Ducati SuperSport S
My first question about the Duke when I went to pick it up, and more to the point my reaction to the answer, said plenty. How much power has it got, I enquired? Hearing it only had a measly 113bhp put me on a right downer. Heading off to a faraway Oulton Park, doing laps of the Cheshire-based circuit and making it back again suddenly didn’t sound so rosy. Jinx, Ducati’s tech chief, spotted my curling top lip and tried to put me at ease. “Don’t be put off, it’s a really good bike,” said the man who has ridden every single new Ducati for the last 20 years. What the ’ell does he know, thought I disrespectfully as I rode off.
Yet just a minute or so into the ride and I reckoned he might have a point. The SuperSport S model we’d booked feels light and easy right from the off, but better still has a properly punchy motor. Whenever you wind back the throttle there’s a good and healthy response. Whipping along the unknown back roads was a piece of cake thanks to this, and being in the right gear really didn’t much matter. If you want more speed, you just give it more juice. Add some lovely steering that felt it could track the tightest of lines, and an ace brake/fork combination, and all felt fine and dandy on the Duke. There was a lot more to like about the SuperSport S in due course, but even from the early miles Jinx’s vote on the bike seemed to have some cred. Gary and Neil got good comments from me when they asked what I reckoned to it at the first fuel stop, but there was no way they were getting the keys!
The funny thing about the motor though, is that it doesn’t feel anywhere near as fast as it obviously is. Sure it pulls strongly, but so well spread is the delivery, I actually thought the speedo was over-reading for a while. By the time we got to the hotel I was well impressed by the bike. It’s not something to rave about, but more of a dark horse capable of surprising people – just as it had done me. Even though it had ticked a load of boxes during the run up to Northwich, I still thought it’d show its limitations quite early on track the next day. That limited power was bound to kill its pace at Oulton. Again, I was proved wrong. Very wrong.
Even though it doesn’t feel too potent, and even though Gary on the KTM pulled a fair bit out of me exiting the chicane, the Duke is still competitive. I reckon it’s the competence of the overall package it has that makes it so effective. The Öhlins suspenders of this S model really are just the job. Ask the kit to do what you want, and it just gets on with doing it. The support, feel and feedback is all ace, letting you get the very best from the tyres, motor and brakes. And though I used to think quickshifters and blippers were just a gimmick not that long ago, on this bike the set up is a real asset to progress.
Gary complained it killed the motor too often if accidentally brushed, but when he tucked his massive plates out of the way,
I THOUGHT THE LIMITED POWER WOULD KILL IT AT OULTON PARK, BUT I WAS VERY WRONG...
the ‘pproblem’ was solved. Later after II’d released the key to him and NNeil, both had much to complimentcomp the bike for.
Light, easy, understated, deceptive, comfy, effective and friendly were some of the words they repeatedly uttered. The pegs touch down a bit too readily at times, but they still can’t stop the Duke doing good lap times.
When the final chequered flag came out all we wanted to do was head off for Knockhill to do more circuits up there. Instead we packed up, rode to nearby Buxton, praised it over a top curry and sampled its pleasures the next day riding it back home through the Peak District.
The air-temp’ gauge was often in single figures during the three days, but the SuperSport S always keeps your ticker warm. If you ever line up to do battle with one on either road or track, don’t underestimate it. It might not have much to shout about on paper, but on Tarmac it’s really quite an effective bit of kit that’s hard not to rate highly. Ah, and it looks tops, too.
Not colour, but still excellent...
Surprisingly good on track! Verdict 9/10 Dead easy to underrate, or even overlook, the Duke is way more than the sum of its parts. Ignore the spec sheet and ride it. Believe us, it’s a proverbial dark horse. MOTOR, CHASSIS, BRAKES, USABILITY, STYLE 10BHP MORE WOULD BE LOVELY
Thee S has all the toys!