KTM 690 SMC-R and Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP in a comparison test

15th Pictures

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fact / Joachim Schahl

Trends come and go. In any case, supermotos are coming, and with power.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Similar packaging, different content, but attacking can both be highly entertaining.

fact / Joachim Schahl

A question of perspective: in addition to the KTM, the slim Duc also looks strong.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Maximum fun staging of unstable driving conditions – you just have to love them, these supermotos.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Ideal conditions for a fun test day.

fact / Joachim Schahl

The handy versus the bearish.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Supermoto outside, naked bike inside.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Out of fashion, but never wrong: small underseat horns for a big sound.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Brachial Brembos series, forged rims, carbon and super corsas only for the SP.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Finally an easy to read and complete information stand. Only a fuel gauge is missing.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Supermoto outside, supermoto inside.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Good Brembo on the KTM, too, but much less powerful and controllable.

fact / Joachim Schahl

693 cm3 extremist: nothing below, nothing in the middle, everything above.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Fashionable, but stylistically questionable: a raised, large bag for a small sound.

KTM 690 SMC-R and Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

Supermotos in comparison test

Trends come and go. In any case, supermotos are coming, and with power. Just like the two hottest genre sizes KTM 690 SMC-R and Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP.

It’s amazing. Half of the young motorcyclists are driving themselves on the rear wheel, feeling dizzy on YouTube, sticking miles of neon decor on the tight cladding and sporting umpteen merchandise hoodies by the likes of Blackout, Querly and David Bost. Yes, even we, the print media, nowadays decried as oh so slow, recently wrote scene reports (see MOTORRAD 25/2017). With representatives in 16th and 22nd place, the registration statistics also confirm that it is not just a perceived hype. See also the sometimes absurd price development on the used market. And yet the entire motorcycle industry is ignoring the long-forgotten topic of supermoto with a frosty cold shoulder. The whole motorcycle industry? No, a small town in Austria has now almost become the center of the series supermoto world. KAfter a two-year sabbatical, TM is sending the Godfather of Supermoto, the 690 SMC R, into the race, recently including assistance systems and an even stronger Euro 4 single. It has always been available in the almost identical sister model Husqvarna SM 701, which temporarily advanced to become the new ruler in the Supermoto realm.

Italy vs. Austria

From Bologna, the also completely overhauled Hypermotard 950 SP holds up the supermoto flag, which is admittedly freely interpreted as a powerful V-Twin. The Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 interprets even more freely, which for fans of pure teaching not only carries one cylinder, but also several kilos too much. And that’s it. How good, then, that we’re hip and trend-conscious like a Berlin mustache with the Ducati and the KTM, gathering around 50 percent of the market for a weird rendezvous. Whereby we are wondering how many hip, ergo young, ergo financially financially financed SuMo fans would be considered for a serious purchase intention …

fact / Joachim Schahl

The two sumos from KTM and Ducati fight a gripping duel.

KTM charges almost 11,000 euros for the SMC R. What do you get for this proud price? A first motorcycle? Sure, if you never drive for more than an hour. Comfort? A look at the nothing of the seat cushion, please. Beauty? Three words: exhaust, rear fairing, Hypermotard. No, what you get is the promise of the ideal pleasure vehicle, of ultimate driving dynamics, of the most fun staging of unstable driving conditions. The ingredients for this are well known, but newly arranged: 75 high-speed horsepower, 161 highly mobile kilos and now also banking and traction electronics.

Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

Ducati, too, claims the highest levels of driving pleasure with the Hypermotard. At the highest prices. The SP version, pimped with high Öhlins gold, Pirelli sports rubbers and automatic gearshift, requires a deposit of 16,390 euros, the base still costs a sporty 12,490 euros. But there is more displacement (244 cubic), power (39 hp) but also weight (40 kilograms) than with KTM. So it promises to be exciting whether such different approaches to the same topic. What to do with such sharp irons? A day ticket for the MSC Walldorf Astoria e. V. (msc-walldorf-astoria.de), the decision is easy. With a super sports car you can’t get anywhere on racing asphalt that cheaply. No wonder that the youth are so super-moto-fixed.

Route planned and mounted. Or rather jumped up. A seat height of 90 cm is a clear acceptance and, above all, a rejection of the KTM to things like suitability for wide areas. A height of almost 180 cm is necessary for a reasonably secure stance. The Ducati barely sets the bar lower at 890 millimeters. Once climbed, the Austrian demands further tribute. In itself, the typical Supermoto geometry with high handlebars, an upright seat and a casual knee angle is a good ergonomic package. The narrow and only homeopathically padded bench will knock even the hardest iron ass soft after a short time. If you are then stretched like a sail in the wind from 130 onwards, the words “trailer for the car” immediately pop into your head.

fact / Joachim Schahl

Can the Hypermotard prevail in the comparison test?

The Ducati has significantly more seats and therefore significantly more seating comfort. In addition, thanks to less edge, the seat no longer forces you into a position just in front of the steering head, unlike in the past, offers more leeway and thus more chances of a pleasant stay. There is also a little more wind protection. A Ducati that scores with comfort? It’s all a question of where you’re looking. And if you look towards SMC R, things are still going pretty well for Bologna. The fine demeanor of the Öhlins chassis is particularly pleasing when traveling by Autostrada. Where there is a merciless hammering in the back of the KTM with short bumps, the Hyper parries with – attention, a fiver for the tester’s phrase pig – smoothness. But the Duc is just as far removed from plush gliding as the KTM. The fully adjustable spring elements are tightly adjusted at the front and rear and still offer enormous scope for further hardness.

What are these two short-fledged explosive bikes doing on the autobahn, one might ask. Same as Mike Tyson on a marathon. Exactly, which is why the approaching exit sign immediately lightened the mood. And in fact, the first curves, which were taken with great care, gradually reveal the character of the two transverse drivers. The courageous attack is written deep in their DNA and yet the respective attack menus are tasted very differently.


As is so often the case, a closer look at the motors functions as a magnifying glass that bundles not all but many of the properties of the machines. MOTORbike stop. The KTM single is getting stronger, but also more and more pretentious. Reveals its intoxicating potential only to those who mean business and hides it from everyone else. Sound: thin and tinny. Running culture: Are all the screws really tight? Performance development: for a long time nothing, then for a short time everything, and a lot of it. When exactly does not tell you anything but your own feelings. The economy speedometer, which has now been taken over by the Husqvarna sister, is stingy with information on speed, gear and pretty much everything else. On the other hand, the world’s most powerful series-produced single-cylinder now pampers you with very good manners on the throttle, be it in standard (1) or somewhat sharper sport mode (2). The associated switch element doesn’t just look a bit like after-market.

The 937 cubic twin in the Hypermotard is much less selective with its charms. From the first turn on, his full-bodied bass staccato is unabashedly sexy into the world. Push down, push in the middle and pull up into spheres that the SMC R can only dream of. In addition, there is fine running culture, brand-untypical concentricity already below 3,000 revolutions and even in the sharpest driving mode, finely tapped power directly on the rear wheel. The same is also easy with the gas command, the limit is only set by the wheelie control, which unfortunately is sometimes harsh in all eight levels. The brave and the experts simply switch them off.

fact / Joachim Schahl

The KTM has been very popular for years.

From mild to wild, this splendid drive attracts numerous drivers, while the almost two-stroke power single from the KTM focuses more than ever on the latter. And there the soul turns out of the body even livelier. So you have to earn the existing spectacle more on the KTM than on the Ducati. Swinging relaxed from curve to curve, always keeping an eye on the landscape? OK, but cool is different. It circles every radius neutrally, quickly builds up a lot of grip and confidence, but in this mode the engine just doesn’t want to wake up, the chassis doesn’t work properly and the automatic gearshift only jerks up the gears.

If you want to have fun, you step on the gas. The faster the pace, the harder the pace and of course the tighter the run, the more the KTM juices of life seem to flow, the more it shows what makes the Supermoto concept (again) so attractive. Pinpoint anchoring, precise, almost brazen grooving, pressing down the load with all your might while exploring the infinite freedom of inclination and using a trigger finger on the smooth clutch on the rear wheel. It takes a bit of effort and skill, but it’s still not made easier in any other class.


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Which Supermoto do you like better? KTM 690 SMC-R or Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP?


Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

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Not even on the Hypermotard, which can keep up for a long time, but at some point has to pay tribute to the higher weight and the not-so-sharp geometry. It rides more like a very light and very sporty naked bike that you can push hard into an incline if necessary, but not have to. What is new with Hyper numero tre is that the Ducati no longer wants to suddenly fall into the curve. In everyday life it can now be moved with manageable effort, within a very wide range of speeds and dynamics. Very handy, very stable, very strong and, despite all the dynamics, much more relaxed than the boisterous flea from Mattighofen, who also buys its little more dynamic potential with a lot less versatility. So there it is, the kart track. Will this small gap also exist there – after all, true Supermoto territory? Short answer: yes, it’s just getting bigger.


The dynamic fire that KTM is celebrating here, especially in expert hands like that of our photo and stunt driver Jo Bauer, is in a league of its own. It’s like coming home after a long time. Every corner is known, every move is perfect. Even in a less knowledgeable hand, the supposed lack of a limit area is noticeable. The Bridgestone S 21’s limit of liability can only be explored with gross intent, and the freedom from inclination can only be explored with a longing for death. In order to get the chassis to pump, you would have to act faster than a lightning bolt and more grossly than a wrestler. Before that, the late but noticeably regulating traction control would bring you to your senses anyway. Or the Quickshifter, which likes to throw third gear out again after briefly engaging the gears to stimulate adrenaline.

The Ducati’s noble hardware also easily takes away from the sports program, can be swiftly thrown around, but can no longer hide its weight disadvantage in this tight environment. The much more sensitive and powerful brakes and the bearish motor do not help either. The few straights are just too short to take advantage of. But it is enough for enjoyable rear-wheeling with a big boom. Maximum fun staging of unstable driving conditions – you just have to love them, these supermotos.

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