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Ducati Supersport S - Road Test Review

Ducati Supersport S - Road Test Review

Snapshot: Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Ducati Supersport S, and it was surely one of the finest days of my motorcycling career.

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From becoming a part of some very major action shots in Hollywood movies like The Matrix and Tron to making Moto GP history with Casey Stoner, the Bologna-based motorcycle maker has come a long way. For some, owning a Ducati is not just about the ride, it’s much more than that. And for others when it comes to motorcycles, it is just Ducati and nothing else. Some rich and famous personalities park these motorcycles in their bedroom, while others like me work towards making this dream come true. Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Ducati Supersport S, and it was surely one of the finest days of my motorcycling career.  

Design:

It’s hard to find the right words to do justice to the way it looks, its design is basically a derivation of the Panigale 959 and from some angles it does looks like the same bike. On a highway, if you are passing by at a good speed, it will be quite hard to judge if it’s a Panigale or a Supersport. And don’t get me started on its looks, because if you don’t love attention, this bike is not for you. As it looks so alluring that whenever you are out there in public, most of the eyeballs around you will only be looking at it and nothing else. 

I still remember the look on my neighbor’s face when I uncovered the bike for the first time, was a pure ‘jaw drop moment’ I remember. 

The front like rest of the body reminds of the Panigale, but it’s just that the headlights have been designed slightly different to make it distinctive. The side body fairings have been crafted in a way to help faster ventilation and thus cooling, but on the other hand, all the boiling hot air is deviated toward the thighs, not towards feet. Also, the planetary gap between the engine and the fairing may not appeal to everyone.

The Ducati signature trellis frame design delineates its raw instincts and what also makes its design standout from everything else is the fact that it gets the glamorous looking single-sided swingarm and the Y-pattern 3-spoke wheels which are perhaps one of the highlights of its design. It gets a single seat that has been designed for maximum comfort and has a detailed Ducati logo on it.

Overall, no doubt that Ducati makes the best looking bikes and Supersport S is no exception. All the attention it gets in public clearly says that it’s an exotic. And it ticks all the right boxes in our chart when it comes to looks alone.

It’s fully LCD instrument panel lights up like a Christmas tree, and displays all the information you can possibly imagine on a motorbike. It might look cluttered at the first glance, but then it is also an intelligent format to sew all the data on a single screen. 

Engine and Transmission:

Enough of the looks, now let us get to what inside this gorgeous fairing. The bike runs on a 973cc twin-cylinder Testastrreta engine which is liquid-cooled. It puts out close to 109bhp of maximum power at 9,000 rpm and 93Nm of peak torque comes at 6500rpm. The engine comes mated to a 6-speed transmission and it being the higher ‘S’ model, also gets a bidirectional quick shifter. I really enjoyed using the quick shifter at times since the stock transmission felt a bit stiff and lacked precision that I am used to on a motorcycle. Also, false neutral was something that kept me from developing any feelings for this transmission.

Three riding modes (Sport, Touring, and Urban) are standard on the Supersport S and I loved the fact that you can shift and select your personal mode on the go, you don’t have to pull over on the side. A single push on the direction indicator button allows you to shuffle through the modes, easily. All you have to do is keep the throttle closed for a couple of seconds.

All about the modes:

The bike surprised me in many ways, and I’ll start by saying how reactive it’s middle and the top end feels in sport mode. In this mode the engine is in its full 109bhp mode and by that I mean as soon as you twist the wrist, this thing pulls, and sometimes it even feels more powerful than it is. Torque is available right from the lower revs and it only gets stronger in the middle and the upper band. The power delivery is a lot snappier in this mode, and the bike reacts fiercely to even the tiniest of throttle inputs, and I was on my toes to see the hot-temperedness of the engine, made me feel like riding a real race bike instead of a sport tourer. But if you don’t ride with all this excitement all the time, or aren’t comfortable enough, you can switch to the Urban. As soon as you are running on Urban, the engine feels way calmer and relaxed. The engine reacts to the throttle more linearly and you will be delighted to use it in the city or even on the highways, I totally enjoyed it. It comes down to 75bhp in this mode, which is more than enough if you want to trundle around the city streets. Touring, like Sport mode runs on 109bhp, but uses different ABS and DTC interventions. The bike comes with 3 level ABS and 8 level DTC, which helps hugely to tame this fierce machine. I accept I’ve never been a fan of the new age electronics, but on the other hand, they really do a fantastic job of saving novice riders from landing on their behind. As by no means the Supersport is for beginners, it is a properly powerful machine that changes its nature on demand.

Ride and Handling:

Ducati has collected the best possible riding elements to keep it light, precise and predictable. Few of the traits of a good bike, and thus Supersport truly shines in that department. The big 973cc L-Twin is placed between the trellis frame which is connected to the engine heads. The frame along with the single-sided swingarm helps to keep the overall dry weight of the bike under good 183 kg, which by all standards is commendable. Thus the weight majorly contributes to keeping the Supersport agile on its feet.

Since it the higher ‘S’ version, it gets fully adjustable 48mm Ohlins USD forks at the front and an Ohlins single monoshock at the back which is also fully adjustable. Also, the bike runs on the best in class Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber, which are the real deal.

I was riding on the softer setup, and hence the suspension was trying to make sure I was being comfortable than anything else. Hence, few of the times I ended up bouncing on the irregular surfaces but was uncomfortable was I ever? No! But the same setup was nonetheless sporty enough for me to scrape my knees off when in the mood. Hence Supersport comes out be a very versatile handler that allows you to go deep into a corner and at the same time comfortable on the worst roads.

And it only gets better as soon as you tap the brakes. Hands down, Monoblock Brembo M4-32 at the front are one of the best brakes I’ve tested on any bikes. The slightest touch on the lever and the bike stop in no time with unbelievable confidence, and the rear braking is super impressive too. 

Ergonomics and Comfort: 

The versatility of the bikes doesn’t just end in the engine department, but the way it has been engineered makes sure you can ride it day in and day out (if weather allows). The 810mm ground clearance, clip-ons handle-bar position, single-seat design and foot-pegs allow the rider to feel at ease, and even in bumper to bumper traffic conditions, the ergonomics are moderately comfortable. Also, this position is sporty enough to stick your chest to the tank and no you will not look a ‘wannabe’ racer but an actual one. So in both the ways you can again ride it the way you want.

The small windscreen upfront makes sure to keep the rider safe from the nasty wind blast at highway speeds, also it can be adjusted to one’s height and preference. The single seat is nicely padded for extended comfort while the rear too looks good enough.

The only thing that might be of a big concern is the heating from the engine that destroys all the fun. And if you are riding in the sun, and you can’t dodge the heavy traffic, the engine heat will make sure you get ‘tandoori legs’ by the time you reach home.

Is it good for highways or occasional weekend getaway rides?

Definitely yes! Well obviously not as good as the Multistrada family but still a big yes for a bike that is in the touring family as much as it is in the sport, maybe a bit more in the latter. You can really saddle up and plan long rides on it, without much fuss. The only thing you should take into account is the weather condition which should not be hot.

And on the same time you will be all smiles when taking it to the track days, cause with the geometry Supersport has been designed, it should feel home at racetracks as much as it does on the highways.  

Verdict:

The saying ‘Body of an angel, soul of a demon's minion’ holds true for this bike which is yet another remarkable product from the Bologna-based motorcycle maker. The Ducati Supersport S faces fierce competition from its well established Japanese rivals but at the same time, none of them offers the kind of package Supersport S does. It sounds like an expensive deal at Rs 13.34 Lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) but at the same time, it is also miles ahead when its truly modern electronics are taken into consideration.

Photography: Mohd. Nasir

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