Just last week Ducati pulled the covers off of the most powerful big-bore single-cylinder engine in the world, the 698 cc Superquadro Mono. We are talking about 80 hp from its 116 mm bore piston sliding up and down the barrel at 10,250 rpm—a new benchmark for the category. While the rest of the world or at least the car market are beginning to go EV and Hybrid, Ducati has just sliced the twin-cylinder of the 1299 Panigale in half and then let the rest of the world sit in wonder for the next week. This is typical Italian drama, played out to a T.
We exited the Oprea that was the Superquadro Mono, with tickets in hand for the following week’s engine transplant. Would it be a track-ready Supermono Panigale or could it be a light dual-sport Supermono Enduro? Yeah no… The Supermoto boys are going to love this!
Yesterday the smart TV was on, chips and beer in hand and Ducati’s YouTube channel was blasting tyre screeching and clutch popping sounds out of the TV speakers while Ducati’s Hypermotard 698 Mono made its first appearance. With the squint of an eye, you could see Aprilia’s legendary SVX 550, but after a blink and a shake of the head, a definite sibling to the Ducati Hypermotard 950 RVE. I am a Motard fan at heart and grew up appreciating the talent that racers had in FIM’s Supermoto S1GP series. All I wanted growing up at the end of high school was a road legal motard, a Suzuki DR-Z 400SM, KTM 690 SMC-R (eventually owned one), Aprilia SVX 550 and Ducati’s Hypermotard range was always at the top of the bucket list.
To this very day, we still praise Ducati for building their 1100 Hypermotard. Yes, a 1078 cc beast of a machine, we can all remember Rubén Xaus backing it in with a thumbs up or for the movie fans Jim Carrey popping a wheelie with his ass crack sticking out of his hospital gown. What I’m getting at is, the 1100 made 90 hp and weighed 191 kg, the ‘Mono’ is 400 cc down but makes 10 hp less and weighs almost 40 kg less. In my eyes, I think Ducati might have got a legend on their hands.
The Mono will be available in two versions, the base model and the RVE which gets the black and red plastics and wheels, comes standard with a quick shifter and a list of extra electronic witchcraft. When it comes to details the Italians are the best in the business!
From the motor casings having typical Ducati styling, Mono 698 stitched red onto the seat, sharp and well-tucked plastics, shortened 950 lookalike twin tailpipes and then the small details like the micro LCD dash and the premium brake/clutch reservoirs. Ducati has pulled out all the stops.
The hardware is just as impressive with fully adjustable Marzocchi forks and Öhlins rear shock, Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tyres and a single Brembo M4.32 radial calliper to stop the super light Hypermotard 698 Mono. I know the Mono comes with rims instead of your traditional Motard spoked wheels, but in all honesty, I think for a road-going Motard, rims are fit for purpose.
Side note for the motard hooligans: We are about to go through the boring stuff that you do not care about, electronics. The Mono is packed to the brim in tech, it’s the most tech-heavy in its class and has a lot of electronics derived from the Panigale V4 platform. On the base Mono you’ve got riding modes (Sport, Road, Urban and Wet) to which the Engine Mode (available on 3 levels), DTC, EBC and ABS levels are assigned by default, which can be modified by the rider on the 3.8″ LCD.
The Mono is also the first Ducati to offer four levels of ABS. Two of these integrate the Slide-by-Brake functionality, which through the use of the rear brake allows safe and repeatable cornering when “backing it in”. We also see 4 levels of wheelie control with 4 being the most intrusive and 1 being the least— Wheelie Control is available as an accessory and is activated only in association with the Termignoni Ducati Performance exhaust.
For those that want all the goodies just buy the RVE version as it comes standard with ABS Cornering, Ducati Traction Control, Ducati Wheelie Control, Engine Brake Control, Ducati Power Launch and Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) Up/Down. If for some reason you buy the standard Mono and your riding starts to progress you can purchase all of these unlockable modes for your standard version.
In summary, I think the Ducati Hypermotard 698 Mono is going to sell like hotcakes in Europe where the roads are tight and twisty. As for us South Africans, there will be the hooligans that will place their orders after reading this, but if not for the hooligans will the Mono be popular in SA? Only time will tell. Maybe what the South African market really needs is a Ducati HyperEnduro 698 Mono…