2017 Ducati SuperSport S Review | Two Flavors of SuperSport
Supersport machines are often regarded as the pinnacle of motorcycle design—a space where engineers tirelessly toil away in an effort to create the next two-wheeled thoroughbred, created almost exclusively as race-ready homologations.
These machines inspire the minds, and capture the hearts of countless individuals enticed by the lure of motorcycles. But the truth is, these machines live in a narrow band. Impeded by their prowess, they have difficulty functioning in the real world, where most of us live, breathe, and ride.
After nearly a decade without a SuperSport model, Ducati has offered a new crossover sport/supersport hybrid that avoids that impossibly narrow focus. Remember, the SuperSport was once a staple for the Ducati brand. As someone who started his riding career on an early model, I was particularly sad to see it go. The old SuperSport hasn’t returned, as this new iteration is absolutely nothing like its predecessors—it is something unto itself.
Last seen gracing Ducati showroom floors in 2007, the SuperSport has always been a bike focused on delivering a well-rounded riding experience. Ducati representatives wanted to make one thing clear—this new motorcycle is not an evolution of the classic SuperSport. Instead, it is a reinvention of the line. Track capable, but street-minded, the new 2017 Ducati SuperSport duo adds two motorcycles to its stable that are not nearly as mentally demanding as the coveted Panigales.
Differentiating the SuperSport S from the SuperSport is a basic enough task—on paper, they aren’t far off from one another. The top-tier S model boasts a fully adjustable 48mm Öhlins fork and an equally capable Öhlins shock, a quickshifter, a svelte rear seat cowl, and a $2000 up charge over the base model.
Also, Star White Silk livery is available only for the S, with both versions available in Ducati Red. The standard SuperSport is no slouch, featuring fully adjustable suspension—Marzocchi in the front, and Sachs in the rear. Other than those differences, the two bikes are identical—bolt for bolt.
To tackle the broad task of balancing performance with comfort, the engineers at the Borgo Bologna plant settled on a riser handlebar, a luxurious 32-inch-high seat, and a sculpted four-gallon fuel tank to being solving the problem of comfort. In practice, the characteristically narrow trellis chassis, allows me and my 32-inch inseam to flat-foot while stopped, and maneuver around the cockpit with ease.
Aesthetically, the SuperSport flies its Italian qualities proudly, without edging into territories that might allow for confusion as to what role it plays in entire Ducati line up. One of the most impressive features is the complete lack of exposed fasteners. I encourage any reader to take a fine look at the SuperSport—every angular line is unsullied by fasteners of any kind.
Ducati isn’t one for releasing reserved designs either, though this certainly isn’t as uncompromising as the Panigale or primal as the Monster. The SuperSport boasts niceties such as a single-sided swingarm and a fairing, for example. In many ways, the SuperSport’s position is somewhat cemented before even turning the key, and let’s get on to that.
I packed my bags, setting off to Seville, Spain to turn laps on the technical Circuito Monteblanco and the ride the picturesque countryside in order to get some quality seat time on the 2017 Ducati SuperSport and SuperSport S.
My morning began at the Monteblanco Circuit, 60 kilometers west of Seville. With tire warmers heating up the Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires, I fired up the SuperSport S for the first time and heard the 2-1-2 exhaust shout a pleasing tune.
The SuperSport S was blessed to have the authorized Akrapovič slip-on muffler that, if nothing else, brightens its vocal range. If you want something truly glorious, please opt for the full Akrapovič exhaust system that was lifted from Chaz Davies’ WSBK racer when he wasn’t looking. I’ll thank you for it, but your neighbors won’t.
At the heart of the SuperSport S is the 937cc Testastretta 11° l-twin producing claimed peaks of 113 horsepower at 9000 rpm and 71 ft/lbs of torque at 6500 rpm, with the stock exhaust fitted. Out of the garage and directly onto the front straight of Monteblanco, the most immediate impression is that tractability of the 937cc powerplant.
Rolling on the throttle is met with impeccable fueling throughout the entire power band. Using the brilliant low-end power in the technical sections of Monteblanco, the SuperSport S is able to put power to the ground in a remarkably progressive manner, spooling up with some pleasing urgency above the 4500 rpm mark and pulling all the way through to the redline. This is especially useful when powering out of tight corners.
On the short straights of Monteblanco, the manageable power made for a categorically awesome experience. Short-shifting and rolling on the throttle inspired confidence, and I found myself carrying more corner speed than I would on many bikes. The SuperSport goads a rider with a premise of attainable progress: “Yes, you can push a little more, and don’t worry. I won’t bite back.”
Experienced riders will immediately seize the opportunity to give the SuperSport S a proper flogging. Thanks to crisp ride by wire fueling, my track time was only made that much better. For someone of my pace, I found it in the Goldilocks zone in terms of power.
The six-speed transmission offers confident, and smooth shifting. Certainly, it doesn’t require any effort slap the SuperSport in and out of gear, but the Ducati Quick Shift up/down system is a handy tool with a few caveats.
The quickshift unit is incredibly sensitive—normally a positive attribute—but, if I wasn’t careful, I would sometimes engage it unintentionally. Upshift kill times are slightly long; that is forgivable, as this isn’t a bleeding-edge, race-ready machine.
Downshifts need to be controlled and deliberate to be successful. In short, if you calm yourself and effectively learn the personality of the quickshifter, you will be rewarded.
If you are thinking that the spec numbers of the 937cc seem familiar, you would be right. The SuperSport uses an engine based on the powerplant in the Hypermotard 939; however, there are some crucial differences. Different cylinder heads, crankcase covers, generator covers, new 53m Mikuni throttle bodies, and a few other tweaks give the SuperSport its own distinct personality—brash, when it needs to be, but able to be reserved as well.
Having the S’s fully adjustable Öhlins suspension was great for the track. Coming in hard on the brakes, I failed to detect any egregious dive in the front end. Conversely, when applying ample amounts of power on exit, the rear didn’t squat excessively on exit, which contributed to the SuperSport S’s stable nature on track.
Compression damping is spot-on, allowing the SS to turn-in and maintain lines easily throughout corners. Faster riders could tease more negative feedback out of it. However, with fully adjustable suspension means those issues can be resolved, or at least massaged out, should they arise as you pick up your pace.
Using the latest generation of Ducati’s signature trellis frame, the chassis is race-derived. The engine is part of the frame structure making for a compact overall package.
The SuperSport S on track has to be commended for its handling abilities. Featuring the same 24 degrees of rake as the 959 Panigale matched to a wheelbase almost two inches longer (56.3 inches), the SuperSport is a well-sorted and stable package on the track.
However, I need to praise it for its almost gentle turn-in—not slow, mind you, but highly predictable. Changing directions in chicanes is simple, as is the tip-in aboard the SuperSport S. Give a small amount of input and it reacts without hesitation, while remaining planted.
A great strength in the SuperSport is being able to translate both positive and negative feedback into the rider; I certainly was rewarded for smoothing my riding out, and it let me know when I need to reassess my approaches. On the other hand, I found myself leaning on the TC in a couple corners, which was a bit of a new experience for me—we’ll talk all about that in a bit.
Stopping power is brought to us by Brembo M4.32 monoblock calipers, used in conjunction with dual-floating 320mm rotors up front. Plus, there’s a 245mm rotor in the rear. On track, braking is powerful and progressive. Importantly, it lacks the vicious initial bite that could shake the confidence of riders unfamiliar with high-performance brakes. For someone of my pace, I was not left wanting more out of the binders.
By midday, I cast aside my full leathers in lieu of something more casual. It was time to set out on the standard model in the canyons surrounding Seville, which means no Öhlins suspension or quickshifter.
While the 937cc Testastretta 11° was impressive on track, it was also able to fill a street role with ease. Below the 4500 rpm mark, the engine and throttle response is quite reserved—not sluggish mind you, but simply easy to use.
Certainly, no one buys something with the name of SuperSport just so they can putt around little Spanish towns and almost get trapped in a random parade on a balmy Saturday afternoon—you buy a SuperSport because you want to twist the throttle now and again.
Into the hills I went, leaving the city behind us, blasting through quaint villages where children seemed particularly enthused about the concept of red motorcycles roaring by. Now, if only more American kids felt the same, OEMs might not be so worried about future sales.
On these roads, the Marzocchi forks and Sachs rear shock were put to the test. Sprung a bit lighter, and with more street-oriented baseline settings than the Öhlins, the SuperSport truly comes into its own on the street. A capable track bike in S guise, of course, but the street offered a positively brilliant experience that’s tough to argue against.
The SuperSport soaks up inconsistent terrain with no pause, even when mid-corner. Tipping the base SuperSport in isn’t met with resistance, despite the softer settings. In all, the standard SuperSport seems to embody the Gentlemen’s Sportbike label that I began to imbue it with.
This motorcycle is capable of satisfying a large quantity of riders with extremely compliant handling that is confidence inspiring. That isn’t just a buzzword within the motorcycle journalism community, this bike will allow you to grow your pace or go back to the basics.
With a claimed curb weight of 463 pounds, the SuperSport changes direction well and interprets rider input easily. It responds to exactly what you want out of it. Need to snap into a tight hairpin? No problem. Want to gentle cruise through a corner? It’ll do that too.
Further, the idea of taking the SuperSport or SuperSport S home from the track, only to ride it through the canyons or to the office in the morning isn’t a cringe-inducing concept. Its street performance speaks to its wide range of possibilities. The open highway did expose a quirk with the spunky 937cc engine—it did seem a bit buzzy at freeway speeds, and that could be felt trough the grips.
Speaking of the highway, the SuperSport has a two-position hand-adjustable windscreen. I left it down for the improved view, as most of the testing was sport riding, but it does offer more protection for long Interstate runs. Additionally, Ducati sells a number of accessories—panniers, heated grips, taller smoked windscreen—that will turn the SuperSport into a serious sport-tourer that will function as a replacement for the newly departed Ducati Hyperstrada and the long-missing ST series.
The 2017 Ducati SuperSport lineup includes a suite of safety features that I strongly encourage owners to explore. Electronics are something to be used as a tool ride more safely, as well as go faster—if they work properly, and in this case they do.
Found on the SuperSport and the SuperSport S is three-level ABS, as well as eight-level traction control. For my pace, I found the standard ABS and TC settings in sport mode to be quite keen. TC rarely activated, save for one track corner where I began to carry more and more corner speed as the day progressed.
In this case, I might have been leaning on the electronics to help build my pace. On the street, I only saw TC activate when we were on a particularly bumpy and broken stretch of road. It also took some severely ham-fisted braking to have the ABS step in.
Also available are three riding modes—Sport, Touring, and Urban. Each has baseline ABS and TC settings that reflect the intended use, and they can be adjusted to suit your preferences. The main difference between the three modes is power delivery. Sport and Touring allow for full power from the 937cc powerplant, while Urban cuts the max power to 75 horsepower. Additionally, the throttle response is heightened or lessened depending on the mode. However, whatever mode you choose, the performance is always progressive and tractable.
Rounding out the electronic side of things is a basic LCD screen. Clearly visible in direct sunlight, the LCD readout features all of the information I could want. If there is a downside to this, the interface is somewhat convoluted, which makes diving into power modes, ABS, and TC adjustments a bit difficult.
My issue with reporting on that is like this—although it was a pain to move furniture in my house, it hasn’t moved since I put it there. Bikes are pretty much the same as that; once you’ve found your chosen settings, you’re not likely to change them.
Still, as Ultimate Motorcycling President Arthur Coldwells pointed out in his review of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP, a simple interface encourages experimentation. In short, the interface that coincides with the SuperSport’s LCD screen is complicated, but I’ve never let a dash deter from my ride.
Y-shaped three-spoke rims shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires—120/70 front and 180/55—come equipped on the SuperSport. On track, I found them to give ample amount of grip, though obviously not on par with the Pirelli SuperCorsa tires that are commonly found on the track-oriented Ducati models. Regardless, Ducati has great confidence in the Diablo Rosso III tires, as the SuperSport has a 48-degree lean angle. Suffice to say, on both the street and track, the proven Pirelli rubber did its job as intended.
The potential for the 2017 Ducati SuperSport is realized, with comfort never negatively impacting the performance spirit inherent to the bike. It has that sort of scope that the vast majority of riders want – we motorcyclists want options, and versatility but we rarely get it due to compromise. In the case of the SuperSport, we won’t be doing much of that.
Photography by Milagro
- Helmet: Suomy SR Sport
- Suit: Spidi Supersport Wind Pro (track)
- Jacket: Spidi Evorider (street)
- Gloves: Racer High Speed
- Jeans: Pando Moto Karl (street)
- Boots: XPD X-Two (street); TCX R-S2 Evo (track)
2017 Ducati SuperSport Specs
- Type: L-twin Testastretta 11°
- Bore x stroke: 94 x 67.5mm
- Displacement: 937cc
- Compression ratio: 12.6:1
- Maximum power: 113 horsepower @ 9000 rpm
- Maximum torque: 71 ft/lbs @ 6500 rpm
- Fueling: Ride-by-wire EFI w/ 53mm throttle bodies
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ slipper action
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame mounted to cylinder heads
- Front suspension: Fully adjustable 43mm Marzocchi fork (S: Fully adjustable Öhlins fork)
- Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable Sachs shock (S: Fully adjustable Sachs shock)
- Front wheel: 17” x 3.50”; Three-spoke light alloy
- Rear wheel: 17” x 5.50”; Three-spoke light alloy
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17; Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Brembo M4.32 Monoblock four-piston calipers and radial master cylinder
- Rear brake: 245mm disc w/ two-piston caliper
- ABS: Standard (three-levels, plus off)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
- Rake: 24 degrees
- Trail: 3.6 inches
- Seat height: 31.9 inches
- Fuel tank capacity: 4.2 gallons
- Curb weight: 463 pounds
2017 Ducati SuperSport Colors:
- Ducati Red
- Star White Silk (S only)
2017 Ducati SuperSport Price (MSRP):
- $12,995, base
- $14,995, S