FIRST RIDE: 2017 DUCATI SUPERSPORT
The sportbike for the daily rider
When we talk about sportbikes, we’re almost always talking about motorcycles built with one goal in mind: excellence on a racetrack. Most of the sportbikes purchased, however, never see the billiardssmooth pavement or corner coping they were designed to slay.
It seems as if I’m not the only one who saw this hole in the market. Ducati claims the Supersport comes as its attempt to create the best sportbike for the street possible and that in doing so it didn’t benchmark any other bikes or see anything as a real competitor. And, after riding the thing, I actually believe them.
The Supersport mixes bits from several models in the line, at least in spirit. The motor is the 937cc Testastretta 11° engine, borrowed from the Hypermotard 939, only now with a few minor changes that smooth throttle response and move the power slightly lower in the powerband. Styling cues, including the face and bodywork, come from the Panigale superbike, while the ergonomics and general riding aptitude feel pure Monster.
To make it more comfortable
for daily riding, the Supersport has raised clip-ons and lowered footpegs and comes with a windscreen that can be raised or lowered within a 2-inch range. Seat height comes in at a reasonable 31.9 inches, but Ducati offers aftermarket options to raise that by 25mm or lower it by 20mm.
For our evaluation, we first rode the Supersport S on the Monteblanco Circuit outside of Seville, Spain, before swapping to the standard model for a jaunt in the local twisties.
On track, the extra leverage on the bars and lowered pegs made for a bit of an awkward ride as we learned our way around the 3-mile track. The Supersport falls into corners incredibly quickly, and, once you get used to making lighter inputs to steady mid-corner lean, the pegs drag quickly as the pace and lean angle increase.
The Supersport overrides the Rosso IIIS readily, and I was getting decent amounts of slip on the exit of multiple corners with the traction control set at Level 2. I was astounded by the Duc’s ability to not cut power dramatically enough to upset the chassis while allowing some slide as I drove out of corners.
By the end of the second session, I’d gotten used to the bike and was in a proper game of cat and mouse with a fellow journalist and was riding the bike as hard as I would a Panigale. My lap times likely wouldn’t have been the same, but the experience was in no way lacking. For only partaking in two sessions on the track, we were having a ball.
The street is where the Supersport really shines. I hadn’t realized it on the track, but the revised fueling is a massive improvement and makes the bike easily usable for all riding, even in its sportiest engine mapping.
The sharp handling that took
THE STREET IS WHERE THE SUPERSPORT REALLY SHINES.
some adapting to was immediately appreciated in the tight, urban streets of the tiny towns outside of Seville. With those tiny streets came potholes, brick, and cobblestone, which, while a far cry from comfy, weren’t nearly as painful on the Supersport as they would have been on a normal sportbike.
Everything from the way the bike builds power to how it handles to the riding position is impeccably designed for daily riding and carving canyons. We rode an incredible section outside Seville I’ve actually ridden several times on different trips, and the Supersport was the perfect machine to try to ride them to their potential.
I know it’s a small distinction, but a sportbike with upright bars and an upright bike with a fairing are different things. One can be turned into a sport-tourer, the other into a makeshift trackbike. Think of the Supersport less as a small Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and more of a Ninja 650 on steroids.
Trackdays are great, but not everyone has the time, energy, or money to do them often. And going on long trips on capable bikes is awesome, but not everyone goes on those enough to need a bike built specifically for that. However, there are a ton of people who ride their bikes daily, like to go for a fun afternoon ride in their local twisties, want to appreciate the bike for more than just its practicality, and who want to occasionally hit the track or take a trip. For them, the Ducati Supersport is perfect and there isn’t really anything else like it.
2017 DUCATI SUPERSPORT
2017 DUCATI SUPERSPORT S