Images: Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala
Let me take you back to 2016 World Ducati Week. An annual celebration of Ducatistis from all over the world making it down to Italy for a week long party. Amongst many exciting events taking place, there was a small private screening of Project 1312, Ducati’s next big thing. Despite their best efforts to stop spy shots, we got the first glimpse of the SuperSport. The bike went to be launched at the Intermot show later that year and was adjudged the ‘Best Looking Motorcycle’ at EICMA. A year into its global launch, the SuperSport makes its way into India and we were treated to a ride on its sportier ‘S’ variant.
The pictures do not do justice to the SuperSport. The Panigale deisgn philosophy may have transcended on to the SuperSport but there are subtle hints at the differences. The fairing is wider and trails off in the lower half to reveal the exhaust pipes. There is a large gap between the engine and the fairing to aid in better air-flow and cooling purposes. Those LED DRLs and halogen headlight unit is quite exquisite and has been designed to mimic the letter ‘X’.
The single seat unit has got a nice taper to it to help the rider move back and forth with ease. The standard saddle height is 810mm but you get accessory seats to reduce or increase the height by 20mm and 25mm. The clip-on handlebars are at a higher position than the Panigale. The rider triangle is relatively relaxed; the rear set footpegs making for a nice middle ground between sport and touring riding. For me, it is the best ergonomically sorted Ducati out there and buyers will surely love it too.
The 937cc Testastretta 11° L-twin motor still has the rawness about it. However, Ducati have not allowed it to appear in the same mental trim that you get on the 939 Hypermotard or the Multistrada 950. It makes the same power output of 113hp as the other two motorcycles. You may find out that the figure may vary in your owner’s manual or elsewhere, know that Ducati has now made use of a chassis dynamometer to measure the output while an engine dynamometer is used for homologation purposes. No cheating of any sort here, so calm down.
The charm of this motor is the way it delivers the power. The 96.7Nm of torque is spread evenly. 80 per cent of the torque is readily available at 3,000 rpm and the chunk of lays between 5,000rpm and 9,000rpm. This makes for a great everyday usage motorcycle. The fuelling is precise thanks to 53mm Mikuni throttle bodies with full Ride-by-Wire. The bike doesn’t skimp on any form of electronic aids, coming laden with Ducati’s entire package – the DTC working in tandem efficiently with Bosch 9MP ABS. We began our ride from the dealership on Dhole Patil road at 6am and given the scarcity of traffic I decided to try out the three rider modes – Sport, Touring and Urban – before the fun and games began at out final destination in Lavasa.
The engine is curbed to 75 horses in Urban mode, with DTC dialled in to a solid six and ABS up to the highest mode. The initial drive is quite easy going and you can feel the intrusion of the traction control on numerous occasions. By the time I reached Pashan, ten kilometres into the ride, I wanted a bit more and slotted the bike into Touring mode, on the go might I add. The engine is not dumbed down anymore and you get a sense of the potential the SuperSport has. The engine mapping is still even while DTC drops to four and ABS to 2. Intrusion levels drop too and you can feel the bike becoming more responsive to your throttle inputs. This was enough to whet my appetite to try out the Sport mode.
Upon reaching our group-up point, Chandni Chowk which is a further eight kilometre on, I switched it to Sport and I never looked back. Both DCT and ABS are dropped to 1. Here is where the bike comes into its own element. It is alive from the moment you open the gas and right until 9,000 rpm. I just could not wait to reach Mutha ghat. The bike moves like a dream and there is torque at any moment you need, no chopping of power at any single moment.
Through all three modes, the bi-directional DQS worked like a charm, standard on the ‘S’ and as an accessory on the standard motorcycle. You can keep the throttle open at as low as 3,000 rpm and still get it to work. You will also reduce the usage of the slipper clutch on downshifts thanks to the auto-blipper feature. And when you do make use of the quickshifter for shifting down, you are greeted to a fluttering note that heightens your senses greatly. Right from the start of the ride until Mutha ghat, I used the clutch only to slot the bike into neutral and nothing else. This is the best attribute of the bike as it will help commuting in our conditions. The exhaust note is typical Ducati, a bit understated than the rest but no qualms there.
Ducati wants this bike to slot in between a conventional sports-bike and a sport-tourer and I tend to agree with the statement, although it baffled me initially. Show it some bends and the taut steel trellis chassis, found on the Monster 821, offers great stability. One might still get few vibrations at the grips, as the cylinders are mounted directly on the chassis, but none to cause some great discomfort. In typical Ducati fashion, you are greeted with a single-sided aluminium die-cast swing-arm. The bike is extremely agile and nimble, to the point you can negotiate any unwanted road craters with ease.
This being the S version, you get suspension components from Ohlins. As you will find out, the Ohlins respond way better when the bike is ridden fast. Not that the stock setting would cause discomfort at low speeds, it just feels right at speeds close to the speed limit. Both the 48mm USD forks and the monoshock are fully adjustable. Riding a Ducati through corners is an enthralling prospect and this one is no different. It will not be stepping out the rear at exits like others would and that I feel is a good thing.
I loved the way Ducati has gone about the wheels. The Y-shaped 3-spoke alloys are lightweight and look spectacular. They then put on new sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso III rubber, a direct descendant of the Diablo Supercorsas found on the Panigale. The Rosso IIIs are quite grippy and offer no fuss in any manner what-so-ever, unless you want them to. Brembo M4.32 monoblocs stop the bike in no time by exerting enough power on the dual 320mm discs upfront. The feel on the levers is a bit more progressive than I would have liked it to be. At the rear you get a 245mm disc with a dual-piston Brembo unit, offering adequate retardation and one could not ask for more.
So the question arises, should you get your hands on one of these? For starters, this is not your conventional Ducati. It is not mental and maniacal like you have come to associate Ducatis with. It also misses out on brand individuality. It is an amalgamation of the best bits from other Ducatis and thus does everything great but nothing the best. Also at Rs. 13.39 lakh, ex-showroom India, this is more expensive than the Multistrada 950 and Monster 821 by a good margin and scarily close to the Panigale. Ducati dealers will have a task to convince prospective buyers to choose this bike and not opt for anything else.
What will simplify the task is that anyone willing to buy this motorcycle will be buying the best Ducati that they have ever produced. It retains a bit of the hooliganism and substituted the rest for practicality. You can have a blast every weekend and still opt to set quick times around MMRT after riding down from your respective cities. I am completely smitten by this Italian, so much so that I felt like I was cheating my love – the Triumph Thruxton R – and that speaks volumes. If a Bawa is enticed by an Italian and willing to ditch his British bike for it, it is something to go for.