Ducati Hypermotard 1100 And Kawasaki KX450F

Doin' Time Staffers' Rides

Photography by Mark Kariya, Tracie Peddy, Andrea Wilson

Ducati
Hypermotard 1100
Ringleader: Brian Catterson
MSRP (2008): $11,995
Miles: 6590-7332
Average Fuel Mileage:
31 mpg
Accessories & modifications:A good chunk of the Ducati Performance catalog plus ASV levers, Dunlop tires, LeoVince exhaust, RhinoMoto axle sliders, Speedymoto frame sliders and clutch cover, STM slipper clutch and slave cylinder

Whew! I'm winded and my arms are pumped up, and it's not from riding--it's from spinning wrenches. Transforming my long-term Hypermotard into full-on supermoto trim proved to be quite an undertaking, thanks to the healthy Ducati aftermarket.

Job one was replacing the awkward stock folding mirrors/hand guards. The Ducati Performance catalog came to the rescue with a set of racing hand guards ($186.60) and mirrors ($288.80) that mount in the traditional location atop the lever perches. The mirrors feature integrated LED turnsignals that require resistors to step down the current, and we clumsily managed to break one while installing them. Ever tried to source a 7-watt/68-ohm resistor? You sure as hell won't find one at Radio Shack! Because the Acerbis-made guards mount through the ends of the handlebar instead of clamping around it, they left an unsightly 1-inch gap next to the grips. We remedied that--and effectively made the bar wider--by sliding the handgrips outboard. Moving the twistgrip and the switch clusters required drilling new holes for the locating pins, but we left the lever perches alone, as their stock locations worked well with our ASV shorty levers ($125 from www.asvinventions.com). These offer micro-adjustability, fold in the event of a tip-over and look trick to boot.

Speaking of boots, for better grip we unscrewed the rubbers from the stock footpegs, transforming them into off-road-style toothed metal pegs. To these we bolted a set of hard-plastic DP footpeg sliders ($31.50 each), which prevent the asphalt from grinding the pegs at serious lean angles--and vice versa, as some owners of pristine kart tracks have bemoaned. In that same vein, we installed axle and swingarm sliders from Rhinomoto ($59.99 apiece from www.rhinomoto.com), plus engine sliders from Speedymoto ($149.95 from www.speedymoto.com), the latter replacing the forward motor mount bolt.

From the beginning we pledged not to cloak our Hyper in carbon-fiber, but through some miscommunication we ended up with a set of DP monoposto heel guards ($288.80). We would have preferred billet, but oh well. We also installed a DP racing seat ($276.20), which in spite of its name is actually more comfortable than the stocker. It's a little firm at first, but breaks in nicely. A DP cross-mounted aluminum steering damper ($703.70) quells the headshake we sometimes experienced while driving hard off of a corner or setting the front end down from a wheelie. One of the best-engineered DP parts we've seen, it bolts between the handlebar and gas tank using some very trick hardware. Last of the DP parts was an aluminum skidplate ($213.10), which protects the vulnerable engine cases and oil filter. Slickly made, it has the Hypermotard name etched in the front, and bolted on with only a little fuss.

Readers with long memories may recall the long-term Multistrada we had for a couple of years. That bike's STM Evoluzione slipper clutch ($1649.85 from www.lockhartphillipsusa.com)) and Speedymoto Flow cover ($199.95) were still sitting on a shelf in our shop, so on they went. Installing the slipper clutch requires use of a slave cylinder; otherwise lever pull feels as stiff as the front brake! We opted for a red-anodized STM Stile unit ($224.95). The clutch needed some new friction plates, which cost a mind-blowing $350, but that's the price you pay for 48 teeth worth of back-torque-limiting goodness.

Last but far from least of the hard parts was a LeoVince SBK GP Style Evo II exhaust ($749) and link pipe ($299), which eliminates the catalytic converter. Billed as a slip-on, the exhaust in fact replaces all but a few inches of the vertical cylinder's head pipe and a couple feet of the horizontal one's. The pipe looks great, weighs nothing and bolted on as easily as something with so many parts possibly could--though the tiny diagrams in the instructions are impossible to decipher. LeoVince claims no fuel-injection remapping is required, and our Hyper does in fact run very well with no changes. Our only beefs are it took some finagling to get both muffler outlets centered, and the exhaust note is a tad too loud even with the optional Quiet Inserts installed.

Our final mod was a pair of Dunlop D616 tires ($173.95 front, $219.95 rear), which we admit to installing because of their tread pattern. Original equipment on first-year Buell Ulysses adventure-tourers, they evoke memories of old-school supermoto bikes running rain tires, and in fact work very well in the wet and dry.

So set up, our Hypermotard is a hooligan's dream, turning the daily commute into a supermoto qualifier. With 7332 miles on the clock, it's almost due for its 7500-mile service. While it's in the shop, we'll see if we can find some more power through fuel-injection tweaks. We're also planning to take it back to Race Tech for its third (and hopefully final) round of suspension revalving. So stay tuned for, um, tuning.

Kawasaki
KX450F
Ringleader: Brian Catterson
MSRP: $7549
Miles: Um, about 8 hours
Average Miles Per Gallon: Um again
Accessories & Modifications: Owner's and service manuals, a few spares and some stick-on numbers

What's this, a long-term motocrosser? Yup. And why not? Motorcyclist's most recent survey showed that 12 percent of readers own dirtbikes, so we ought to have at least one in our test fleet, right? Moreover, even non-dirt riders will find the all-new 2009 Kawasaki KX450F interesting, as it's fuel-injected and offers previously unheard-of latitude for engine tuning.

Having attended the KX's press intro in Tennessee, I already knew what a good bike it was, with phenomenal power and throttle response plus greatly improved stability and steering. And I had a pretty good idea about setup, setting the sag at 109mm and pulling the fork tubes up 3mm through the triple clamps just like we did at the intro. Because I weigh over 200 pounds I'm a candidate for stiffer fork and shock springs, but I'm going to try a novel approach and lose weight instead. Motocross is the total body workout, after all.

The KX's first outing was Troy Lee's annual A Day In The Dirt Grand Prix at Los Angeles County Raceway, where I teamed with Dave Sonsky from Super Streetbike magazine for the Industry race. The KX worked superbly over the long, fast, rough, sandy track, and we finished...well, let's just say we did pretty well for a couple of streetbike guys.

A few weeks later, I entered round one of the 2009 Racing Enterprise Motocross (REM) series at Glen Helen. The Saturday-morning races are run on an old-school, natural-terrain track that attracts a lot of Vet and Industry types. I signed up for the +40 Novice class the first time out and went 2-1 for the win, so I'll be moving up to Intermediate next time. Wish me luck...

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