Review: 2017 Ducati SuperSport
The all-new Ducati SuperSport is a versatile light sports motorcycle. Here is our Ducati SuperSport review... Test: Jeff Ware Photography: iKapture Footage: Petofoto, JP Media.
I recently attended the Aussie launch of the Ducati SuperSport and SuperSport S, where we sampled the bikes in urban, rural, twisties and even at a private testing facility. It was a great loop and day, allowing us to test the SuperSport to the limit…
Check out the tech breakout below for the full rundown on what is going on under those amazing fastener free fairings! In the meantime, here is the ride experience…
DUCATI SUPERSPORT – THE RIDE
Sitting on a train for a few hours as I head to the Australian press ride for the new SuperSport, I’ve got plenty of time to read up on the bike and have a think about additional test points over standard ones.
The bike, on paper at least, has a lot going for it. It’s easy on the eye, too, and I’m flicking through images on ducati.com.au having a bit of a daydream about the bike as the daily commuters around me bury their heads in social media like every other miserable day. I feel pretty blessed to be heading out on a new model Ducati for a job. Note to self. Stop moaning about life!
I arrive at Ducati to hot coffee and an awesome breakfast. It gives me time to catch up with my peers and have a chat about the bike and a first look. First impression? The bike looks versatile more than anything. Not over the top or too understated.
As I head into the tech presentation I’m eager to find out where this model is positioned and Ducati’s Andy Simpson gets straight to the point. Fair and square at the owner looking to step up from a nakedbike, or step back from a full-blown sportsbike.
Someone not ready to go full-on touring or cruising and an owner that needs an everyday ride that can make a winding road into a racetrack on Sunday mornings. Even first time Ducati owners will find the bike an appealing entry to the world of Ducatisti… It all makes sense.
I head downstairs and gear up in my road gear. We don’t know where we are going, only that we are heading north out of town for a spin in the hills followed by a place we can engage in some ‘more spirited riding’… We were asked to bring leathers and street gear. Hmm…
I jump on the standard SuperSport and instantly feel at home. The tall ‘bars are well positioned with a comfortable upright reach yet a sporty enough feel. Switchgear falls to hand and the dash easy enough to navigate. The adjustable screen is not touring big and still screams sportsbike but can be lifted or lowered. The tank is narrow between the knees, seat wide and comfortable and the seat-to-‘pegs distance is very generous.
After a short warm up, we head off through Sydney’s peak hour traffic. In a group of a dozen or so, lane filtering is out of the question, so the first hour on the bike is in the worst possible conditions for any rider – bumper to bumper traffic. The engine is hot but I’m in my Rapid jeans and not getting cooked legs. The fan is doing overtime.
I try Urban and the 75hp setting with soft throttle is a bit too doughy for me and I don’t feel confident moving between lanes and cars. I can feel it’d be great in the wet and would be more appropriately named Wet or Rain. I flick it to Touring and use that as the traffic frees up slightly before settling on the Sport mode, which is more direct and connected.
The slightly grabby clutch is copping a hiding in the traffic and with only 60km on my test bike the gearbox is still not run in, so selecting neutral requires the engine to be turned off. I noticed plenty of riders struggling to find neutral in the crawling traffic. Gearboxes improved as the day went on.
Eventually we get out of the ‘burbs and into the hills. Sounds like a nasty ride but honestly, on a sportsbike, tourer or hypernaked it would have been hell. The SuperSport made it bearable.
Finally able to stretch the throttle cable back… oh hang on. Finally able to send that full throttle signal to the ECU (ah, modern times, eh?) the SuperSport breathes to life. I’m on my local road.
I’ve been riding here for 26-years. I know every bump and I soon realise I can hit most of them at full tilt on the SuperSport without an issue. Sports geometry. Tourer-ish suspension and bump absorption. What a top combo.
Things hot up as I break away from the group with one other journo who also knows the road. We go for it and push hard, our only chance to test the bike on the winding roads. I’m enjoying firing the Testastretta from smooth corner to smooth corner, braking hard to the apex and then firing the bike off. The forks are soft, though, and braking has to be done with finesse as dive is fast and the Marzocchi’s could do with firming up for fast road riding and hard braking on roads like this.
Grip from the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tyres is sensational and feel is good. I have huge confidence in the front of the bike, so I am grinning and getting a buzz at the same time. The Supersport is more fun than a sportsbike here. I’m really comfortable on it at this pace. The bike is stable mid turn, doesn’t run wide off turns on the gas and the 115hp is just right for firing between turns, although, I’d like a smoother initial throttle application as it is snatchy. Corner run-in is fast and the slipper clutch effective.
I’m carrying loads of mid-corner speed as I chase the other rider and haven’t once touched the footpegs down. The ABS and DTC are there in the back of my mind through the slick sections and overall I’m having a ball and at the same time I’m highly impressed. What a road bike.
Soon enough we arrive at our surprise destination and as soon as we head towards the area I know where we are going! I hadn’t been there for years and it was great to see that stunning ribbon of tarmac.
Leathers on and time to head out, I grab the SuperSport S. No mucking around, I get straight into it and have my knee on the deck by turn three.
A sighting lap at full tilt gets me familiar with the bike in these ultra-grippy conditions and I am yet again impressed. I thought it would be way too soft but the S is well supported and handling the grip fine.
Onto the front chute it is head down, bum up and I clip the apex of turn one at 210km/h before running the bike through the scary fast turn two and braking deep into turn three, pulling the bike tight into the apex with ease and confidence, all while getting intimate feel and feedback from the Brembo brakes and Pirelli rubber. As soon as I feel that, I’m at one with the bike and into it.
Flat chat through the stupid fast open esses at close to 190km/h my Sidi toe sliders ever so gently caress the tarmac as I tip the bike left, right, left. Even at this speed the SS changes direction with precision and speed, only minimal effort on the ‘bars needed.
Holding the RbW throttle pinned as long as I dare, I take a deep breath and brake hard at the tighter esses, gritting my teeth and thinking I’m not going to get the bike into the first apex without losing the front, I go that bit more on the Brembo’s and the bike simply falls on its side further and runs through the turn. Amazing.
The esses are the trickiest set I’ve ever known and took me a few years to really master. They show the weak and strong points of a chassis more than almost anywhere. Turn-in, drive out, line holding, braking, balance, suspension settling, throttle action, ground clearance, grip, ABS, TC, all tested as I flick the SS right, right, left, right, left, right and exit at full throttle. The Ohlins suspension is superb. The steering accurate, plus the bike is changing direction rapidly like a much smaller machine.
I have the bike in Sport mode and the DQS on the S is fantastic as is the throttle and power delivery. The ABS is not hindering me in any way nor is the DTC and I feel no desire or need to adjust or switch off. In fact, I’m using it to my advantage.
Into the tightening radius downhill off camber corner before the back chute, most bikes cry enough and it is only the rare few that can be pushed proper hard through there without heading for the trees. The SS is almost one of those rare few, 90 per cent there. I push it to the limit, where even cracking the throttle causes the front to gently start to slide away, and the bike is happy to dance that dangerous dance on the edge of no return, lap after lap.
Shifting through the ‘box via DQS, I the bike tops out at 208km/h. Not bad at all. The fastest I’ve ever seen here is 250km/h on a 1000cc sportsbike years ago. That was chasing Wayne Gardner though!
The next undulating section is heaven. On rails. Followed by the ultimate brake test and very serous braking at the bottom of the back straight. The forks could do with more support here but the SS is far from tying itself in knots.
I come in smiling and swap for the standard version for the next session. Without the DQS, the bike initially feels antiquated, but once I get in the rhythm of (shock, horror) shifting manually, the DQS is forgotten. The bike feels the same as the S in most sections, only those special esses, where all weak points are highlighted, has the Marzocchi forks and Sachs shock taking time to settle and lacking the feel and ultimately, transferring that to grip, when I push hard.
On the hard brakes, through the downhill left-hand off camber scary corner, the bike doesn’t give the feedback or support that the S does. I try hard to get good early drive onto the back chute but only get 199km/h out of the stock bike, due to my corner speed at the start. Still, I lap for another two or three laps and continue to grin. This bike is fun. And by the way, I didn’t touch a clicker all day long.
I’ve lapped there on everything imaginable even superbikes, but the ease of use and tractable engine in the SuperSport S gave me so much brain space to concentrate on timing and turn-in, braking points and cornering, that it all came together like one of those ‘going slow but going fast’ moments. Funny, as it isn’t a full-blown sportsbike. Then again, we weren’t on a full-blown racetrack!
The new SuperSport and SuperSport S does a lot well. You get a fair amount of high-end kit for your coin too. The bike is not mega fast and doesn’t pretend to be. It’s just a nice, pleasant, enjoyable yet capable bike.
I suggest you have a spin on both versions but make sure you get out of town…
2017 DUCATI SUPERSPORT TECH TALK
The SuperSport engine is a revised version of the 937cc Testastretta 11º unit. The engine is Euro 4 rated and features four-valves per cylinder, liquid-cooling and a 12.6:1 compression ratio. For the SuperSport, the cylinder-heads and crankcases have been redesigned so that the engine can be a fully stressed member of the chassis. The throttle-bodies are 53mm and the engine features a full RbW system.
The cable-actuated clutch is a slipper unit and the gearbox six speed and is Ducati Quick Shift ready for plug and play on the standard version, while the S comes with DQS. Designed for road use, the engine is tuned to make 80 per cent of max torque at just 3000rpm, peaking at 6500rpm. Full power is at 9000rpm.
The trellis frame, as mentioned, uses the engine as a stressed member. The sub-frame is steel and connected to the rear cylinder-head. Steering angle is 24º, trail is 91mm and wheelbase 1478mm. The rear tyre is a 180/55-17, and all of those facts combine to make the SuperSport agile yet stable, with fantastic fall-in and direction change and a 48º lean angle.
The handlebars are forged alloy, while the die-cast rearsets have alloy heel guards and the footpegs can be changed from the standard alloy units to rubber capped for touring. There is a toolkit under the seat, as well as a handy USB charge point.
The suspension varies between the standard and the S. The swingarm is a single-sided die-cast alloy unit. The Supersport forks are fully adjustable Marzocchi 43mm inverted items and the shock a Sachs fully adjustable unit. The SuperSport S features 48mm TiN coated Ohlins forks and an Ohlins shock.
The shock attaches directly to the rear cylinder and the swingarm.
The Y-shaped three-spoke wheels are lightweight and strong and are made of cast alloy. Standard tyres are the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III.
The braking system is top spec. It features Brembo M4-32 monoblock calipers and a Brembo PR18/1 radial pump master-cylinder with separate reservoir. Front rotors are 320mm semi-floating and the rear rotor is 245mm fixed with a Brembo two-piston caliper. The Bosch 9MP ABS system has three mappings.
The Ducati Safety Pack (DSP) is standard and features Ducati Traction Control (DTC) and ABS. Level 1 is for high grip such as the track or sports riding, it acts only on the front wheel and turns off the rear wheel anti lift. Level 1 is not pre set to any of the riding modes but can be manually set by the rider. Level 2 includes the rear wheel ABS and anti-lift. Level 3 is the highest level of ABS for road or wet weather use.
The DTC has eight levels of sensitivity with Level 1 being the least traction control and Level 8 the most. Each Riding Mode is pre set with a DTC level but they can be reprogrammed by the rider to suit or completely switched off.
The three Ducati Riding Modes are Sport, Touring and Urban. Sport delivers the full 113hp with a direct RbW throttle response. DTC is set to 3, ABS 2, anti-lift minimum and DQS on (S). Touring gets full power, a more progressive throttle, DTC 4, ABS 3 and DQS on (S). While Urban is 75hp, progressive throttle, DTC 6, ABS 3, DQS off (S).
The LCD display includes total distance, trip 1 and 2, engine temp, ambient temp, clock, DQS status, fuel, distance left, fuel consumption live, average fuel consumption, average speed, trip duration, Riding Mode, ABS, DTC level as well as the usual lights.
There is a huge range of accessories and apparel for the SuperSport, check out some of the pics in the gallery and visit ducati.com.au for the full range.
2017 DUCATI SUPERSPORT (S) SPECIFICATIONS
Price: $17,990 (red), $19,990 (red S), $20,290 (white S) + ORC
Claimed power: 81kW (113hp)@9000rpm
Claimed torque: 96.7Nm (71.3ft-lbs)@6500rpm
Dry weight: 184kg
Fuel capacity: 16L
Engine: Testastretta II 11º L-twin, four-valves per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid-cooled, 937cc, 94 x 67.5mm bore x stroke, 12.6:1 compression, Continental EFI with 53mm throttle-bodies, RbW, 2-1-2 exhaust with alloy mufflers.
Gearbox: Six-speed, QS on S version
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, hydraulic actuation, slipper clutch
Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame attached to engine cylinder-heads.
Rake: 24º Trail: 91mm
Suspension: Sachs fully adjustable shock, 43mm fully adjustable Marzocchi forks (S version Ohlins 48mm forks, Ohlins shock).
Brakes: 320mm semi-floating rotors, Brembo M4 32 monoblock calipers, radial pump master-cylinder, ABS. 245mm rear rotor with two-piston caliper.
Wheels & Tyres: Y-Shaped 3-spoke light alloy wheels, 3.50 (f), 5.50 (r), Pirelli Diablo Rosso III 120/70-17 and 180/55-17 tyres.
Seat height: 810mm
Electronics: Riding Modes, Power Modes, Ducati Safety Pack, RbW.
Instruments: Full LCD dash.
Warranty: 24 months unlimited kilometer.
Maintenance: 15,000km service (30,000km valve clearance).