Ducati supersport s
The latest Ducati claims to have clubbed a superbike and a sports tourer in one. Does it succeed or does the SuperSport S fall in no man’s land?
Approachable, quick, everyday supersport that isn’t as intimidating as a Panigale
Here we are riding the latest ducati to have reached our shores. there’s something about these italian designs that evokes one’s deepest emotions. their bikes can be spotted pretty much everywhere — proudly displayed on bedroom walls, as desktop wallpapers or on smartphone covers. the new supersport’s design is no exception to this either. Bearing close resemblance to its exotic sibling, the Panigale, it naturally attracts a second glance. trust me, it looks even better and sleeker in the flesh than in the picture. its beautifully crafted full front fairing neatly conceals all bolts and hinges, creating a seamless profile. distinct led daytime running lights imitate frowning eyebrows and, with the sharp-looking halogen headlights, create a visual x-shaped cross.
On the side the bold shoulder-lines blend smoothly into the edgy fuel tank and a narrow rear end gives it a front-heavy appearance. On the left is a single-sided swingarm and with no intrusion on the right side, the double-barrel exhaust looks twice as appealing. having said that, the exposed section near the fairing, with the visible engine parts and lines of hoses, looks cluttered.
as i get on to the bike, i recollect that during its indian launch i sat on the supersport and then on the Panigale which was parked next to it to understand the difference. and it was pretty evident. the new bike isn’t just more affordable than the Panigale but also is more road-friendly. You sit comparatively upright, on a wider seat which is far more comfortable than the ducked-down, committed seating of the Panigale.
the clip-on handlebars are relatively higher and the foot-pegs are high as well but aren’t too rear-set. this makes the riding position comfortable for commuting and sports touring. staying true to that cause, the front screen can be manually raised to improve wind protection and there’s ample knee-room even for taller riders to aid
fatigue-free long jaunts. the fuel tank capacity of 16 litres seems fairly adequate for touring and there are welcome gaps between the rear panels to install panniers as well. surprisingly, when locking the handle while taking a u-turn, there’s just about enough room for the fingers between the clip-on and the fuel tank. Probably this can be sorted by adjusting the position of the clip-ons.
Facing the rider is a digital instrument console with a simple and easy-to-read layout which gives out all the info you need on the go. there are small bits that make the ducati special, such as a body-coloured extension to beautify the usually bare area around the console. the layout of the buttons and switches is a typical ducati affair and the same can be said about the overall fit and finish. top-notch, to say the least. ducati have brought both the international variants — the supersport and supersport s — to india. the standard version comes in the unmistakable ducati red colour with black wheels and powder-coated engine. it has fully adjustable Marzocchi forks and a sachs rear shock, and is priced at rs 12.08 lakh (ex-showroom). Pay another rs 1.30 lakh to get the top-of-the-line supersport s, which we have ridden here. this one also gets the same red paintwork or, for a premium, can be bought in white body with red wheels.
the supersport s is equipped with fully adjustable Öhlins suspension at front and rear and a fantastic two-way quickshifter. what makes the s stand out is a pillion seat-cover finished in the body colour, which is a paid accessory for the standard bike. Our test bike came loaded with the optional Performance Pack worth rs 60,000. this includes a carbonfibre front mud-guard, led indicators, adjustable brake/clutch levers and customised cap for the disc brake’s master cylinder.
coming to the powertrain, it sports a 110-Ps, 937-cc liquidcooled, l-twin engine which is also seen on the hypermotard and the recently launched Multistrada 950. the power figures might not make you fist-punch the air but the idea behind it is to give the bike a rider-friendly nature. For that reason the 93 nm of torque peaks at 6,500 rpm, with almost 80 per cent of it available at just 3,000 rpm.
crank it up and it sounds like a typical large V-twin, with a deep and loud note from the exhaust. i was taken aback by its subtle power delivery and flexible nature. it’s a smooth motor
While riding on the hilly roads, I enjoyed its agility and eagerness to change direction quickly. In fact, it feels light and compact on the go as compared to some other bikes in the segment
and can be revved hard without leaving your hands numb. Once it crosses the 2,000-rpm barrier, the performance is brisk and exciting all the way to the red-line. Obviously, one can compare it to the Panigale but the supersport s remains thoroughly enjoyable and would give its litre-class rivals a run for their money.
since it has three riding modes, i started with the softest one: urban. this considerably blunts the throttle response, making it ideal for wet conditions or for new riders. switching to sport cracks the whip at the 110 horses, making the supersport pounce at the lightest of throttle input. i found touring perfect for our road conditions, as it continued to give full power but without the throttle being overly sensitive. twist your wrist, and it’ll sprint to 100 km/h in less than four seconds and before you know it’ll go past 150 km/h. it’s fast and enjoyable, without scaring the living daylights out of you. the six-speed gearbox is precise but sometimes needs a bit more effort to shift at lower speeds. and it took me a few kilometres to get used to the two-way quick-shifter. not engaging the clutch while shifting a gear down came naturally now, but shifting up using the clutch took a while. in no time i started to enjoy it, especially the way it automatically blips and pops, revving the motor to iron out the down-shifts.
as expected, the handling lacks the sharpness of the Panigale, since it’s about 10 kg heavier and has a 47-mm longer wheelbase. the supersport s uses a steel trellis frame similar to the Monster; even the single-sided swingarm is borrowed from its naked sibling. while riding on the hilly roads, i enjoyed its agility and eagerness to change direction quickly. in fact, it feels light and compact on the go as compared to some other bikes in the segment. with the high foot-pegs and good cornering clearance, the ducati should be fun on the racetrack as well.
not to forget, the supersport s comes
with sticky Pirelli diablo rosso iii that offer impressive grip and give confidence to tip the bike over and attack fast corners. strong braking comes from the ever dependable Brembo setup, along with the muchneeded Bosch aBs system. the safety pack also includes eight-level traction control which doesn’t feel intrusive, hence does not steal away the joy of riding.
what also works in the ducati’s favour is its ride quality. the Öhlins flatten out most bumpy, pothole-ridden patches of road and only feels firm over larger ditches. since i was concerned about the ground clearance, i took caution while negotiating tall speed-breakers, and managed to avoid the underbody from scraping during my ride: a precaution one has to take while riding fully-faired bikes in india.
now for a couple of niggles. after shooting on the cool hilly roads, i headed back to the ducati dealership in town. the city traffic made the engine temperature soar, rapidly reaching a very hot 107 degrees. another issue is the protruding ends of the trellis frame near the fuel tank. though covered with plastic caps, they rub against the rider’s inner thigh when gripping the tank tightly.
Finally then, should you consider buying the supersport s? at rs 13.39 lakh (exshowroom), it’s about a lakh-and-a-half cheaper than the 959 Panigale, and with the relaxed rider geometry you’ll be riding it more often than its track-focused sibling. compared to its litre-class competition, the ducati might not offer an explosive performance, but sure feels more nimble and compact. But the biggest attraction is its enviable italian flair and gorgeous design, which, thanks to its rich lineage, can kindle passion even while remaining stationary.
Riderfriendly motor offers 80 per cent of peak torque at 3,000 revs
The beautiful fairing neatly conceals all bolts, creating a seamless profile
Comfortable wide seat with ample knee-room add to its touring credibility
Performance Pack includes carbon-fibre mudguard, LED indicators and adjustable levers