Johannesburg – More often than not, mention of the name Ducati conjures up images of fast, sophisticated and exotic sport bikes, but the reality is that Ducati’s range of bike types is quite extensive.
From the hip and trendy Scrambler range, to the huge, rugged-looking Multistrada, to the no-nonsense Monster, Ducati has something for almost every taste. Sport tourer fans need not feel left out, because they are also catered for with Ducati’s practical but sexy SuperSport.
The name “SuperSport” is not a new one in the Ducati constellation –in fact it goes all the way back to 1973, on the 750 cc predecessor of the Pantah of the late 1970s. But the 2017 resurrection of the name plate comes in the form of a brand-new bike – well, sort of: it is actually a combination of various bits and pieces from Ducati’s parts bin.
The SuperSport’s engine is a mildly-modified version of the 937cc Testastretta II V-Twin engine that has also done duty in the Monster 939, the Hypermotard 939, and the Multistrada 950 (the slight modification are intended to smooth the power and boost the bottom end punch). The frame comes (at least partly) from the Monster 1200, and the stylists seem to have taken more than a passing glance at the Panigale team’s drawings.
I loved the torquey nature of the motor. Ducati claims that it develops 80% of its peak torque at 3 000 rpm, which is great for everyday riding. But that doesn’t make the bike a dog – handling and power are both present in ample helpings, and the seating position is an almost perfect combination of comfortable and sporty.
Unlike the Panigales, the SuperSport offers relatively relaxed ergonomicss without losing the sporty look. The handle bars are somewhere between upright and stretched over the tank, the footpegs-to-bum ratio is greater that on its sportier siblings and the windshield is adjustable to offer more wind protection on loger rides.
Braking is done by Brembo calipers clamping 320mm rotors, and kept in check by three levels of ABS. While the brakes are not quite Brembo’s top-tier offering, they are more than sufficient, even when I started pushing the bike really hard. In addition, the SuperSport offers eight levels of traction control, making it easy to find the combination that best fits your riding style. While it may not exactly be a track bike, it does a damn good impersonation of one.
On the road
The SuperSport is quite impressive when you ride hard, but it is even more so during everyday riding. It pulls cleanly from 3000rpm, and the Sachs rear shock and Marzocchi forks do a good job of smoothing over the ruts and bumps on our urban roads. At low speed, the bike feels manageable and easy to ride. The 210kg wet weight may seem hefty, but the bike feels small and nimble when you’re rolling.
I enjoyed the Multistrada 950 which I tested earlier, but being a sport tourer fan, I am even more impressed with the SuperSport. Not that it is without faults: I found the quick shifter a pain in the proverbial at lower revs, and I am frankly not convinced that it has a place on a bike like this. But that is about the extent of my criticism. The SuperSport is versatile enough to be your only bike, and that makes it the model from Ducati’s stable I would be most likely to buy for myself.
In short, it is the type of bike that you can ride to work during the week and ride hard on the track over the weekend, and it will feel equally at home in either application. Slap on the optional panniers and extend the adjustable screen, and you have a viable tourer to boot.