Four years have passed since Ducati’s iconic SuperSport was reintroduced to the Italian brand’s lineup, quickly establishing itself as one of the most well-rounded road-going models in its fleet. Equipped with a sporting edge and everyday comfort, the plucky SuperSport is happy to run the riding spectrum from commuting, sprinting through backroads, chowing miles down, and even the occasional track day.
This year, the 2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S has gained more than a numeric appendage: The SuperSport 950 line has gone under the knife for a Panigale V4-inspired makeover and Euro 5 engine compliance.
We put the up-spec SuperSport 950 S—hello, Öhlins suspension—through its paces on backroads and city streets alike to see what impact these changes have. Now then, let’s get on with the Fast Facts.
- The 937cc Testastretta 11° twin-cylinder engine packs a perfect punch. When a manufacturer hits the performance sweet spot, it’s worthy of applause, and the SuperSport 950’s claimed 110 horsepower at 9000 rpm and 69 ft-lbs of torque at 6500 rpm always manage to satisfy on the road. All that low-down torque gives a smooth shove forward off the line, while settling into the wide midrange wave and finding your rhythm in the canyons is always a pleasure. Wring it out, and she’ll charge through the revs before signing off around 9k. But why bother, I ask. Short shift and let the torque catapult you off the apex.
- Euro 5 compliance without the performance tax. The prior-mentioned 110 ponies and 69 torques remain the same as the 2020 SuperSport, though down a touch from the model’s 2017 debut. The good news is that the emissions standards don’t quell the fantastic burble and bark shot out of the 2-1-2 exhaust, and the motor is properly perky when you give the throttle a whack.
- A six-speed gearbox and an up/down quickshifter are standard kit. Tight and sporty shifting is part and parcel for the SuperSport 950, especially when the revs are up while prowling the canyons. However, as the pace cools and the rpm drop in the city, the downshift function can be a tad jumpy. Luckily, the new self-bleeding hydraulic clutch has a relatively light pull, should you feel like shifting the old-fashioned way when trundling in traffic.
- Boasting an IMU, the Panigale V4-derived Ducati Safety Pack offers is a step up from the previous generation SuperSport. Three throttle maps—Sport, Touring, and Urban—work with adjustable cornering ABS, lean-angle-sensitive traction control, wheelie control, and the quickshifter. As is tradition with Ducatis, all these parameters can be adjusted with a deep dive into the new full-color TFT dash. The fueling is crisp and clean in any mode, with Sport offering the zestiest throttle response, while Touring comes into its own while cruising in the city, and the Charmin-soft Urban mode is great for bad weather.
- Cruise control isn’t available. Cruise control isn’t a deal-breaker for me as my fidgety disposition can’t seem to find a use for it. Alas, I don’t represent everyone, and the SuperSport 950s stack up against plenty of sport-touring machines equipped with CC.
- Sure-footed handling is a highlight aboard the SuperSport 950 S. There are no changes to the steel-trellis frame and lusty single-sided swingarm this year, meaning that its neutral cornering behavior is still in play. Whether you’re whipping around city streets or ripping through some mountain curves, the sporting heritage of the SuperSport 950 S begins to shine. It tips into corners cool as a cucumber, giving you all the confidence one could hope for from entry to exit while remaining planted as can be.
- Fully adjustable Öhlins suspension is standard on the 950 S. Looking past the eye-catching anodized fork caps and fancy clickers is what matters here, as the ride quality from the Öhlins kit is top-notch. The suspension is on the firmer side of the sport-touring camp, offering loads of support when getting on the binders or pouring the power on, without ever becoming uncomfortable over rough tarmac. If that isn’t enough, the feedback and feel are superb.
- Brembo brakes deliver the goods. Returning to the fold are Brembo M4.32 calipers and 320mm rotors up front, along with a Brembo two-piston caliper and 245mm disc in the rear. Things are as you’d expect for the tried-and-true Brembo setup—there’s plenty of power and feel at the adjustable lever. And the same story goes for the non-adjustable rear.
- Pirelli Diablo Rosso III help keep the shiny side up. The PDRIII tires come in common 120/70 and 180/55 sizes, providing grip and mileage in equal measure. Free feel to go with tires with either higher performance or mileage, depending on your application of the SuperSport.
- Beauty goes more than skin deep for 2021. It’s no secret that Ducati knows how to make a ravishing motorcycle, and the updated SuperSport 950 platform is showing off more va-va-voom with its Panigale V4-aligned looks. A new LED headlight and DRL light kick things off at the front, with the fresh bodywork working to redirect engine heat away from the rider. The mirrors offer excellent visibility but vibrate at freeway speeds to the point where “I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t see you there” would be an honest statement. Lastly, the seat is plusher for those extended rides.
- All-day ergonomics is what makes the 2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S appealing. A do-it-all bike like the SuperSport strikes a good balance between comfort and sport-minded riding positions. The clip-on riser handlebars prop me up nicely, while still allowing me to put my elbows out when necessary. The impressively narrow chassis and 31.9-inch seat height allow my 32-inch inseam to reach the deck with ease—low and high seat options are available. Meanwhile, the footpegs aren’t too high and cramped. Of course, the two-position windscreen provides a fair amount of wind protection on those longer jaunts.
- Sport and Touring packs extend SuperSport 950’s possibilities. Those looking to see the road or commute will want to spring for the $1920 Touring package, which includes semi-rigid 25-liter panniers, heated grips, and a smoked windscreen. Although, if you’re of the sporting persuasion, the Akrapovič slip-on exhaust, carbon front mudguard and tank protection, aluminum license plate holder, and rear LED indicators might be more your style for $1300.
- The multi-talented 2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S learned a few more tricks this year. As motorcycles become more segmented and focused, an all-around platform like the SuperSport 950 retains its appeal. The genius of the SuperSport 950 S is that it distills elements of Ducati DNA into a package that riders from across the spectrum can enjoy. Fun-loving power on tap, stable handling, high-level electronics, plus touring and sport accessories—the SuperSport 950 can take it all in stride.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Jacket: Spidi Bolide
- Gloves: Spidi Flash CE
- Pants: Spidi J-Tracker
- Boots: XPD X-Road H2Out
2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S Specs
- Type: L-twin Testastretta 11°
- Displacement: 937cc
- Bore x stroke: 94 x 67.5mm
- Maximum power: 110 horsepower @ 9000 rpm
- Maximum torque: 69 ft-lbs @ 6500 rpm
- Compression ratio: 12.6:1
- Fueling: Ride-by-wire EFI w/ 53mm Mikuni throttle bodies
- Cooling: Liquid
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ quickshifter
- Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ slipper action
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame mounted to cylinder heads
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Öhlins 48mm inverted fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback-reservoir shock; 5.7 inches
- Wheels: Y-shaped three-spoke alloy
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.50
- Rear wheel: 17 x 5.50
- Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Brembo M4.32 Monoblock 4-piston calipers and radial master cylinder
- Rear brake: 245mm disc w/ two-piston caliper
- ABS: Bosch Cornering
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
- Estimated fuel consumption: 40 mpg
- Curb weight: 463 pounds
- Colors: Arctic White Silk; Ducati Red
2021 Ducati SuperSport 950 S Price: $16,195