Ducati introduced the all-new SuperSport during INTERMOT 2016 and it blew everyone away. It was awarded the Most Beautiful Bike of the Show and had Ducati fans drooling in anticipation of its arrival on showroom floors around the world. Now finally, we get to swing a leg over it in this First Test Review.
On paper it ticks all the right boxes: 937cc Testastretta 11-degree L-Twin engine based on the one powering the liquid-cooled Hypermotard, a purpose built frame and single-sided swingarm, a rider-friendly riding position— and it’s all wrapped in gorgeous Ducati bodywork. Add into the mix a complete suite of rider-support technology including Bosch-powered ABS and Ducati Traction Control (DTC) as well as three engine power modes so you can tailor it to fit your every whim.
After riding it on the back roads of Spain and the Monteblanco racetrack, we affirm that this bike is going to be a hit for Ducati.
Available in two models: The base model SuperSport with its 41mm Marzocchi fork and Sachs shock or the ’S’ model that is equipped with a larger diameter Ohlins fork (48mm) and matching gold shock. We rode the base model on the street and the S-model on the track. Here’s what we discovered:
Riding the SuperSport at the Circuit
Monteblanco is a tight and technical 18-turn circuit located south of Seville. It features a fairly long straight and mostly first gear turns that put a premium on braking. There’s a couple faster bends that you can run second gear if you set everything up just right. If it sounds challenging then you get the point. It was. But it was fun and just about the perfect venue for testing this bike.
The straightaway revealed two things about the SuperSport: First, it provides good wind protection at triple digit speeds. Second, is that the engine does not have a huge top end the likes of a Panigale Superbike. While it pulls great through the mid-range and feels fast in first through third gear, it takes a while to spool up to 140 mph. But on the shorter sections, it was an absolute blast.
Knowing that DTC had me covered if I pushed the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires to close to the edge of their available traction, made it even more fun. Every time the DTC activated, a tiny yellow light flashes on the dash to let you know. It became a game where I was trying to see how soon I could get back on the gas without getting pitched off. By the end of each session I was more and more impressed with the overall package.
Meanwhile the hairpin first turn proves just how awesome the M4-32 Brembo braking system is. Although these are not the top-of-the line components, you will be hard pressed to notice while riding. When you have a pair of stout radial-mount calipers biting down on oversized rotors equipped with a capable ABS system, you will see it’s hard to find faults. They’re strong, offer excellent feel at the lever and only started to show slight signs of fade after four consecutive sessions, including two at the hands of a professional caliber road racer that I was sharing the bike with. I’m not sure any system can survive his wrath.
As far as the chassis and Ohlins suspension is concerned, this is as good as it gets for a bike in this price range. The trellis frame bolted to the front of the engine is derived from the current Monster 1200 while the purpose built swingarm is longer to help attain the handling characteristics Ducati was looking for.
The technicians on hand knew what they were doing so these bikes handled like a dream the entire day. The front doesn’t dive hard under braking, the chassis is ultra-stable when it’s getting slammed around the four-mile long track and the rear Pirelli showed perfect wear so obviously they had the rear shock dialed in too.
Despite coming away impressed with the engine and the handling at the end of our track time, it was the comfort that most surprised me. The seat has a slight curve to it the design that holds you in place nicely. The bars are tall so it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your wrists and the footpegs are low in an effort to open up the knee area a bit for the rider. The downside of the low pegs is that they scrape if you are just mindlessly pitching the bike on its side mid-corner.
I’m getting older so these days, after a few sessions on any superbike my wrists usually ache about as much as my back does. Nothing hurt this time. The upright riding position isn’t ideal for the track but I was correct in assuming it would be ideal on the street. And that’s where we were headed next.
SuperSport vs. Spanish Roads
There’s an amazing stretch of highway outside of Monteblanco that is a sportbike rider’s paradise. We hopped on the shiny red base model SuperSport and made our way through the local towns, out to the country where the asphalt was dark, smooth and flowing with bright painted lines and the picturesque mountains of Andalusia filled up the horizon.
Our ride leader obviously had the route down because he was riding quickly and that made the trip even better. After experiencing the stop and go nature of riding on the track it was a relaxing thrill ride to connect what felt like a hundred perfect sweepers for 20-30 minutes at a time. Besides the beautiful girls, awesome food, rich heritage and amazing culture, Spain also has epic canyon roads.
Ducati dragged us through a couple very old mountain villages so we also got to experience rough, cobblestone roads that were 180-degree switchbacks running both up and down hill. It was like a slow version of the Isle of Man with houses and sidewalks lining both sides of the already narrow street. The SuperSport soaked it all up without complaint. That fork and shock offer over five inches of travel so it provides a plush compliant ride on some pretty rough surfaces. And when the road was smooth, the ride was absolutely wonderful no matter how fast we were going.
The brakes that proved to be good on the track were more than enough on the street. The wind protection is good and when you lift the adjustable screen into its taller position it really sheds the wind around you. Those high bars, comfortable seat and low pegs put you in a position that makes you feel like you can ride for days. But the feeling I enjoyed the most on the street was the purring pulses of that Testastretta engine pouring out of the stubby mufflers. There’s no doubt you’re on a Ducati when you’re riding this baby.
I was bummed when we were making our way back to the track for the end of our ride. After spending the entire day in the seat of the SuperSport I was really starting to get attached to it. Not only does it provide a great track experience and even better street manners, but it did it Ducati style.
When this bike was first unveiled, all the hype was about how beautiful it is. Now, after the press has had their way with it for the past month, everyone will know that it works as good as it looks.
That’s great news for a variety of potential suitors. If you’re a new rider with discerning taste, you will be happy to know its rider friendly and is equipped with all the latest electronic rider assist equipment. If you’re of a certain age where you want a comfortable bike that combines plenty of usable power in a sexy package, it works for you too. And if you have been waiting for a Ducati that falls somewhere between the Panigale and the Hypermotard, then this could be the bike for you.
The thing is, that Ducati was sure this bike would have a larger range of appeal than many of its more narrowly focused models. The question on our minds was who exactly is this bike built for? Well, the answer to that is easy. It’s perfect for anybody that wants a Ducati that is fast, comfortable and affordable.