the afterburner, seemingly freed from all paralyzing centrifugal masses, dashes towards the limiter, which only requests to move to the next gear above 11,000 rpm. It’s nice that the often criticized response behavior is now correct when savoring the three-cylinder potential – at least in the standard and B driving modes. In the A-mode, the three-cylinder still reacts quite roughly to gas commands, especially when an immediate “gas” is applied to “close the gas” on “follows. If the handle on the right is operated with more fine motor skills, the engine responds more civilly to the request for more fire in the combustion chamber.

It remains to be said: When it comes to the engine, no one masters the balancing act of fun and common sense as well as the Yamaha. But what about the chassis? After all, the best engine is of no use if the fork and shock absorber do not play along adequately during the cornering or the Sunday morning tour. The fork and damper of the MT-09 are designed to be quite soft. In cruising mode, the set-up is still comfortable, there is more commitment to cornering and the Yamaha is in motion. The stern in particular swings strongly from top to bottom. Lighter riders come to terms with it, with heavier riders the stability suffers. Because although the Yamaha hits the targeted line relatively precisely despite the underdamped design of the shock absorber, there is simply a lack of trust. Even a completely closed rebound stage and an increased rear preload to stage four do not change that.

The Ducati is different. It lies tighter on the street. The Hypermotard doesn’t scurry through the curvy as much as the Yamaha, but it is much more stable, can be bent boldly and with a lot of confidence until the gear lever mills grooves in the road. The Duc. And that also when the asphalt changes its face and becomes bumpy. Although unevenness can be clearly felt, the spring elements master the vibration test, but the Duc is not a wobbly candidate. Precision and stability are right.

I can too, throws in the Dorsoduro, and is even right about it. She, too, is lying on the street as if made up, running steadfastly straight ahead. The next "but" is not far, however, because the setup of the spring elements was unbalanced. At the front, the Dorsoduro stands fairly high with completely relaxed fork springs, and at the rear it is relatively low despite the increased preload of a total of 15 visible threads. In addition, there is the highest weight of 220 kilograms as well as the longest wheelbase and flattest steering head angle of the trio. With this design, the Dorsoduro 900 needs the strongest steering impulses for fun on the slopes, especially in alternating bends. In addition, there is the stubborn first tire Dunlop Qualifier D 209, which converts every longitudinal groove into erection moment and prefers to run straight ahead when braking in an inclined position. The Dorsoduro 900 turns more unwieldy than the Yamaha and the Duc, and is left behind on the winding pass roads.

It doesn’t matter whether agile or nimble. The sky opens its locks. Now only escape or a photographer with excellent local knowledge helps. He leads us to a former workshop of a foundry. The owner is known, the roof is tight, we can let off steam here. It’s a pleasure for us. Which is why the tires whimper from now on, black lines quickly adorn the bumpy concrete floor. When it comes to fun, they all pass.

But be careful, reason should not be neglected. This includes the sitting position. It is based on personal preferences, but the Aprilia is consistently convincing. Only the knee joint should be narrower. Otherwise: When your hands are bent slightly forward, you grab the handlebars, and you sit comfortably on the tight 890 millimeter high bench. With the Hypermotard it is a little deeper at 880 millimeters, but has a hollow. Your butt plops into it and remains trapped. The distance to the handlebars: tight. The freedom of movement to the rear: moderate. It works up to a height of 175 centimeters, but it forces everyone else to hunch back. At the Yamaha it’s going to happen. As with the Aprilia, the bench, 820 millimeters high, has a straight cut, the handlebars are high and pleasantly cranked. This is bearable. However, you sit more in the motorcycle than on the motorcycle, sitting passively.

Yamaha does not know passive when it comes to braking. The one-piece four-piston calipers with the screwed-in cover grab hold of the heart. The ABS regulates quite roughly, but even with a passenger without the risk of rollover. The Duc only manages this in ABS fashion 2. In mode 1, it acts aggressively, the headstand is preprogrammed. With ABS, the Dorsoduro only knows the functions "on" and "off". Because the ABS does not always keep up with the spontaneous build-up of brake pressure, the driver has to master the following stoppie with sensitivity.

All three feel good when they stop at the gas pump that the Dorsoduro driver drives to first. It’s not because of the consumption of 4.7 liters per 100 kilometers, but because of the 11.5-liter tank. If the reserve lamp lights up, the fuel tank is ebbing after 35 kilometers. Yamaha (4.4 liters / 100 km) and Ducati (5.0 liters / 100 km) are making further progress.

The trio demonstrates: Fun and reason don’t have to contradict each other. To ask for more would be presumptuous, but a little fine-tuning in one place or another would be nice. After all, that would add to their fun potential.

MOTORCYCLE test result

1. Yamaha MT-09

Three chapter wins and the lowest purchase price indicate the direction – the MT-09 lands right at the front. Although: In addition to the great engine, it would have deserved a firmer chassis and more payload. So it could shine even more.

2. Ducati Hypermotard 939

The former Zappelphilipp has become a sturdy corner robber with a classy engine and well-functioning assistance systems. Fun in the bends is guaranteed. Only the seat should you reconsider at Ducati.

3. Aprilia Dorsoduro 900

In a direct comparison, the good-natured engine simply lacks Schmalz. In addition, the fork and shock absorber do not work homogeneously, making the 900s unwieldy. Consumption and seating position show that there is potential, but there is still room for improvement.

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