Images : Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
Practicality and fully-faired bikes do not mix quite well in Ducati‘s philosophy. They have been known to make stunning superbikes but inadvertently all of them have been designed to give you more pleasure on the race tracks than everyday urban usage. That is until Ducati decided to revive the SuperSport brand, which was motorcycles aimed to please in the city as well as out on the open highway – but these used to appear in a naked avatar.
2016 World Ducati Week changed that. Amongst many exciting events taking place, there was a small private screening of Project 1312, Ducati’s next big thing. Despite their best efforts to stop spy shots, we got the first glimpse of the SuperSport. The bike went on to be launched at the Intermot show later that year and was adjudged the ‘Best Looking Motorcycle’ at EICMA. A year into its global launch, the SuperSport makes its way into India and we were treated to a ride on its sportier ‘S’ variant.
The pictures do not do justice to the SuperSport. The Panigale deisgn philosophy may have transcended on to the SuperSport but there are subtle hints at the differences. The fairing is wider and trails off in the lower half to reveal the exhaust pipes. There is a large gap between the engine and the fairing to aid in better air-flow and cooling purposes. Those LED DRL and headlight unit is quite exquisite and has been designed to mimic the letter ‘X’.
The single seat unit has got a nice taper to it to help the rider move back and forth with ease. The standard saddle height is 810mm but you get accessory seats to reduce or increase the height by 20mm and 25mm. The clip-on handlebars are at a higher position than the Panigale. The rider triangle is relatively relaxed; the rear set footpegs making for a nice middle ground between sport and touring riding. For me, it is the best ergonomically sorted Ducati out there and buyers will surely love it too.
The 937cc Testastretta 11° L-twin motor still has the rawness about it. However, Ducati have not allowed it to appear in the same mental trim that you get on the 939 Hypermotard or the Multistrada 950. It makes the same power output of 113hp as the other two motorcycles. The charm of this motor is the way it delivers the power. The 96.7Nm of torque is spread evenly. 80 per cent of the torque is readily available at 3000rpm and the chunk it of lies between 5000rpm and 9000rpm. This makes for a great everyday usage motorcycle. The fuelling is precise thanks to 53mm Mikuni throttle bodies with full ride-by-wire. The bike doesn’t skimp on any form of electronic aids, coming laden with Ducati’s entire package – the DTC working in tandem efficiently with Bosch 9MP ABS. The ABS cannot be fully turned off as in the lowest setting it remains active only on the front wheel. You can choose from Urban, Touring and Sport riding modes, with each mode enhancing the performance levels of the engine as well as dialling down the DTC and ABS levels.
Through all three modes, the bi-directional DQS (Ducati Quick Shifter) – standard on the ‘S’ – worked like a charm. You can keep the throttle open at as low as 3000rpm and still get it to work. You will also reduce the usage of the slipper clutch on downshifts thanks to the auto-blipper feature. And when you do make use of the quickshifter for shifting down, you are greeted to a fluttering note that heightens your senses greatly. I had to use the clutch only to slot the bike into neutral while making it out to the test location from the city and nowhere else. This is the best attribute of the bike as it will help commuting in our conditions. The exhaust note is typical Ducati, a bit understated though, considering it has to adhere to Euro IV emission norms.
Ducati wants this bike to slot in between a conventional sports-bike and a sports-tourer and I tend to agree with the statement, although it baffled me initially. Show it some bends and the taut steel trellis chassis, found on the Monster 821, offers great stability. One might still get few vibrations at the grips, as the cylinders are mounted directly on the chassis. In typical Ducati fashion, you are greeted with a single-sided aluminium die-cast swingarm. The bike is extremely agile and nimble, to the point you can negotiate road craters with ease.
This being the S version, you get suspension components from Ohlins. As you will find out, the Ohlins respond way better when the bike is ridden fast. Not that the stock setting would cause discomfort at low speeds, it just feels right at speeds close to our speed limits. Both the 48mm USD forks and the monoshock are fully adjustable. Riding a Ducati through corners is an enthralling prospect and this one is no different. It will not be stepping out the rear at exits like others would and that I feel is a good thing.
I loved the way Ducati has gone about the wheels. The Y-shaped 3-spoke alloys are lightweight and look spectacular. They then put on new sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber, a direct descendant of the Diablo Supercorsas found on the Panigale. The Rosso IIIs are quite grippy and offer no fuss in any manner whatsoever, unless you want them to. Brembo M4.32 monoblocs stop the bike in no time by exerting enough power on the dual 320mm discs upfront. The feel on the levers is a bit more progressive than I would have liked it to be. At the rear you get a 245mm disc with a dual-piston Brembo unit, offering adequate retardation and one could not ask for more.
Should you put down your hard earned money and purchase the motorcycle which retails at Rs 13.39 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi? The pricing is quite near the 959 Panigale and more than what you would end up paying for a Multistrada 950. My answer, oh hell yeah! Anyone willing to buy this motorcycle will be buying the best Ducati that they have ever produced. It retains a bit of the hooliganism and substitutes the rest for practicality. You can have a blast every weekend and still opt to set quick times around the MMRT after riding down from your respective cities.