Announced at EIMCA 2016 the Ducati Supersport S filled me with joy. The prospects of a sporty Ducati suitable for the track, a Sunday hoon, or touring. Plus it was affordable to a mere mortal. Sounds good so far right?
Even better when you remember Ducati don’t do half measures or even singles. So the Supersport sounds promising from the off.
We still want the styling, power and speed of a Panigale, maybe tuned down to somewhere around the 160ish mark. Also, a slightly comfier riding position, a larger fuel tank and a comfy pillion seat for a passenger all would be very welcome.
Ducati already manufactures Panigale in smaller displacement and horsepower figures, 899 and 959’s are available, but they still have the sportbike riding position. This can be uncomfortable for some riders on a longer distance. Being young, stupid and short, comfort isn’t a problem for me, but for others, it might.
Imagine the above points paired with, a successful chassis (based on the Monster), a comfy riding position combined with a gadget-packed and tinkered engine and electronics package. The Supersport S sounds like a decent bike to me.
I was bitterly disappointed with only 113 horsepower. Despite the initial disappointment it quickly fades away. What it has got, is easy enough.
I bagged myself a demo Supersport S. It was going to be my first ride of a Ducati. Ideally, I would have loved my first Ducati experience to have been on a 916, but not all wishes come true. (If anybody knows anybody with one, I would really like to borrow it!).
Let’s start with looks.
Styled along the lines of a Panigale the bike looks stunning from all angles. There are some subtle differences, like the higher and adjustable windscreen. The visible trellis frame gives even more, wow factor and the Supersport S gets more sporty looks over the standard Supersport with the addition of a removable rear seat cowl.
Single sided swingarms are another stroke of design genius and are guaranteed to look sexy, on any bike. The main talking point on this bike is the standard shotgun style exhausts. These exhausts are one of the only exhausts from the past few years which I find tolerable in standard form. Designers have been forced to cut down noise and emissions, leading to ugly catalytic converter boxes and silencers which look ghastly. This shotgun arrangement looks stunning, and even better Akrapovic do aftermarket systems to raise the decibels if the standard bark isn’t enough. The standard can still produce an excellent sounding note, it booms, away very happily with the burble associated with twins.
The Supersport uses a similar steel trellis frame design to the Monster.
The monster has been evolving for donkey’s years, with each revision getting better and better. Couple the tried and tested chassis with quality components such as Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 tyres, Brembo brakes and Ohlins front, and Sachs rear suspension. These quality components, with a great electronics package, (LCD Dash, Quickshifter and adjustable rider modes) for £13k?
Good looking dash, see video below.
I went for a little B road blast, around the Staffordshire countryside. The bike’s handling is excellent. Light and agile enough for town work, and positive and flickable when out on rural roads. The clutch has a great feel and makes filtering through the rush hour traffic simple. Once out of the town it’s not used, and the quickshifter takes most of the abuse. The raised handlebars allow great inputs and coupled with the quality suspension and tyres it feels very safe and predictable. The adjustable front screen provides various levels of protection from wind, it was good for me, but I am small, so it might not stretch tall enough for a taller rider to provide full protection.
Lets got back to that engine
Weirdly at the start of I wasn’t happy with “only 113Hp”. Based on the 950 Hypermotard, the engine has had a few tweaks to the engine and fueling. It makes it ride sportier, with the torque less peaky. We all know that with that the 113hp power figure it’s not breaking any land speed records, but the torque makes it feels quick. It fires you through traffic making overtaking easy, and the 6-speed gearing is positive and perfectly sized. The bike doesn’t struggle at all when out on the road.
The suspension is soft enough to soak up bumps, cats eyes and other debris in the road, but also firm enough to not feel lazy. It still feels sporty considering it having the word tourer in the product description. Gear changes are effortless going up and down the box with the quick-shifter. The quick-shifter needed to be manhandled more than I would have liked, but it wasn’t a problem.
The only slight negative I have is that I’m not the biggest fan of twins. I’ve never liked the lumpiness and vibrations that are associated with them, but I do love the twin soundtrack. On the Supersport S the vibrations are very apparent through the mirrors, they like a good shake at lower rpms. If I’m honest, the lesser amount of power comes as a bit of a relief. Being branded as a sport touring bike, it still has enough poke to make outstanding progress. I don’t think I would have a problem doing a full few days riding on it. Enjoying myself at a steady pace, carving up slower traffic, It feels a very safe bet. It was a pleasant experience to be able to go out and ride without having to worry every second about what the bike was going to do. It allowed me to chill out more and enjoy the ride, perfect for a touring bike.
California Superbike school ran these as student bikes in 2017, quite a few people I know doing a CSS day on one, and complimenting how good the bike was. Ducati claims the bike will lean to 48 degrees before any ground contact, so that is another big plus point, for people who also want to use it on track.
Lots of optional upgrades available
Lots of accessories are available from Ducati. Heated grips are available and lots carbon fibre, as well as a touring pack. Soft panniers, low and comfortable seats and magnetic tank bags with more available options.
£13,000 for it in white, or £200 less for red, this is a good price for a Ducati that looks this good and rides this well.
Overall it’s a lovely place to be. The soundtrack burbles away happily, it handles extremely well. The only problem I have is that I am struggling slightly to understand the target market. It’s not a sports bike, and it’s not a full blown tourer, it’s like a half and half.
If you are a track day junky, you would pick a Panigale. If you often tour first pick would be a Multistrada. For posing around town, you would choose a scrambler or a monster. If you were to be mixing it up with a bit of all three, then this bike should undoubtedly be on the list of considerations. These are of course stereotypes, but I’m still unsure what stereotype fits this bike, there are so many prospective buyers.