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For some time now, sport bikes have been seeing dwindling sales numbers in the western market. Manufacturers have been racking their brains to jumpstart the segment. Superbikes are getting more powerful, chassis and tyre technology are helping the bikes handle better and electronics are keeping the rider safe. All this should be getting the superbikes at the top of the motorcycle pile. Well, not quite. The average age of riders is forever increasing in the west. And with age comes back pain! Superbikes are an increased assault on an already aching backbone.
Enter the Ducati SuperSport. A bike built for the rider who doesn’t like the foetal crouch of superbikes, but isn’t too keen on lazy handling tourers either. And of course, a bike which looks and sounds like a million bucks. There are two variants of this available – SuperSuport & SuperSport S.
To this end the SuperSport gets 113 Hp of power, raised clip-ons and lowered foot pegs. Everything to make you comfortable, but at the same time keep things interesting once you wring the throttle.
The engine is the same lump used on the HyperMotard 939, a 937cc unit with redesigned crankcase, cylinder head and 53mm throttle bodies. Unlike the Hyper, the engine is a stressed member of the chassis. This and the revised timing smoothen out the power delivery and improve torque at the lower end of the rev range. So, 80% of the torque comes as low as 3000 rpm while it maxes out at 6500 rpm. Anywhere around 5000 rpm, sees the engine purring like a happy kitty and allows for an extremely laid back ride. If the rider so wishes! On the go, the tractable nature of the engine is the real icing on the cake, as one can chug along happily without worry.
The SuperSport uses a steel trellis frame derived from the Monster 821. It also gets a single-sided cast aluminium swing arm. Suspension on the S is fully adjustable Ohlins at the front and rear which provide good feedback while pushing hard while still managing to absorb a bit of broken asphalt. The rake angle remains the same as the 959 Panigale at 24 degrees, while the trail decreases by 5mm, making the bike more flickable.
The S also gets a quickshifter as stock; this can be added on separately on the base model as well – A recommended upgrade for anyone planning on the base. With the quickshifter, upshifts and downshifts do not need the clutch to be worked. The only time you will find your hand on the lever is when you are setting off or coming to a complete halt. Gearshifts are smooth on the bike, though a firm nudge of the boot is required at higher revs.
As with the chassis, the console is also borrowed from the Monster 821, though it is tweaked for the SuperSport. The one negative many owners will find is working their way through the menus and options on the bike. It feels a bit too cluttered. But then chances are high, that an owner will set his preference once, and then forget about it altogether!
To make the bike all the more comfortable for longer rides, it comes equipped with an adjustable windscreen, which can be moved up by a couple of inches, enough to get an average sized rider behind the bubble. For those planning on touring, a special pack is available with a larger smoked screen. The saddle is surprisingly comfortable and a far cry from your regular superbike. Even the pillion gets a happy bum with an aftermarket larger seat and grab rails. The rider also gets options with aftermarket seats allowing an increase or decrease in saddle height by 25 mm to 20 mm respectively.
On the safety front, the SuperSport gets 8 step traction control, 3 step Bosch ABS and 3 rider modes. In the lowest setting of ABS, the rear goes free and you can get the rear sliding if you so wish! The 3 rider modes are Urban, Touring and Sport. Urban is restricted to 75 Hp and it is quite unlikely that you will ever find yourself in that mode! Horrendous riding conditions being an exception. Touring mode provides full power, but is not so sharp. In fact, there does feel a bit of a disconnect between the right wrist and rear wheel in the touring mode. The Sport mode is where you want to spend most of your time riding. You feel completely in control in the Sport mode and the bike does exactly what you want and then again 113 HP isn’t exactly going to scare you to death!
Brembo M 4.32 320mm discs do the job at the front and while this isn’t a top of the line brake unit you see on superbikes. It is more than capable of getting the job done for a bike like the SuperSport. It doesn’t have the ferocious bite of a litre class superbike, which is good for the rider with limited experience. He is less likely to get himself in trouble. Tyres are once again not what you find on the top of the line Ducati Superbikes. But the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III provides sufficient grip for the intended usage of the bike. For track sessions, you might want to look at some stickier rubber though.
There are two different color options available for the SuperSport S – Star White Silk & Ducati Red. The SuperSport variant is available only in one colour option though – Ducati Red.
The SuperSport is built to be a bike which you can use in everyday urban traffic, take to the hills for some corner carving and not feel too out of place on the track either. It’s a bike which does reasonably well in many different aspects. Unlike most other Ducatis, this bike isn’t at the extreme of any envelope. It is much like a fire breathing litre class, without the excessive firepower!
A bike perfect for someone stepping up from a Ninja 300/ RC 390 or R3. Or someone stepping down from a litre class. A bike which quite honestly doesn’t have any direct competition. A classy Ducati in a class of its own.
The Ducati SuperSport is about to be launched in India soon. We strongly recommend that if you are planning to buy a litre class sportsbike soon, put all your plans on hold until you take a test ride of this bike.