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

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