Modifications and improvements
Here I’m documenting all the modifications I’ve made and any major issues I’ve had since the bike was purchased new. I will update this page whenever there is something new, so check back every now and then.
The Hyperstrada is my second Ducati after the Streetfighter 848. It’s my main bike for overnight trips, longer distance touring and commuting.
Overall I’m happy with the Hyper, it’s a lot of fun to ride because it’s very lightweight and agile and the seating position feels a bit like a dirt bike. For me it’s great for commuting because it’s easy to filter through traffic and it offers fairly good wind protection. It’s not a bike without issues though.
The main thing I dislike is the jerky clutch, it’s quite hard to launch the bike smoothly even after thousands of kilometres of practise. This is mostly due to a bad clutch design in pre-2015 models though (mine is a 2014) and can be improved by upgrading the clutch disc set to 2015 spec. Since I upgraded, it’s much better but still not as precise as on the Streetfighter.
Another issue is the mushy throttle response, there is too much play on the throttle body, it suffers from surging and overall the fuelling feels too lean, making it very hard to ride steady at a constant slow speed. Most likely it would make a big improvement to modify the fuel map with a RapidBike or Power Commander module, but I haven’t tried yet.
The harsh engine brake in first and second gear is another thing I don’t like. When riding in one of those gears and then closing the throttle it almost feels like being thrown over the handle bar.
None of that is a deal breaker for me, but it’s annoying. And since my Streetfighter doesn’t have these issues, it feels like Ducati didn’t do a good job designing the Hyperstrada.
Finally, the cheap (non-adjustable) front forks create a constant buzzing sensation on the handlebar. There are plenty of threads in online forums on how to upgrade the front forks, and it’s on my list of future upgrades too. Apparently it makes a huge difference.
- 12/2018 — New set of Conti RoadAttack 3
- 11/2018 — 40,500km: ECU, dashboard, ignition coil replaced (warranty)
- 04/2018 — 36,700km: ECU replaced (warranty)
- 02/2018 — 30,900km: Desmo service, clutch replaced, new tyres
- 05/2017 — 24,200km: New rear tyre and back to 15T front sprocket
- 02/2017 — Ducati Performance tank bag
- 10/2016 — 12,300km: Service, new tyres & front light
- 09/2016 — Broken pannier lock replaced
- 08/2016 — SW-Motech luggage rack added
- 06/2016 — 14T front sprocket installed *updated*
- 06/2016 — SC Project Oval silencer installed *updated*
- 05/2016 — Touring windscreen installed *updated*
- 04/2016 — 12V adapter installed
- 04/2016 — Pannier locks fixed
- 04/2016 — Tail tidy and LED rear indicators installed *updated*
- 04/2016 — LED hand guards installed
- 04/2016 — Radiator & engine guards installed
- 04/2016 — Purchased
New set of Conti RoadAttack 3 (Dec 2018)
I got another set of the Conti RoadAttack 3, they have been absolutely fantastic so I didn’t see a reason to try different tyres. The set lasted nearly 10,000km, including some pretty fast riding, and touring with lots of luggage. The front tyre would have easily lasted another 2,000km but I chose to replace both at the same time. My experience with the RoadAttack 3 has been great, it offers superb grip in all conditions, heats up quickly and lasts long.
40,500km: ECU, dashboard, ignition coil replaced (warranty) (Nov 2018)
After the ECU got replaced earlier in the year, the bike worked fine for about 2 months before failing with the same issues again: it ran only at half power, and the dash showed random engine errors.
I brought the bike back to Ducati in Melbourne and after further tests the diagnosis was yet another faulty ECU and faulty dashboard, caused by overload from the ignition coil. After replacing all three, and together with the Can Bus filter installed previously, the bike finally seems fine now.
Again, it was all carried out by Ducati under warranty at no cost to me.
36,700km: ECU replaced (warranty) (Apr 2018)
Only weeks before the manufacturers warranty ran out, the Hyperstrada developed a major failure. Since returning from Tasmania I had noticed a rapid increase in oil consumption. Every couple hundred kilometres I had to top up the oil level, and riders behind me reported smelling oil burning.
It may or may not be related, but in addition to that, on the last day of a 3-day ride, the bike suddenly lost most of its power. It was still running and sounded fine, but I couldn’t accelerate to more than about 100km/h. It felt as if the engine was only running at half power. Strangely there were no warning lights or errors on the dash at all.
I had to call a tow truck and take the bus home, a very annoying experience.
The bike was brought straight to Ducati in Melbourne and they spent several months looking into it. One reason it took so long was that the issue only appeared randomly, so on test rides it all seemed fine.
I briefly got the bike back, but the error soon returned even worse with flashing lights on the dash. The bike also ran at only half power again.
In the end they tracked it down to a faulty ECU, and after replacing it the bike worked fine again. There is actually a Ducati recall for older 821 Hypers to install a Can Bus filter, which was missing on my bike. This may have been a reason the ECU was damaged.
If you buy a used 821 Hypermotard/-strada, visit a Ducati dealer to check the bike history and ensure that the Can Bus filter has been installed (Service Bulletin SRV-TSB-16-006).
30,900km: desmo service, clutch replaced, new tyres (Feb 2018)
It was time for the 30,000km Desmo service. I timed it to happen just before my trip around Tasmania with the Ducati Owners Club, so I could head off on the long trip with a fresh bike.
As part of this rather expensive service, I had all filters, belts, fluids, spark plugs and even the chain replaced. In addition, I had organised a new set of clutch plates and a judder spring kit which added some missing elements to my clutch, which Ducati included in the Hyper bikes from 2015 on. This judder spring makes the clutch feel much more predictable and improves the rideability a lot.
All 821 Hypers from before 2015 should have their clutch upgraded to 2015 spec. You can either organise just the upgrade parts which were available on eBay via some online forums. Or you can get the entire clutch disc set from Ducati (part no. 19020312A).
I also switched from the Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres to the more road-oriented Continental RoadAttack 3 – I had heard great things about them. A positive surprise to begin with was that they came with a roughened surface. Unlike my previous Pirelli tyres which always were incredibly slippery when new, with the Contis there is grip straight away, no real need to break them in carefully.
One remarkable aspect of the Scorpion Trail II however is that the front tyre lasted an amazing 19,000km on my bike and it looks like it had another 1,000-2,000km of life left.
I can’t emphasise enough how awesome the RoadAttack 3 are, I have had the greatest possible time riding them for 3,000km around Tasmania. I never felt so much confidence on my bike before, never felt so much grip in all conditions whether sunshine or rain. I can ride the tyre all the way to the edge and it never feels like it’s going to slide away soon. I’m often surprised how sticky they actually are, the tyre really starts to peel after a few fast corners on a hot day, but still lasts very long.
24,200km: new rear tyre and back to 15T front sprocket (May 2017)
The original Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres that came with the bike lasted 12,000km for both front end rear wheel. The new Scorpion Trail II again lasted 12,000km on the rear wheel. The front one however still looked very good so there was no need to change it. Definitely an improvement over the old one here.
I also used this opportunity to switch back to the original 15T front sprocket. Riding with a 14T sprocket makes the bike easier to launch, but acceleration is severely compromised due to the short gears. When taking off from a green light, I often got overtaken by cars and I always hated that. Acceleration is much better with the 15T sprocket.
I’m planning to fix the launch issues by upgrading the clutch instead. I found out Ducati installed a better clutch disc set in all bikes from 2015 on, which means mine (2014) has the older, bad clutch. Most likely that’s a better fix than changing sprockets.
Ducati Performance tank bag (Feb 2017)
I got the Ducati Performance tank bag that was specifically designed for the Hyperstrada/-motard. It fits nicely on the bike, offers a lot of storage and even brings some additional weather protection for the rider.
Unfortunately after only one weekend trip I had to return it for a warranty exchange. The fasteners on the tank pad are not very strong, the stitching easily breaks. The problem comes from the instructions included with the tank pad, it states that for refuelling one should simply undo two of the four clips and flip up the tank bag to access the fuel cap. However this easily causes the fasteners to tear off from the pad. It’s better to undo all four clips and take the whole bag off for refuelling.
12,300km: service, new tyres & front light (October 2016)
Wow, only six months after purchase I had already clocked 12,000km and went to visit my mechanic to get the bike serviced. It took me nearly three years to reach that many kilometres on my Streetfighter. The Hyperstrada has almost replaced my car and I’m now commuting on the bike even in bad weather during the winter months.
Technically the service interval on the Hyper is 15,000km, but I had to bring it in for an oil change and new tyres anyway. The old Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres were pretty much finished, with flat spots on both front and rear.
I decided to try the new and improved Scorpion Trail II. They feature a completely redesigned tread profile, with noticeably wider gaps. Overall I think the tyre looks really cool, and on one of the first rides another rider even pointed out to me how awesome my tyres looked.
The previous ones never really let me down and provided more than enough grip on sealed roads, even in torrential rain on the freeway at high speeds. The only area where I wasn’t happy with them was off-road. On unsealed roads I never felt a lot of grip through corners.
After a recent ride on a long unsealed road I can already say that the new Trail II is a huge improvement. I was very impressed at the speed with which I’m now able to ride through corners, and I never felt I was losing grip. The wider and deeper tread especially on the sides seems to help a lot. We’ll see if this one also lasts 12,000km, but since I’m starting to enjoy riding without traction control, it would be surprising if it did.
Another issue I always had with the bike was the flimsy front light. It’s really not very good for riding at night on roads without street lights. My mechanic replaced the globe with a Philips H4-130 which apparently is about twice as bright as the stock globe. In reality it doesn’t feel twice as bright, but it’s an improvement over the stock one so I’m glad I upgraded.
Broken pannier lock replaced (September 2016)
On a recent ride I had a small low-speed mishap, went off the road and dropped the bike. One of the panniers was ripped off in the incident. Unfortunately the pannier system on the Hyperstrada is not very durable, and the plastic pannier lock broke. Ducati only sells them in pairs for about AU$200, so I didn’t immediately fix it.
A couple of weeks later I was lucky to find another Australian Hyper owner who was selling just the part I was looking for, saving me from having to purchase the whole set. It’s a fairly common issue on the Hyperstrada, so I need to be a little more careful in the future given how easily the plastic parts break.
SW-Motech luggage rack added (August 2016)
Over the last months I’ve been using the Hyperstrada increasingly for commuting, and for that I strapped my much-loved Kriega US-20 tail bag over the passenger seat and grab handles. This worked really well because there are hangers attached underneath the passenger seat, making it very easy to attach the tail bag hooks.
It had a few disadvantages though. First, it really messes up the plastic grab handles and tail section over time, on my bike it looks really scuffed now, and so far I had no luck buffing it out. The other issue is that if I wear my backpack, it pushes against the tail bag.
I ended up purchasing a SW-Motech steel rack that fits both Hyperstrada and Multistrada. Like all the things I got from SW-Motech so far, this also features outstanding quality. It attaches to the grab handles with four screws and goes perfectly with the Kriega US-20. I plan to leave the rack on permanently and used Loctite thread locker to secure the screws.
Since the grab handles are made from plastic, as mentioned, and since the rack doesn’t come with a support frame, I would probably be careful not to put more than the suggested limit of 7.5kg on the rack. Other people have experienced broken grab handles in the past. But 7.5kg allows for plenty of stuff.
14T front sprocket installed (June 2016)
When I brought my bike in for the latest oil service I asked my mechanic to replace the front sprocket. The Hyper comes with a 15T (tooth) sprocket installed, and according to many comments online it improves rideability to switch to 14T.
What this does is essentially shortening the gears, making it easier to ride at lower speeds. In case of the Hyperstrada it makes the bike handle dramatically better:
- The jerky throttle response is almost gone, the bike becomes easier to launch and is more forgiving
- It softens the harsh engine brake in first and second gear. Still an issue but not as much as before.
- I no longer need to ride around town in first gear; second gear is much more rideable at low speed now
A couple of side effects though, that may or may not be deal breakers for some:
- More shifting required, and much earlier
- It’s harder to accelerate aggressively from a green light because first and second gear are very short
- For some reason I now reach the rev limiter at around 8,500 rpm. Others have reported the same issue after switching sprockets, apparently it may have to do with a switch inside the clutch lever. Weird issue.
- On the freeway I now ride in 6th gear, whereas previously I never needed more than 5th gear. Not really an issue though in a country where the speed limit is usually 100km/h.
The bottom line is, for those using their bike primarily for commuting in urban areas, often at slowish speeds and in dense traffic, the 14T sprocket is a great mod, it’s incredible how much easier to ride and how much more enjoyable the Hyper is becoming. It will feel a little under-powered though, so for those interested in track days, performance and top speed though, keeping the stock 15T sprocket may be better.
Update May 2017: I moved back to the 15T for better acceleration. The launch issues I tried to fix here are largely caused by a bad clutch that all Hypers pre-2015 came with. Upgrading the clutch disc set to 2015 spec is a better solution for making the bike smoother to ride.
SC Project Oval silencer installed (June 2016)
Recently I replaced the exhaust pipe with an SC Project Oval silencer kit. The stock silencer on the Hypermotard/Hyperstrada is not too bad in terms of looks, but the main issue I had with it was that I could barely hear the bike when riding with ear plugs on the freeway. I need to wear ear plugs to cancel out wind noise.
Given that the cockpit display has no gear indicator I rely a lot on the engine sound for my gear shifting. Several times I found myself in the wrong gear simply because I wasn’t able to hear that I was riding at high revs and should have shifted up.
There are at least a dozen options for aftermarket exhausts for the Hyper family. One reason why I chose the SC Project Oval was that it looks inconspicuous. It takes a closer look to realise it’s an open racing exhaust. It also has no logos that are bolted on, just optional stickers that you can apply yourself.
When I received it I was blown away by the precision and quality. None of the sharp edges and rough cuts that are so common on (way more expensive) Termignoni exhausts, this pipe is manufactured to absolute precision and all the carbon fibre looks super smooth. I also like that the built-in DB-killer is held in place by an internal circlip (see photo) and not by an external screw like on other exhausts. Therefore you don’t end up with an ugly hole in the pipe if you remove the baffle — just remove the circlip with a pair of bent tip pliers, then pull the baffle out.
Installation was not very difficult, my only criticism is that the round metal bracket that holds the pipe in place had to be bent around the pipe during the installation. It would be better if it came pre-bent, because I wasn’t able to bend it to a perfect shape and now it looks slightly imperfect. Of course it’s not really noticeable unless you look for it, but still annoying.
Regarding sound, this pipe is just perfect. With my ear plugs I now have just the right amount of noise, I can hear the bike clearly even on the freeway. But it’s not excessively loud either, so I have no issues riding the bike around town. The other day I got pulled over by police at a mobile roadblock for a random alcohol breath check (happens here in Australia sometimes, no big deal since I don’t drink), and even though I left the bike running during the check, nobody complained.
Overall I’m very happy with it, the bike now sounds more the way it should always have sounded. I wish it would produce as much crackling and popping as the Termignoni pipes on my Streetfighter, but no big deal.
Update August 2018: I switched back to the stock exhaust for now. I realised that a race exhaust only makes sense if the fuel mapping is also adjusted, which either requires flashing the ECU or installing a fuel controller like Rapidbike. Without that the bike runs too lean and acceleration from low RPM is actually quite bad. Once I got a fuel controller I might put the SC Project pipe back on.
Touring wind screen installed (May 2016)
Before heading off on my first long trip I replaced the windscreen with the Ducati Performance touring wind screen. It’s a bit larger than the stock windscreen, and also lightly tinted so it looks nice.
I bought it primarily in the hope it would reduce the wind around my helmet, but unfortunately it doesn’t improve that at all. Some even suggest it gets worse with the larger screen. It does block off more wind to my body and shoulders though, and on a recent ride in pouring rain on the freeway it probably helped protecting me from the rain.
Whether it’s worth the AU$250, I’m not sure. Probably not. Since I’m often commuting on the freeway, and since I’ve got good ear plugs that cancel out all the wind noise, I’m going to keep the larger windscreen for now.
Update September 2016: For comparison I put the stock wind screen back on, and I quickly noticed how much more pleasant it was to ride. Unfortunately it appears the larger touring screen is only good at slightly blocking off more wind and rain around the body, but increases wind buffeting around the helmet for me noticeably. I’ve now gone back to the stock wind screen permanently.
12V adapter installed (April 2016)
I wanted to be able to use my iPhone with Google Maps as GPS and charge it while I’m riding. In my car I have a USB adapter for the 12V cigarette socket. While the Hyperstrada does come with two 12V sockets, unfortunately they both are the smaller DIN / merit sockets, so I purchased an adapter from merit to cigarette socket.
The cable is about 20cm long so it’s just long enough to plug it into the rear merit socket, and stick the other end through between the frame so it appears underneath the seat. Now I can plug in my cigarette-to-USB adapter and have two USB sockets available under the seat, which I can use to charge my phone.
It would be nicer to have the USB sockets somewhere closer to the handlebar, but for now it does the job.
Pannier locks fixed (April 2016)
From day one I had a lot of problems with the pannier bag locks. It was always way too difficult to get the panniers off, because the locks appeared stuck. After some online research I found someone who had the same problem and published instructions for how to fix it.
Basically after unzipping the inner liner of the pannier, the lock screws can be accessed. After I removed and opened the lock, I put a good amount of water-proof grease around all the moving parts and the lock cylinder itself. I then turned the key inside the lock a couple of times until it started to turn smoothly, and then put it all back together.
Since then I’ve had no problems taking the panniers off.
LED hand guards installed (April 2016)
The hand guards with integrated lightbulb indicators are not a great look, so I got the Ducati Performance LED hand guards (96280131A) which sell for a crazy AU$600 here in Australia. The new 939 Hypers now come with LED hand guards straight from the factory, but those are made from plastic and feel flimsy and cheap. The Ducati Performance ones have the guard rail made from sturdy metal, but the rest is still plastic.
The set that I got was poorly manufactured, with excess glue all over the LED strips so I had to clean it up first. Also, in order to fix it tight and prevent the parts from moving I had to use a lot of force in order to tighten the screws. But because the screws are rather cheap ones and not very strong, I pretty much destroyed the screw heads to the point where I can only hope I will never have to disassemble it again. It’s still not sitting as tight as it should be, but at some point I gave up, for lack of better tools.
There were no instructions included with the kit, so I had to find and print them online. The most important part however — how to take off the front of the bike, which is necessary in order to access the wiring behind the front light — was not included and it basically said ‘please refer to the workshop manual’. Very funny. Of course only dealerships have access to workshop manuals, so either Ducati should stop selling these hand guards to customers, or start including proper installation instructions.
Internet to the rescue! In a Ducati forum somewhere I found detailed instructions for removing the front fairing and light, so I managed to get it done and properly wire up the new LED indicators. Because they seem to have longer cables than the old ones and pretty fat adapter cables too — probably include some resistors — it was a little hard putting the front light back into position afterwards.
I’m pleased with the result though, the LED hand guards look much better than the old lightbulb ones. However, given the quality, at AU$600 they are ridiculously overpriced. I can only guess they manufactured them in a small quantity only.
One big advantage of these hand guards is definitely the sturdy metal bracket. I’ve had one situation where I’ve dropped the bike on it’s side by accident, and during another ride I ran off the road. In both situations the plastic stock hand guards probably would have broken.
Tail tidy and LED rear indicators installed (April 2016)
Together with the Evotech Performance radiator and engine guards I also purchased a tail tidy kit. To complement it, and to avoid spacing issues with the pannier bags, I also got a set of Ducati Performance LED rear indicators (96680471A), which retails for around AU$120.
Unfortunately the tail tidy kit was missing two screws that were needed to attach the LED light to it’s adapter plate. In the installation instructions it also looked like the LED should have been attached already, but it wasn’t. My kit also included a second LED — possibly someone mixed up the parts and included two LEDs instead of LED plus screws. No big deal though, it only meant I had to make a trip to my local hardware store and buy screws.
Apart from this small problem, the tail tidy kit is very good quality. The metal parts were built in outstanding quality, and almost everything comes wrapped in individual satchels for protection.
For the installation I had to pull the electronic cables back inside underneath the seat about 20-30cm. There’s not enough room to store them inside the tail tidy case, so cables need to be pulled back inside. There’s plenty of room underneath the seat though.
I’m not a huge fan of the knobby LED light, looking at it from the side it doesn’t look well designed, but it does the job and so far doesn’t bother me enough to change it. I’m very pleased with the look of the Ducati Performance LED indicators, they look fantastic and quality is great.
Update August 2016: I have since reverted back to the original, longer number place holder (but kept the LED indicators), since I’m now riding the bike to work even on rainy days, and with the tail tidy I always ended up with a wet back and dirty luggage.
Radiator & engine guards installed (April 2016)
Even before I left the dealership I installed both a radiator & engine guard. With my Streetfighter 848 I’ve already learnt the hard way how quickly radiators can break so this is something I’m now considering essential for all bikes, and it surprises me Ducati doesn’t include better protection.
Both items are from Evotech Performance and the quality is very good. I printed out the installation instructions from their website and it only took a few minutes to install.
Purchased (April 2016)
Originally I wanted the new Hyperstrada 939, but then I found a brand new 821 in white on sale from an interstate dealer. It was significantly under list price and a great offer. And I love the white colour — the new 939 only comes in red.
I ended up travelling to Canberra to pick it up, and then rode it back over 2 days – a fantastic 900km trip. More details on how I came to purchase the Hyperstrada including a full trip report are in another post here.