Test riding Ducati's SuperSport S

Jan 21, 2018, 12:47 IST | Sarmad Kadiri

Ducati's SuperSport S is a sports bike that is fun for trackdays and cosy for street use and touring

Ducati

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

The 950 L-twin produces 80% of its torque at 3,000 revs
The 950 L-twin produces 80% of its torque at 3,000 revs

Ducati has 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. Pay another Rs 1.30 lakh to get the top-of-the-line SuperSport S, which we have ridden here.

The SuperSport S is equipped with fully adjustable Öhlins suspension at front and rear and a fantastic two-way quick-shifter. Our test bike came loaded with the optional Performance Pack worth Rs 60,000. This includes a carbon-fibre front mudguard, LED indicators, adjustable brake/clutch levers and customised cap for the disc brake's master cylinder.

There are gaps in the rear panel to mount panniers
There are gaps in the rear panel to mount panniers

Coming to the powertrain, it sports a 113-PS, 937-cc liquid-cooled, L-twin engine. 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. It's a smooth motor 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. 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. The six-speed gearbox is precise, but sometimes needs a bit more effort to shift at lower speeds. And, it took us 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 we started to enjoy it, especially the way it automatically blips and pops, revving the motor to iron out the downshifts.

The adjustable screen can be manually set for optimal wind protection. Pics/Saurabh Botre
The adjustable screen can be manually set for optimal wind protection. Pics/Saurabh Botre

As expected, the handling lacks the sharpness of the Panigale, since it's about 10 kg heavier and has a 47-mm longer wheelbase. While riding on the hilly roads, we enjoyed its agility and eagerness to change direction quickly. In fact, it feels light and compact on the go.

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 much-needed Bosch ABS system. The safety pack also includes eight-level traction control. 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 we were concerned about the ground clearance, we took caution while negotiating tall speed-breakers, and managed to avoid the underbody from scraping during our ride. 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.

Should you consider buying the SuperSport S? At Rs 13.39 lakh (ex-showroom), it's about a lakh-and-a-half cheaper than the Panigale 959, and with the relaxed rider geometry you'll be riding it more often than its track-focused sibling. Compared to its litre-class competition, it might not offer an explosive performance, but sure feels more nimble and compact. The biggest attraction is its enviable Italian flair and gorgeous design, which, thanks to its rich lineage, can kindle passion even while remaining stationary.

Specifications

Ducati SuperSport S
Engine
937-cc, liquid-cooled, 90° V-Twin
Max Power
110 PS at 9,000 rpm
Max Torque
93 Nm at 6,500 rpm
Weight
210 kg
Transmission
Six-speed, chain final driver
Price
Rs 13.39 lakh (ex-showroom)

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